When Harry sings…

Keep right on to the end of the road,
Keep right on to the end,
Tho’ the way be long, let your heart be strong,
Keep right on round the bend.

If I’d ever ranked the things I was going to write about in this blog in order of likelihood, evoking the ghost of Scottish music hall stalwart Harry Lauder would have been somewhere around the bottom.

However, the rousing lyrics of his most famous song, some of which open today’s piece, are to be my guiding light today, lest the final line quoted above comes true in an altogether different meaning…

This blog is, after all, supposed to be a form of entertainment.  Both for me as writer and, hopefully, for you as reader.  And as such I’m never going to be afraid of poking fun at my own shortcomings as a cyclist and human being in order to raise a smile.

But there comes a point when the temptation to write 600 words bemoaning yet another slice of bad cycling luck comes at the price of forever consigning my blog to a dustbin marked ‘Bitching and Moaning’.

So I’m not going to do that.  I’m not going to talk about the puncture that cost me – and more importantly my fellow riders Mark and Rich who kindly waited for me – any chance of a silver standard time at the Puncheur Sportive.  I’m not going to talk about the delicious irony of losing sweat and fingernails for more than an hour fitting a pair of supposedly impregnable Continental Gatorskin tyres to the bike, only for the rear to pinch puncture after I took my eyes off the tarmac for a moment and consequently rode into a pot hole that seemed to occupy most of the centre of the road (thanks, local council).

Nope.  In this new and rather alien climate of positivity I’m just going to ignore all that and focus instead on the good things about yesterday.  And here they are:

1) The Puncheur really is a great little event.  And the organisers won’t mind me using the term ‘little’ since they deliberately keep the numbers down to a manageable size that gives it more of a club-run feel.  The route’s a good one too; it’s hilly because Sussex is hilly, but whoever planned it did not just pick out every lump they could find and simply string them all together…there are plenty of nice, flattish sections in which to get into a bit of a rhythm.  I especially liked the closing section between Warninglid and Ditchling, familiar roads where I knew I could put the hammer down a bit.  It will certainly be the only sportive I do this year but I feel another crack at it might be in order in 2012, provided I get my entry in before it sells out, which it does very quickly.

Displaying the now-familiar "race face" Green crests the summit of the Beacon in fine style...

2) Post-puncture morale issues aside, I felt pretty strong on the day, which is good news with my next race now less than a week away.  My form was also encouraging because it was bloody cold out there, at least until the sun started shining late on in the ride.  I normally don’t seem to go so well when the temperature drops to around freezing, so that’s great.  Better still, although the Goodwood Circuit is apparently quite exposed to the elements I doubt it will be quite so parky next weekend…

3) There were some good folks on the ride, not least my Bayeux team-mate Rich, whose seemingly photographic memory for the route put my pathetic directional abilities to shame.  We’ll be racing together in the 4ths next weekend – it will be good to have a friendly face in what is sure to be a more harum-scarum bunch than the drowned rats of Longcross.  Mark from cyclosport.org was also a perfect sportive companion – happy to take his turns on the front and hugely patient while some stranger faffed about with a puncture while the clock ticked and his muscles got colder and colder…

4) It was also great to meet Scott and to see a NeilPryde Diablo bike in the flesh.  I have a little bit of history with this promising new entrant to the world of bike manufacturing, and I’m definitely hoping to take him up on his offer of trying one out for myself.

So there you go.  You tuned in expecting Morrissey and you got Forrest Gump.  All roads now lead to Goodwood, for Race 2 in my fledgling career as a cycling apprentice.  I’m starting to feel the anticipation gnawing at my insides already.  Although that could just be the results of scoffing one too many caffeine-enriched energy gels yesterday…

This is not, as it may appear, a random cycling pic intended merely to spice up this page. Instead it's my way of celebrating the superb victory of Thomas de Gendt in yesterday's Stage 1 of the Paris-Nice. Anyone who watched the 2009 Tour of Britain will be familiar with Mr de Gendt, who took it upon himself to try an audacious solo breakaway on just about every stage, spicing up that race enormously. I've been a big fan ever since – chapeau sir! The excellence of the photo by Sirotti also serves as a bit of a plug to one of my favourite pro cycling websites, cyclingfans.com – if you haven't checked it out, do so!

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2 Responses to When Harry sings…

  1. Morgan says:

    You write well. Keep doing it! See you at Goodwood. Can’t wait.

  2. Paul Mitchelson says:

    Good to meet you on Sunday, glad you enjoyed the ride. Paul Mitchelson (Richard’s Dad.)

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