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…)

Why?

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…

#keepsmiling
#bicycleschangelives

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It’s all gravy!

Hi guys, again it’s been a while. Not going to apologise as I’ve been doing too much of that recently. Usually apologising for being me. I’ve got to the point that (love me or hate me as you do) I’m just not going to do that anymore. Sorry!

Once again this year I’ve had some wonderful times with my friends – both tweeps and face bookers – and had some equally bad times finding myself in dark places that I don’t want to revisit.

I haven’t done much on the bike this year but having finally stopped smoking, I hope to start going spinning soon to kick start my fitness and lose a bit of weight!

But I just want to say massive thanks to the people that have helped me out so much this year –

Ceri Adams and Nerys Lloyd both wonderful cousins.

Jenny Hine  (@Jenlovescycling) for being a wonderful friend

All the ToB lot – from Raleigh (Michelle you’re a legend) NFTO (El who bought us ice lollies in Brighton), BMC and Madison Genesis to Paul, Chris and Liz.

Kara Thomas and Verity Banks for putting up with my harebrained ideas again!

And those ones of you who have said or done kind things that have really stuck with me; Darren Moore, Matt Carr, Anthony McCrossan, Stevo Minns and Holly Blades you rock!

Big hugs and here’s to a better 2015 and more general awesomeness!!

My Tour of Britain part 2

I drove back home on the Tuesday night, a lovely traffic free run on the M4, arriving back around 20.30. Decided to leave my bike in the car – as I’d already made my mind up to go to Wyche Cutting for the first KoM the next day.

Wednesday
Getting up at 6am never bothers me as most days of the week I’m up at 5am at the very latest. It was thick fog and quite chilly as I left – so deciding to wear jogging bottoms over my bibs was a great idea. This time I had to rely on my Sat Nav as although I know the way to Cheltenham and Worcester like the back of my hand, I’ve never been to Great Malvern. Not sure what time I did arrive in the town, but I found a great parking spot (after asking a few mums doing the school run) on the side of the road in a really quiet part.
I got out, sorted myself, the bike and a backpack out, then I looked up.
The sun had started clearing the fog and I could see the top of the hills. Ouch. Going to be some pull up there! I checked Google Maps then started off… ever upward…
Although nowhere near the Tumble – it made me blow – but I did it in one go. Not realising I’d got to the top until I saw the Yodel van the other side as I started dropping down. Sounds a bit silly, I know!

I stopped and chatted to them and they asked if I wanted to give them a hand – not a bother as I’ve done plenty of marshalling at cycle events before. They told me I could chuck my bike in the back of the van after they had set the barriers and KoM signs out. So I cycled back up and over – and turned by the pub as it was already getting busy!

There was about 10 of us up there and hundreds of people, a load of cycle clubs and a few that had ridden some of the route early on. It was blazing hot up there, and I ended up giving out flags, ‘Tour de Worcester’ posters, flags, more flags, stickers and more flags.
Had a great laugh with a couple of lads and the other volunteers – whilst keeping up to date with the race via Twitter.
Wasn’t long before the breakaway arrived

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Adam Blythe and his shiny shoes

And as always they were up and over in seconds.

And then everyone departs. I grabbed my bike (and a goody bag) and headed back down, intent on seeing the race finish at home.

Ironically I didn’t check the race route – only realising I was back in front of them en route as I started back up the A417 toward Swindon. I quickly pulled in to what we know as the Birdlip turn, and parked up with the 30 or so other cars on a side road.
Ha. Great. Get to see them again!
Didn’t have to wait to long either

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Breakaway

Then we waited ages for the peloton

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Then a quick drive home to watch the race! Except I fell asleep after 20 mins, waking up to see the peloton cross the line.

It was great to see it, and ride out to it on my own. I’ll definitely be doing that again!

Friday
I’d arranged with @Jenlovescycling and her hubby Pasty, and @v_girlracer to go off to the feedzone. Pasty kindly picked us up and we rode out from near Great Shefford. My legs were a little tired and a short ride did them good!
Eventually we found it, leaving our bikes up against a wall, and I shared my Haribo with Saxo Tinkoff, although they wouldn’t share their coffee!
Some, but not all teams had their cars there, and Giordana arrived just after we did. Then a fair while later Raleigh arrived. Immediately I recognise Michelle getting out of the car and wandered down to say hi (I’d met her at the Milk Race earlier in the year).
Had a chat, and guarded the car while the both nipped of to the loo, then let them get set up. I stayed on the same side as the swannys but back a bit from them so I wouldn’t get in the way. No Internet connection – so listened to some very crackly race radio from AN Post whose car was right behind me.

Then the police, police bikes, NEG’s, and the breakaway finally came past. I’d heard Alex Dowsett was in it…

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And we kept hearing the time gap growing and growing…

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In the middle of this, I got hit by an NFTO full water bottle (accompanied by a smirk) 😉

Then everyone was leaving. Scribbled my number for Michelle as Raleigh were driving off… and then they were gone…

Again, a quick ride to the car, home then watch the race. Crikey, some time gap!

This time I had to pack a rucksack for the Brighton and London stages, couldn’t take much as we’d have nowhere to leave it on the Sunday. It’s a funny feeling, I was knackered but exhilarated. Legs were tired. Brain was full of clouds, but I was immensely enjoying myself. Especially with my friends.

Thanks for taking the time to read this, I’ll continue part 3 over the next couple of days!

Keep smiling

🙂 🙂 🙂