We were on our way to Macclesfield General Hospital when I discovered something that would change my life, and the lives of every other member of the High Peak Cycles Race Team, forever. It seemed like an ordinary kind of day, a day where you’re taking your fallen comrade to have his shoulder looked at. Like any ordinary day on the network of A roads and motorways that criss-cross this blessed isle, we passed a service station. Normally the only thing that crosses your mind in a situation like this is whether you fancy a piss or a ginsters, or both. Not today. “This is where I got felt up” says Phil.
Pandora’s box had been opened and outpoured the tale of the time that Phil had been asked by Purple Aki, if he could have a feel of his calves. Phil’s got beautiful calves so it’s a surprise that this sort of thing doesn’t happen more often, but in this case, Phil became a victim of the north-west’s most terrifying muscle toucher. Later on, Ed would also have his muscle’s touched, legitimately and by a professional, They would reveal that he’s dislocated his shoulder. The last time I had seen Ed in the race, he had been nosing past me in the run up to the sprint. Unfortunately for Ed, as he was moving up on my left hand side, he was also 100% airborne, having used the rib cage of a rider from Team Chronomaster as a makeshift ramp.
Today it’s the Frank Morgan Road Race. The scouse world champs. The race where it’s always pissing down and about 1 degree. The race where I always have to climb off at the halfway point to wrap myself in a foil blanket.
Fans of this blog I must offer my sincerest apologies for this is my second race of the season. There does exist a race report for the first, but I deleted it by accident. Just as well as during the off season my writing skills have been neglected. Coming up with more than a paragraph about the Duncan Sparrow Trophy at Pimbo turned me into Jack Nicholson’s struggling writer from The Shining and my wife is still pretty angry about the axe that I put through the bathroom door. Having got that out of my system I hope that I’m now back in writing form, the racing form will hopefully follow.
The Frank Morgan Road Race is noted for it’s comprehensive road book. By comprehensive I mean an email that tells you the time to turn up. For the uninitiated it might feel a little bit like gaining access to some secret society, but the truth is that no one really needs any more information than “turn up and ride your bike” when the day involves 25 laps of an industrial estate. Ah the industrial estate, the engine room of Britain, the home of permanent jacket potato vans, and the traditional place where the north west cycling season must begin.
If you want any details of the actual race then I’ll offer them to you like the last bit of cereal in the packet. That is to say that this race report will mostly be milk and bits of muesli dust. What I can tell you is that I finished the race and that for the first 45 minutes I never really saw the front of it due to the wind coming from an unusual direction, meaning that it was too fast for me to do anything. I did get into a couple of moves in the second half of the race, but to use one of my favourite metaphors from this blog, they were like throwing a paper aeroplane out to sea. For a moment they looked like they might fly, and then they end up further back down the beach than when they started.
At one point, with 5 laps to go, when I was in 3rd or 4th wheel, I had my teammate Phil behind me. I pointed out a very large pothole but Phil took that as a dare and rode straight into it. A couple of seconds later his tyre completely blows, a couple more seconds later and I hear him crash. Strangely when I find him after the race he’s completely covered in mud, I’m not sure how he managed this when there is only concrete as far as the eye can see.
One innovation that the Frank Morgan Road Race has introduced for this year is parking a truck on the circuit about three quarters of the way through. I don’t know why more races don’t consider adding obstacles for the finale. How good would the World Champs be if someone added rope bridge on the last lap? or if someone released a load of bees in the Roubaix Velodrome.
And so we come full circle. The sprint is coming. There’s just one more bend. There’s a compression in the bunch and the sound of wheels touching moves from right to left and then back to the right again. When it finally stops 2 or 3 riders skittle across the road and I have to brake to almost a halt. It’s at this moment when Ed tries, dramatically, to pip me in the photo finish. His airborne attack works but it’s not possible for him to sustain it for another 600 meters and round a corner. He lands 599 meters short of the line as I roll in and immediately turn around to see if he’s ok.