“Look, just stick at it! If ye keep up top and in the mix something might open up for you one week. Stop thinking about trying to win, start thinking of giving yourself the best chance of winning and if it doesn’t work out you know you gave your best. Some days that’s not going to be enough but some day it will, a gap will open and the cards will fall into place but you need to be there to take full advantage. Keep putting yourself there and be ready when it does open up for you. If all else fails, persistence prevails.”
After a soaking in the Traders Cup and “nil points” 12-15th manic bunch finish yet again the low ebbs came again. Its September. It’s getting wet and cold. Do you really need to race 3 more days??
Winter is calling. Biscuits and beer for a week, or two, or three (call it a month!) is lurking just around the corner. No more being dictated to by the sticky tape with hand-scrolled watts and times on your top-tube – you can just ride your bike with clubmates, enjoy dodgy petrol station coffee and eat scones (put on some winter plumage).
3 more days however mean 3 more opportunities to get ranking points, you only need a 1st and 2nd to move up even three 4thplace finishes would do the job……(You haven’t finished 8th – cue thoughts of beer and scones again!). But the Winter is long, I’ve already paid reg for two of the races online and my ever patient wife has given the green light for racing Saturday and Sunday in the last weekend(like a real pro).
So I’m up north and its pissing rain and we’ve 9 laps to do of a mundane 7.5km course. It’s so wet there are rivers on the road and a local farmer mid-course is working hard it seems on pulling sh*t loads of muck and stones onto the course from one of neighbouring fields. From the gun it gets progressively wetter and wetter. I can feel the rain pouring down my chest and into my bib shorts. Around lap 4 or 5 I’ve a nice bitter taste of muck in my mouth. “Ye’d be just aswell licking the rats piss off the road” I think was how one rider described it.
At the worst of times peripheral vision was not existent as my glasses were wet through and fogging up constantly, take them off however and that continuous sting in my eyes would make sure my contacts would be quickly gone down my jersey as quick as the rain.
Conditions must have made marshalling a nightmare too as more often than not we were met at corners by cars turning towards us. On one occasion the marshall somehow managed to direct a car onto our side of the road in an attempt to get out of the way and another car came straight onto a roundabout and had to jam on before they ploughed into the entire bunch.
Do I really need this? I’m passing my car every lap and getting more and more tempted to jump in and go home. You’re wet now and it took you an hour to get here so stick at it.
Finally lap 9 came. “Just stay up front and out of trouble because this is gonna get twitchy” a clubmate advises as I follow his wheel. From 2km out it starts to line-out, lads are going for it – I’m going for it and moving up nicely. There’s a small drag. A few of the early movers die back. I’m moving up. It’s bunching between here and another small lift over the motorway. I slip out right. I’m still moving up….I’m 3rd wheel and descending into the final turn. It’s a quick drop to a tight left hander and then a 100m sprint. “Give yourself a 50-50 chance of hitting the deck and winning going around this” I say to myself. I’m around the corner before I finish the thought and still 3rd wheel. 1ST goes for it. Come on 2nd lead me out! He never does. I jump and nab second. 1st wins by 2 meters. But I’M SECOND I can’t believe it. I could have won that. Roll on next weekend.