He tells us he’s grimacing, but we all know he’s laughing
Straight outta Oz
All day I’ve been thinking about tonight. Focused on what I was doing at the time, but with an awareness that I had a date with something both frightening, yet exhilarating later on. After a ghastly wet morning, followed by crazy windy weather, I was tempted to click my heels and get myself out of Oz!
From a distance I could make out the familiar friendly outline of Ben – tall, lean and happy . Everything was set up perfectly: car parking, tea, bananas and smiles. One of the things guaranteed to lift your spirits is a friend on the starting line. Much of the team hadn’t planned on racing this season. Other challenges, priorities and goals had taken over. I couldn’t believe I was here, but I soon discovered, there was nothing to fear.
With 25 riders ready to race, we made for the track. It’s a good idea to get there early and do a recce. Learn the feel of the tarmac and how it bends and climbs. Without warning the gales hit us from the side at the first corner, then as we complete a punchy climb, we suddenly come to an almost instant stop. It’s this point we need to remember. It’s at this point a breakaway can be a success or lose it.
Turn baby, Turn
Ben is making all the right moves tonight. Anticipating every turn and strike, then jumping on each attack. He won’t let anyone escape.
I do my best to back him up, and once in a while blocking other teams from bridging the gap. Eventually I lose Ben and have to look for another wheel. I lurk and find Big Kev’s wheel. Everyone knows he’s got a big engine and a hunger to win. The wind keeps hitting us like a brick wall. The smart 4 from Drayton CC, relentlessly throw riders up to test the field, but Ben and I had them covered.
True Blue, Red and Black
We’re coming back and we’re bringing the Baroudeurs
Every attack is fraught by the two of us – but mainly through Ben’s ‘brutalise’ efforts. Eventually, we get the number 2 sign from the commissars’ telling us it’s time to start wrapping this up. Instantly, you can feel the peloton come together, like a shoal of fish sensing the excitement and danger of getting home – quickly! As the bell rings for the final lap, Ben holds fast to the lead, and maintains this as we make the final bend. He burns out the leader, who is left looking to jump back on, causing me to lose my wheel and give in. It’s my fault. I’ve been there before, wasted..
It’s now my last chance. Only the big B on Ben’s back and the RAF man to my right keep me kicking for more. I chase to see Ben win 7th and I stealing 8th.
I can’t wait to see what we can do when the team is here. We flew the flag well tonight. Thanks to Will and Laura for cheering us on. Allez les Baroudeurs!
Laura and Will looking to race next time?