#bikeschool: Every day is a school day

As some of you may be aware I took part in a bike race on Sunday… my first race in 26 years! I’ve been cycling for a few years now and I’m a terribly competitive little so-and-so, which made me realise I was ready to step my cycling up a level. This week’s post is part race summary, part lessons learned. (Unfortunately as this post goes live the photos from the event have not yet been uploaded by the official photographer but I will update it with some as soon as I can).

Semi-professional dreamer

As a serving officer in Kent Police there are many benefits that are afforded me; unadulterated respect from the public, a sense of being able to change society for the better and being able to compete in sport at a high level whilst being supported by my employer. For those of you that have been keeping up to date with the news in London and the riots, you may realise that only one of the above benefits ACTUALLY exist… and happily for me it’s the last one! Many of the riders that I regularly ride with are also police officers or fire fighters and during a ride a couple of months ago the British Emergency Services National Championships was mentioned and all talk surrounded who was going to compete and what pre-race excuses friends would come up with to preempt their dismal performance. As the weeks went on I thought more about the race and decided that it would be a good way to kick start myself into an end of summer training plan with the intention of moving this good form into the winter for some proper pre-season training… and then 2012 would be my oyster!

I had already planned to be racing a little by this time this year but due to a fairly lazy 2010/2011 winter I’ve spent most of the spring and summer battling with my bizarre work schedule to get the legs I need to compete in local crit races, which can be up to 3 times a week in this area. The literately astute reader may have spotted that I’ve already identified myself as being both ‘competitive’ and ‘lazy’ which is a serious problem when it comes to any sport. If @bikerly had his way I think my personal Venn diagram would look something like this…

Other than the excitement of an actual race, the Emergency Services Nationals also had the added benefit of allowing me to get a paid days leave from work whilst the rest of my team were slogging away on the streets of Kent and it was also possible for me to compete with a ‘day licence’ meaning I wouldn’t have to worry about trying to get a British Cycling race licence in time. Good things all round!

Race (pain) day

So the day of the race arrived and I had everything in place; kit had been checked and double checked, tubes pumped to desired pressure, my chainset degreased and lovingly re-lubed and everything carefully packed into my car ready for the hour long journey to the south of the county to the race HQ. This journey was given some added ‘spice’ when I realised my car had a flat tyre. Not my bike… my freaking car! It had a slight poetic justice to it but I calmly (yeah right!) asked my fiance to drop me off there and I would make my way home with a friend who was also going to the race. On the journey to the race I was preoccupied and kept thinking that the setback with my car would haunt me and keep me from reaching my potential. In reality that was the least of my worries and once I got there and calmed down a little it never crossed my mind again.

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