Greg Roche (r) in training earlier this year
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.