DS Richard is no stranger to managing race teams but this season has been special:
Most of the time you can rely on experience and probability to guess correctly so my statement to the world at the beginning of the season “we’re going to lose more than we win” was comprehensively proven wrong when the team turned in a 50% win rate throughout the EMRRL season. It was late in the day, the very last race of the season, when Elliot won and the team’s final percentages were upped with a played 10, won 5 final tally. I was close but no cigar!
Looking back on the season it has been a truly remarkable journey for us that none of us dreamed of when we held our first meeting and laid out what we wanted to achieve. We didn’t go into it with a win approach but to make the racing harder. Over the past few years a lot of the regional races had been kept together through negative racing with the winner coming from a bunch sprint. Boring! We wanted to make something happen by forcing a break and then having the team cover it so as to give it the best chance possible of getting away. This style of racing needs certain individuals and a certain team approach. No divas, prima donnas or wanna be stars in the team. LLB was planned to race as a team and you can’t do that with mood hovers and self-proclaimed starlets in there. After all it is only regional racing!
I have been overwhelmed by the way Edd, Elliot, Joe and Jono have bonded together and looked after each other both on the field and off it. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to spend bike racing time with. Banter ( renamed by the team as Shanter ) has been edgy, funny and well-intended. Of course there’s been the odd snip and moan but what do you expect when you get 4 highly competitive people together.
We all set individual goals that we thought at the time were a stretch but achievable. Reviewing all the ambitions we had at the time, we have surpassed all expectations.
As for a review of the season, I’m sure it is better read from the riders’ point of view and I know Edd has already begun a trilogy to excite and entertain readers. From my perspective the team have been easy to manage and pretty much self-sufficient in the actual racing which is a good job given my successes of handing bottles in races. There have been a lot of ups and we have always remained consistent in our approach to racing: get out and make it a race. The only time we have been really tactical and worked on getting Elliot up the road was the last race of the season on the Melbourne circuit. We wanted Elliot to gain his 1st Cat licence and hoping he might win in order to preserve Edd’s 2nd place in the league. Ever the bridesmaid!
We’ve been pretty lucky on the road with only Edd crashing on a training ride and ending his season early. Oh and falling off his Wattbike in the garage, so unable to race the Uni GP but he wouldn’t want me to mention that. Everyone else has remained pretty healthy. I was really chuffed with Joe’s win on the Six Hills circuit, not just because it was the LLB race but also as it was a bit of a break through moment for Joe and giving him a lot of self-belief. As much as I was pleased for Joe in that race I was totally gutted for Jono in the Castle Bytham race when he was in a break of 2 and crashed out on the final corner. I was convinced he was the stronger of the 2 as they passed me up the final hill and as I raced in the car to the finish line the sight of Jono pushing his bike was gutting. That would have been a real boost to him and racing. It wasn’t to be but, often times, that kind of heartbreaking loss is the beauty of racing. He got the first part right(ish) – get yourself in a position to win the race, and then go and win it. Away from public view, and the most humbling moment, was when he apologised to the team for not winning. It would have been icing on the cake if he had as that would have meant all 4 riders with winners’ jerseys, and although we would have loved to have helped Jono get one, even considering trying to get him away on the final race of the season, it just wasn’t to be.
I have loved being part of the team, although in the background. They have been able to draw the line under the ‘shanter’ when its race time and been ruthless with it when not racing. A real balance and great to be part of.
So next season? We have expanded to 6 riders welcoming Andrew Magnier and Geoff Comley to the team (great riders that add something to the team makeup), held the first team meeting for next season and planned the racing. Over the winter we’ll be working on the team thing, firming up on individual goals and enjoying a stepping stone season between competing locally in the EMRRL and nationally with the National A and B races round the country. We’ve already entered the Rutland Classic for 2017 and have our sights on entry to the Lincoln GP. All pretty exciting stuff and I can’t wait for it all to begin again.