THE BITTERLY cold weather has not prevented Pete Vincent getting out on his bike this week.
As he prepares for his debut season as a professional cyclist, the motivation to train is stronger than ever.
Vincent, 24, has realised a long-held ambition by signing as a pro rider with Twenty3c.co.uk-Focus, a club based in Milton Keynes.
Long and lonely training rides on Exmoor will be worth it when it comes to competing in Premier Calendar events against the UK's best this summer.
In the winter months, Vincent, from Braunton, puts himself in the saddle for up to 30 hours a week on the roads or on the turbo trainer.
"It's such a hard sport, riding every day in this weather," he said. "You have got to love it.
"In this country, you would never get out if you waited for the weather.
"I go up on Exmoor as much as I can. The roads are so quiet and nice and hilly."
Away from the temperature and terrain of North Devon, Vincent has recently spent a month training in California. "There are some massive climbs out there," he said.
Just before he left for the trip to the USA, the news came through about the offer from Twenty3c.
Having established himself as a strong time-triallist, Vincent has been learning the ropes as a road racer for Mid Devon CC since 2008.
He has now become the seventh member of the Kingsteignton club to turn professional.
"I made the decision two years ago to focus mainly on road racing," he said.
"These days you can make a career of it. Time trialling seems to be more of a dying sport.
"For the last two years I have been trying to get into a professional team so it's nice to finally get there.
"It's like a full-time job. I have worked for my dad's building company since I left school and I won't be doing that so much now."
Since he was a teenager, Vincent has enjoyed competing on two wheels – although cycling was not his first sport.
"I used to do motocross," he said. "I started cycling to keep fit for motocross then I started doing better at cycling.
"I first started (cycling) when I was about 12 or 13, not properly, just playing around.
"I used to do the club ten-mile time trial with North Devon Wheelers at Bishops Tawton. That's what got me into it. My dad and grandad used to race. It's a bit of a family sport."
Vincent finished sixth in the British National Time Trial Championships in Leicestershire last season.
The National Road Race Championships in Yorkshire were less successful as he struggled on his own against formidable opposition.
"I was the sole rider for Mid Devon Cycling last year and the pace was unbelievable with Team Sky and Endura on the front," he said.
Being with Twenty3c will now give Vincent strength in numbers in the big races.
"I have always enjoyed the climbing side and time trialling," he said. "Sprinting is definitely where I am weakest.
"If we are racing a race that doesn't suit me I can work for the team and if the race suits me I'll have the team working for me."
Vincent expects to make his debut for Twenty3c in the Severn Bridge Road Race on March 4.
"Then it's going to be the Premier Calendar road races and I think there's talk of going to France and Belgium to do some races," he said. "I would like to get some consistent results in the Premier Calendar races, that's the main focus."
Starting on April 27 in Northumberland, the Premier Calendar includes six stages, beginning with the two-day Tour of the Reservoir.
Further races will take place in Lincoln, Northumberland, Stockton-on-Tees, Abergavenny and Ryedale.