“When you’re racing, it… it’s life.
Anything that happens before or after… is just waiting.”
Steve McQueen was a bone fide legend among men, but I doubt he would have enjoyed the wacky world of 4th Cat bike racing. He preferred his two wheeled transport to be the petrol-powered variety. And with the state of the poor bastard’s lungs it’s unlikely he would have made it past half distance at the Longcross Test Track on a soggy winter Saturday.
But that McQueen quote at the top (from the movie Le Mans)…it really does crystallise exactly how I feel now the last drops of rainwater have dried up and my fairly insignificant injuries have started to heal.
I feel incredibly, astonishingly energised. I feel like I’ve hit something of a rich vein of fitness and form. I just want to get out there again and give it full gas when it really counts, having endured the frustration of racing without really racing; forced to hold myself back from charging up through the bunch because as a lapped rider I (quite rightly) wasn’t allowed to.
The Surrey League website lists me as 24th and last finisher of Saturday’s event. Not much, but better I suppose than the 16 unfortunates who didn’t finish the race for various reasons. Mostly drowning or hypothermia at a guess.
I’m facing a £90 (plus labour) bill for our team sponsors The Tristore to replace the busted brake lever, but that’s a lot better than it could have been since the initial diagnosis was a complete replacement of the full STI lever set at somewhere north of 250 smackers.
And any self-pity about my sore hip, shoulder and elbow was quickly dispelled when I saw the photos of the Malaysian rider Awang after his crash at the Manchester Track World Cup meet.
And he finished the race like that…cycle racing is a big boys’ sport, and no mistaking…
So now it’s three loooong weeks until the Surrey League makes its first visit of the year to Goodwood Circuit, on Sunday 13th March. With a host of races on the day this is set for a decent turnout of Bayeux boys in all categories, including a handful of us in the 4ths race.
It should also mark a first spectating experience for the wife and son, who quite wisely demurred from travelling to Longcross and thus avoided an hour and a half standing by the roadside in the freezing cold and pouring rain for absolutely no return whatsoever.
I have promised to stay off the bike entirely next weekend to ensure a more family-focused couple of days (oh, the sacrifice!), so I’m going to have to work like hell whenever I get the chance to ride if I want to keep this energy going and give a good account of myself in front of the expectant crowd.
To help keep things ticking over, and for a bit of variety in my training, I’ve put a 69-mile sportive finishing at the top of Ditchling Beacon in the diary for 6th March. A sportive! I know; what a blast from the past that will be. Almost like a return to a former life. A life before bike racing. A life where everything that happened was just…well… was just waiting.