Whilst their remains a risk that a lot of upcoming races might be cancelled as a result of Covid 19, I am still busily predicting what I can to take my mind of global viral epidemics.
The last update I gave was about the riders I had picked the most over the life of the game (which is free to play by clicking here). However I have started the season in reasonable form based on my previous efforts.
So I am currently picking 1 in three winners and here are my picks for the opening Belgian Classics… wish me luck.
My logic being that G VA will be in fine form after the training races in Southern Europe and after the windy conditions of Saturday we might have a sprint on Sunday.
As regular readers of this site will know I have been struggling with motivation and drive over the damp and flooded winter months.
So I thought it might be nice to put a few pictures up to show its not all been bad and that there have been miles pedalled.
Despite not living in my boyhood home town of Yaxley anymore I still like to represent the village God made (!) whenever I can.
The Autumn weather was good and it was brilliant to get out there and take in some sunshine.
I was lucky enough to strike cycling gold this Christmas with a Shimano cassette for my new wheels and a Kwaremont team kit.
That climb holds both painful, sad and joyous memories for me and I can’t wait for a sunny warm day to get this kit out on the roads of Lincolnshire.
I was struggling to get through to report the smoke cloud of both 999 and 101 (thanks to the Fenland phone signal). Fortunately many people managed to get a call connected and despite a building burning down, no one was hurt.
I wasn’t expecting much from a trip to Amsterdam in late January, the beer having been pretty bad last time.
However the city has improved its offering considerably and these were a treat. Blink and you could have been in Ghent.
So there might be plenty of dark cold mornings on the turbo to come, but even with all the current storms battering us… I want to feel spring is coming.
It sounds quite an arrogant or big headed question when you look at it in isolation. And I suppose if you judge it against yellow jersies and number of participation’s in the world championships then no, I am nowhere close to completing cycling.
But if you go back to the 1980s when I was a small boy growing up in the fens spending my summer holidays in the maroon and gold Fenland Clarion jersey riding all day, my dreams of what I wanted from cycling were quite specific.
I dreamt of being a racer, riding up Alp D’Huez (like Steven Rooks was doing in the 1988 Tour de France), hitting the cobbles of Flanders and riding through my home village of Yaxley with a number on.
It has taken me some time but I have met all of those goals.
Racing has been part of my summer schedule since 1991, and apart from a couple of years break at the start of the 2000’s I have regularly competed in summer club 10’s with a smattering of opens.
The course have been based on variants of Helpston (3 of), a run between Weymouth towards Lulworth Cove on the South Dorset coast before a couple of variants for St Ives based on Sawtry pavilion.
Since moving to Lincolnshire I have come full circle and am back to riding around Helpston.
Road racing was always something I struggled with as I was quite little and used to get bumped of wheels and blown away by the wind (believe it or not!). I have latterly got into the less competitive world of sportive’s.
I have been up Alp D’Huez twice now and have scratched the itch of riding mountains in both France and Spain. There is something about watching grainy 1980’s TV pictures of a road and then getting the full clarity and enhanced senses from riding up it.
Those blurred images were crystal clear as the sun beat down and the sights and sounds of the mountain seemed to cover up my rhythmic breathing and struggle to get up. I love the pro spotting element of these sorts of rides and the image on this website of the aG2r hunting me down on the Croix de Fer remains one of my best memories on a bike.
One day races always appealed to me and it felt like the weather would start to warm up and the daffodils bloom as the Northern classics appeared on Eurosport. Flanders in particular felt like “my” race and to ride the sportive in 2015 with my name on the start list next to the union flag was something quite special. Those of you who know me will know that my family was going through a terribly tough period and it was touch and go I would get chance to ride.
But it all came good (apart from the Flemish weather) and despite the pain and suffering of that last 15km or so, my friend James Fordham and I battled through before I had a good cry at the finish.
4 Mr Kipling apple pies post ride remains my record and it was set in Oudenaarde on that day.
Later in 2015 came the first Tour of Cambridgeshire and I rode through Yaxley, my home, in the race part of the Fondo. Again there were tears as I passed my home, my old infant school and the house I grew up in with my Parents and Grandparents. In true cycling tradition the group I was in allowed me to go a few bike lengths ahead to blow a kiss to my wife and kids.
So what next?
That is the question I am currently facing. As I get nearer to 50 than 40 the winters seem colder and the effort required to get on the turbo trainer at six in the morning seems greater. I can’t be the only one thinking the drivers are getting closer to me and the headwinds are getting stronger?
I have had a few accidents and a few concussions and the fear that something like that could happen to me again does play on my mind.
Maybe its just the fact its windy, cold and dark outside that makes me think I have done all I can in cycling for the moment, or maybe reading the Cyclist magazine interview with Phillippe Gilbert where he explains that when he retires he will be gone from cycling so he can spend another portion of his life doing something else is food for thought…