Halfords Tour Series blog: James McCallum in Kirkcaldy
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.
After Tuesday's opening round in Kirkcaldy, Rapha-Condor-Sharp rider and local boy James McCallum tells us about the pressure of a home crowd, Ed Clancy's education and John Herety's culinary talents.
I only live about 20 miles from Kirkcaldy, so this was about as local as any race could be for me. The team stayed near the Forth Bridge, and it was good to see everyone once again. Our squad for the Tour Series won't change much this year, and we all get on like a house on fire so there are plenty of laughs to be had. It was also good to educate Ed Clancy about Scotland. I don't think he knows his geography too well.
We don't talk about the racing much beforehand. We had a two-hour ride in the morning with a quick coffee stop, and we arrived back to be greeted by a meal of chicken and rice prepared by none other than our head chef John Herety. With that and a SiS Recovery drink taken in, we tend to get to the circuit around three hours before the start of the race.
One of the first things we do when we get there is walk around the circuit. This was useful last night as it was not only a new circuit, but it went through pedestrianised areas and it wasn't all on tarmac. After a meeting with the organisers, another quick meal and riding the circuit for the first time, we get changed and by 6pm we were on the rollers. That part is simple - you put on your headphones, load up your playlist and you get psyched out of your head. John is always there to check we're OK, and because of all the razzmatazz of the Tour Series you make your last minute checks a bit earlier than you do at any other race.
With about an hour to go before the start there weren't that many people on the barriers watching. By the start of the race, they were six or seven people deep. I remember wondering where they all came from. The atmosphere last night was as good as any Tour Series round I've ridden. From a personal point of view, it was great to have a race so close to home. I had my mum and dad, my wife and her parents and all the people I know through cycling there cheering me on. I had a bit of a laugh with the team on that one - I told them that I had the weight of a nation on my shoulders!
The race itself was frustrating. I thought we were all over the action - Ed and Kristian [House] got into an early move with Dean Windsor [Endura] which forced everyone else to chase. We covered the splits, yet I was the highest finisher in 12th. Dean [Downing] punctured with 500m to go - he was riding 120psi yesterday, while I went for 100psi. That was another thing we picked up from riding the course beforehand. You always learn things during the race that you hadn't noticed previously - that's what riding in a large group can do. One lap a bend may be five metres wide, the next time people wanting to move up the line mean it's only four. It started to rain with a couple of laps to go, too, and it got to a point where you could see your tyre tracks. That's always fun!
With the race over and another SiS recovery drink taken in, we head away from the circuit as quick as we can. I stayed at home last night, which is something you rarely get the chance to do during a series or tour of any kind. I slept in my own bed and woke up to my own coffee. By 9am this morning I met up with the team, and after a short ride we were on the way down to Durham for Thursday's race.
As soon as we crossed the line last night we started thinking about round two. Whether you are winning or losing, you still have to move on as quickly as possible. You're always likely to have a bad round in this series, so we've put that behind us already.