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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/E24
i.imgur.com/8iKuzOs.jpg
Basilicata

"The hilly stages could turn out to be the decisive moment."

Hey Joseph, was good to catch up with you last week on Skype. Sorry, I know you've got a race on and it's late but can you call me quick? I really need to talk to someone.

Alex


Bonnamour. Gesbert. Riviere. Riabuschenko. It seemed the last wee while I raced these fellas at every turn Pfft The final race before the world champs in Firenze involved those four again. It was a great way to fine-tune my form and look for another stage win or decent GC performance, with two hilly stages and one flat-ish one.

Stage 1 was hilly with three laps of a minor hill before finishing on a harder one. I stayed in the bunch well and when the climb got steeper I followed the French team's move. They had four riders in a group of seven, with the foreigners being an Italian named Rota, the Aussie Power, and I. I was the only one of us Kiwis to go to this one, with Richie and Ollie deciding it was best to take a rest. No support for me, so I decided to go on the attack.

I don't know what I was expecting but Power behind and I managed to get a decent gap from the other five. The French team had three guys chasing me down, with paret-Peintre as their apparent leader. I managed to hang on until the road flattened out and they came steamrolling past us. Power hung on to them, just, but I dropped off. I finished sixth ahead of one Frenchie, 6 seconds down.

The next stage was flatter but still had some tricky bits. I wanted to just stay with yesterday's victor Paret-Peintre and his French team. The race split with 30km to go and only 25-ish of us remained in the front group, lead by the French team. They didn't care who won, only that their man was in the race lead come tomorrow. With three kilometres to go a descent started that lasted until the makeshift 1km to go sign. The Frenchies were trying to lead out Riviere and I was behind him. It was an uphill drag to the line so I decided to have a crack at sprinting. I wasn't fast enough but got a top 5 for my efforts, slotting into 5th behind winner Pesci, Riviere, Power and another Italian.

Stage 3 finished on a long and steady slope, around 9km at 4%. Not quite my thing so I thought I'd go long. I was still in the front group the first time up the climb and decided to go over the crest. I was disheartened to find no company in my escape but that also meant I could take the descent at full throttle. There were some hairy moments but I went into the climb with around 20 second's advantage.

On the climb, I knew it was just me and the hill and so tried to find a rhythm that I could hold, with a mixture of in and out of the saddle. My gap was slowly coming down but I had nothing to lose. 6th in GC was a great place to be in but it meant nothing compared to the shot at a win and the chance to really test my attacking legs pre-worlds.

In my mind, I had some tactics in the back of my head and I knew I wouldn't win it in a sprint in Firenze on that downhill finish. On the downhill, maybe. On the hill, maybe. But I couldn't afford to wait my way onto the podium. Hayden tried, came in the top 10 then attacked next year and came 2nd. I was hoping to do a similar pattern.

But right now was all about this one shot at the stage. With 7km to go the gap must have been halved already. I was feeling good but this wasn't my preferred climb and I was up against some really good young climbers. I kept going onwards but I was becoming that bit more erratic in my style, a bit more desperate. My rhythm was alright, my legs good but it was an impossible task. However to my amazement with another kilometre gone my gap had stabilised. People were struggling with the French pace (who were down to their same four strongest already).

I kept going but Bonnamour and Rocha were picking up the pace. With 4km to go I was caught. I stayed around a while but lost my 6th and 7th in GC eventually, rolling in 12th on the day around 15 seconds down. Not bad, 8th on GC and some attacking got me in the mindset for Firenze. Bring it on.
Edited by jandal7 on 01-09-2017 12:27
 
jandal7
@ALL - I've been running from my shady photobucket past for a while now but it's caught up to me in the first batch today. Luckily here it's just banners. Redid the last couple of pages quickly for those catching up with the back half of this season. Will do the rest when I have time Pfft

S6/E25
i.imgur.com/8iKuzOs.jpg
Firenze

"Bring it on."

22/09/13
"Hey Alex, what did you want to talk about?"
"Well, uh, Joseph you remember my girlfriend Macy? The girl from Palmy tutoring in the next town?"
"Uh, vaguely, yeah. What happened?"
"Um, well she's pregnant."
Beat.
"Wow man. Congrats?"
"Yeah." He sounded as if he couldn't quite believe it still.
"What are you guys going to do?"
"Not sure yet I - uhm, well I sort of just came straight to talk to you."
"Oh." Beat. "Well what are you thinking?"
"Well I mean I like her and I do want to be a good father now but it's all so sudden-"
"Well Alex how do you think she's feeling? She's the exact same. Go talk to her. Chat to me later."
"Yep. Okay. Okay you're right. Cheers then. Talk soon."
"Bye."


Here I was. My shot at the Worlds leadership. Ollie (fresh off a 7th in the ITT) and Richie by my side. I felt good. I slept well. Good brekkie. Great conditions. I couldn't be readier.

On the startline I was hyped up with nervous energy. I looked at the course map again. The profile of the climb. I talked to Richie and Ollie. I briefly exchanged small talk with some of the Frenchies I'd spent the last couple of months racing against.

i.imgur.com/ykDfHZc.jpg

I knew what I wanted to do on this course - wait. And then attack. I wasn't the best climber - that was a Power, or a van der Poel. I wasn't the best sprinter - that was... someone else. And I wasn't the most powerful. But I had some form and some desire and most of all I wanted to give it a shot. And I'd always said that I'd rather 28th and tried than 8th and waited.

But it wouldn't be easy. Eastern Europeans, Colombians, Americans, they were all here and I'd never raced in fields with most of them. I'd only really consistently faced Frenchies or riders, like me, racing in France.

The first 50km weren't easy, certainly not boring. The break got away easily... but Netherlands and France didn't want that break so it had to be brought back in. IT was fast and frenetic from there but eventually, a break made it away the pace was kept up, though, and many riders were already hurting. A crash that took a few riders out didn't help. It was chaos already before the 5 climbs. Luckily others realised too and soon we found a rhythm - fast but not chaotically so. The climbs were coming and the contenders wanted to be prepared.
Edited by jandal7 on 17-04-2020 01:01
 
jandal7
S6/E26
i.imgur.com/8iKuzOs.jpg
Firenze II

"The climbs were coming and the contenders wanted to be prepared."

The first climb up the climb saw the gap to the break decrease significantly. The climb itself was tough but not too much so - I wasn't finding it too hard though I was sure I would, in time. The field slowly thinned and the gap was lowered for the next two circuits. Soon there was a little over 30km, and two climbs, to go.

i.imgur.com/1WlbQ9E.jpg

I was still in the main group, with Richie next to me. He was also feeling quite good and so we started to quietly discuss tactics. However, priority number one right now was surviving to the bottom of the final time up the climb. Many of the favourites - van der Poel included - were still here and still waiting. it was apparent the fireworks would be saved for the final climb. Or would they?

The French and Dutch teams saw our peloton as too large for their leader's plans to have a go on the final climb and upped the ante at the foot of the penultimate time up. I noticed quickly and tapped Richie on the shoulder and we decided to move to the front, grab a wheel and try and stay there. It would be a long climb but who knows how advantageous being at the front by the end of it could be?

Riders were shelled slowly at first but were dropping harder and harder in the steeper sections. Nobody dared try one of the risky long-range moves they may have been considering. The break was quickly caught. I wasn't having too much trouble until the final 300m, where I started ever so slightly to head backwards.

It was just subtle of first but the last 150 metres were a world of pain. I tried desperately to get in behind a stable rider near the back but I couldn't. I just had to dig it in hard. I managed to do it without coming too close to being dropped, but it was a clear warning that this would be even harder next time.

But at least there would be a next time. I was still there, and still in with a shout.
 
jandal7
Hi everyone,
Sorry I've not had the time for this the last month, but as always this will return very soon. Watch this space Wink
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."

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Aquarius97
Grin Grin Grin Grin
Manager of [MG] Repsol - Netflix


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jandal7
S6/E27
i.imgur.com/8iKuzOs.jpg
Firenze III

"I was still there, and still in with a shout."

The descent and run-in to the final climb were pretty quiet - I think one or two guys may have dropped but we had about 25 riders going into the final climb. Richie and I stayed near the front but didn't touch the wind - we were ready to respond to any moves the favourites may make. The question would be: could we?

On the slopes of Via Salvanti, van der Poel made an attack we could all see coming from a mile off but it was no less powerful than it would have been otherwise. Bonnamour followed closely but I couldn't, choosing instead, like many, to follow the counterattacks of Power and Martinez. In the end, the group came more or less back together, with Italy chasing the duo up front. However, the unity lasted not very long, something to do with the agony of the climb and Italy blowing up. Counterattacks continued, spearheaded by Richie.

i.imgur.com/8sQXCTq.jpg

van der Poel struck out again and left Bonnamour in his wake and soloed to the top of the climb with a huge advantage. I managed to keep myself somewhere above dead and just below OK, which was better than quite a few of my rivals. I turned to Richie and muttered about whether or not I should attack the descent and that I didn't fancy a sprint. However my choice was made for me when no more than 200m from the crest of the hill, Riabushenko attacked.

It was an instinctive move to follow him from me - I'd been subconsciously waiting for an excuse to make this perhaps suicidal move. Nobody else came with us. But we gave it our all on the descent from the first metre and fell into a rhythm on the slightly flatter parts and understanding on the proper downhill bits. It felt good, especially when on a long stretch of road we would get a glimpse of orange up ahead. I tried not to think that the group behind would get more than a glimpse of red and black in a few seconds.

And sure enough, they got bigger and bigger sights of us as the gap shut faster and faster. My legs burned, my heart was certainly over 200 as I gave everything to stay away over the final short rise and descent into Firenze. The Belarussian's face behind me gave not much away but I was overheating and riding myself into the ground. It was unsustainable but magically faster than the peloton and, as I'd find out later, faster than van der Poel. Riabushenko just sat on my wheel. I was in a trance, so hungry to stay away I was going too hard but boy, was I going fast on that small hill and descent. The Dutchman was closer, the pack further away but once we hit the flat section the gap was rising and falling respectively. I blew up with just over a kilometre to go, and my comrade soon followed.

I slipped through the splintered peloton in their preparations for the silver medal battle and finished in 22nd - no man's land. But I was proud of myself. After I had a moment. And then felt very sick and sat down. And then saw Hayden. He clapped me on the back and smiled.

'Crazy effort bro.' he said consolingly. 'Just a shame you blew up - control that power and you'll be away next year.' I was disheartened and not feeling great physically but I managed a dry smile.

'Yeah well we can't all sprint to the top 10 no matter what like you can Hayden.'

'You got me Jay.' he laughed.
 
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Aquarius97
Not the best of the possible results, but Joseph have shown himself in TV in the final part of the race, and that should better than a silent top10 place.

Hopefully he can do it way better next year in Ponferrada Smile
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Croatia14
Kiriyenka has finally found his replacement in terms of a strong and smart Belorussian! And the Kiwis have a bright future loking at this race.
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jandal7
@Aquarius - Yeah a good showing from Joseph even if he didn't get the result he wanted. U23 in Ponferrada is a big step up but fingers crossed!

@Croatia - Yep, sticking to the wheel of the overeager Kiwi was certainly smart from Riabusschenko Pfft Hope so!
S6/E28
i.imgur.com/8iKuzOs.jpg
Home is Where the Heart Is

♫ Don't you wanna come with me?
Don't you wanna feel my bones
On your bones?
It's only natural ♫
• The Killers

The week or so I spent in Europe after Firenze was a bit of a blur. I had nothing much to do other than say my goodbyes - no races, no deadlines or commitments other than my flight in early October. After saying goodbye to Firenze with a night out with the boys and catching up with Rose I went back up to Roanne to finish packing and say goodbye to my boss and teammates. After another night out, this time with Cad, it was time to board my flight - up to Brittany.

I wasn't going to leave without saying farewell to Lana - possibly for good. I didn't know. We'd arranged to meet for dinner, and we did. After eating we want back to her house. I didn't say anything about it, but sat on the lawn with her, watching the stars with a beer in hand, was a perfect cap on my year in France.
'Look, Lana, it's been really nice the last month or two with you. I just don't know-'
'Aw Joseph you too. You're coming back to Roanne next year?'
'Yeah.'
'Well I'll see you again, hopefully.'
'That'd be nice.' I smiled.
'You want another beer?'
'Yeah why not, my flight isn't until 5 tomorrow.'

I hate flying, but that whole flight home was a lot better with the knowledge I'd see my mysterious French girl again next year. Though that final night with her, talking on the grass, made her a lot less mysterious. But Lana Lucciano was no less fun than the first night I was with her. I had no idea where it was going but with her it didn't matter. Sorry, I'm getting soppy and stuff.

Going home was also a blur but in a much better way. There was the great big face-to-face catch up with Mum and Dad and the girls and then a lot of banal catch-ups with people asking the same questions. I did a lot of sleeping at random times, as you do, and eventually settled in for a summer of open racing, and recuperation for the season ahead. But that's another story.
Edited by jandal7 on 21-10-2017 12:06
 
Croatia14
troll.me/images/buzz/mystery-mystery-everywhere-thumb.jpg
 
jandal7
@Croatia - Not sure how to reply to that Pfft

S6/E29
i.imgur.com/8iKuzOs.jpg
Beanbags

"You need to put this one to bed."

'God Joseph you're such a fricking lightweight when it's not beer!' Rose clipped me round the head. 'I bet you couldn't even make it home!'
'I so could! You couldn- couldn't make it to your house' I giggled.
'I swear you're lucky we weren't in town - and that I'm not going to my house.' she slung my arm around her shoulder as we turned down the gravel path that was, in fact, my driveway.
'Why is it bad that you aren't going to your house. I thought you were sooo sober' I stuck my tongue out at her.
'Whatever,' she said, 'and pick your damn feet up, your shoes'll be even more wrecked than after you fell down the hill earlier.'
'Fiiii-uuhn' I whined. And then after a few moments: 'Why on earth...' I trailed off... 'Why is everything changing so quickly Rosie? Like Tess' dad, Alex is going to be a kid - dad and your parents and my parents-'
'Yeah, well that last one isn't exactly sudden' Rose said darkly. We walked (well, she gave my stumbling some direction) the rest of the way home in silence.

'Hayden!' Rose called once we were in the door. 'You need to put this one to bed.'
'Okay, I'll grab some stuff for him and put it in with the beanbags so we can keep an eye on him. You want a beer?' my brother said, smiling.
'Nah just water. Probably for Jay too.'
'You got it.

A while later, after a glass of water and a nap, I was sobered up a little bit. I came around and Hayden and Rose were still talking.
'Well it wasn't looking likely for sure.' my brother said tiredly.
'So what would you have done next year?' she asked.
'I don't know, maybe more of the same from this year, maybe look for an amateur team in Europe.' he shrugged.
'Well lucky that they came calling then.' she chuckled. 'When are you going to tell him?'
'Not tonight. Little guy's all tuckered out, and it's enough for Joseph to process anyway. I mean, not every day Avanti offers you a contract.' At this I sat bolt upright, snapped out of my half-asleep state:
'What?!'
Edited by jandal7 on 20-12-2017 09:54
 
Aquarius97
Like for Joseph, too much to process for us Pfft
Hayden has been offered a contract with Avanti, that's awesome. Alex is definitely becoming a dad :lol: And Joseph gets drunked very easy Pfft
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jandal7
@Aquarius - haha yeah a lot of news Grin Well we know how Joseph handles non-beer alcohol (not very well Pfft) now can't wait to find out how the other two events play out Grin
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
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Croatia14
what?
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since 2018: Radsim'05: Astana
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jandal7
@Croatia - What? Pfft
No update for a few weeks, exams n' stuff 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
 
jandal7
S6/E30
i.imgur.com/8iKuzOs.jpg
And We're Back

"There were no more age restrictions - no more boundaries."

'You got an Avanti contract?' I asked, stunned.
'Well, not officially, but they said they'd like to. And it's you as well.' Hayden smiled, 'Check your emails tomorrow.'
'Are you serious?'
'Yup.'
'Woah'. I tried to think about what it all meant before realising I couldn't. 'Yeah remind me about that though. I'm gonna forget this by the morning.'
'Sure thing Jay.'


The first race back was on a pan flat, open, course. I had no idea what to expect, and neither did Alex. I was self-consciously trying not to wear my Roanne gear but an ill-timed wash meant I had to don the yellow and blue. I'd finally grown a bit over the last couple of years (still very small) and I desperately needed some new gear. But it's besides the point.

Despite knowing I'd be up there as one of the better cyclists in such a field the experience and psychological factor was still pretty big and the leaps and bounds I'd made in European racing didn't translate to the Manawatu local races. There were organised GC and points competitions but given that I'd probably miss the end of the season with an Avanti contract I just wanted to get into the swing of things and eventually win some races.

I wasn't to win my first one though. A fast and not so gentlemanly (friendly does not equal polite) race was what I'd experienced in Europe and I wasn't looking for rhyme or reason on either side of the planet but this was different - less structured, stemming from less experience and smaller groups. In the end it was a solid 8th for me - I held on but the sprint wasn't my kind of thing - still, I beat Hayden.

He crashed with 5km to go but I'll take it.
Edited by jandal7 on 20-12-2017 09:54
 
Aquarius97
I guess Lana won't be too happy if you have that contract with Avanti Wink
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jandal7
@Aquarius - I don't think so either Sad
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/E31
i.imgur.com/8iKuzOs.jpg
The Hunt in Late October

"I just wanted to win some races."

After the inital contact from Avanti things were moving painfully slow. After the strong hinting at an offer coming soon we'd had little more than another "it's coming." Hayden was being a ray of sunshine and positive thinking about it but I was being a ray of grumpy dick. Why haven't they offered it to us yet? Why? Why? WHY?


My anxiousness over the Avanti contract translated well into my racing. The first of the late-October races I'd planned to go for the win it was a short crit race, 30 kilometres in length, pretty flat around the outskirts of Palmy. The race was frantic and nobody ever really let up the pace. Many dropped off and there were a couple of decent triathletes, a few very fit MAMILs, some rowers, and a few young guns (Me, Alex, Hayden, Greggs) remained with 4km left. Honestly I don't know how I found the energy to attack but attack I did. One of the triathletes followed, who'd pushed the pace earlier but was waiting in the pack for a while. We took turns in the wind for a bit but in the end we couldn't stay away. I ended up 9th, which isn't too bad after an attack.

The second was hillier and something I thought I'd prefer. The race was less about brute strength and Hayden was instantly seen as the favourite by everyone. This suited me just fine - nothing I wasn't used to. Unfortunately, there was a reason for this, a reason I resigned myself to with 10km to go. He was too good. Hayden was so far up the road - I knew this as I could see him TWO FREAKING HILLS AWAY GOD DAMMIT BRO YOU ATTACKED JUST THEN GET OFF THE FREAKING EPO.

I was a bit frustrated.

With Hayden obviously going to win, I resolved to beat the other three remaining in the group. There were two hills before a flat run in to the finish, and so I decided to attack over the top of the first one. As the others drank from their bottles and sat up after a grind to the top I accelerated over the summit and quickly got a gap. I attacked the descent and managed to not get caught over the final climb or in the finale. Pretty good.

The third race was an ITT. This would be the hardest for me to win, with the older guys having an advantage. However, I did think I could challenge Hayden and Alex, the latter who had lost ground to me with a working gap year. It was a rainy but warm spring day and a technical course, meaning the regular cyclists would have an advantage over the athletes who were doing cycling for fitness.

I was having a good day and managed to stay vertical the whole course. I actually overtook a couple of guys but in the end it wasn't enough for the win (I came in 4th). None of these performances were really bad, but after a month in the country I was still winless.
Edited by jandal7 on 20-12-2017 09:55
 
Croatia14
Interesting series that is. Time to rise out of Haydens shadow into the spotlight when the moment has come. Until then it's keeping up the great work and sharpening the skillset, mindset and power.
ICL20 // Euskaltel Story // Can't Slow Down // 21 and Done // Dreams of a Viper

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Most Improved Member '16 // MG New Manager '16 // Thread of the Year (PCT Roundtable Analysis) '17 '18 '19 // Most Helpful Member '18 '19 '20 // MG Team of the Year (Isostar - Adriatic) '18 // MG Manager of the Year '18 '19 // Member of the Year '19
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Climbing for win
Climbing for win
PCM06: Beautiful screenshots
Fantasy Betting
Current bets:
No bets available.
Best gamblers:
bullet roturn 4,051 PCM$
bullet df_Trek 3,849 PCM$
bullet fintas 3,820 PCM$
bullet baseba... 3,763 PCM$
bullet jseadog1 3,600 PCM$

bullet Main Fantasy Betting page
bullet Rankings: Top 100
ManGame Betting
Current bets:
No bets available.
Best gamblers:
bullet df_Trek 3,500 PCM$
bullet Marcovdw 3,400 PCM$
bullet jseadog1 3,400 PCM$
bullet baseball... 3,400 PCM$
bullet fintas 3,100 PCM$

bullet Main MG Betting page
bullet Get weekly MG PCM$
bullet Rankings: Top 100
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