Cycling Weekly will have a rider blogging from every round of this year’s Tour Series, offering insight, comment and humour from the fast-paced proceedings.
Rob Adlard, a freelance violinist riding for Velo29-Blackhawk, gives us an insight into the Tour Series experience from the point of view of one of the many guest teams that will feature in this year’s rounds.
Durham is such a difficult circuit! As a guest team we haven’t had a round before to get into the groove and it’s our one time where we have to just smash it. It was a huge amount of fun, and I’d love to do some more.
They’re so fun and so well organised, that even if you hate crits (like me), they’re still absolutely brilliant events. As a guest team you really appreciate that.
My race didn’t really go so well. The neutral laps and the first couple of race laps were great; I’m used to hills and I’m a climber so I gained a load of positions on the first time up the cobbled climb. I got onto Ed Clancy’s wheel and thought, “this is fantastic, I’ve just got to stick here and I’ll be fine.”
Unfortunately on the second lap I got to the top of the hill and I just couldn’t breathe, and from that point on I couldn’t get out of the red. If you’re not 100% you just can’t get away with anything.
The South Street cobbles leave no room for error
That famous corner [in Durham] was pretty horrific; I nearly came off there every time. I had these tyres that I’d used to race in Belgium so I thought they’d be great, but I was sliding sideways on the cobbles every lap anyway.
I actually went into the barriers on that corner during one of the practice laps because I was trying to see how fast you could ride it. Luckily I found out that no-one rides it that fast during the race!
Being a guest team we started at the back of the grid. It was incredibly tense; we knew we had a job to do but at the same time trying to move up through the bunch was a near impossible task.
One of the other things about being a guest team is that we don’t ride our bikes full-time, so it didn’t feel quite right to be elbowing the full-time riders out of the way because this is basically their day at the office. You subconsciously don’t want to ruin their day at work!
I’m lucky to do the day job that I do. I’m a freelance musician and I play the violin. It’s mostly evening work so it gives me plenty of time to ride my bike, which at times can feel like I’m a full time bike rider.
However it does sometimes mean some late nights travelling; I had a concert in Manchester with the Halle Orchestra on the night before the Lincoln Grand Prix so I had to drive over on Saturday night and didn’t arrive until about one in the morning.
It is also a bit nerve-wracking because I use my hands for work, and if I can’t use my hands then I don’t get paid! It can be difficult when you want to go around corners fast because you can be a bit reluctant unless you really focus on what you’re doing. My one mitigation is that I wear full fingered, padded gloves.
I had plenty of friends around the course and my other half was there too. She hadn’t seen much racing before, so it was pretty cool for her to come and see me race. I did have to tell her that it’s not always like that though!
I remember going to watch races around an industrial estate in Hartlepool when I was nine years old, and that was what got me hooked on cycling.
I can’t imagine what it would have been like to have been a nine year old watching that race last night. It must have been overwhelmingly exciting!