Delusions of Pistard

How Tom might look on Newport velodrome

It’s been a busy old time for me of late, hence the slightly sporadic postings on here. Been up to a lot, so please excuse the length of this missive (if it turns out to be a long one).

From Saturday-Tuesday last week I was on an intensive British Cycling Para Talent Team camp in Newport. Homeboy John McFall made the decision to put his impending marriage and the proposition of McFall juniors before his chance at paracycling glory – and I wish him all the best. As many of you know from personal experience, it can often be very difficult to strike a balance between cycling and other important facets of your life.

Despite this slightly morose start to the camp, it turned out to be a brilliantly fun time. I experienced some teething troubles on the first day re confidence on the track – but after having had a quiet word wi’ myself and been given a bike which fitted me better, I had no problems.

We spent a great deal of time each day practicing standing starts using the automatic gate. This is basically a large metal machine which sits on the track, a set of gas-operated calipers holding the back wheel back, and a supporting arm providing, well,.. support.. to your seatpost. The whole contraption is rigged up to a computer and large digital countdown timer. That begins, makes several Tardis-like bleeps, and then after ‘2..1..’ you go.

There is, however, an art to this (which we discovered with no inconsiderable hilarity) as if you go just a fraction early your wheel is still locked in place and you go nowhere. Naturally you then ease off, only for it to release you – leaving you balancing precariously out of the saddle until you remember you’re meant to be pedalling. There were no crashes, but I did manage to pull off my first entirely unpredicted (and entirely unwanted, truth to be told) trackstand – much to Chester, Crystal and Jon-Allan’s entertainment. I am also ashamed to say that the air around me turned distinctly blue for the duration of this event. (for the uninitiated, track bikes have no brakes, and no freewheels. You control the speed of the machine, including braking, with the pedals. It is quite possible therefore, with a little practice, to balance near-stationary on the bike by applying equal pressure on the pedals).

It was extremely good fun getting some more time on the track (only my 3rd time), and we like Newport as it’s where I first rode on the track and got onto the Talent Team.

Other occurrences of note included seeing a crow make off with a large brown takeaway McDonald’s bag (!) and a chance meeting on the road (what are the coincidences?!) with GB Deaf Cycling Team Manager Tom Smith.

I also took great pleasure in knocking a decent chunk of time off both my Pursuit pb and 500m pb. My first lap was the same time as Crystal’s (starts are my big weakness) but I managed to take almost 2.4 seconds out of her over the second lap. Not bad!

All in all a fantastic time riding the boards. We finished Tuesday at 6pm, and I was home by 10pm. An easy day ensued the following morning, washing all my kit and unpacking, before repacking for leaving at 7am the next day for Bilbao.

And this will be the subject of DoG 5.

A plus tard, mes compagnons de la route.



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