Why racing is important
As much as country lane pottering and sportive challenges are fantastic, for me, nothing compares to racing. I was first turned onto bike racing five years ago. Before then I frankly found the idea of meeting dozens of men in an airfield car park dressed in lycra and riding around a, invariably windy, track to be totally ridiculous. I was however somehow convinced and since that day I really haven’t looked back.
Competition isn't why I got into riding bikes in adult life. I got back into cycling after a long stint playing competitive team sports. I swore after coming away from that that cycling wouldn't become something competitive for me. A few rides ragging around in the woods, some touring, fitness, to get to the pub but never for competition. And then, well it changed.
When I was a kid and I found something that I really loved, a new computer game, a day at a waterpark, that thing would replay in my head over and over as I went to sleep. I forgot that feeling and then I went bike racing. My non cycling friends don’t get it. But anyone that has tried it knows. Gritting your teeth and holding the wheel, pushing to catch the break, fighting to stay out of the wind, how it feels when you’re strong. How it feels when you’re undercooked.
Having not come from a cycling background. I've learnt everything I know on the tarmac. There is so much more to learn. I never won, came second once. I've lost a few times. I'm pack fodder, but it doesn't matter. The feeling of racing, wheel to wheel, at 30 mph. Having to be alert to everything around you is unbeatable. It’s a different rush to the other satisfactions that cycle sport can give you. It’s not like the sudden skipping heart beat of hitting a gap for the first time. Or the slow burning rush of a long training ride. It’s the unnerving feeling of being brilliantly uncomfortable for the whole time whilst having to read everything that is going on all of the time. There is someone to the left, someone behind and all the while your running at least 90% max HR!
Whats more is racing is a great way of meeting people and of course getting fit. You thought you were strong?! Well I’ll see you in June! Riding bikes is great fun. Riding bikes can say goodbye to a few extra pounds, get you out with your mates, scare you, relax you, allow you to travel. Racing bikes can allow you to do all of those things.
Never raced before. The hardest part is getting started. And that’s easy!
Contact your local cycling club who will generally know of local road races and time trials or if you’re not into that another great way to get involved is via the TLI (www.tlicycling.org.uk) who run races all around the country and at North Weald Airfield in Essex during the Summer which is where you will find us on a Tuesday nights during the Summer.