Me and Phil are sat outside that Cafe that’s painted in the Tour De France Polka Dots, the one just outside of Penistone. I’ve bought Phil a fish finger sandwich as thanks for giving me a lift to numerous races this season. One of the local roosters is starting to get pretty interested in it and Phil offers it a piece of crust. It seems keen at first but then finds something more interesting. In the grass there’s a tiny mouse that the rooster has spotted. I think I remember the story of the rooster and the mouse from when I was in junior school. I can’t remember the exact details but I’m pretty sure it ended up with everyone learning something. Apparently this rooster hasn’t read any of it as he starts vigorously pecking at his potential mouse friend. I lob a couple of chips his way to see if he’ll give the mouse a break in exchange for some fried potato. He brings the mouse over to our table and then swallows it whole. It was probably a bit much for me to expect him to chew it, what with him having a beak and no teeth. I’m pretty convinced that no human has ever seen this behaviour before and neither of us has managed to film it. We’ve missed our opportunity, much like we missed the break at Tumby’s Road Race a couple of hours ago.
Today wasn’t supposed to be this way. Today was supposed to be the crowning achievement of my season. My ascension to golden god status in front of my adoring home crowd. What I’m trying to say is that I fancied my chances of getting at least a top 10 at the Bole Hill RR and our mate Steve had offered to be on bottle duty. Bole Hill is our local race, but like most of Buxton, the roads there have had their surfaces removed and replaced with some kind of cat litter. No one knows what benefit this has on the roads but it is delightful to bury one’s shit in. The council have also dug a massive hole on the circuit and so the race has rightfully been cancelled.
I just need one point to get my Cat 2 licence and so I’m basically just looking to race anywhere I can so that I can get said point and enjoy the last couple of months of the season, with no stress. It’s with this in mind that on Saturday night, me and Phil decide to chance an entry on the line for Tumby’s Road Race over near Doncaster.
The plan is executed to perfection. We leave super early in order that Phil can stop at the most isolated toilet in Britain and we’ll still arrive at the race before anyone else. We show our faces before sign on is open so that the organisers know we’re keen. No one else is here so we get changed and get the bikes set up. For what won’t be the last time today, we lose concentration and aren’t there at the split second that sign on opens. We’re now in a queue behind some young lads and when it’s our turn to sign on there’s only one guaranteed place left on the race. Rather than go rooster vs mouse on each other, Phil gallantly lets me have the spot.
We needn’t have worried as by the time Phil has got his kit on, a couple of kids have brought a race number over to his van. Their parents should have warned them not to do this kind of thing, but at least Phil is now in the race.
It’s a really strong field today and so the plan is to let everyone beat the hell out of each other before either of us goes on the attack. I’m hoping it’ll come down to a bunch finish as Phil is primed and ready for lead out duty. It’s another one of our mistakes as a decent looking break goes very early. It’s brought back very early but a counter attack launches straight after. It’s one of those that looks far too big to work, there are 11 riders in it, but they still start to pull out a gap.
That gap gets bigger as those left behind are reluctant to work and just rely on a few strong lads. I try and attack to get across to the break. I’m joined by Hayden from Alba Rosa and another lad. We’re outgunned by both those in front of us and those behind and so everything ends up going back to the way it was.
The bunch looks like they might be content to let the break have all the fun and a couple of laps later they’re completely out of sight. It’s around this time that Phil sends out a message to the rest of the bunch. He doesn’t use words, just the sound of chain against metal. His message? “My bike is broken. Please continue without me.”
As the break comes back into sight, we organise something resembling a concerted chase. There are around 8 of us riding through and off on the front and the gap is tumbling. After a couple of laps of this, we take the bellI with the gap down to about 15 seconds. It’s at about this point when a rider from our group decides to go on the attack. It’s not just an attack on the bunch, it’s an attack on the mutual trust and cooperation we’d built up. It’s basically cycling Brexit. With our trust disintegrating our union falls apart and the break gets to have their day. Imagine that the break represents Russia and you can extract the moral from this story. Maybe that was what the story of the rooster and the mouse was about. I still can’t remember. That’s probably why we’re in this bloody mess.
There are still 4 places left to sprint for and all I need is that one sweet point. Without my leadout man I want to be on the front around the final corner. From there I can swing a bit wide and let another couple of riders come through, giving me a perfect position to sprint from. I’m sticking to my part of the plan but Hayden and another rider attack before the bend. It means that as we come through the final corner I’m expected to chase them down. I try to lose my place on the front of the group but I can’t get anyone to come through. I can’t get anyone else to come through until literally everyone comes through. Without a wheel to help get me up to speed it’s impossible to latch on until I’m way too far down the line to be able to get anything out of the sprint. I’m the isolated nation left out of the big European party. I’m the mouse being eaten by the rooster.
Phil drops me off at home and then his van proceeds to break down, his broken down bike still inside it. He ends up getting pissed in the pub whilst he waits for assistance, entertaining the locals with his story of the chicken that ate a mouse. If only one of us had bloody filmed it.
Thanks as always to 23mm who provide my race wheels.