Joe Evans and three other riders are keeping rider journals for The British Continental this season. Joe, 22, is a former Madison Genesis rider who now rides for Cornish-based elite-level team Saint Piran. This is Joe’s fourth journal entry…
I’d heard a few stories of guys cracking … after racing 3 or 4 nights a week and coming out of the series 4 kilos overweight and unable to ride their bike for longer than an hour and a half
It feels like an eternity since I’ve sat down and written a journal post. So fingers crossed I’m not too rusty! It feels like a lot has happened since my last post talking about the importance of staying in school and not putting everything on cycling. The irony of that is that in the interim I decided I was binning-off my exams, dropping out of Uni, only riding my bike, moving abroad and probably decided to join a cult as well at some point. What I’m trying to say is I had a lot on my plate and wasn’t coping overly well. But once I had a word with myself, and remembered my reasons for going to Uni in the first place (mainly you can’t ride a bike forever), I was ok. I probably didn’t help myself all that much by committing to riding four rounds of the Tour Series either, but I wasn’t going to miss a road trip with the Saint Piran boys due to some pesky exams.
The Tour Series was a crazy couple of weeks. I had reservations going into it. I’d heard a few stories of guys cracking from eating pizza at 11 o’clock after racing 3 or 4 nights a week and coming out of the series 4 kilos overweight and unable to ride their bike for longer than an hour and a half. Luckily that wasn’t my experience. OK, the pizza at 11 o’clock was.
I have definitely been in teams where I’ve been able to tolerate guys at races but away from that we have very little in common and conversation is like pulling the proverbial teeth
As a team we were all excited to be a part of the Tour Series but for a lot of us it was the first time we’d taken part in the series so weren’t really sure how we’d cope with the demands of it. Regardless of the racing, being on the road with the same people for two weeks can definitely have its challenges! It can be tricky sometimes being away with guys at a bike race because if you think about it, you haven’t chosen these people to spend a lot of time with. You’re somewhat forced to be together by virtue of the fact you’re on the same team. Obviously you know one another from racing but that isn’t necessarily a precursor to being friends. I have definitely been in teams where I’ve been able to tolerate guys at races but away from that we have very little in common and conversation is like pulling the proverbial teeth. I’m fairly lucky with my current cohort of team mates, however. I can say that with some confidence, and not like I’m back pedalling. Aberdeen to Durham is a bloody long drive and we survived it still friends! Long car journeys can be the ultimate test of friendships and your ability to get on with people in my personal opinion.
The racing itself was pretty much what I expected: technical, fast, cagey at times. With Madison and Canyon dominating the top two positions in the team standings it was pretty much a two horse race. That, however, did not deter us in getting stuck in to the racing and trying to be on the mix in every round. We had our fair share of bad luck along the way. Motherwell, for example, we were sitting in a good position until about half way when it all started to go wrong. Both me and Lamps got caught up in a crash which kind of ended our race and meant we lost a lap on the lead group. Although after seeing my good friend Tobyn Horton had broken his collarbone in that same crash it put things into perspective – it was only one bike race! Matt Nowell salvaged a great 4th place in that round, from what could’ve been a bit of a disaster for us.
If Motherwell was our worst round then one of our best had to be Durham, a night where everything seemed to come together for us in a way that doesn’t happen very often. For most of us it was our first time racing in Durham, which is a pretty infamous circuit with a steep cobbled climb and descent every lap. Lamps geed us up before the start and we were all fired up for the race. We placed two guys in the leading breakaway, Cam and Lamps, with me and Matt in the following group keeping tabs on everything. It was a night of change, with Canyon having a bit of a shocker and losing their overall lead, Lamps regaining the sprint jersey and Madison jumping ahead in the overall team classification. For Saint Piran, we came away with second team on the night, a result we felt capable of for the whole series. As well as that we placed 4 guys in the top 10, with Cam coming away with a career best 2nd place, and a personal best result in this level of race for me in 7th.
The memories of races kind of blur into each other eventually and results become pretty insignificant
Away from racing though, my best memories of this series are what went on after the races. As I’ve said before in previous posts it’s not all about racing for me. The memories of races kind of blur into each other eventually and results become pretty insignificant. What will stick in my memory is sitting in a hotel room in the middle of Aberdeen (or Motherwell, or Durham, or wherever) having raced my arse off for my teammates. We’d sit around and chat about the race, what was good and bad, we’d eat bad food and we’d drink beer. I’ve never felt more chilled out and happy post race than I did while away at the Tour Series.
So to conclude, since my last post I have ridden 5 Tour Series rounds, finished top 15 in the Lincoln GP, crammed for 6 exams in 9 days, finished my first year of uni and moved out of my flat. I confidently predict that by the time my next post rolls around I won’t have achieved nearly that much, but it feels good to be back.
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