Talented cyclist claims first national podium place
Team Ford EcoBoost cyclist, Charmaine Porter, has been riding for just three years, but is already making a name for herself as one to watch in the National Women’s Road Series.
With a number of recent wins including The Storck Bikes Womens Criterion in Aberystwyth, the talented 21-year-old is moving quickly through the ranks – and TASS’ support has fast tracked her rise.
“Last year I was getting in the top 30 in the nationals, now I’m hoping to place in the top 10 overall. And that’s with a bit of bad luck as I’ve had punctures in three of my four previous races!”
Porter, who is also a private in the British Army, has been benefiting from TASS services at the University of Bath since September 2016. She said:
“The strength and conditioning at Bath has been amazing. I noticed performance gains almost straight away and I now use the gym every week.
“I’ve also had nutrition advice and physiotherapy when I had a niggle. It’s so valuable to get all of this support in one location at any time.”
TASS has been working in partnership with the Army Elite Sport Programme for just under a year, with the aim to enhance the help available to talented athletes serving in the forces.
Porter is one of the first individuals to benefit from the initiative, but TASS and the Army has proved to be a winning formula before.
Double Olympic gold medallist Major Heather Stanning is one of TASS’ most notable alumna, having received support alongside her studies in 2005-06.
Having left sixth form to pursue full time work, Porter’s cycling career began in the Army whilst posted in Germany for two years. She explained:
“I never wanted to work in an office type job as I prefer being active, independent and getting out there, so that’s what got me into the Army.
“While I was away they needed a female rider for the road cycling team and with my background as a runner, I basically got volunteered.”
After training with the Army team for a year back in the UK, Porter was recruited by women’s cycling squad, Team Ford EcoBoost.
“I was quite surprised to be selected for an elite team but I’m so pleased as the support we get is phenomenal. We get everything from equipment to transport and accommodation.
“It’s great to ride alongside Nikki [Juniper] and she massively influences me. I mean she shattered her collarbone five weeks ago and has come back and is winning races already. It’s so inspirational.”
Porter is certainly positive about the future, both her career riding for Team Ford and back at her Army base in Gloucestershire.
“I really enjoyed the tour series which was televised a couple of weeks ago. We did 11 races in two weeks, with every night in different part of country. The amount of people come out to watch was amazing, the streets were absolutely packed out.
“Also back in February we went on an incredible training camp in Majorca and cycled over 400 miles in six days. I think that’s the most I’ve ever done in that time in my life!”
With cycling’s popularity booming, Porter is acutely aware of the competition coming through and what’s required to achieve her goal of a podium place at national level next year.
“I’d like to do well as an U23 as it’ll be my last chance before becoming a senior. I remember when the Army were struggling for a team of six female riders, now there’s 70 or 80 to choose from.
“The sport has grown massively since I started competing three years ago. But apart from winning, the best bit for me is being able to travel around and see places you’d never get to see on four wheels.”