The end of year blog- it feels like a lot has happened and a lot has changed since the last one I wrote here: 2018 highlights. Before I start- be sure to go and check out our Ambassador Program, The Chase Pack- for more information about joining the TCC family, getting great benefits and sharing the love. Click here.
There has again been so many highlights in what very quickly changed from being about road riding and racing to something very different.
There was some great road racing and riding during the year- a few handicaps that were full gas, a road race where I redeemed myself after the year before’s poor performance and plenty of Goodwoods. I was enjoying my road racing but a few things lined up that made me really start to think about what I was doing and why.
Earlier in the year, I’d raced with Seb, Chris and Mark from Southdowns Bikes in the cyclocross Sussex team champs. I had no bike so borrowed my Dad’s gravel bike and had the best time. Even though I had no real practice or clue about racing cross, I loved every second and bought a cross bike the same day (at the race!) to use over summer. The Cx bug was instilled but I still had a ‘full’ (racing when I could) season of road planned. Later in the year things really changed after racing the Lewes crits- a fantastic race and course but I pulled out of the second one due to not being able to make it in time from work. At that race however, there was a big crash- where people were taken out who weren’t doing anything other than riding safely, by riders who perhaps weren’t. I’d seen some pretty dodgy riding in races during the year but always told myself that those riders are putting themselves at risk and not me, so as long as I did what I knew to be safe, I’d be fine. But it turns out that was just me telling myself what I wanted to hear to make it ok to race- as I am sure many do. Everyone has their own reasons and situations but when I looked at the facts- I was potentially putting myself at risk of really hurting myself, even when it wasn’t my fault- for nothing other than the fun of racing my bike. When I looked back on all the close calls- I suddenly realised that I had been extremely lucky as well as perhaps quite good at spotting danger and avoiding it- but that won’t always be the case. Especially if there’s any badgers about.
That fun can be found elsewhere, so I did just that. Once I had made the decision, I sold the bike, swapped it all over and got started on a different path for racing and getting that buzz. I am not for one second telling people to do the same, it is just my opinion about risk vs reward- much like Niki Lauder did in Fuji in 1976- where he simply drove into the pits as the race was too dangerous in his opinion (you can tell I’ve watched Rush recently). Others will have different levels of risk vs reward and it isnt solely the only reason I’ve swapped over. Riding on roads has become something I don’t really enjoy anymore, unless it’s an early morning chaingang- which I can and will still do. The racing was expensive, time consuming and always on days that didn’t suit my life outside of cycling. so instead of pushing on for the sake of it, I said that I’ll change. There are clear dangers and costs in all racing and I’m aware of that, but I just didn’t fancy my odds on the road or the prize for crashing. I’m happy to leave it to the big boys and girls!
Taking it’s place is obviously Cyclocross/MTB/gravel and generally just having fun on a bike. That doesn’t mean training less or with lower intensity, quite the opposite. I feel I’m at my best fitness and skill levels ever, and it’s all been done whilst having a lot of fun on the bike, rather than grinding out miles whilst getting shouted at to get on the cyclepath.
Seb joining the TCC gang had a big influence on these choices as he was reluctantly joining the road scene as no one else was doing what he really wanted (cross and dicking about on mountain bikes on terrain that is too much for hardtails or cross bikes) so once we knew we’d at least have one person to ride with, we both felt better about making the change. Since, we’ve done a lot of great races- Battle in the Bowl, Southdowns Way in a day on CX bikes, Big Dog, Cross races, Three Peaks and Gravel Chasers. All of those events have got their own individual blogs so go back to the menu and check them out if you haven’t already.
Alongside the off road stuff, we ventured to Roubaix with Ed and lots of the other TCC crew and had an absolute blast. It was such good fun to show Ed the event and take everyone on the Sunday ride round the Flandrian bergs.
Looking to 2020- we have made Seb part of the team as with three of us, we can now push on with some projects and ideas whilst dealing with very busy day jobs, families and lives in general. We have big things planned, with a very succint plan for products and events. Seb and I will be doing loads more races and events together- we’ve certainly shared many hilarious moments this year and it’s nice to have someone who shares the same passion for shouting at cyclists whlst they’re racing and doing stupid skids. Ed has had a very intense year but has still had time to do mega challenges at Roubaix and other rides, so here’s to 2020 where he will rise like a phoenix and beat everyone over the Arenberg.
We want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has been involved with TCC during the year- we do all of this because it gets us involved with like-minded people and gives us a chance to share the love of riding bikes. Special shout must go to Harry for all the riding/racing he has done with me as well as the podcasts, Chris for being the epitomy of TCC- always up for a challenge and giving it his all and Clint, for being the person who I’ve probably ridden with the most this year!
There is a lot of exciting things coming this way in 2020 with some amazing riders, teams and people- so keep an eye out and join in. Come say hi when you see us at events or shout abuse if we’re racing at the time, we love that. There will be road, cross, gravel, MTB, and whatever else we decide to have a crack at. We’ve also got some ideas for stupid events that people can come and do for free cos it’s all about the love yo. etc
See you x