Top 20 Finish (aiming for a)
Is it that time already?
RIDE24 2012 has crept up like a butterfly in slippers and suddenly the familiar feelings of apprehension and panic are upon me. My much-lauded (by me) training regime is now a combination of cold sweats and hugging my knees.
What if I’m worse than last year? What if I’m still rubbish at clip-in pedals? What if the Lavant Straight has been replaced with a series of really big hills? What if the food isn’t as good?
Nobody wants to hear me asking these stupid questions though. The rest of the bikebritain team is more concerned with tactics and plans to help us improve on last year. I’m sure the original goal was to improve on 28th, but this has somehow evolved such that a top 20 finish is now the only acceptable outcome. bikebritain emails are now being signed off “Top 20 Finish” as if it is some kind of hypnotic mantra. I’m half expecting Jonathan to fly a plane past the window of my office towing a “TOP 20 FINISH” banner before the week is out or to come home to find the slogan in crude graffiti on my front door.
I get it. Top 20 finish. Many would cower at this prospect, but not I. Well, I cowered a little bit until I realised I had very few options. Go hard or go home, and I’m already home and it isn’t feasible to just stay here and not turn up on the 23rd if I value my short to medium-term safety. So, I’ve pushed the envelope and done some blue-sky thinking and found some low-hanging fruit with which I can fuel an assault on RIDE24 2012, provided I don’t trade the fruit in for a Chinese takeaway in the meantime.
1. Hotel bikebritain
Last year, our sanctuary away from hours spent pounding round the track was a couple of damp tents. Nothing wrong with that, but when somebody else turns up with a Winnebago you know you’re missing a trick. Now, a Winnebago I’m assuming it ain’t, but Team bikebritain has upgraded to a hired van and I am very excited because I am even allowed to use it. It isn’t as if I am expecting to hunker down for a good eight hours in the middle, but it will definitely mean any sleep we do get is much improved and it will be a good spot to relax for a half-hour here and there before I go back for thirds at the food tent.
2. The Weather
I am not Michael Fish, which is a shame because he is probably a better cyclist, but a rudimentary internet search reveals that the weather might not be as awful as it was last year. This is good. That said, it does still suggest that it might be quite windy, which is not ideal, but I am hoping that bit is wrong.
3. The Track
Having fallen in love with the Lavant Straight last time, I am very keen for us to be reunited, albeit whilst still on my bicycle. Familiarity with the track is for me, and I have given some serious thought to the parts of the track where I can shave some seconds from 2011 lap times. I haven’t actually come up with any yet, but there are certainly a few where I can try. Getting my shoes into the pedals before I leave the pit lane might be a start.
4. The Tactics
This second-shaving lark dovetails nicely with the bikebritain tactics that I have been sent during the writing of this piece. Tactics which, I’m hoping, will survive the opening hour of the race this time around. To say they are complex would be something of an understatement. I’m not even sure I understand them completely, but I’m going to nod and smile a lot until I realise that I was supposed to be out on the track twenty minutes ago. From what I do understand though, they are designed with a TOP 20 FINISH in mind, and I am ready to stand up and be counted. I am less ready for my laps or the number of minutes taken to complete them to be counted, in case it is fewer laps and more minutes than everybody else manages.
And, so, this is it. I shall return with my account of the events of the weekend as soon as I can bring myself to type them unless I have been cast out of the bikebritain sanctum forever. Thank you to everyone who has sponsored us so far and thank you in advance to those who will push us over the top over the coming days. If you would like to be one of those people, the link is: http://www.action.org.uk/sponsor/2012bikebritain
TOP 20 FINISH.