Pedal to Paris with Dani Braithwaite

We spoke to one of our newest recruits, the Whitby based Sports Massage Therapist, Dani Braithwaite about her experience on the recent Royal British Legion Pedal to Paris. We chatted to Dani to find out about what she got up to during the event, what her typical day was like and her advice to any […]

We spoke to one of our newest recruits, the Whitby based Sports Massage Therapist, Dani Braithwaite about her experience on the recent Royal British Legion Pedal to Paris.

We chatted to Dani to find out about what she got up to during the event, what her typical day was like and her advice to any future therapists.

Credit: Matt Alexander
  • Can you tell us a bit about your background, what you do and how long you’ve been doing it?

I graduated as a sport and exercise science student from the University of Birmingham. Throughout my three years I developed a love for anatomy, so post graduation I completed a sports massage therapy course, and I am so glad I did. Im fairly new to the world of massage, only qualifying this January but I’m loving every minute. I set up my business at the local gym and find I’m forever growing in confidence and developing my skills in every session.

  • What time did you get up each day?

The first morning was the earliest, which was a 4.45am wake up. The cyclists had their longest day and we had to be at start to ensure everything was set up and ready for the cyclists arriving. For the rest of the trip it was about 6.30am, so a quick shower and a bite to eat and then we were in the cars going to the start point.

  • What was your first job in the morning?

On a morning, we would vacate the hotel after a bite to eat, arrive at the start and immediately set up our beds. There was sometimes a few cyclists that could not be seen in the hotel the night before, so we would make sure they were treated before the ride started. We would also help the crew set up, and display drinks and snacks for the riders. We would treat for about an hour on a morning, then swiftly pack up move onto the next stop and set up there before the cyclists arrived.

  • Where were you based for the duration of the event?

Our location changed everyday as we followed the cyclists along their ride from London to Paris. So we would stop off at a lot of quaint French villages, which I loved. I saw a side to France I would never have seen otherwise. It meant the trip was fairly tiring as we were packing up and moving every night, but it kept it exciting by visiting new areas each day, and a new hotel every night.

  • What were you involved in?

Our priority on the trip was to provide massage treatments for the 300 cyclists and making sure they felt ready for the day of cycling ahead. We provided treatments at the lunch stop, end of the day, and at the hotel on an evening. When we were not treating we would help the other members of the RBL crew. This included helping set up lunch for riders, handing out waters bottles, helping set up the tea stands, providing warm ups and stretches for the riders, and motivating the riders by joining in with the singing and music!

Credit: Matt Alexander
  • What kind of things did you do for the riders?

Mainly massages, but also getting them their preferred drinks and snacks and giving them advice with hydration and recovery to help them be in the best possible state for the following day. It was the little pieces of information you provided which they were so grateful for!

  • Did you have many injured riders?

Luckily there was not any serious injuries, just riders suffering with sore necks, as as the days continued more sore backs and legs!

  • What massage tools did you use most often?

I tended to just use my hands and elbows! I recommended the cyclists used the foam roller and massage balls I had with me.

  • Was a lot of taping required?

A few of the riders required taping, particularly on the calves and knees, but I expected it to be in higher demand. Generally the muscles were just fatigued and required a loose off, rather than specific taping.

  • Can you roughly run through what a typical day at the event was like?

We would wake up, have a quick rinse in the shower then grab some food and a coffee. We’d then take our bags to the car and travel to the start of the ride. We would set up the feed stations with snacks and drinks, and erect the banners, then set up our beds ready to treat the cyclists. On a morning we would treat for about an hour and loosen off any tight muscles/ aches. Once each group had set off, we would pack up our beds and drive to the lunch stop.

The distance to next stop would often be about an hour, so I usually tried to get my head down and have a quick nap. We would arrive at the lunch stop, and again help the crew set up and set our beds up. We would grab some lunch and usually have some time to practice techniques on one another, or just have a lie down on the beds! The lunch stop was always the longest stop, we would massage for a couple of hours here. The time would fly everyday, as we chatted to cyclists they were back on their way before you knew it!

There was usually another stop in the afternoon, where massages were provided for a further hour before we pack up and leave for the hotel. We would provide some massages before dinner was served, but mainly after depending on the time that the cyclists arrived at the hotel. We would finish treating about 10.30pm, then we’d head back to the room and have some time to relax and wind down before it all started again the following morning.

Credit: Matt Alexander
  • Is there any advice you’d give to future therapists?

I was super nervous before the start of this event, given I am only a newly qualified therapist. I thought i would be out of my depth, but these therapists are the most lovely and supportive people, within minutes you manage to feel at home with them. There is so much positive energy, fun and laughter shared within the group, it makes the whole experience truly enjoyable as a therapist and especially for the riders. So my advice would be to stay energetic and positive as this vibe rubs off on another making you feel at ease, and help one another out in anyway you can. We all would struggle on a certain day, but pick each other up and it allows everything to run more smoothly.

Sleep is also a winner! Whenever you can catch a few winks, make the most of it, as the days can be very long.

  • Any advice for future London to Paris riders?

A lot of riders this year from the start suffered with cramping. So make sure you are consuming enough electrolytes, be that in a drink, or in tablets. The weather was very warm and riders were suffering with dehydration, but ensure you are putting yourself in the best position for the following day.

Mainly enjoy the experience, it is such a fantastic event to be part of, so take in every second of it!

Thanks Dani ☺

Credit: Matt Alexander

Dani joins the team only recently graduating from University and then setting up her own practice in Whitby. The feedback from other therapists was excellent and the event organiser also highlighting how well the team work together and brought much energy to often tired and slightly grumpy cyclists! Thank you for all your hard work Dani and we look forward to seeing you on the road again soon.

For more information about Dani and how to book in with her, pop over to her Business Facebook page – HERE 

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