>Rivalries. They’re another thing that keeps me going that isn’t particularly SMART.
When I rode my first race I came last. I made a mental note of those who finished ahead of me (i.e. everyone) and started to pick some of them off through that first season – I’m talking about beating them in time trials here, not assassination. Early rivals included Ian Jones, Adrian Collins and Val Hadley, but there were many more. Some of my rivals probably never knew me – they were just names who appeared regularly on start sheets. But others became good friends. Friends are the best sorts of rivals.
I suppose my edgiest rivalry was with my dad (left). At first I never even considered being able to beat him. When I started to get closer he always seemed to have an edge on me – psychologically as well as time-wise. It was as if he knew me really well.
Considering how this rivalry is scored on my mind, it’s surprising that I can’t recall the first time I beat him. But I did. Eventually. There was, I think, only one season where I beat him consistently (he’d been ill during the winter). Any victory against him was hard won and a moment to be treasured. He hated being beaten, but was always generous when it happened. The strange thing was, by the time we were racing each other so hard the rivalry had ceased to be a father-son thing (or that was secondary). It was about the bike. And friendship.
When I started to race less and less, he went on to beat all my PBs by a considerable margin (he also won a VTTA national championship, rode a World Master Championship road race and broke two mixed tandem competition records to boot). I guess that means he wins. Top man.
Nowadays most of my rivals belong to my club – Willesden CC – but there are a few riders from other clubs I keep an eye on. I do like to travel back to my old stamping ground in the Marches and Wales to take on Paul Stephens and the rest of the Ross guys on their home turf as well.
The first race of 09/10 is tomorrow. The Imperial Winter Series starts and I’ll be lining up with the fourth cats. Again. Rivalries don’t really apply in bunch racing for me – It’s not about the winning, it’s about getting dropped.