The year's end: conclusion
This has been created a little later than I originally intended, however with the launch of the team happening in November, I decided that it would be more interesting to wrap up the year in a third and final piece, concluding a neat trilogy. I left off with the final road race of this year where I finished second (Finsburry Park CC). The final event of 2018 was the Chelmer cycling club's 2 up TT with a twist. After a period of downtime - well relative downtime -I undertook a 40hr driving course during the week I spent off the bike, it was November and training in the cold and wet was on the cards again before we swiftly moved into the team launch and preparations for 2019!
The Gp des gentlemen was the final competitive event of 2018. It is a 2up event where a younger rider paces an older rider or man paces a woman for a 15 mile course which finishes a top Hawkins Hill near Finchingfield (more of a Berg); upon this hill the rider who has been paced is required to sprint off to finish to set the pair's time. I paired up with local club legend Nick Boyle and paced him to the fastest time by a minute. It was a very nice way to end the year's racing. We also set a new course record to boot!
It was then time to have a period of rest. I took two weeks off the bike. I had decided previously to this that I would use the time to learn to drive and hopefully pass my driving test. Driving is almost an essential skill for a cyclist as the races almost definitely require you to drive to them (unless they are a town centre crit). I didn't pass first time to my own embarrassment. I just need to ensure that I drive more slowly! Following that week I took a total break from what I would consider vigorous activity and spent the week running (very slowly), reading and writing. I am very fond of literature and poetry and I spend the time that I am not thinking about the bike engaged in writing or reading or writing about reading or reading about writing. This all may seem very dull to you but maybe one day I'll share one of my poems here and try to convince you otherwise.
At the end of this sabbatical week it was time to go back intro training which has only up to now consisted of base miles, long endurance rides that have been complimented by a few strength efforts and some time doing core exercises to a greater degree than I would do in summer.
I don't go to the gym because I prefer to do my strength work outside in the fresh air. I felt fortunate that the weather has been as favourable as it has been up to now. "Winter" training has been an unusual pleasure. Now that the weather has turned I recently encountered my first illness of the 2019 campaign, a mild, but frustrating enough cold, though I am skipping ahead now.
Before time rolled on into December the next big event subsequent to my break was the 2019 Vitus pro cycling team launch. Everyone is aware now of the stellar line up that the team has for 2019 but the evening spent in such illustrious company still feels to me like a dream. I never would have imagined upon leaving the ranks of HMT that in two years I would be racing on the same team as multiple British cycling legends and others who will surely go on to make similar names for themselves! having time to interact with Ed Clancy the man who has "done it all"; a multiple Olympic champion left me feeling like the bright eyed enthused 10 year old I was when I was yet to begin even racing a bike. Fixed to the Television in starry eyed wonder at the speed and precision and art of Bike racing. I think that excitement may have boiled over in my brief introductory interview as I attempted some appalling jokes. It is bemusing to think that I am now riding with the man I watched win gold in the 2008 Olympic team pursuit and it just confirms how far I have come from riding my little islabike with undersized wheels around car parks! The company of Graham Briggs, Ali slater and Chris Latham is similarly enthralling as I have been watching them race from the TV screen for as long as I can remember. All the riders on the team are extremely accomplished individuals and I am honoured to be in their company.
The full line up is in no particular order:
Equally stupefying was the introductory interview conducted by Bryan Smith (who is Scottish!), he introduced every rider in turn, a man that I have literally listened to for hours upon end through Eurosport cycling coverage; the reality still keeps me a wake at night in awe!
At the end of the evening it was clear that the teams management and all the riders had to come together to demonstrate that we will be a fighting force in 2019 and that is surely down to the incredible hard work of Cherie Pridham and the non-rider staff around her who ultimately make the team what it is. Everything has been pitched for what promises to be a great year!