I’m lucky in that most of the time I’ve been up the front in most things that I’ve done. Its actually pretty easy leading as just by being there you must have some form and so a minor effort puts you ahead. If you are slightly off the pace you can just sit in mid bunch. Even off road, where you can’t hide like a roadie, psychologically you feel safe mid pack. It’s quite easy to forget the guys at the back. Well hats off to you slow coaches, from the front it looks as if you’re dithering, but its tough back there. It’s not a place that I want to get used to although I am finding myself there all too often.
I’ve just had another pasting. Joe and Barney are racing regularly and wanted to get some miles in as a warm up for their next one. We didn’t ride that far or that fast but after all the climbing when we started the run back home I was hanging on. There was a head wind (definitely not in the plan) so drafting was essential. My colleagues ride so close to parked cars that they are virtually clipping wing mirrors. I’m too scared to ride there so I’m out in the road driving into wind trying to catch them at 25mph. Then the car chasing and traffic light sprinting started. I missed every single break and spent the whole way back from Rottingdean trying to close ever increasing gaps. When it was 25 metres it was doable. But each effort to close the gap ate into my reserves and the gaps got bigger. I was always the one that got the car at the round about or couldn’t clip in after the lights went green. What prolonged this torture was that we stopped at every traffic light so I could just catch up just in time for the next sprint to begin. It was as if I was on an elastic band, watching my friends pull away and, some how, the elastic never broke – some how I managed to catch up.
Earlier on near Egburton we met a girl riding alone. We chatted and found that she had recently managed the schools squad, she works with British Cycling and as the conversation went on found that Catherine had ridden with the current crop of super stars including Geriant Thomas and Mark Cavendish. It must be incredibly exciting times for her working directly with some of the best cyclist in the world especially considering the unmatched success of British Cycling today. It’s always worth having a chat when you meet a fellow rider. However, the conversation was to haunt me later on.
Back to my journey home. As I tried to close all the gaps and my legs were screaming I thought of those top class riders and in every interview or book they all talk about pushing themselves that bit harder. I knew that whatever I was feeling in my legs, all that I had to do was ride harder and faster and I’d catch up. It worked every time but how much pain can you endure? I cracked at Grand Avenue and said goodbye as they headed off to do another 10 miles.
At the other end of the spectrum I met Rocco out for a ride with his daughter. How lucky he is to have both is son and daughter to ride with.
I’ve got to lose at least 3 kilos, preferbly 5 – no more cake and biscuits in the shop! I don’t like watching them ride away from me on the steep hills.