Despite only accepting entry by cheque, this hasn't put off the CC London squad. We've got a team of 6 in the race. Our 7th man has dropped out. We've got another trying to get an entry on the line. You can't keep us out, man. You can put up barriers but we'll just overcome them, man. I'll go down the bank and ask them to issue me a chequebook, man.
Our seventh man doesn't get in. The race is completely full up so there's a big field racing on these narrow roads. They're not all narrow. Some of them are quite wide but it's a busy road and spreading out across the two lanes you risk the chance of meeting a car travelling at 60mph, head on. Tough to move up the field in this race.
I'm road captain today. I'm the most experienced rider in our team and we've got 3 riders doing their first road race. I give a briefing and lay out the tactics for the day. In my mind I'm like Churchill. In reality I'm just listing a load of things.
Lap 2 of the 120km course and I'm taking it easy. The bunch is nervy and I know there's a really technical bit of the course coming up before the only feature of the course that's even remotely like a hill.
The bunch accelerates up the hill. This hill is where I attacked late on last year and road solo for 5 minutes or so before being caught. I'm a master of this course.
A rider in front loses a wheel. Another one thinks that's a good idea. Am I in a group that is being dropped? I smash it to the front of the bunch and ride on my limit for an eternity to close the gap. All the while other riders are dropping. The hopes of this bunch are pinned on me. We're not even 30 minutes into the race.
I close the gap to the group in front, but they've also been detached. Gruesome from our team is on the front of this one and I struggle to help him close it down. We're the two most experienced riders in the team. It's just about race over for both of us. We're setting an awesome example.
A few minutes of being on the rivet and we've brought it all back together. The pace stays high leaving no room to recover. A left turn. A possible change in wind intensity? A truce at the front? Who knows but the pace eases and I can recover now. I will be further up the bunch next time around.
I am. So are our inexperienced riders. Must have been the briefing I gave them, or the fact that they're not idiots like me.
It's a fast nervy race. The commissaire is bollocking us over the PA. Riders overtake on the wrong side of the road, into oncoming traffic. One bellend actually clips a car.
I've told our riders to be up the front for the last 10km as it gets really narrow and impossible to move up. I hit the front early and drag young Tom up with me. After 110km I'm now in this race.
Heading towards the finale I'm in a break of 3 but it's only a couple of seconds up the road. I'm here by accident, just trying to hold position.
I do a bit of work on the front to keep the pace up and encourage my team mates to join me and believe that we can do this.
Further down the road and I'm in 5th wheel. A short rise in the road and the rider at the front blows. Moving round him means a trip onto the grass. Not the last time I'll see that in the next few kms.
The final left turn before the run to the line and I'm still in 5th. This is perfect. The race is lined out and I've got a clear path to open up a sprint if this holds.
Riders move up on the right. It's ok. Of course it's going to get busy. Apart from the one man break, this is a proper bunch finish.
Did I mention this is a narrow road? A car comes towards us on the right. It refuses to cede territory to the bunch and the riders on the right realise this very late. The bunch compresses and I'm pushed left onto the grass and gravel again. I've lost places but I get back up to speed. I can still sprint for a place. Another compression and I see more gravel.
I'm now about 15th but I'm in my teammate, Rupert's wheel. I'm also hyperaware. I swear I can hear a bead of sweat drop from a face onto a top tube at the back of the bunch. This is the zone.
Last time on this finish I was too far back to get involved. This time I'm still hanging in there but if I could pause time for a minute, like Zack used to do in Saved By The Bell, I'd have time to consider how stressful this is. Then I'd just have a nice sit down for a minute and pop some Kenny G on. Maybe I'd have a nice glass of wine.
I'd also have time to anticipate the crash that's about to skittle riders across the road. It happens on the right hand side and two riders are sent spinning across the road into everyone's path. I'm the first on the scene and have to hit my breaks hard to avoid a big tumble.
I roll the last 400m to the line and see another crashed rider. He seems to have gone down all on his own in touching distance of the line.
Back at HQ I count heads. Mads and Ben have both made it safely to the finish. Gruesome called it quits the penultimate time across the line. Rupert and young Tom have made it through the crashes too. Rupert took 14th despite not even really sprinting. Tom got 19th. That's a great road race debut, especially in a 2/3/4 race.
Rupert came to the race in the van that he's turning into a camper. It's a former emergency vehicle. Before we go home he let's me shout "light 'em up" before turning on the siren. What a lovely day.
"LIGHT 'EM UP."