It doesn’t seem like five minutes ago that I was easily second best junior on the local chain gang. So what I want to know is how come I’ve got to be a 30 year old dad with a couple of sizeable mortgages and my own business? And why do I still bother to ride 15 hours a week?
My names Greg and I’m a cyclist. After nine seasons on the road, I’ve carved out a largely unremarkable career that’s a true testament to mediocrity. Most commonly, I get asked why I bother getting up every morning to go training before the day really starts. But I get asked this by non-cyclists. You guys reading this will understand. It’s the same piece of cycling logic that means that when your mum observes with a hint of concern in her voice that you’re looking thin and ill, you know that top form is on its way.
I’ll be drivelling on here every couple of weeks or so until the editorial staff spots my ineptitude and shameless plugging of our sponsors. I’ll try and give you a bit of an insight into how things run at a top UK team (KFS Special Vehicles – Sunday Bicycles – that’s plug one seamlessly integrated) and what’s going on in the UK bunch generally.
Not a vast amount gets made of the UK scene. Outside of the top four or five riders, even cycling enthusiasts won’t know much about the riders who are regularly posting top 20 results at national level. All too often I hear that the level in the UK isn’t that high and that this explains the lack of interest – but actually I think there’s a lot more strength in depth in the UK than people realise.
Having ridden in UCI 1.2 and 2.2 events on the continent – in Belgium, France and Croatia – not to mention 5 Irish Ras’s I reckon the level is similar to a premier – but you’ll get a lot more winners. Why? Because the UK scene (while I’ve been a rider, anyway) has been dominated by either one team riding continental style (look at Recycling last year) or by very strong individuals.
This year the Premier Calendar looks on paper like it might be different. Cycling4all (proper tedious nerds website, that – I’m often checking it out) lists a number of UK Continental and E2 teams, and I know because I know from riders on most of them that they are starting to get managers in who want a Continental team structure. That should mean more individuals getting wins. I can see the Premier Calendar being wide open this year with a different winner at every round. That’s a great motivator for me.
Having Robin ‘the Sharmanator’ Sharman on the team, it’d be all too easy for the rest of us on the team to look at him to get on with the business of winning. On paper he’s certainly the most likely winner from the team, but we’ve got some good young riders and the first training camp in January went well – the team’s got a good balance and no egos. Any one of us could win a Premier if it fell right.
For me, now, it’s about building some good form, making myself useful to the team through March and then trying for a top result mid to late season. I’ll let you know how we go on!