Sunday, 12 June 2016

Hanging Up The Race Wheels.

So what's that....about forty one years of cycle racing in one form or another. Now the time has come to call it a day, possibly a few days too late?
Why? Many reasons. and I mean the good life is getting in the way. I was thinking just the other night, a Friday night in fact. I was sitting in a club, I had my arms around a beautiful woman, there was a great R&R band playing, and the dance floor was empty just beckoning us to jive the night away, which we did. Somehow the thought of turbos and the ensuing stats just didn't seem that attractive anymore!
Then there's the enthusiasm. I still have it, but it's clear from my posts of late that it's waning. I mean I still ride, and still enjoy fact slightly more than before, but there's no desire to go any further than the ride.
I can also see that fresh enthusiasm in my younger peers, or club mates new to all of this, and my own pales into insignificance. And once there was a time I fought hard within myself to keep going, but kicking back has been a blessed relief. And I now take in great amounts of pleasure watching all my fellow riders progress....have fun and add to that little private palmares of their own.
And a very close friend said just the other day 'enjoy created proud'
So there we have it.
Forty one years. Longer than that if you count the years that John 'Gino' Goddard took me and my first riding and racing partner out, before we were deemed ready...nay allowed to race!
That was with Kenton RC, when shorts and jersey's were wool or silk and crash helmets were leather.
Gino gave me a good grounding in 'how to ride' to to hold the to dress...and even how to look at your opponents.
He must have taught me well, winning my age group in the Afia Memorial in my first year. And I soon had a short 21 minute 10 mile TT, and a sub 1 hour 25 mile TT under my belt, all on a 10 speed steel racer and not an aero product in sight.  
Moving out of London I joined the Hemel. Even back then you had to serve a probationary period with the club before you were allowed to race in club colours. I think more to just see if you were a liability or not.....lesson to be learnt there?
I never did race with the Hemel. There was a new club on the block the Bossard Wheelers. BWCC was a club at the right moment in time, it was small, but we had six lads....yes I was a lad that could race. Another lad was Miles Walker now with me/us in the LBRCC. None of us had kids, and we could race whenever we chose. We were a tight outfit in a sport that was getting super competitive. For example, the Milk Race used to come by here and it wasn't unusual for the Elites from the race to pop down and race amongst us at the MK Bowl evening races. We used to pose for the TV cameras.
Then there were the names I raced....and obviously I use the word race loosely, never the less race them I did....Chris Boardman, Roger Hammond, Malcom Elliot, Jeremy Hunt. And while I chose a career  in the electrical industry, they all went on to ride in the Tour de France.
Kids came along for all of us at the same time, and eventually the club became just a name on a list somewhere.
I had a little dabble in Triathlon, competing in the first ever UK full Ironman, but the jack of all trades aspect of Triathlon didn't appeal.
Then followed a decade racing Mountain bikes. Road racing was in decline at this stage, so many riders took this path. Though the popularity of mountainbiking grew the industry and later that would create the strong base for UK racing to return in the future.
I enjoyed my years racing fat tyres, I never had a win, but did podium a few times. I rode countless enduros, eleven 24 hour races, four 12 hour races and broke..fractured....sprained....and twisted more bones and muscle in that short period of time than the whole of my life put together.
By late 2000 and something local road racing was on the up again. I hastily bought the only race bike in the local shop (yes not many shops sold road bikes at that time) I took it up the Bowl to race.
That went okay, so I tweeked it a little and kept racing.
Some things had changed. Now you could get 10 points for a win at the MK Bowl and instantly move up a Cat. This I found had an adverse effect as it made the racing short fast and pretty dangerous. Previously you needed 30 points to move up a Cat, and a win at the Bowl back then only offered 3 points i.e you'd need ten wins.
Still I raced on without a club. The Bossard had disappeared, though I knew two guys were keeping it going and racing only TT's.
I put up notice in the shops and on media about reforming a local road club. And  I had a few guys interested. It was also at this time that the local council organised....created several riding groups, including one for sporting road cyclists. The council road group had a profile, and I and my riding partners had vast experience. During a mixed ride we stopped at the top of Well lane near Wing and I suggested we form a proper BC affiliated local road club. And after a quick meeting in the Bottom Bell the LBRCC was formed. So proud of that.
The LBRCC has done me well these last five years. Even won a race at the Bowl in 2013. Had some good years racing CX, but I think I have a successor now. Took some time out in 2014 to ride my only Super Randoneur. And managed to ride some iconic roads and mountains at the same time.
So I'll rest on that.......for now........and the race bike isn't up for sale.
Gone Dancin