The power of positive thinking, Jens Voight style.
I need a bit of that just now, to be truthful. This week promises to be something of a watershed for my fledgling racing career, with two events inked in my calendar and a third a definite possibility, all within a hectic five-day stretch.
The story begins this Wednesday with the sixth of the snappily-titled Eelmore Cycle Kingdom Circuit Series races, organised by the VC Meudon club on closed roads normally used by the military for driver training. I nearly entered the first one of these, just before the Majorca trip, but a rainy day (remember those??) left me erring on the side of caution lest another crash put me out of my Balearic jaunt.
The Eelmore circuit, as can be seen in this YouTube clip, is basically two straights linked by one tight and one open hairpin. It looks like it has plenty of tree cover, so hopefully won’t be quite as bleak and windswept as Goodwood. The 3rd and 4th Cats race together, so I will be joined in the race by our team DS Mark, from whom I’m hoping to pick up some tips along the way. If he somehow helps me to avoid being constantly shuffled up and down the pack during a race he’ll have done a man’s job.
Two evenings later the Brighton Mitre club is holding another of its regular crit races in Hove Park, which is just a short car ride away so is highly tempting. This is my ‘maybe’ event…much will depend on what happens at Eelmore; also whether I can get another pass out for the night. I have no idea whether the race has any exclusive use of the park’s pathways, but I guess a few dogs yapping at our ankles will help to keep the peloton rolling.
The ‘big one’ – for me, anyway – is on Sunday, in the unlikely form of a 4th Cat only closed road crit that runs up and down Eastbourne seafront. The wife, the lad and the in-laws are all heading down to the seaside to make a day of it, so the onus is on me to put in some sort of a decent performance in the race. That way at least they’ll be able to see that there’s some point to what I’m trying to do with this cycling malarkey. No pressure then.
If only I had a scrap of form to take into this Week of Truth. Ah, form; that mystical state in cycling where everything suddenly becomes easier and you float on the road instead of being stuck to it. When you don’t have to tell your legs to shut up, because the only sound coming from them is a gentle pleading for more punishment.
Ha! Chance would be a fine thing. Far from hitting form I feel like I’ve been going backwards of late, unable to put together any sort of structured training and still burdened by poor morale after my rather chastening recent experiences at Goodwood. Sadly that 16th place I posted earlier in the season is increasingly looking like a fluky high point rather than a harbinger of late-blossoming bike racing talent.
A few hours after I put up my last blog entry, the Belgian professional rider Wouter Weylandt was killed while competing in the Giro d’Italia.
The cycling community was united in its grief that one of their own had been taken so tragically; the following day’s stage was transformed into one of the most moving and beautiful tributes I’ve ever seen in all my years of watching sport. I don’t mind admitting I wept bitter tears for every moment of it I could bear to watch.
Wouter Weylandt leaves behind a girlfriend who is expecting their first child this autumn. In support of the family, the American clothing company Stomach of Anger is releasing a special t-shirt inscribed with “108”, Weylandt’s Giro number.
They can be found here: http://www.stomachofanger.com/108.shtml
If you can afford it, buy one. It’s the least you can do.