“See you by the bridge”, was the last thing I heard, before blotting out my surroundings, putting my head down and pedalling as fast as I could…
Everyone who races a bike will remember that milestone, the point in time when they made a conscious decision to go faster, be stronger or push that bit harder. It may not have been a scheduled race but everyone involved was well aware of what was at stake. In fact it’s possibly the passion that we each found in that “race”, which we strive to replicate in our contemporary riding and racing.
It’s that first time that we felt the blood rushing, the first time we pushed to a point where we felt physically sick. It was the first time we felt the muscle in your calf trying to rip its way free and when your vision started to narrow. For some it was an early junior race, but for most it was an impromptu race for nothing but the respect of those you were with.
For me it was about 1993 and I was about ten. Up until this point my main goals had been to go quicker than my Dad and to get all the way up certain hills which had previously seemed impassable. But this day something was different – We were on a family holiday in Exmoor and Mum had agreed to drive the car along a quiet three mile stretch of country lane whilst Dad and I rode our new Raleigh Lizards. I was keen to get started and having recently been inspired by Miguel Indurain on his space-age Pinarello TT superbike, I got the drop on Dad straight away.
It didn’t really dawn on me for the first mile or so what had happened, but Dad was nowhere to be seen – even so I remembered the commentator on the TV saying to not look back so I kept my head down and carried on pushing as hard as I could. A further mile down the road I could hear a car behind me, but I was almost there, “don’t look back now”, I told myself! The car made no attempt to get past in the wider passing places as I wondered to myself exactly what blistering pace I was setting.
As I rounded the final corner I glanced back before preparing my sprint victory, only to see Mum frantically waving from in the car. I’d pushed to my limit and gone faster than ever before and amazingly beaten Dad, who was still nowhere to be seen! This was when I was informed that whilst I had certainly done a very quick three mile northerly time trial, my Dad was still waiting to start as the direction that our leisurely ride was heading in was in fact south – bugger!
The result however was the same – it never had been a race for anyone else and even if Dad had been there at the end I doubt he would have contested the sprint to the best of his ability! The point was that I now knew what it felt like to go to the limit, to push to my maximum. I’d felt that spark that is in me, every time I sprint on the road, every time I nail a good set of corners on my mountain bike and every time I race my friends to the top of the next hill on a club run!
I guess that spark makes the difference between Cav, me and the guy in the pub. I’ve got something in my legs, in my heart and in my being that the guy in the pub just simply doesn’t feel. Cav, I can only suppose, has something in him which is just that little bit more than me. He’s the same age and he’s had the same opportunities, but the buzz that he gets from winning tour-de-France stages is the same thing that I feel, it’s the same thing that makes every competitive bike rider tick. The rest is only physical!
Glen runs THE.TRIBECA.SPORT.WØRKSHOP which is based at 28 London Road, Southborough, TN4 0QB – 01892 533 339 – firstname.lastname@example.org . The shop specialises in precision servicing, race prepping, 3D bike fitting and high quality bikes and equipment. Drop in, give us a call, visit our Facebook page or browse our website for more details. Glen also runs the shop race team and club as well as racing ‘cross, road and cross-country nationally.
All views and opinions are personal and should be taken with a pinch of salt – This blog is not for sissies or cry-babies – Please always adhere to rules V and X.