Monday, December 2, 2013

Ted's view.....from 'the pits'

Today's pits are in many ways 'the pits', but as the old saying goes every pit has a silver lining. Another first for me in this weekends race events, and not a good one. DNF. There I've said it, and it still stings like nest of angry hornets.

Let's roll the VT and see how we got there. Another massive weekend at the National Trophy, and being part of the excellent Team that is I was able to travel down early and my bikes arrived later in the big red CX bus. It's big, it's red, and it has CX written on it. You can't miss it. So here's a clue to the silver lining, a cycling 'Team' is not like other teams. I've played countless football matches and for that you need a team: you play together or you lose. Sometimes you play together AND you lose. My teams mainly did the latter, but it was always fun. Cycling is very much an individual pursuit, so the team element can be more subtle, non-existent or full on. At CXM it's full on.

So onto the racing, blessed with a rare nights sleep ahead of a National Trophy race I was primed and ready to fly. I'd even checked out the venue the day before, thanks to local in-laws for the excellent hospitality. Gridded towards the back (I really don't need to mention that again do I?) I got a flyer and passed at least a dozen riders before turn one, off camber, up hill where I started the slow but continuous hemorrhaging of those hard won places. No matter I'll ride as hard as I can for 40 mins and see what happens. As usual riders were falling like skittles in front of me, so I gained back a place or two here and there. I rode up the embankment, next lap decided to run it to see if it was faster or easier. Neither. So I rode it for the third ascent and that's when my bike made the decisive move. The chain snapped with a solid ping and I was left with zero forward motion. No problem, jump off and start running, there's a spare bike in the pits waiting for me with team support. I jog, then I ride down the nasty adverse camber and start the run up the concrete. 

Then it starts to dawn on me, I've got more running on concrete, then the best part of half a lap up and down the excellent MK Bowl race circuit, then the pits. At best I could finish dead last. That's not really the issue, we've all been there before (or is that just me?). No, it's game over, but my brain won't allow it. No it really is game over. I'm super lucky as in many years of 'cross I've never had to make that decision in a race before, but this time I did and it was the right one. But a difficult decision nonetheless. A special mention here has to go to Richard Bennett (Cotswold Veldrijden) who I'd passed earlier and had suffered a similar fate. Undaunted, he jogged round and at least finished. Respect.

Back in the pits Team issues once again come to the fore, and fortunately there's no time to feel sorry for myself. Sarah is getting ready to race in 10 mins and has two bikes in need of attention. Fortunately Hope Factory Racing's PIT Guru himself, Jamie Brady is on hand to help. I'm needed mainly to act as Jamie's bike stand, it's a good job for me in my current state. It's always a pleasure to watch a master craftsman at work and Jamie, who is Paul Oldham's 'go to' PIT support, is just that. A few deft moves with an Allen key and the gears are purring, seat height, for and aft all sorted. Over to you Sarah. Give 'em hell (and she did, see below).
Picture courtesy of same Richard Bennett

Back at the CX bus and it's time to reflect of what might have been, find out how Steve got on, and most importantly recover. Today's recovery is crumpets dipped in Hazel Farm eggs, freshly cooked to order. Really it doesn't get much better that that. So thanks goes to all team-mates, helpers and supporters this weekend. Roll on next. Let's hope bad luck isn't like the big red London buses, coming in twos and threes. 

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