What does autumn mean to you?
Some years for me it’s been the start of the National Hunt season, the never ending litany of sweat, tears, heartache, back breaking work (literally if you were emptying stables and using a mucksack!) accompanied by mud, ice, more mud, fog, copious amounts of mud and the turning colours of the leaves.
Some years it’s been ‘baby’ season, all the yearlings (young racehorses, less than 2 years old) coming into the yard. The stubbornness, excitability and stroppiness of young horses being taught to carry a rider.
This year it’s bittersweet. I miss it, being bundled up in winter gear at 5.00 in the morning, only to be in a tshirt by 10.30. I miss seeing the dawn break as we canter up the woodchip gallops (I’d say in control, but racehorses are funny creatures!). I miss the epic fogginess and ‘Watch the fucking deer/pheasant/car/idiot!!!’ (delete as appropriate).
It’s bittersweet because I had to break myself out of a vicious circle doing a job I thought I loved.
It was only yesterday I actually realised the leaves had properly started changing and falling off the trees. Sat on the train heading into London Bridge (after legging it to the station from my current house, something I couldn’t have done last year!) I was free to dream away, and try not to let it hurt too much.
So few people I am around now would understand what it’s like to ride that same bloody horse everyday, the one that’s come back from injury and is mad as a hatter. The one I started off disliking, but over the course of weeks starting to like. Even though she was a loony. Stuck on the minefield trotting bus, for weeks on end in mud, torrential rain, freezing fog and stunning sunshine. Luckily the cowbag only buried me once. I learned to love her, riding her was a field of emotions – anxiety, nerves, adrenaline, laughter, giggles (she’s trotted past the same hedge for days and now it’s scary, and she spooks and bucks and squeals). The knowledge that you know exactly what’s going to set her off like she’s got a rocket up the ass, but also the knowledge that going in a straight line is a bonus!!
Fuck. I miss it.
This is a whole different world. I love working at Sigma. Loads of great people to work with. Lots of fun to be had, the #Rule9 @SigmaSport night on Thursday was really good fun with Zwift demos, knowledgeable staff, people from Mavic and Exposure lights, and a funny Q&A with Matt Stephens. Catching up with Holly Blades (@lifeofholly) was even better.
And then the London 6 Day last night, tickets courtesy of @Brother_UK were the best seats in the house – right on the finish line.
There’s something incredibly amazing about watching a former Paris Roubaix winner riding the different competitions. Nikki Terpstra doesn’t even have the same build as some of the others, but by god is he quick! Not quite as quick as our boys Chris Latham and Ollie Wood though 😉
It’s always great to see the roadies riding a different discipline, currently track is one of my favourites – the sheer strength, fitness, power and speed is so close up that coupled with the electric music, it’s hard to do anything except want to have a go yourself!
Sat where I was, it felt like you could sit there and watch the competitions hour after hour, day after day. It’s so involving with a ridiculously great atmosphere.
After all of that. It called for a quiet, reflective ride this morning. Knowledge that the Specialized Concept Store has great coffee, plus the fact my gears were skipping a bit, led me to wander that way.
But I love the weather we had earlier. Windy, autumnal, the billion colours of a changing season that left me unusually restless also led me to going flat out down the hill, bunny hopping all the speed bumps.
Just because I can.
Even the car driver I overtook grinned back at me.
Great to watch Stu in the workshop too. As always I love to learn, and it’s a bonus when people don’t mind you being there.
The ride home into a headwind and a constant shower of ever heavier rain just buoyed me up. I love the restless days of autumn, even the pouring rain, and being back on the bike commuting has helped me get a bit fitter too.
See I don’t really mind the fact that most people think I’m mad for loving the weather like this. I like being a bit different. I’ll always prefer the muddy CX, the wet, cold Paris Roubaixs, the hair raising descents in the rain from the Giro or the Tour.
I was always the one smiling in the rain. Especially riding out racehorses in it. You’d definitely be guaranteed to see me #keepsmiling then.