I am quite literally in the vortex, the road racing season has kicked off, the crit season is well and truly underway, time trials are looming and there is that small issue that I race for a MTB team which has universally raised the bar and will be expecting some solid results this year.
In truth maybe they won’t be (actually ‘expecting’ anything), the results come naturally and they have faith in the pressure I put on myself, thats a beauty of it, leave riders to do their thing their way and results emerge. But I do feel like a Jekyl and Hyde bike rider!
Over the last six weekends I’ve racked up a decent chunk of hard mileage, seen the red line and passed it more than a couple of times and revelled in the pure unadulterated speed and proximity of racing on the road.
We race on tight open roads in the UK, we have ‘NEG’ riders (National Escourt Group) who try marshall and protect us on their day-glo motorbikes but essentially we are going hell for leather down country lanes at speed where anything from a horse to an angry tractor driver could emerge without warning. The danger of it adds to the the prickly edginess and heigthened sense of awareness that breeds bike handling second to none and a mutual respect through the riders and organisers that only gets better as you move up the rankings.
Its thrilling! No less thrilling, certainly not, crit racing, maybe I have an unnatural need to bury myself in the pain but crit racing is like dog racing where the dogs are pitbulls and the hare is a hand grenade! Exceptionally aggressive (ok its not a cage fight) but you fight tooth and nail for a clean line and better wheel, you cannot and must not ever knock a roadie who races crit!
‘YAWN’ you cry, guys admit it, you want to try it, but the thought of shelling out another few thousand dollars for a road steed makes your eyes water and if anyone mentions ‘Strava’ in the same breath as Instagramming their flat white you want to box their ears in ‘roadies, all the gear no idea’.
Maybe, believe me we swim in a sea of wealthy full pro kit wrong bike wollies every weekend but hey, they’re riding, simultaneously learning the dangers their cars create, getting healthier, happier, hooray them! So for me when it comes to giving the legs workouts they will remember and forcing your top end out of your lungs whilst not sitting on a turbo its really hard to beat the cocktail of hard club chaingangs, multi day road races, midweek crit lunacy and just the odd sprinkling of solid time trial!
I’ll admit it, I am panicking, there is something nagging, something sitting in the corner of my office gleaming, my MTB, this is no way for a MTB to be, it needs that little bit of adventure reminder! I must sort this out, WILLIAM we need to got to AFAN!!
Confessions of a secret roadie…