Sunday, 22 December 2013

Twelve months on two wheels

Okay there are a few days shoot me. Actually the way I've felt these last three weeks I wish some one would. Sadly a bout of Bronchitis has robbed me of my last few weeks of riding and racing in 2013, but I've got a fair bit to look back over.
To summarise. 29 races started. 3 races I didn't get to. 3 races where I got a great big DNF. I had one win, three 3rd's and a shed load of top tens. Five reliability trials. Four sportives and one Audax. I rode in three other countries. I went to see the pros race on the Continent. I pedaled over the pavé and I pedaled over the Pyrenees. And I pedaled up and down this green and pleasant  land. I rode through wind, rain, snow and sunshine, I even rode for hours in my garage! I raced my road bike, I raced my cyclo cross bike and I raced my mountain bike. I cemented old friendships as well as making new ones. I smiled, I grimaced, I felt euphoria, I felt pain, I lost sweat and I lost blood. And all fueled  by coffee cake and beer.
The highlights of the year? The win has to be up there, even if it was a depleted field in the pouring rain, I still had to battle for it.
Then the Pavé. Surprisingly in the four decades I've been racing I'd never been there. I can recall that upon seeing the sign for the Arenberg I got a shiver down my spine. I conjured up  images of Eddy, Roger, Bernard and Greg, the sense of being 'on' cycling history is immense. The surrounding areas are perhaps best appreciated only by the cyclists, not one for the family.
The most memorable trip was the one to the Pyrenees with Fraser and Philip. Trips away are always great, but this one was made better by staying at Frasers second home in Luchon. Quite simply a riders heaven. Wake, coffee, Patisserie, ride, thermes and walk to the cafés, arrange chairs to admire the mademoiselles drink, eat and repeat.

Perhaps the downside of the year was the National Road race Championships. The race itself was second to none, but I was training hard for half the season for something that was out of my league. I did my best, I obeyed the rules, but in the end I didn't have the legs or the attitude. I remember getting angry at all the riders I'd drop eventually catching me up by riding over the white lines all the time despite the commissaires constant warnings, I couldn't bring myself to what is effectively cheating, could I have stayed in longer if I had? After the race I had a long hard think and decided I didn't have the time or desire to work any harder to reach the levels I'd need to be at to compete at that level. In a way it was a weight off my shoulders, and it'll free up a lot of time in 2014. Perhaps the 3 Peaks or another mountain bike 24 hour solo?

So back to the end of 2013. And a season of (as yet unfinished)  cyclo cross has gone pretty well, I managed to cling onto 3rd overall in age for the first nine races, illness probably means a final standing nearer 6th?
I haven't let this get me down too much though, and decided to marshal when I could. Wrapped up like Scott of the Antarctic I marshaled the local round of the National Trophy. Field was amazing, watch out you Belges.  And I had a chat with Roger Hammond, which was nice! and it sort of took things full circle as I remember going to Leeds in 1992 to see him take the World Junior title, and now here he was managing a team.of his own.

So there we have it, just a few words, but it doesn't go anywhere near capturing the entire joy riding and all it entails brings to me, wrapping handlebars, fitting tyres, hitting the buy button, getting lost, cutting rides short, training, racing, talking bollocks, beasting your mates, getting dropped, getting in a crafty one after work, the wind on your back, just everything, good times or bad times without one the experience isn't complete.
On the Arenbergs pavé
Summiting the Tourmalet 

cyclo cross action

Criteriums at the MK Bowl
In readiness for 3 hours of XC racing
Audax with Fraser and Keith
Riding for the hell of it

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