Tour Series blog #7: Chris Opie in Woking
It's the fourth and final week. I have so far travelled 3190 miles, raced six times and slept very little. For me though the series is ending all too soon. I love these races.
The Tour Series is pretty special. How often do you get to race against fifty of the best riders in the country and re-live it the next night on TV?
How often do you get to see the faces you've pulled - or the snotty expression you've held for an hour - whilst racing for every centimetre of the twisty, narrow and testing circuit?
The telly really doesn't depict quite how good these circuits really are (thank you to Graham Jones for that). It never looks as hard, or as technical, as I remember. And I certainly never look as cool as I had imagined during the race.
A typical Tour Series day will start at 6am. I let the dog out for a wee, and make some breakfast. Homemade pancakes, an omelette or maybe some porridge. I wash the bike and head off to either Exeter or Somerset.
Then, it's a case of shuffling everything from my car to the team car, and preparing for the long journey to follow. You would think travelling with a turbo trainer on your lap would be uncomfortable, but honestly, you get used to it.
Sleeping however remains difficult, but if you can, it does pass time on what can be quite a long, tedious journey.
Whale of a time
That said, I don't mind the travelling, there is a whole new world of things to see. While on the way to a race, [fellow Cornish-born rider] Steve Lampier and I once spotted a whale on the back of a small lorry. It pays to keep your eyes open!
Inevitably we get to the race at around 4pm: more than enough time to eat dinner, change leisurely in to kit and bum around listening to music and chatting to teammates. The next couple of hours fly by. Before you know it, we head to the ‘pits'. Turbos and rollers whir away.
Pumps hiss on valves and the music plays. The atmosphere builds as crowds gather around the barriers. A few quick laps to familiarize the circuit, look for drain covers, pot holes, the usual. And no matter how often you try to relieve your bladder before the start, you always need another wee. Too bad, everyone's lining up.
Neutral? No way!
The ‘neutralised' laps, are arguably more of a fight. Every now and then yes, we will be going slowly, but as already mentioned in past blogs, some riders love the camera and it is their race to be behind the motorbike. It's dangerous, as they will chop up everyone to get there. But they clearly enjoy it.
Fortunately four laps pass quickly and the race starts to line out. The lungs burn. The legs burn. If you feel good it still hurts but you don't care. After all you're racing in the best series in the country and you love it!
Last night in Woking was particularly cool. I won a little £100 prime - that's two days and forty minutes work on the building site, right there in my pocket.
I can finally take my girlfriend out for a meal on Monday to celebrate four years together!