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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
S6/E9
i.imgur.com/8iKuzOs.jpg
Before and After

"I knew the story of how this should go."

In many cases in life, you can split your day, week, year, education, job, any length of time or even life into a before and an after. The day you fell in love. The day you were paralysed. The day a parent died. The day you found out your life was not what it once was. The day your life became something else entirely. Of course, this doesn't always work - many times it's periods, or more muddied. This is the story of my moment that separated the before and after of 2013 and my time at CR4C.

You see, I knew how this was meant to go if I was going to be successful (already yes I was an idiot last year): The future pro goes to become an amateur on the continent, he settles in, he wins races, he works hard, uncovers some doping stuff that he does or doesn't do anything about (usually the latter), moves up to pros or CT, and then doesn't win as much. It was how they used to do it, it's how Hayden did it and I'll be damned it was how I was going to do it.

Two problems: I can't win and there's no doping here. First world problems to be sure.

Well then, the moment that changed involved, as I'm sure you've guessed, the winning of a race. Pretty simple, something I'd done before many a time. But never outside of New Zealand. The race was decently long - about 80km, and was hilly, finishing with a descent. Not too tough and so I felt I could muster something up. I stuck around in the pack over hills, and hills, and some more hills - so many hills sapping so much energy that I suddenly found myself in a group of six on the final climb. We watched each other nervously for a while before an older guy attacked. Me and two others managed to follow whilst the other two dropped off quickly. We kept taking turns up the hill before just as we crested it - I attacked. A pretty risky move but potentially my best hope.

I used every trick I knew to stay one corner ahead of them the whole way down and they just - didn't catch me, really. I took many risks and was exhausted and a little freaked out by the end of it, but as the road flattened out at the end I had enough time to soak it all in and cruise home, my first race in France won.

i.imgur.com/RWzmeUR.jpg

And although it was an amazing feeling, a huge confidence and motivation boost and a definitive point for my two parts of being at CR4C, what I thought it was at the time was wrong. Because being an amateur in a foreign country not even knowing what you're good at specifically on your bike and not knowing what to do or where to go is scary, and unpredictable, and certainly not bound the a strict schedule of winning all the races, turning down all the needles and going all the pro.
Edited by jandal7 on 31-08-2017 05:38
 
Tamijo
Nice !
 
jandal7
@Tamijo - Yep, was really great for J Grin

S6/E10
i.imgur.com/8iKuzOs.jpg
Savoie

"Buoyed by my first win, it was back up to 2.2 for a mountainous stage race."

You've got to be kidding, I thought. Four mountain top finishes in four days. These would be some of the toughest climbs I'd ever faced, and once again it was mainly the English speakers attending, with Richie, Schultz and I going along with Fumeaux and another French rider. The first day finished on the Plateau d'Assy, which the climb up to is more of a glorified foothill for Mont Blanc, but that's not how it felt when I got dropped early on, finishing 34th in the end. Richie, the other Frenchie (Gouijon) and Schultz all lasted longer and came 14th, 15th and 29th respectively.

The second stage finished on a Cat 1. climb, I tried but failed to make the morning break and so again I was dropped early but hung tough to finish an improved 28th, whilst Richie and Schultz cracked the top to in 10th and 5th respectively - impressive performances. Stage 3 I decided to try and go in the break again because tomorrow was twice up La Touissure. I managed to get in this time and won the two Cat. 3 KoM sprints.

Up the penultimate (Cat. 2) climb we were still in the lead and so I struck out with the hope of being the last man standing. I made it to the bottom of the deciding climb alone and survived for a couple of kilometres before being swallowed up. I tried to be of help to Schultz and Richie but dropped fairly quickly - they'd finish outside the top 10 but Schultz was still in the GC top 10 with Richie in 13th. I was actually 25th now but I was expecting to slip outside the top 30 on stage four and I duly did - I don't blame my pessimistic attitude, more the fact it was my fourth and toughest day yet in the mountains. In the end Schultz was 11th overall and Richie was 18th. I finished somewhere in the top 40 still.

A steep learning curve to be sure but one I needed to take, and though you always have crap days in the mountains, and I'd feel more helpless in the future, this was a very useful experience for the rest of my career (well, hopefully. I'm not even pro yet).
Edited by jandal7 on 31-08-2017 05:38
 
jandal7
S6/E11
i.imgur.com/8iKuzOs.jpg
On Track

"Our first race on the junior circuit took us to Northen Luxembourg."

After a few more smaller races of no real note in June (I did take second in one in a four-up sprint from a break), we traveled to Luxembourg as an NZ squad of three for the GP Général Patton, a two-day hilly race contested by many of the biggest U19 riders in cycling. I'd tussled with a couple, including Mathieu van der Poel, who I vividly remembered trading elbows with in the pack sprint.

The first stage started nervously before a group finally got away. We missed the final cut despite Ollie and occasionally Richie trying to get in madly. The race was mainly controlled by the Dutch and Germans before with 10km to go and the break caught, an Italian rider jumped from the pack. We'd planned to try follow moves and though I missed it initially, as eight or nine other riders made a train to catch him and distanced the pack I found myself on the back of it. Once we had a clear gap the paceline started to form and we were making good ground.

However the pace was blisteringly fast and the hills brutally hard because of it, and after a few kilometres I couldn't work anymore and had to hold on for dear life. I tried to put in a turn after being yelled at in Italian I unfortunately understood, but it was no use. With 4k to go the gap was at 30 seconds and all I could do was stay in the wheels and hope to keep touch. Luckily for me I did and though I could only beat an Italian domestique in the sprint I came a credible 9th - Bokeloh, the German, was the winner. We finished 18 second ahead of the pack, also giving me an overall position to defend.

The second stage was held on a 7km course with a couple of tough hills, and the pace started very fast, sagged in the middle to just fast, and with 20km got to go very very fast as attacks started to fly off of the front. The pack turned smaller until it was just another group on the road - and an unproductive one too. It seemed the two or three riders from the move yesterday who were up the road would be the only ones with a GC advantage.

I estimated there were 7 riders up the road and, looking around at the sluggish pace, decided to go it alone. Well, not alone as it would turn out, a Slovenian rider tagged along and we fell into a good rhythm. There was no catching van der Poel et al. up the road and in the end my lack of punchy skills showed as I lost touch of my companion on the way up the penultimate hill, but I came 11th, enough to put me 9th overall in the end! Richie ended 13th and the same spot on GC, which meant a very good first junior race of the year for us.
Edited by jandal7 on 31-08-2017 05:38
 
jandal7
S6/E12
i.imgur.com/8iKuzOs.jpg
Valromey

"Another 2.2 Tour, this time in the mountains."

Within a week of my top 10 in Luxembourg it was back home and then back in the mountains at the Ain'Ternational-Rhône Alpes-Valromey Tour. Richie had been puking and so hadn't come, leaving me and Scultz to lead a younger squad this time. I would target the easier stages (1 and potentially 2) whilst Schultz would sink his teeth into the harder stuff. Well, that was the plan.

Stage 1 was flat mostly with a trio of Cat. 3 hills 10-20km from the finish. I tried an attack over the second but it couldn't stick, Fumeaux took 11th after being a bit tired from the hills. Stage 2 was tough, with a long Cat. 2 with a 3 tagged on before a descent, a Cat 1, short descent, Cat. 2, descent, uphill kicker. I joined the early morning break and was in the leading group going into the agonisingly steep Cat 1. climb - we had 2 minute's advantage but that quickly evaporated and with still a while to go we were caught by the peloton. I'd been in the wheels grinding to get up the mountain and Schultz was the only one left in the pack from the team, about 18 in total.

As I sat up a bit and bounced around on the pedals he asked me how I was going. Pace had been slightly leisurely and I was still feeling fresh. Nick was quite tired and said he'd try to take me up the early slopes of the final climb. The descent was neutral and with 10km to go, we began the Cat 2. Schultz let go early on and soon I was in a group of 7. Over the top, I was feeling absolutely spent and so went to the front for the descent to try to recover from the effort of holding on and keep the group together. By the time the road flattened out a bit my job had been done and I went to the back of the group. 300m to go and people were still waiting for someone to open up the sprint as we reached the kicker to the line. I tried to go long but my legs completely failed me as the ascent steepened. 6th was the best I could muster after a long day.

On stage 3, unfortunately, I dropped on the HC climb halfway through, still tired, and felt pretty bad in the grupetto, mentally and physically, and lost my good GC placing as Schultz recorded a top 10 on the summit finish. Stage 4 I felt better after a good sleep and, seeing my decent KoM position (2nd, behind only the guy who topped the HC climb the day before), tried to get in the break. A large group formed, including the current KoM, which meant I'd have a lot of work to do to earn the jersey, but also a lot of people to fit in between me and him.

Unfortunately, he was stronger on the first two climbs, as I claimed a 2nd and a 3rd to solidify my second place. We were caught before the third climb and although I almost managed to hold on for the undulating run-in. I couldn't quite and came in the second group. Schultz was in the peloton again for a top 15 overall. A pretty good race for me again at .2 level, but a few missed opportunities.
Edited by jandal7 on 31-08-2017 05:39
 
Croatia14
time will come when you grab your luck with both hands and go for glory! another nice episode Smile
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Ian Butler
Not the best race but it seems you're optimistic about it and indeed, a few good showings. Still, I expect him to grow stronger quickly Grin
 
jandal7
@Croatia - Hope so, but for now head down hard work for Jay, doing well just below the surface but hopefully you're right! Thanks Smile
@Ian - Yep he's trying to stay positive and he's making good progress for an 18 year old on his own in Europe. Quick progression? We'll see Wink

New episode this weekend, so catch up if you aren't already Pfft
30/12/14 - matt17br said "Sutty's birthday is more important than [Jesus' Birthday]"
24/2/21 - kandesbunzler said “I don’t drink famous people.”
8/12/13 - welker3257 said [when asked for a cyclist beginning with K] "Tom Boonen."

[ICL] Santos-Euskadi | The Life And Times | [Doomed] i.imgur.com/c85NSl6.png Xero Racing
[CX] Listerijns & Kiwis

i.imgur.com/PdCbs9I.png
i.imgur.com/RPIlJYr.png
3x i.imgur.com/wM6Wok5.png x3
i.imgur.com/olRsxdu.png
 
jandal7
S6/E13
i.imgur.com/8iKuzOs.jpg
Girls

"Or... don't."

If you've been along for the ride for a while you'll know one of my nicknames was Romeo (luckily nobody in France knew... yet). You'll also know romance wasn't quite my area, with many nights sweating for no reason, doomed flings and getting slapped (seriously Katie chill).


You remember Tessa? Stubborn prick, hates me... and current unrequited love of my life. Well I didn't exactly leave for France on the best of terms with her as you may recall.. something about how I'm not allowed to have feelings, am "stubborn", et cetera... total fantasy. But recently, before that, we had become if not friends then amicable enough so when I heard that her father was terminally ill I of course messaged her straight away, giving my condolences and support and finishing with "if you need to talk I'll be up." Time would tell how that'd go...


"Yeah I know I've been meaning to come down again but I've been racing so much-"
"Yes Jay-Jay we all know that you got a big top 15 in the GP Sir Honorable General Patt-"
"What, I'm allowed to be proud of it, miss I've won 10 races already!"
"Just a fact..."
"So did you see Hayden when he passed through?"
"Yeah..."
"How was he?"
"Bouncing - he said he'll see you soon so you'll see it no doubt but he was still pretty hyped about all his wins.. he's only 19 but he's damn good."
"Doesn't that make you want to go out with him?" I teased.
"Oh shut up!" Rose said with a hint of laughter.
"Did he mention it though?"
"Yeah but it's weird and... promise you won't tell him?"
"Sure." I said with baited breath.
"I kind of wanted to say yes to him whilst he was here." she whispered.
"Ew! Ew ew ew ew urgh ow whywouldyousaythatrose?" I exclaimed.
"Oh come on Joseph what did you expect?"
"I don't know, how much he stinks or something..."


I was riding along near Morbihan as my final warmup ride before the trophy when, when I wasn't concentrating, I veered off and hit a pothole at the side of the road. Luckily, my body landed in the grass between the road and a poppy field and I wasn't too hurt. I checked myself and hope nobody saw a rookie mistake like that. Just out of town, I probably had a 50/50 chance.

I turned around as I picked myself up and saw that one of the worst people that could see it did see it - a pretty girl.

i.imgur.com/foB51t7.jpg

I looked over to her, despite wanting to get on with it, because she really did look so very beautiful standing in those flowers. The more I looked at her (for I could not stop looking at her) the more gorgeous she seemed. She looked back at me, smirked and cocked an eyebrow.

"First time on a bike?" she asked me in French. Despite her teasing, she came to my aid, grabbing my bike and checking it with surprising familiarity.

"Believe it or not I'm, uh, racing tomorrow, so I'll, erm, need to work on er that ander..." I rambled, truly Bond-esque in my smoothness.

"A racer? In the Trophy?" she asked, looking up from my machine.

"Yeah, mhm."

"Well if you are actually any good," she said disdainfully, before adding, "and stay on your bike," with a wry smile, "would you like to go out sometime? If you come on the podium, of course."

"Yepsurecoolwhynot, erm, yeah." I felt a tug on my heart and I seemed to be floating a foot off the ground. Was I dreaming? Thankfully, I snapped back in time to ask: "How will I find you?"

She smiled. "I'll find you." she said with an attempt at mystery. She turned back to the poppy field and walked away. I watched her for a moment or two, and then departed, more motivated than perhaps I had ever been to get a result in the coming race. It was not until I dismounted back at the motel I realised I hadn't asked her name.


@ALL - Any who don't know the homage in this episode... stop what you're doing and read the fantastic Day in the Life by Ian Butler! Also Joseph is not usually at that amazing level of smooth, in case you're new here Pfft
Edited by jandal7 on 13-01-2020 03:03
 
Ian Butler
Very kind of you, jandal Smile
 
Raziz
Wow, that was a great episode!
 
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Tamijo
And a great pic.
 
jandal7
@Ian - Well I noticed when planning this one it was subconciously inspired by yours so decided to make it more obvious, though I don't think the stories of the girl in the flowers will quite turn out the same Pfft And anytime, obviously, Day in the Life is a masterclass story Grin

@Raziz - Thanks a lot mate Grin

@Tamijo - Again thanks to Ian that one, just took my memory to find it on google images now his image hosting has run out PfftSad
30/12/14 - matt17br said "Sutty's birthday is more important than [Jesus' Birthday]"
24/2/21 - kandesbunzler said “I don’t drink famous people.”
8/12/13 - welker3257 said [when asked for a cyclist beginning with K] "Tom Boonen."

[ICL] Santos-Euskadi | The Life And Times | [Doomed] i.imgur.com/c85NSl6.png Xero Racing
[CX] Listerijns & Kiwis

i.imgur.com/PdCbs9I.png
i.imgur.com/RPIlJYr.png
3x i.imgur.com/wM6Wok5.png x3
i.imgur.com/olRsxdu.png
 
Croatia14
I've taken the hommage, and I love how you did it...maybe better than the original Wink
ICL20 // Euskaltel Story // Can't Slow Down // 21 and Done // Dreams of a Viper

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jandal7
@Croatia - Wow thanks ShockGrin - high praise but I have to disagree - Ian's introduction to Michelle is amazing and I don't think I can touch that Pfft

@ALL - Could be another episode before next weekend but probably not. Hopefully I can keep the pace up around at least once a week until the holidays now I've had a think where this is going and I hope to step it up soon, so many story threads lying around that I can't wait to pick up Grin And with three new one-rider stories from masters of the genre and others going strong it's a lot of motivation and inspiration in the story section, lovely to see Grin
 
jandal7
S6/E14
i.imgur.com/8iKuzOs.jpg
Morbihan

"I'll find you."

So podiuming the race over the next three days would be hard - top junior riders like Halvorsen and especially van der Poel was also on the start line and I still hadn't proven my pedigree against such relatively big names. But I felt my results recently didn't match the good form I'd been feeling and although I wasn't the best puncheur around today would be about speed and tactics rather than pure ability on the climbs. It was an undulating circuit finishing on a small hill that flattened out for the final sprint.

The race was fast throughout the day but the fun started with about 20km and just over a couple of laps to go when a Belarussian cyclist put in a searing attack. van der Poel followed and they wouldn't be seen again. About 10km later Bonnamour, another rider hotly tipped and a pretty good time trialist, went clear with his teammate. I latched on to the move and co-operated well.

The gap was never really high but thanks to the stellar work of Bonnamour's friend and the disoriented chase we inched it out further. By the start of the final short and not too steep run-in to the final straight, we had about ten seconds on the pack. Bonnamour put in a dig early but I was expecting it and hooked on. I waited for a couple of seconds and countered him. In the end, I came around him for a very surprising third, 33 seconds down on the leading duo and 14 ahead of the peloton, lead in by Halvorsen.

When I got back to the motel we were in I used every trick in the book to get a good night's sleep. Whether that'd work with my excitement and anxiety levels through the roof was another thing entirely.
Edited by jandal7 on 31-08-2017 05:40
 
Croatia14
I sense a Riabusschenko attack Pfft

Great result!
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since 2018: Radsim'05: Astana
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jandal7
@Croatia - Bang on Pfft

S6/E15
i.imgur.com/8iKuzOs.jpg
Morbihan II

"Crunch time."

Luckily for me, my emotions were overcome with being completely shattered and I slept like a rock. Today was crunch time for me and the other now GC men with stage 3 being pretty flat. I wasn't confident of keeping my third with both Frenchies being top time triallists and Riabusschenko and VDP not being slouches either. Hopefully, I could hold off the riders who finished in the peloton.

I was the third last to go between Bonnamour and Riabusschenko. Apparently, Cavagna in fifth was steaming ahead and looking at the time of Oomen who went off in 23rd to last after leading in the peloton yesterday behind the small splinter group that I heard had gone off the front. I was completely focussed on my own energy and pacing myself, staying at my max power for 7km, which was the length of this TT. Short on paper but gaps can be forged at this level.

I had a good first spell in the nice summer weather with a slight breeze behind me. I could actually see Bonnamour, apparently having a tough day after a rough night, coming closer and struggling. Meanwhile, the announcer was saying Cavagna had the new best time. Dammit dammit dammit. I risked a check behind to Riabusschenko, who was nowhere to be seen, as I wanted it. Back to the race.

I rounded it off well enough and came home 7th provisionally. In the end I made up half the gap to Riabusschenko that I had but was leapfrogged by Cavagna whilst VDP held off the Frenchman to retain yellow.

The third stage was a little under 100km and Richie and Ollie kept me safe the whole day to protect my GC spot. The other top 5 members (Gesbert and Oomen currently tied for fifth) were all sheltered too and the Netherlands controlled the tempo until 10km to go where the Norwegians took over. I was really tired but managed to hang on to van der Poel's wheel to come home safe for 33rd on the stage and 4th on GC. Th stage was won by Fabre.

I was stoked with such a strong performance in both GC stages but once I'd thanked the boys for their work and done my bit I remembered that pretty girl and was wondering if she was here. But then I remembered her words about finishing on the podium. Does stage one count?
Edited by jandal7 on 31-08-2017 05:40
 
Tamijo
Solid racing
 
Croatia14
4th on GC is a great result!
ICL20 // Euskaltel Story // Can't Slow Down // 21 and Done // Dreams of a Viper

since 2018: Radsim'05: Astana
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