Published on 24th April 2019 | By Jake Causier

This article was written by Stuart Balfour for Allez! Allez! CC. You can read the original article here.

It has been a tough start to the season for me as I fell ill after our first block of races in the Vendee for Circuit Des Plages Vendeennes.

After spending 10 days bed bound with a high temperature it put me back to square one which really knocked the confidence.

So this first month or so has been a case of refocusing and working my way back to form for Tour de Bretagne starting on Thursday.

Finally as I came into April I managed to find the legs again after the illness, with the performances started to come but just not the results.

So for me it is a real case of just focusing on the job with a big block of training finished, I know the results will follow as they have done in previous years.

Life outside of cycling can be tough while you are abroad, far away from loved ones, family and friends.

This is my fourth year away now so I have started to get used to it, but, it is still tough not being able to see everyone for long periods of time.

I feel it’s not always appreciated by teams out here how difficult this can be for foreign riders. I think for a lot of people in the same situation as me, this can be the hardest part of life as a young cyclist abroad.

For me I knew I just had to try and keep myself busy in my ‘down time’ and find something to focus on outside of the cycling world.

I know a lot of people think being a full time cyclist your life should just be bikes, bikes and more bikes but in my opinion, after a few years of living like that, it’s just not healthy.

So this year I wanted to try and fill my free time up with something a bit more productive than binge watching Netflix all day. Not to say that I still don’t have a nice binge now and then though!

I decided to start studying, enrolling in a Psychology degree with the Open University. This has been a great way for me to start up my studies again at my own speed, fitting around my racing, while living in France.

It has given me a chance to put my mind on something else while not on the bike, adding some more variety to my life.

It is not always the most secure lifestyles to lead being a full time cyclist, you never know what is around the corner.

After having three operations in the past three years it has opened up my eyes to the fact that it can all be taken away from you so quickly and easily.

So I had to give myself options that would actually be more beneficial to me rather than just having one single purpose in my life.

After a few months of studying now, I have found it has been a great new challenge.

It works well around my training and racing and makes my time feel a lot more fulfilling than it has in previous years.