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PCM.daily » PCM Stories & Story Games » PCM 15: Stories
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The Life and Times | Axel's Army
jandal7
@ALL - It seems teenage angst and weird dialogue is less popular (as it should be Pfft) - deal with it Pfft
S5/E18
i.imgur.com/8iKuzOs.jpg
We Two Kings and One Queen

"Christmas, Summer, Cycling. Best time of the year."

Christmas was a fun time. Rose wasn't with us for lunch as our families weren't on the best of terms recently, but we met up in the afternoon, exchanged gifts, and went for a casual ride. She looked brighter than usual - she had been looking tired recently and even when she wasn't with me, so it wasn't just my complaining about my relationship with Tessa going down the drain. Hayden cleared his throat and against my will, I sprinted ahead. Why he thought to ask her out whilst on the bike, I don't know, but he wouldn't let me eat any of the bacon he'd made for breakfast until I agreed to his plan. At least it got him to shut up, and he knows how to fry some pig ass. I expected one of them to ride up to me, flustered, and sure enough, Hayden did.
'Gee, Jay, I know how you feel.'
'Oh wow, Hayden. I told you it was a bad idea.'
'Yeah this sucks. She turned off back there.'
'That bad?'
'No just... that awkward.' he said miserably. We rode in silence for a while. For all of the time Rose spent counselling me, I hadn't picked up any clue and had no idea what to say here. 'So who will you ride with tomorrow?' he said anxiously after a couple of minutes.
'Oh come on...'


So yes, after expertly avoiding getting out so Hayden wouldn't have to bat with Rose (I am the best) and making 66 not out while I was at it (the very best) it was the morning fun in the sun done with, more delicious looking food refused other than a couple of cold turkey sammies (had enough last night) it was time to talk to Rose. She had been giving me some pretty filthy looks all day
'Joseph Andrea-'
'Please don't call me that.'
'You bastard!'
'Do you think I wanted him to do that?'
'Maybe.'
'Well no, I didn't, eurgh!'
'But then why did you let him?'
'Because he said he really wanted to this Christmas.' The bacon-related part of the story could wait. 'And if he wants something like that, I know he means it. Also Rose, it's actually not my business so please leave me out of it.'
'Yes, but now he's screwed over the race.'
'Oh Jesus Chri-'
'Joseph.' she said in a dangerous voice.
'Well you two quibble back in the pack, I'm not riding with either of you. You two four-year-olds figure it out yourself.'
'Joseph.'
'Yes, Rose?'
'You're a god damn hippocrite.'


So I was to ride for myself in the annual Wanganui Boxing Day Classic, the title lies. The race started standardly, though Mac made the trip down on Hayden's recommendation.
'What's up with him?' Mac asked me.
'He has a terrible love life.' I said with a smile.
'Ah well. Are you two riding together?'
'Usually, but not this year.'
'Do you want to?' I thought over this one. He's gonna be a favourite now he's here, so why the hell not?
'Sure. The last hill is tough - what do you think?' I asked. He told me I was the one who'd raced it for years, and so we formed our plan.

The race started normally - fast with the odd person pushing out the watts to be at the front for a while and a mock breakaway with a few riders who only ever got to ride 10-15 seconds ahead. With the penultimate hill approaching, the selection had formed and Hayden, Rose, Mac, Mr Becker, his gang of KoM hunters and I were all present and correct. Mac decided on a probing attack that drew an immediate response from Hayden and one of Mr Becker's friends. Rose looked at me.
'Are you going to help me chase?'
'No.'
'You're with Hayden?'
'Yes.'
'But you said - oh.'
'Yeah.' I grinned.

And so she chased, and so did Mr Becker, but the gap was always too much. I attacked and Rose followed on Old Graeme's hill and I basically drafted her with the odd turn out of politeness. We didn't know the outcome until later (Mac just holding off Hayden after a last-gasp move before a sprint) but I let her take 4th for her efforts. 5th and the win for my makeshift teammate is a good result in my books.
Edited by jandal7 on 21-04-2020 06:05
 
Croatia14
interesting...this is getting more and more interesting...
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Tamijo
Not quite sure I always understand this story, a lot of text in a foreign language.
But I will keep on trying Wink
 
jandal7
@Croatia - Good to hear Smile
@Tamijo - Awesome to know you're still trying. I know that some of what I write may not be for people with English as a second language who aren't quite fluent but if you don't understand anything PM me Wink
 
jandal7
S5/E19
i.imgur.com/8iKuzOs.jpg
New Year's Cheer

"I really wanted to build this advantage as high as I could before the final races."

Back to racing on the day after New Year's took us on a fast-paced flat course which resulted in a sprint, I mixed it up for bonuses and ended up winning by a hair over Jack, taking another 3 seconds on GC - 15 seconds now the gap as I waited for a real deciding race.

Next up though was the New Zealand Champs - for Hayden. He'd be competing in the U23 division but riding amongst the pros - Greg Henderson, Jesse Sergent, Hayden Roulston, the lot. It was an exciting time for him and it was going to be a cool course to ride on down in Christchurch - a hilly affair finishing in Akaroa. He ended up winning the U23 champs! He came 6th in the entire thing which was almost more impressive but won a sprint with Oram for the win.

I returned to my racing with an ITT around Palmerston North which was pretty much pan flat - 15km and so enough to see some good gaps. Unfortunately for me I was fairly crook that day and ended up on the wrong end of them gaps, and lost the leader's jersey and a further 14 seconds to boot.

Next up was a technical but mostly flat route around the city - I was hoping to make use of this fact. I took it easy in the pack for a while and just as I was about to launch my attack there was a touch of wheels ahead. I was in the middle meaning I couldn't get out, and I was going too fast to stop. I had barely any time to brace myself for the fall. No, no, no no no no!
Edited by jandal7 on 21-04-2020 12:14
 
Croatia14
short but productive, the developement is going on for the guys!
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jandal7
S5/E20
i.imgur.com/8iKuzOs.jpg
Hit the Ground Falling

"I was in the middle meaning I couldn't get out, and I was going too fast to stop."

I slowed as much as I could but it was no use - a split-second fall, I knew I hadn't broken anything or knocked anything out of place. Good. Just a tumble. There were no spectators in sight and I looked around. Many were in a similar predicament. We all gingerly tried to see if we could carry on, my arm was bleeding, leg grazed, everything stung and I think I may have tweaked my funnybone which I didn't find very humerus at the time. It looked worse than it was, but dirt was already finding its way in. Nothing felt broken and breathing was fine - I could ride alright and had to limit my losses and hope the bleeding stopped. But with nobody else but us cyclists here I knew I couldn't just leave, as much as I'd like to. I checked if someone had a phone to call an organiser/parent/ambulance for those worse off (they did) and started riding with a few others who were only minorly injured, including Fafukai, who had a few cuts but not as bad as me

In total about 15 of us went down meaning there must be a smaller number up ahead - though they'd already have a minute and would continue to gain over the remaining 8km. In total, I lost 3 and a half minutes, a decent amount of skin and more blood than I'd have liked. As soon as I finished I sought after anyone with the tools to clean my wounds and some bandages. Luckily they were expecting us and I was cleaned up in no time.

I didn't have to miss a race but found it hard to take time out of Hastings over the next couple of races, the first due to injury and the second I just couldn't. This meant I had 5 races to make up a gap of three minutes, with Fafukai a few seconds ahead of me as well after I had to let him go the day I crashed.
Edited by jandal7 on 21-04-2020 12:24
 
DiCyc
Nothing is impossible, come on! Grin
TIM WELLENS BERGEN 2017

 
Tamijo
Dreadful crash, but great to see You can continue.
 
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jandal7
@DiCyc - Damn right it isn't!
@Tamijo - Yeah always nasty but Joseph got back up Smile
@ALL - Not a full month! It may be a couple of weeks before the big season finale but I found this half-written in a minimised tab for some reason and fought the Writer's Block to get this one out. Not my best by far but needed it SmileWink

S5/E21
i.imgur.com/8iKuzOs.jpg
3'02

"3 minutes. 5 races. I've done more before."

The first of these five was pan flat but I attacked with a few kilometres left. Hastings followed, as did Fafukai and a few others to make a small group. I attacked again with about 1.2km left and this one got me a gap. Fafukai could bridge and so with 600m to go he was latched onto my wheel but I just churned out a high cadence in a big gear for every last second over Hastings. Fafukai came around for the win but I got 4 seconds, plus 4 in bonuses. Well, at least it was under 3 minutes now.

Next up was a long race which took in a few hills but would mostly just be a test of our mettle and endurance skills. I knew I had to wait it out until the group reached a standstill: in these type of races, everyone knew the polite way to handle affairs, take pulls in your group until you have to drop off. It may get down to just the strongest, and it did. Rutherford, who had stamina from his other ventures, Alex, who had plenty of power, and Fafukai, Hastings and I. There was still 15km to go and it was almost serene just riding. Alex was taking more turns and made them harder, of course (legend).

After a few kilometres of this, Fafukai, surprisingly, was the first to go, followed by Alex. I made a dig uphill to distance Rutherford, then another a few hundred metres later to go solo. I'd cracked him well and good and it was just a battle of energy left as although I felt like stopping, lying down and never ever getting up, I knew he was too and I had 10 seconds' gap. It only widened and 10km later I held off for the win and 38 seconds on GC. Just 2 minutes and 20 seconds left for the last three races.
Edited by jandal7 on 28-12-2017 03:36
 
jandal7
S5/E22
i.imgur.com/8iKuzOs.jpg
Footsteps

"So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen Goodbye!"

It was kind of odd - age group cycling around the province had been a huge part of me for so long and it only occurred to me the night of the third to last race of the season that this was my last. Ah well. No need to get all romantic about it, I told myself. Time to get clinical. 2 minutes and 20 seconds aren't won by sitting up, taking it all in and getting soppy.

The first race was a short but intense course: Up, down and around the Boxing Day Hill twice. The direction of the descent meant there wouldn't bee too much "around" and it was a very steep decline so would take a lot of control. It didn't suit my aims for time gain and so I'd have to make it hard and fast the whole way, which I started by attacking early. Hastings and Fafukai looked uneasy but didn't try and follow. I had gained enough time to be out of sight except on longer straight sections of road by the top of the hill.

i.imgur.com/DKMismE.jpg

I took the descent at full throttle and had amassed an even further gap as being by myself on the road I could take some more risks, many of which had been uncomfortably close the ending my season in NZ, and prolonging the wait until my first European race. Nevertheless, I rode on, onto the slopes of the hill once more. I knew If I made it up there alone I'd be in the driver's seat. I chanced a look back and saw Fafukai alone but no Hastings. From there I knew I had it - I shouldn't have, but I jsut did. I rode alone to the top of the mountain and came in 20 seconds before Fafukai and 34 before Hastings - less than I needed but the psychological blow, I thought, would mean more.
Edited by jandal7 on 22-04-2020 02:36
 
jandal7
S6/E0
i.imgur.com/8iKuzOs.jpg
..........

"I guess you just want to skip this part."

Sorry about that ending - no tie in to the season name (yeah I'm pretty clever), no resolution which mean the stuff you're really here to see won't come for a while, and a cliffhanger I didn't even mean to write! But whatever.

But whatever, I spent more time trying to come up with this season's new title than I did writing this prologue. I mean, the others have ranged from serviceable to good but I couldn't find one that just kinda fit. I wanted to do something with a rollercoaster ride and "Please keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times" but everywhere seem to say something different. Hands and arms? Personal possessions? Your half-digested lunch? To boot, there's the fact that "From Wanganui with Love" should probably extend for another month or two. Yeah, let's stop this and go for a few more episodes. I can do want I want, it's not like this is an actual TV show...
Edited by jandal7 on 28-12-2017 03:34
 
Croatia14
can't wait for the new season!
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jandal7
@Croatia - Well be it for Joseph or for the story, you'll have to wait a tad longer I'm afraid Pfft thanks though GrinGrin
S5/E23
i.imgur.com/8iKuzOs.jpg
New Experiences

"The time was less than I needed but the psychological blow, I thought, would mean more."

1'46 across 2 races makes for an average of 53 seconds needed per race, but enough insulting my reader's intelligence for one episode. 53 seconds is a hell of a task against good competition in shorter races. First up was a race out on the coast - uncommon for the series as it's not too close to Wanganui or Palmy. Instead, the organisers decided to be nice to the Southerners in Levin and give them a race closer to home, and I guess it was only fair - they had over an hour to come to my home races. The wind would be battering across us the majority of the way which meant I could take the time necessary to win this thing - or lose so much it would be virtually impossible.

I started the race by jostling for position at the front and waiting, like most of the others, to see what the wind was like once we were off. it was terrible. Writing now I've ridden in some big winds in Europe but this was the worst I'd ever raced in (though I hadn't raced in Wellington much...). After a kilometre or two, it was apparent that... nobody was willing to try anything. So Alex did. I tucked right in behind him and he formed an echelon, something none of us had any real experience with other than sheltering behind your mates on group rides. He absolutely guttered the poor souls at the back and it wasn't long before there was just 8 of us left. Hastings, Fafukai, Rutherford, Vaillenos, (Alex) Stevenson, the usual suspects all present and correct.

Hastings was on my wheel and shouted over the rustle of the wind into my ear, wondering what we did now. We set aside the rivalry and along with Alex tried to recall how they did it in professional cycling. Fair to say, it was crude, but "yeah, they do that double line conveyor belt thing..." was, in all likelihood, better than what the splintered one to four man groups we'd left trailing could muster.

We went steadily and co-operatively for the next 15km and so there was 5km left and the nervous glances between the riders in the group were getting more frequent, the whispers between rivals more urgent. Suddenly, Hastings showed eh knew more than he let on. He, along with Fafukai, Rutherford and a rider I didn't know very well but was obviously in a makeshift four-way alliance with them got in an orderly row and started to weave across the road, exposing us to the wind, before going as far away from the wind direction as possible and continuing the echelon there, only we other four were exposed to the win despite being at the back. Alex and I tried to penetrate into their row but it was no use, and I could feel the title slipping away. I'd really cocked this one up...

Spoiler
i.imgur.com/ZDIfF1P.gif

Edited by jandal7 on 28-12-2017 03:34
 
Croatia14
great read into a tense finish to come...
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jandal7
S5/E24
i.imgur.com/8iKuzOs.jpg
Through Fingers

"I could feel the title slipping away. I'd really cocked this one up..."

We were battered ceaselessly by the crosswind, a crosswind that would continue for the rest of the race, meanwhile Hastings was cool as a cucumber, third wheel of what was soon to be a group of four. Eventually Alex and I fell so far behind we had to form our own echelon, only we had no help, as the other two were even worse off. We rode and rode, trying to limit the gap but then with two kilometres left I could hear the sounds of Alex struggling to breathe. He'd been slowing for a while whenever he was in front and I had to tell him to let me go. He obliged and immediately lost a lot of ground. I now faced a long two kilometres alone against the wind, and I rolled in - actually I don't know and I don't care. Yeah, I'm still bitter. I was then and I lost my fighting spirit to try a long range attack for four minutes or however bloody long I'd need to make up to Hastings. Fafukai had also put himself out of reach.

The last race was as always the same course as Open Manawatu Champs - a hilly crit in Wanganui that I usually have great success on - not on Hayden's level seeing as it seems he was born for that kind of parcours. I really just wanted to beat everyone and relieve a few of my sour feelings. It was a quiet race and with a lap to go most riders were still in the main group. Fafukai kicked off festivities with a few kilometres to go, he didn't shake Rutherford, em or Hastings but mostly did everyone else, so it only sealed a top-four place for him.

The final uphill dash soon approached and I quickly got into Rutherford's wheel who in turn lodged in behind Fafukai, who was behind Hastings, leaving the GC leader to lead out. I was in the points jersey but could still lose my consolation prize if I came third or fourth and Fafukai won. Fafukai was the first of the three drafting to launch, but I stayed behind Rutherford, who easily overtook the former. With 50m to go I tried to come around and did so, every last muscle pushing and straining to pip him to the line. I threw my bike at the line, but in the excitement he forgot to.

I'd had some bad experiences with photo finishes on this course, against Rutherford, but at least this one was blunt. He won, I lost. Great!
Edited by jandal7 on 28-12-2017 03:34
 
Croatia14
what could've been a sweet lil victory turned out to beat a painful defeat...well, form looks decent and you shoud look up to the next races Smile
ICL20 // Euskaltel Story // Can't Slow Down // 21 and Done // Dreams of a Viper

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jandal7
@Croatia - A couple of setback there but hopefully for Joseph you're right Grin
S5/E25
i.imgur.com/8iKuzOs.jpg
Flying Start


The three Championship races to round out the summer were this year more than ever a chance to put the unsuccessful series GC bid behind me and to give myself some form and confidence going into my season in France. It'd also be a chance to meet up and finalise travel details with Ollie and Richie ahead of the flight in a few short weeks.

The North Island Champs were in Cambridge, which meant the Track Champs could happen concurrently. I didn't enter those but Alex had a crack, getting 8th in the individual pursuit. I didn't take part in the ITT either but Alex was 5th and Rose was 4th, and 1st in the Girl's category.

The road race was flat and fast which meant a reversal of last year's roles - Rose would try and help me launch a late attack. This also meant we wouldn't get to see Richie's little Sky Train in action until Nationals in a week. The race was fast from the get-go and with two laps of an 18km course it would sure as hell stay that way. Unfortunately there's not much else to tell you as another shard of my confidence was torn away by the fact that we were just going too fast to get any semblance of an attack in, so 6th in a sprint and so 4th in the Boy's category was good enough, with Rose 11th overall and 3rd in the Girl's.

Nationals were held in Tongariro which gave me both an advantage and a disadvantage. I knew the road up well - but then again this was Richie's race to lose. The Team Time Trial was first and it had uphill sections which only helped us on our way to yet another win - seems we're quite good at it! Having basically the same 5 of us helps too. I again shied away from the ITT, where Ollie won with Richie 3rd and Alex 6th.

Alex helped keep me safe in the pack until the final 8km uphill in a truly pro worthy climb - Strava (the first 9km of tha segment) says it averages 5-6% gradient. Richie's teammates controlled the climb for a while before halfway up it was whittled down to just me and him. He looked at me and I raised my eyebrows. I knew he knew what I was thinking. He's the climber, he won here last year in North Islands, he can do the work and see if he can crack me.

Let me tell you right now, he did a cracking (I'll let myself out) job of it.

He turned the screws in a way analogous to tuning a guitar string. Tighter and tighter he wound me until the string can't take it anymore, and it starts to make a little screaming noise until suddenly - I couldn't keep up. Luckily for me, by virtue of following his wheel, a 2nd place was assured and though I wanted a win from these two races, I really couldn't fault myself here.
Edited by jandal7 on 22-04-2020 02:37
 
jandal7
@ALL - Seems I forgot to write in what Hayden was doing this year. He is riding Australian/NZ/some international races on the NZ program and hoping for a contract for next year. Also, I'm finally being consistent with dates and ages, so Hayden is 1994, Joseph 1995. I had them both a year behind that throughout the story then subconsciously put them a year forward when considering their cycling career, which means they're might be an extra year unaccounted for. that means they're out of school too early but in this universe, so is everyone I guess PfftCool Anyway, the season finale!
S5/E26
i.imgur.com/8iKuzOs.jpg
New Chapter

"One race to go until Europe. I better win it."

My bags were packed. Mum was more ready than this time last year, whilst Hayden reminded me on our plans for when, in a couple of months, the news could be broken about the Italian doping ring. The girls were proudly showing off their cycling skills and promising me and Rose (who was also departing for an amateur team in France, not too far away from CR4C) that they would one day depart for Europe to race too. I didn't doubt it, they just needed to add some power to their pre-existing fearlessness. I was ready to depart in a couple of days. But first, Open Manawatu Champs. Hayden's dream course, last year Hastings, Fafukai and I were 2-4th. This year Hayden was up a category and so we were left to duke it out. plus Rutherford of course, who won just a couple of weeks ago on this course.

The race was chaotic as usual with two categories joint together, and in the end a small break went with nobody too strong - perfect. They rode together until we caught them and the game was well and truly afoot. I tried to shake things up with an attack with 9km to go, which was followed by too many people for my liking, but 8 is better than 38 or however many there were in that pack. Rutherford wasn't here, so no chance of a photo finish heartbreak threepeat if we played our cards right. With 3km to go, it looked as though we had, though we'd thinned to 4, 4 riders that didn't, surprisingly, include Hastings.

I tried my utmost to keep the paceline going to avoid attacks, but when we passed the final 1km to go sign all bets were off. We forced the most inexperienced rider, one from the age group below who was sure to win his category anyway, into the lead whilst I slotted in behind Fafukai. He launched and I tried to come around him with 100m left. Sprinting, sprinting, sprinting, deja vu, deja vu, deja vu, lunging.... YES! I punched the air with joy. How about that for a return to winning ways. A race played to perfection, If I did say so myself. And after the past few weeks, I absolutely did.


We hugged our parents and siblings goodbye, went through security, and finally settled down in... a McDonald's. Not my choice, but Richie insisted it was his last opportunity and we begrudgingly agreed. Just as we were doing the whole clichéd "woah, this really is it" conversation, I felt an urgent buzzing in my pants.

It was my phone, what did you think I meant?

It was from Hayden. I read the text. I read it again.
'Erm, guys. You should see this.' I said, barely above a whisper.
Spoiler
He, Jay.
Well, this really sucks. Here's a quote from an article published an hour ago:


"Startling allegations have been made against a huge number of Italian cyclists, teams and executives, the number and identities not yet known. Except one, because we know who made them. It was Cycling New Zealand, based off of testiomony given by Hayden Vaillenos ad Hayden McCormick who rode for Colnago Racing in 2012. It is understood that they uncovered doping practices within the team that lead to higher ranks of Italian Cycling. Full details have not yet..."

They've really thrown you three under the bus. But you can get through it. You can survive out there. Good luck, you'll bloody well need it little bro.
From Wanganui with Love.

Edited by jandal7 on 21-04-2020 08:07
 
jandal7
@ALL - Thanks to whoever nominated me for One-Rider Story of the year and, somehow, Story Writer of the Year. You're all great Grin Now for season 6 - and naturally no resolution to the cliffhanger just yet
S6/E0
i.imgur.com/8iKuzOs.jpg
When in Rhône

"They've really thrown you three under the bus. But you can get through it. You can survive out there. Good luck, you'll bloody well need it little bro."

Well, 2014 season is at its end - but you don't want me to tell you how it's been going - I guess you could look for yourself if you really wanted to, but then you wouldn't be able to read my award-nominated story's recount of this year. Well, first you have to make it through 2013 and where we left off, it damn well felt like we'd be having to make it through that season. But as I said in my fake season prologue, I'm sure you'd much rather I get back to the story at hand rather than blabbing on...
Edited by jandal7 on 28-12-2017 03:33
 
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