Greg Roche’s diary - Road Cycling UK

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Greg Roche’s diary

Greg Roche (r) in training earlier this year

Greg Roche is the founder of Sunday Bicycles and also races for the KFS-Special Vehicles race team, of which Sunday Bicycles supply the bikes. Racing at any level is never easy, made all the harder buy launching a new bike brand at the same time.

At the beginning of the year I had a bit of an epiphany. We were on a January training camp with the team. There were six of us out on the road, bowling along at 22 or 23mph, when we approached a cross road, we didn’t have right of way but the visibility was pretty good. I was in the third row in the line and there was a car coming from our right. It was a bit off but I automatically braked gently, anticipating letting the car pass across us before we went straight across the junction.

Daf and James, the two youngest riders on the team at 21 and 22 (I’m 31) went for it. Well, that’s not true; they just carried on and went across the junction safely before the car got there. It was tight, but not dangerous. Gareth Hewitt, who had also slowed, looked at me and said, “generational thing that. You can tell we’re getting old”. Gareth is 27 I think. But he was right, when I was 21 I’d have coasted across without thinking about it.

And so it hit me. I’m 31. Not too old for playing on bikes. Not too old for racing them. Not slowing down, in fact, but altering the way I see the world.

It’s the end of the worst season I’ve ever, ever had on the bike. I couldn’t really get going from the off, and in May I discovered I had a virus. I took 10 weeks off and, despite a few races late on, I’ve missed the season. But Sunday Bicycles – the business – is going really well. I might be more tempted to apply the brakes on the bike these days, but it’s full gas back at the office.

We’re heading towards our first year ends now and I’m somewhat amazed that, as we assemble the books, we appear to have been profitable and we’re certainly growing. And the thing is that if I was sitting here saying I’d been flying all year, winning races left, right and centre but that business was bad and we were going to have to close, I’d feel far worse and far less optimistic than I do now about next year – both on and off the bike.

Just like the unwillingness to go for it at the cross roads back in January, I suppose it illustrates that priorities change with age but that life never really slows down.

As I mentioned in my first blog, I became a dad at the end of last year. It’s great. Oscar’s a veteran of bike races already. His first appearance was at the Severn Bridge Road Race early in the season. It was almost as if nature itself was warning me away from trying to compete while starting a family and a business because it rained. And rained. Raining so hard that the tarmac on the climb was like a river. Oscar stuck it out, watching from his buggy, for three hours before nodding off to sleep with 20km to go.

Unfortunately, I did the same thing. Having made my way into the race winning break in the first ten minutes of racing and then being able to follow my team mate Robin Sharman’s attack at the half distance and being with him and eventual winner Gordon McCauley with 12 miles to go, I slipped off the pace on the only climb of the race. By now, Oscar had lost interest and was showing signs of irritation that gave way to fatigue. I know what he was going through. I got 6th. Oscar has yet to witness the old man winning, but I thought it’d be better to leave it until next year when he’s old enough to appreciate it.

We’re in the throws of sorting out the team for 2008. It seems likely that we’ll keep the line up pretty much the same as this year, but maybe with a few additions. Either way it’s looking good and the boys will be on Monday’s Childs for next year. We didn’t win a Premier Calendar round this year which was a major target, but Rob’s third place overall in the series has been encouraging as has Daf and James who have both won stages at the Revolution stage race at the end of August. Sponsors are getting sorted out now and we’ll hopefully be able to announce the line up by the end of October.


Sunday – the bike the team will ride

Greg is a member of the brand new team, KFS-Special Vehicles / Sunday. Featuring Rob Sharman along with James Stewart, Gareth Hewitt, Daffyd Dylan, Gary Hand and Greg Roche, it will compete in all the Premier Calendar events, as well as the Elite Circuit series.

The signing of former Giro and Vuelta rider and experienced DS Harry Lodge as manager, together with team leader Robin Sharman and support from five other UK elites, means that the man behind the team, Ian Knight, is confident that they’ll be mixing it at the front of the Premier Calendar races: “I expect that we should be able to win a round or two and naturally we’d like to see our riders in contention for the overall crown in 2007.”


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