I love racing a week into May. I don’t know why but something special always happens from a cycling and personal perspective.
And the weekend past was no different. Yesterday, just like a year ago, I stood on the podium in a national time trial with a silver medal. Last year I was working hard to catch my top mate and GTR teammate Chris Smart. Yesterday it was the new kid on the block, the irrepressible and incredibly talented, John Archibald. Last year it was 8 seconds, yesterday, 43. And for a minute or so I think I had the, CR - Course Record!
Have we gone backwards? Absolutely not! I was telling someone a couple of months ago that last year someone had unofficially labelled me as the fastest guy on the road in Scotland because on a Tuesday night in mid-August I entered the elusive 19’ club for 10 miles and then the following Sunday smashed the Scottish record for 100 miles. Composite all rounder. And so this year, I’m already fitter, stronger, faster and more powerful.
No it’s not. I’ve proved it. I’ve done my homework and I’ve stuck to my task. No deviations. I trained for 3 years with a 10 year plan (I actually have a 25 year plan, but that’s for another day). I wanted to make the most having quit smoking and I was fed up being a tubby, grey family man with good genetics and a massive aerobic tank who believed he could do better even if no-one else did. So I worked hard, trained harder, rested smarter and slowly the snowball began to, well, snowball. But in 2017 I'm not the fastest, so far.
Yesterday’s defending champion, Chris Smart, is national winner (Scottish and British), umpteen times over. I won’t go into details because he won’t thank me for it. But he has a cupboard full of trophies, medals, jerseys and like me he’s a bit uncomfortable talking about them or showing them off. But I’ve seen it and it’s impressive. Like me, he works really hard and he has a plan which he sticks to and he too is fitter, faster, stronger than before.
So we haven’t gone backwards.
Nope. We’ve simply been eclipsed whilst travelling at what feels the speed of
light. And quite frankly, I think it’s wonderful. One of the advantages of
having a tiny ego, is that I can enjoy my racing, do my best and live in hope,
not expectation. Race because we love racing. Not for positions, podiums, white
envelopes. Someone has to come last, someone has to come first. It’s that
simple. I wasn’t beaten. I was 96th slowest, or second fastest. And on the day,
I gave it my best shot.
As so did my teammates, ex-Marines, Chris and Lewis. We literally left it on the road and it still wasn’t good enough to take the team prize, but we’re a team regardless and that matters more to me than anything else. Mates, band of Brothers. We look out for each and we support each other. We win together, we lose together, we swear at each other and we do fist bumps, high fives and the odd man hug too.
Last week after I won the CTT Scottish 10 mile Championships on the Westferry course outside Glasgow, I’d found my own elephant in the room. How would John have fared in the race? The truth is he would have won by 30 seconds. I’ve been using software to model my clients and rivals for a couple of years now and he’s got the power and a CdA to die for. It’s an aerodynamicists dream and now justifies 4 years of studying turbulence to gain that PhD from Edinburgh Uni back in 99. So after the CTT champs, Chris and I spent the afternoon, figuring out how he can go faster (we’ve started with a new helmet, more changes are coming). I did this last year when we were just rivals as I felt I owed him for planting the seed of the 19’ club in my head and I badly wanted him to join me. And so he did, 4 days later. And then a couple of days after that, a certain John Archibald posted 19:59 on the Cambusbarron Stirling course (he has simply obliterated that back in March with an incredible 19:25). The wunderkind has arrived, rejoice!
2017 thus far is John’s year. But it’s also Jon’s (without an “h”) year too. My eldest daughter who I don’t see much of these days messaged me to ask how I got on. You can read the transcript in the photo above (excuse the grammar Natalie). I’ve made somebody proud and hopefully inspired both young and old to pin a number and have a go. That’s what it’s all about. I always say even when you win there’s always someone faster than you. And if we can’t give John something to think about (believe me we are trying!) then I personally hope he quickly moves up another level too, or we will never see his true potential and I for one, would be truly gutted.
So silver once again after a week of May. One for the collection, but I got more satisfaction out of learning how to team time trial when Lewis, Chris and I took to road after the medal presentations to try something I’ve never done before and always wanted to do.
And for a brief moment, despite my usual cluelessness, we moved like a well-oiled machine at high speed, inches from each other’s wheels at high speed having listened intently to the guy who I have the upmost respect for, who’s been there, done it all and will come back and do it all again, as he moved effortlessly through to the front, I had a moment of complete and utter euphoria and shouted to Chris almost in tears of joy…
“This is what it’s ….ing about!”