Alex Ray has been on a big journey of transition from his days pursuing elite cycling success, to his battle to get through a life-threatening crash and the aftermath of that, to getting back on the bike to joining Logan Mort and the team at GRIT – Always Reaching Further.  His new chapter, as coach alongside Logan and Emma is one that excites him and we got to talk to A-Ray a bit more about it.

For Alex Ray this summer has been . . . . suspiciously quiet compared to previous years.  The years of chasing bike racing around the world from Azerbaijan to America, Taiwan to China, America to Luxembourg have been replaced by a handful of races on the domestic scene that have served to enable Ray to return to competitive racing again after his life-threatening accident back in April 2018.  A year on and while the fire to follow the highest races wherever they may be found may have dissipated, the love of everything two-wheels hasn’t changed.

Alexander Ray – sitting third wheel – was part of the break of the day in stage 3 of the Herald Sun Tour, photo Con Chronis

“This summer would have been my quietest few months in about 10 years!” Alex shared with RoadCycling.  “Firstly I missed heading down to Southland for the tour then I never got actions together for a few of the other big races.  The few that I have done over the last few months, like the Dynamo Team Championship Series have been a great, really challenging with zero results but at the end of the day it’s great to be part of a good, competitive program.”

At some point in life everyone comes to a point where they have to simply recognise that they’re not the rider they used to be.  Retirement eventually comes to everyone from the highest levels of the sport, and despite his retirement being much more forced on him, Alex has dealt with the transition pragmatically.  He can still race, though not as he once did, he can still ride which gives him great satisfaction and he can coach which has provided a great outlet from which to build up and encourage the hopes and aspirations of others around him.

“Getting back into racing again has been a great thrill but I’ve effectively put an end to pursuing the top level of racing. My riding has become a lot more social and relaxed. In the past I was always off doing solo missions in the Waitaks but nowadays my mission is to be riding with good company and to finish with coffee!” 

The opportunity to join Logan, Emma and GRIT – Always Reaching Further cropped up as 2018 came to a close and it’s been an opportunity that Alex has grasped and enjoyed taking on.  “I knew Logan as a nice guy and he was doing well by helping other riders to train and develop. Towards the end of last year we had a few conversations at Mt Eden Cycles and I was really interested in helping CRIT cycling by taking on a coaching role,” Alex explained.

Alex Ray and Roman van Uden at the Criterium National Championships in Takapuna 2018, photo Ed Wright / RoadCycling.co.nz

“When I learned about physiological factors, I became enthralled and took the challenges personally, simply trying to make myself be the best. Over the past few years I’ve helped out a few good friends with their training but I’ve wanted to take it a step further for a while now and with Logan and GRIT coaching, I’ve got the chance to learn more knowledge and help riders who are just starting or have been riding for several years and really want to seriously increase their ability.”

We wanted to know whether coaching had provided a new kind of satisfaction in cycling for Alex, a different kind of enjoyment for him.  But given that helping other riders has been something he’s been involved with for some time, it’s not so much a new satisfaction as much as it is a continuation and progression of something that was already there.  

“It’s not really a new satisfaction.  I’ve held a sense of pride for a few years already, being able to show other people the ropes and pass on ideas that will help them get fitter is a simple, great process that I like to be involved with. There are a handful of people that passed on some good knowledge when I first started cycling at high school. The ability to be involved with others, share experiences, knowledge and have a joyful time is a concept that I really like, so being involved with GRIT coaching, helping riders develop is simply wonderful.”

To find out more about GRIT – Always Reaching Further click here.

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