Let The Good Times Roll.
I was once asked to write a small column on one of my career highlights, it didn’t take me all that long to decide
what to write about, that’s not to say that there haven’t been many highlights, it’s just that the National Championships
was right there at the top of the list. A close second was way back in 1991 in Italy, illcioco (I think that’s how you
spell it) when I won a bronze medal at the World Champs as a wee junior. (I wonder how many of you new, or, can still
remember that?) I was almost in tears (OK so I was in tears) as I crossed the line, that is a feeling that I shall never
My Mum and dad were there supporting me, Mum was in tears as well. They helped me through the ranks, right up to where
I am now.(thanks Mar n Par).
The National’s were not quite so long ago though and are still very fresh in my mind……………….
At the beginning of the year my coach (Martin Shakeshaft) and I sat down and planned the year out, we had decided that the
National’s were going to be one of my main goals, and lets face it any M.T.B cross-country rider would love to win it.
It’s the big one to win.
The training was hard and the winter was a tough one, really wet and cold as usual. It was difficult to see so far ahead
and keep the motivation high but I wanted the nationals so much and I knew that all my competitors were thinking the same.
The week before the Nationals was the Malvern Hill Classic, one of my most enjoyable races. The crowds were as big as ever
and it was hot, hot, hot (so no naked mud sliding). The race went well for me and I felt strong, I won over Oli Bekonsale
(Scott), so training had worked and the power was on just when I needed it 8-9 months after all the hard work had started
way back in October. Sure I had been going well before now and had a bit of a peak, but I knew I was on for a great ride
for the Nationals the following week at Shropshire.
The night before the race I was sat in pizza hut with my lovely wife (big brownie points there) and a couple of mates
reminiscing about the time I told them that I would win the Nationals and be the British National Champ way back in
February whilst on a training camp in Lanzarote, I got some stick for that one, but I think they new I could do it so
there wernt any big wagers on me not wining.
The morning of the race I was well nervous and struggled to eat breaktfast. (a few trips to the porter loos at race site
was definitely on the cards)
Marin/Mercedes had a big set up and it took my mind off the racing slightly which was good. The crowds were big The sun was
shining, course was dry and the atmosphere was great.
Time to race was soon apon me as we were called up to our grid position, Luckily I was in the front row, a glance down the
line triggered off thoughts of how every one else was going and sparked off more nerves even though I new i was on form,
I guess it is the same for every one weather riding for fun or doing it for a job, you just hope for some good luck or as
I say “I dont need luck I just dont want any bad luck” and to do the best that you can do, that’s all you need to know, that
you tried as hard as you could.
The gun went and it was a mad panic stricken rush to get to the top of the climb where it went into single track first,
I think I was in the top five.
Oli, Barrie and I were up for it and I knew after the first lap that I was feeling good, then Barrie had a problem which
left Oli and I out front to battle it out.
On the penultimate lap I felt really good, all was going well, then just before going into the last lap my chain jammed
on a bumpy decent. Was that it, a mechanical was going to waste all the months of training and preparation?
I was panicking to free the chain and began to get angry. I could have cried, I couldn’t believe it was happening.
I fixed the problem after about a minute and was chasing fast, with my anger still driving me on. I refused to settle for
anything but a win.
Going through the start finish it must have looked to the crowds like it was all over, but Rory announced that I had had a
mechanical problem and was closing the gap.
I caught Oli round the back of the course and when I saw him I knew I had won, I know its not over until you cross the
line or that fat bird sings but I just knew. I passed him and he tried to hang on but on the next climb I dropped it down
a few gears and when I looked back over my shoulder at the top he was out of sight, I couldn’t help smiling, even if my
pulse was almost at max. Its a nice feeling to be able to get to a climb, drop down a gear and ride away from someone.
(OK so some of you might not be into constantly competing and always trying to beat the next bloke or girl for that matter,
but I love it, cant get enough).
I came through to the arena and saw the crowd going mad as they wernt sure who would appear first due to my mechanical. I
think it was then that I got the goose pimples and started shouting “yes I’ve done it”.
At the finish there were photographers and spectators all over the place, my wife was waiting to congratulate me and I was
on a massive high unfortunately my Mum and Dad couldnt make it so they were well gutted but I phoned them from the podium.
Winning the Nationals is a feeling that I can’t fully explain I am sure those of you who have won a race in any category or
even beat a mate to the top of the big climb on the Sunday club run will know (almost) what I am talking about.
I can tell you one thing, no matter who you are moments like the one I’ve tried to explain above are few and far between,
enjoy them while they last!
Anyway I’m off to bed, its midnight See ya.
All The Best LAZY.