I was meant to ride the 2016 season on a Trek Emonda SL, an exquisite bike. The feel, road control, speed and pick up something that was somewhat wasted on my 84kg lead weight of a body. It was however all set to be my race bike with a wheel change it would have accelerated me onward into my second season for Lichfield City Cycling Club. This bike was sold to me be a very personable chap Andy Ramsdale who I now know as a complete and utter clown, just like me! It’s fair to say we got on well. A highlight of my season and my cycling career to date was warming up for the Rutland CiCLE classic with euro trance blaring from Andy’s new wagon. I have no idea what team Wiggins and NFTO pro cycling must have been thinking. Anyway I digress, this purchase was completed with a 2 hour chinwag and the next thing I knew I had a voicemail on my phone with an offer of riding for a new team, LLB racing.
We all met deep in the winter in Swarkestone, however captain on the road Edd was not present. I was a little unsure of Edd at the time, he is serious, rides hard and has a reputation of being grumpy. My lord how he proved that wrong, a true gent and provider of endless banter. Elliot I knew vaguely from Mercia club runs I knew he could certainly ride a bike and Joe I was unaware of apart from one chain gang last summer in which he tore my legs off! What a strong team Rich and Andy had put together, I’ll admit I was nervous of my ability and knew I needed a good winter to get up to speed with these guys.
It all started at Darley Moor in March it was cold, we had a photoshoot, got cold and I had a mechanical which wasn’t really a mechanical at all. My naivety had caused me to pull out of a race and in all honesty I felt good. Next stop EMRRL and I was super confident until the fourth lap. Spat out of the back of our first road race as a team wasn’t the best start! Elliot won however and that really made things a lot better. I must admit I was very low after that race, trying to be confident ahead of Sutton Bonnington was difficult. There on out I have learnt so much from highs, lows and an unnecessary amount of god awful banter.
A particular low point for me was played out in Castle Bytham. I felt very good, to the point I believed my power meter was lying to me. The last lap of the race 55 miles in and I’m doing 83 watts behind a break of riders giving it some beans to I presume break the race up in the last 6 miles. I remember thinking 83 watts is awful low. Next thing I was down the road with a Beeston rider pushing 400 plus watts on my way to at least second place. ‘Car’ is what I thought I heard called from a marshal and down I go. Crashed out of the big chance of a road race win for the team. Please let me remind you now that all the other lads have a won a round of the EMRRL this year so a particular low point for me, it must be said. It did however fill me with confidence going forward that I could do it.
My season highlight was the product of anger. The Fin Del Verano in September, I was crashed off on the Saturday by what I can only describe as an undeniably reckless piece of riding. It’s fair to say ‘The Wall’ (Edd’s pet name for me) was in a state of complete and utter distain for the gentleman involved. This led me to formulate a plan for the morning after on the Harby course where I knew there was nothing there for me when you consider we were finishing on Terrace hill and I weigh 84kg! Off the front I went from the start and along came Chris McNaughton for the ride and what fun we had.
I like riding with these guys and it’s genuinely enjoyable . Even when I want to saw my own legs off with a rusty spoon I’m having fun doing it. Two reference points for me next year goes back to two of the EMRRL races and both related to riders who have been added to the LLB roster for 2017. The first being when I had crashed out of the Castle Bytham race and was desperately trying to drag my sorry ass to the line, Geoff Comley came past me like he was riding a Ducati. The second being the moment Andy Magnier told me he would place me into a break on Six Hills with Joe, by the point he pulled off and said I could get there on my own I would have rather pulled my own teeth out and he did not appear to adapt to his cadence throughout the entire time.
Mix into this a lot of Mallory, National Bs and EMRRL action I think I have had a cracking season with LLB. This is in no small part down to the team and the sponsors. The s-works shoes are something to behold, Muc-off have kept my skin soft and my bike clean and SIS have kept my somewhat trunk like vats of legs fuelled. The lovely Cannonade dented by me in minutes we won’t talk about here but if you are an East Midlands rider you probably know the story. The CAAD 12 though, what a bike, I have now sold the pre mentioned Emonda for that very reason.
Next year looks like more of the same for us and at present my winter training has started and I feel fairly confident I have enough in the tank to improve further even if I am 30 in March!