Into the Autumn feat. MTN Quebeka

It’s not easy to bare your soul – especially to the jackals of social media…. or to new colleagues!!! But that appears to be what I had done with that post that went a bit viral.
Embarrassed? Yeah. Glad I wrote it? Equally.
That probably explains why my last blog post was a bit stilted. And why I failed to write up my ToB as usual.

September has been busy. More so that usual, with me chasing around after the ToB, doing a SBCU course at Chessington and shooting off to the Cycle Show. I’ve barely ridden the bike to be honest – having been absolutely shattered, or like this week a bit too ill.

The Tour of Britain was again bloody brilliant. I’m always early to arrive – but you are guaranteed the finish crew are already there building up the finish area. Wrexham was great, catching up with old friends – Rob Kennison and Mavis Evans, and Andy Barron from Festina. And meeting up with the ToB crew proper. Paul Baillie, doing a ridiculous amount of work as usual and putting in some serious hours. Chris Darby – H&S assistant and all round legend, and the rest.
Wrexham was a bit of a blur. In and out of Race HQ, in and out of Team Parking, helping the volunteers out, greeting the team staff – Wiggins staff are brilliant and I’ve still no idea of their names! One Pro – Becky and Keith, Raleigh – Michelle and Milan, NFTO – Pete, Jane & Pov, JLT – Adrian…. The list is endless. It’s great to see so many friendly faces!
Finally stationed just after the finish with the swannys – the race is suddenly in and there are riders everywhere…

This is repeated again at Colne – I’ve never had so many high 5’s in my life, then it’s the long drive back to Surrey whilst the race moves on up North. I’m equally torn by wanting to go with it and being glad I’m in my own bed for a couple of nights!

Thursday turns out to be a bit special. On arrival at Jo Perrys in Stoke on Trent, I’m offered the chance to go as a VIP to Stoke On Trent: European City of Sport 2016 Launch. It’s incredible quite frankly. And a bit special to be sat right behind Jonathan Edwards and Colin Jackson and hear what they have to say.
As I’m listening, I’m frantically refreshing Twitter on my phone. Frantically and silently willing Eddy Boss to win the stage at Hartside.. then realising he’s in the yellow jersey. I actually allow myself to get ridiculously happy/excited (I’m pretty sure Jo can testify that I got a bit worried too…)


Because Brian Smith is right, there are the good people in cycling. Even right at the top level.
And because I get to spend the day with MTN Quebeka the next day…

Friday I get Jo to drop me off in town and I meet Mark Leyland at the start… nice and early, hot chocolate on tap from the Costa wagon. I help Jon, Paul and Lyndsey at Team Parking. A role I’m familiar with, and wait for MTN to roll in.
Eventually they do and I catch up with Veit – I can go with the guys to the feedzone.
Danijel is the driver and James let’s me sit in the front… and off we go, half following the race route to the feed zone, a quick garage stop (Danijel doesn’t like Dandelion and Burdock!), some hellish twisty roads and some drop dead gorgeous scenery when we fly up through the hills. It’s a stunning day, and it’s great fun with those two. Eventually we arrive at the feedzone and bump up on the grass to park up behind Raleigh.

Then the long wait.

The realisation there’s a rather large gap.

EBH is in the break.

There’s a lot of muttering and a few raised eyebrows. I actually wish I’d seen the race. A LOT of incredulity that the YELLOW jersey is in the break. There’s little to no phone signal – but eventually it’s confirmed. James asks me to time the gap when the breakaway comes through… suddenly it’s all business… motos, cars, and then the breakaway, rolling through uphill. Then the silence. The unbelievability that we all saw the yellow jersey in the break. The wait. Fidgety. I have a laugh with Michelle and Jane Wood as we wait and wait. Then finally. The peleton in the distance approaching fast. I glance at my stop watch. Look at James. ’22 mins by the time they get here’ I say. I’m right. They get through quickly – I shout happy birthday to Rob Partridge – then the DS stops next to us.

‘You coming with me?’ Danijel asks and I nod. ‘We’re to follow the peleton.’

Well this I didn’t expect! We’re in the car quickly and flying up over the hills to catch the race that never stops. Danijel is a damn good driver and I throughly enjoy being in a fast car (adrenalin junkie don’t cha know).

There’s something to be said about following Wiggo downhill at ridiculous speeds too – being in team car 1 means we sit right behind Commissaire 3 and the back of the bunch and therefore right behind Brad. And Conor Dunne. Big lad he is.

We manage to get some audio eventually and hear some of the last 10k. As EBH rolls over the line – we are over 35 mins away….

It’s really something to see and hear the crowds whilst out on route. Let alone be allowed to be there with them in the race.

Thanks to Danijel, James, Veit and especially Brian Smith. What an epic day! And fabulous people to spend it with.

A catch up with Holly Blades at the finish and Marty McCrossan gives me and my traffic directing friend Tori a lift to my car. Then the soul destroying drive to Ipswich (no Tory. Ipswich is not in Surrey!)

The finish in Ipswich is fine. I’ve seen none of the race. Had a barney with the bus driver from IAM. It’s packed with people. And I’m glad to get away and back to my own home, ready for the day long epic that is London.

I saw more of the race in London than I did any other day!

Thanks One Pro for the party after too….

I’m sad that I don’t get to see many of the crew until next year. The ToB has its own family, and it’s great to be part of it. It’s both fun and rewarding and knackering. But hey. I’ve gone back every year for more.

My next post better be about CX, the SBCU, starting running and getting my own Kinesis…. meanwhile…



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