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Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Fish & Chips and the Club 10!




The lighter evenings of spring signal the start of club events across the UK.
Surely the “chipper” of all “Fish &Chippers”, the club evening 10 is the staple diet of clubmen & testers from April to September. For lots of us it was our introduction to bike racing. More than a few of the current British stars cut their teeth in club events. The dilemma I always had was this: Do I count club 10 wins on my Palmares? Of course not! It’s not a proper race: it’s just training isn’t it? Look at any results, however and there will be a sprinkling of “names”. 1st Cat Roadies, track riders, local fast men, and elite triathletes even Continental Professionals back home for some R&R. Its popularity is evident, whether looking for fitness, fine tuning form, perhaps an easy way to get your hard workout done or just keeping your hand in.

Every Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday the same scene is played out across the country. Car parks, Laybys, Industrial estates are all turned into makeshift headquarters. Some drive out to the event, cars full of disc wheels and aero helmets. Others rock up on road bikes, fully mudgaurded up, ride out and ride home, just to make it hard and of course those extra miles. It’s also a good excuse for that slow time. Some will warm up on Turbo’s, taking it all far too seriously, some idly chat away, not taking it seriously enough. “You are not using a heart rate monitor are you?” Skin suit or club jersey? “I am riding on specific power tonight”. Crowding around the result board the times tell the truth. The fast guys are not interested, after all it’s only training; they will look at the results later on the club website though. Still the question remains can you count it as a win?
What about winning other clubs races? What about if you ride a PB? What about if you set a course record? Surely sometimes this non-race of a race must count? There was a time when I would never consider it. Club 10s on my all-time win list, never! I suppose it depends on your strike rate, prolific winners are not bothered, (how can they keep count) those that feed on scraps will take a win where they can get it. In the grand scheme of things I guess club 10 results are like any sports results, they mean nothing yet they mean everything. As for me, I am still not sure, if morale is good I don’t need those hollow victories but if morale is bad, a win is a win isn’t it?

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