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The Life and Times | Axel's Army
No race result Angry Pfft

New Zealand champion though Grin and it sounds like Hayden has had bigger success. Smile

"What done is, is one." - Benji Naesen
trek - Haha yes well it keeps you reading at least Pfft New Zealand Champion, this was right as Joseph was "on the brink" of the pro peloton as he says in the first post. Hayden? We will see...


"Well, good race anyway I guess..."

Desperation hurls through my mind as I lunge for the line. I throw my machine forward towards the line, I know my rivals are going faster than me to my side, but I had the advantage and best line. Didn't I?

I don't look back, to the side, or even down. For the first time in the last 50 meters I look straight ahead, and hope, hope I've done enough. As I cross the line I look to my side. Nobody celebrates, everyone just look as awkwardly at the other, hoping someone knows who won. My best guess is a three-way photo finish between me and a couple of guys from the pack. One of them isn't wearing a fluro vest, which cheers me up. Just one rival to beat.

I cruise over to where Hayden crouches beside his bike, obviously barely able to control his breathing. I dismount and sit down. We just inhale and exhale wildly together until one of us has the energy to speak. "Did you win?" I ask slowly. He shakes his head.

"Tried to go early and it didn't work." he breathes with a grimace, "You won't know yours for a while yet, well raced though." he finishes. I'm annoyed that he's right, I want the result! It's my first ever race and I just want to see how I did!

"Vaillenos, you can head home son, we'll tell you tomorrow the final position." the organizer says. What?
Edited by jandal7 on 17-04-2020 07:45
Angry (don't need to explain what that's for Pfft)

Shame Hayden didn't win, but hopefully Joseph did. Wink

"What done is, is one." - Benji Naesen
trek - Yes, yes Pfft And find out if the duo can get one win, now. I promise!

Achieve My Dreams

"After yesterday, I knew I had a path to achieve my dreams. I just need to train."

That night, I just couldn't sleep. I tossed and turned, and in the end fell asleep on my father's shoulder after talking about the race, and watching yesterday's Tour Down Under stage. When I got up, it took me a while to remember what happened. Then, I shot out of bed, sprinted down to the letterbox, and checked. Nope. Checked the e-mail. Nada. Checked Manawatu Cycling Facebook. Jackpot!

Hamish Rutherford47'34
2Joseph Vaillenoss.t.

I didn't read further. I was crushed. I deserved to win. I wasn't outwardly arrogant but I knew I should have won. I had raced my heart out and come out second-best. Then it got worse. I checked the full results for Hayden's sake (4th, if you were wondering). I actually took third in that pack sprint. The guy was three years older than me but it was still salt into my wound.

I knew then, as the not very warm summer deteriorated quickly, after the summer season finished I wasn't going to put my bike in the shed to collect dust. This winter, and every winter until I realize my dream, I had to train. Train hard. Train fast. Train like I meant it. Want my dreams more than I hoped for them. Sure I wasn't going to turn myself into a nut head just year, I was eleven. But I was driven, from then on. Driven to become a pro cyclist.
Edited by jandal7 on 17-04-2020 07:46
Shut In

"It was the most brutal and unforgiving winter Manawatu had seen in a long while"

As the school year started and the warm sunshine turned to cold and damp autumn and spring, I spent less and less time on rides. I did set up my turbo trainer in the shed with Hayden and we quickly found a site of brutal videos called "The Sufferfest". They were true to their name but great workouts which kept us fit.

Spring rolled into winter and it started to snow. I hadn't seen snow for years and it amazed me, but it meant a couple of hard weeks on the farm with no room for cycling. But, the lack of good weather and time to spend outside meant more time to watch Le Tour. The 2008 edition was one of the most entertaining editions of the last ten years. My most inspiring victories were Valverde's two and Luis Leon Sanchez's wins, they were two victories I thought had a similair style to me and ones that I would love to emulate one day. Hayden liked Sanchez's as well, as well as Sastre's famous climb up Alpe D'Huez.

I kept training hard throughout that winter, but maybe I should have chilled, because it was a long cold one, and it lasted longer than many were expecting. My football team won a lot as well, but I remained committed to my true passion. Nevertheless amongst my sporting achievements I fared well in my exams and when we hit the summer term, I was ready to race once more.
Edited by jandal7 on 17-04-2020 07:46
The race loss seems to be helping more than hurting him. Pfft

I'm looking forward to this summer season though, they sound ready. Smile

"What done is, is one." - Benji Naesen
trek - It certainly was a nice motivator


"I lost my balance, in more ways than one"

That term I was quickly put in place with my ideas of spending all my spare time chilling and riding bike, not worrying about any work I had to do but that on the farm. I was called to my principal's office one break time for 'a quick chat'.

"Joseph Vaillenos. Joseph when I look into your eyes I see potential. But I also see too much recklessness, too much fire. We're eyeing you up to be a serious role model next year in Year 8. I think it could be a very good challenge for you. But you can't inspire the young ones by doing the bare minimum, arguing with teachers you don't like and spending the entire class thinking about anything but your work." he said briskly and firmly. I was stumped. I agreed with about one word of that, reckless. I was capable of looking on myself critically but this wasn't what I anticipated. Where was the laid-back style and approach of Mr Becker? I didn't have leadership? I was self-confident and mature, looking back, and great with younger kids, but this? This wasn't me, I couldn't really do this! Could I?

My head was in a blur as a kitted up for the first race of the circuit series. This year I had decided to win as much as possible and bugger the overall and bugger the points. The finish of today was flat but technical, which garunteed everyone to have a shot. I didn't have time to think of tactics as we rolled off at a ferocious pace. I hung around the back with my friend Alex in our matching Slipstream argyle kits. Locally, they were deemed the ugliest kit around, but they were ours and we were decked out in official bib shorts and jersey which was just the coolest thing imaginable back then.

He asked me if I was going to try and win that day. I told him I'd try, of course, but I wouldn't have a chance. And I acted like it, following some moves eventually and then getting in one that lasted. We had 30 seconds going to the last lap and I realistically knew I wouldn't win against some strong opposition. But along the technical bends with the best part of a kilometre to go I took a corner too well for the rest of them and was practically home free. Then along the final bend, potential disaster struck.

I slipped out and had to unclip, barely staying upright. But I clipped back in but I started pedalling without moving. I couldn't believe it. Damned chain. 60m and fifteen seconds, I think it was. I had no choice. I began to run full pelt with my bike in tow towards the line. Well, at least it counted as finishing.
Edited by jandal7 on 17-04-2020 07:46
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Grin A win! Grin Nice to see J winning Smile

This reminds me of two things, Daniello Ratto's (2013?) stage win at the Vuelta as he unclipped on every descent Pfft and this race I had when somebody lost their chain on the final descent but still came third... Pfft

"What done is, is one." - Benji Naesen
trek - Yeah he finally gets a victory after all his har - Wait, who said he won?
All - Amongst Mafia and other such ventures this will be put to the "sporadical" pile for me, with a forum game to run, PCR planning and also working on getting DPCT working again with trek this is at the back of my mind for now. But I'm still very interested to see where the legend of the brothers goes, no doubt!

Shut Out

"I had no choice but to ride more bike."

So yeah, a close call but not a win. That would come a week later on the same course in a similar manner, though. I stood on the makeshift podium on the hill, the best view of the dusklit city you could get without going up the tower. I was so overjoyed to have won my first race, in such fine style on a course that wasn't really my cup of tea. I rode my bike all the way back home the adrenaline pumping through me still. I couldn't believe it, despite being an age-group city crit, I'd won.

The next race was constantly rolling course, where Hayden's age group and mine had been mixed. I told Hayden I'd do what I could for him to win, Alex dutifully agreeing with an "You owe me one" when we'd gone to suit up.

I started the race near the front with Alex before after a couple of laps Hayden and his group told us to ride. I'd been struggling to maintain position all day but as soon as I hit the front, with a real purpose, an objective to strive for and work towards, I was flying. I caught the break, ripped almost everyone's legs to shreds and all but drilled through their skull and surgically removed the idea of attacking from their brains. Lex went first before I slipped off the front without even really noticing, I was so damn tired.

But as Hayden thanked me after his win, I saw this was actually a really good performance, something you saw on TV but never really stopped to think about. We were really into our pro cycling already and we were taking all the inspiration we could from it. I'd pretty much handed Hayden the win on a silver platter, he onto needed to mark everything in the last two laps, then use his acceleration to his advantage. But, being a determined 12 year old, I vowed as soon as I was back in my own age group I was leader again.
Edited by jandal7 on 17-04-2020 07:47

"Who Am I?"

It's hard, you know. Staying fit was no easy job for me. I worked hard on the farm and on my bike but I always had a perhaps unhealthy amount of bread on my plate. And whilst for the last eleven years it was fine, in my twelfth I slowly started to notice that I wasn't burning all the calories I ate, despite long rides. I knew then that if this was to be a serious pursuit I'd have to start watching what I ate.

The rest of the summer went by quickly. Barbecues, fruit picking, bike, farm work, bike, barbecues, bike, family time, bike. I won some races, lost some, worked for Hayden at some, tried to make good on my IOU promise with Alex. I can't remember every race I rode or even every race I win, but here's one experience that shaped me today.

The race organizers had organized a trip up to the higher hills for us to partake in. I thought with Hayden's genes in me as well I'd be able to rip apart the field up the brutal acsents. I was so wrong.

I started the race slowly, just watching everyone, and to my disguised horror many looked more comfortable than me. I decided to test the waters after getting my muscles warmed up, and put in what was for me a trademark acceleration. They chased me down. I attacked. The chased me down. So I gathered they were in form.

But after a while I was the one being ripped apart, not them. Both them at all. But, I was a natural born climber, wasn't I? My small frame, my punch, Hayden's proven uphill prowess, I thought I was on track to be a Tour of Southland winner. But what if I wasn't? I'd never been a top sprinter, I'd been okay on small hills. But these longer ones obviously weren't my cup of tea, I found over the next few rides up in the longer climbs. So in this world of cycling, who was I?
Edited by jandal7 on 17-04-2020 07:47
Missed a post. Sad

Means getting to read two now though. Grin

Anyway, me saying he had won was me drawing random conclusions. Pfft

This general racing is great though. Grin

"What done is, is one." - Benji Naesen
@trek - Thanks as usual Grin Good to see I've still got a follower Pfft Nah it's ok I'm having great fun depsite irregular posting, especially with MG over next coupla months.

@ALL - May seem out of place chapter and dialogue is my weakest suit, but introducing a major player in the rest of the story and we can't have all racing Wink

"Friends? Friends."

I had no time for philosophy or soul-searching at this point of the academic year as I was due to underperform again at the exams. I did care a little bit as there's some bigger implication stuff as I end my penultimate primary year. But enough about that. I want to paint you a picture, in my mind at least, of the rekindling of a flame, the candle I hold close to my heart this day.

In my memory, the sun was shining beautifully over the treetops, the school day just finishing and me, hopping on my bike to meet Hayden at the junction between our schools. I suddenly almost got knocked off by a fellow cyclist before I was on, by a young lady I recognised all to well. Rose was my best friend, a fellow mountain biker, and a close (country-close, not next-door) neighbour, until the age of nine. Well, she still was a neighbour. Then social prejudice came to inter-gender friendships, and as our families' relationships deteriorated and the peer pressure for me from my friends to let her go grew stronger, I made a move I still regret: I said go away. I was a grade A prat but that's unfortunately how it went at my year group at the time. Now this year, cooties transitioned to cool when it came to hanging out with girls apparently, and so perhaps I was ready to see her again now. I didn't feel ready though.

Anyway, we locked eyes properly for the first time for a good few years. I'd been waiting for this moment to try make it up to her, but I always bailed out, knowing I'd hurt her in public and I deserved the loss of my best friend. But, now, Rose beat me to it.

"Look, Joseph, you don't have to be-"
"Rose, I am so so sorry, I was an idiot and you didn't deserve th-"
"Look, ride and talk?"
"Um, okay then"

And talk we did, skipping Hayden and just avoiding our fight. Slowly, we got back into our rhythm. We bantered seamlessly, slipping back into our best friend chemistry that you would think we were nine and nothing had ever came between us. Finally we looped back to school to be picked up.

"I really have forgotten all about it. Friends?"
"Rose, I don't deserve-"
Edited by jandal7 on 17-04-2020 07:48
Nice for Joseph to make up with his friend. Smile And the dialogue isn't as bad as you make it out to be. Pfft Wink

"What done is, is one." - Benji Naesen
Ian Butler
trekbmc wrote:
Nice for Joseph to make up with his friend. Smile And the dialogue isn't as bad as you make it out to be. Pfft Wink

I agree Smile
@trek - Certainly good for Joseph to have a childhood friend back, and thansk fro that because it looked very awkward here Pfft

@Ian - as above, thanks Grin Good to see you here
Rude Interruption

"That was the first time I swore except with Hayden or Alex. Over the next six weeks, it wasn't my last"

Growing up just over a year apart, me and Hayden would switch between a slightly off twin dynamic and a slightly off big brother-little brother dynamic. He always was a little defiant smart ass who got high off being the cheekiest and the youngest wherever he went. Anyway, this closeness in age meant he was best friends with Rose too way back when, at least until he started school and we were all of a sudden different ages. So it was logical he was invited to the next's day's ride as Rose and I started to rekindle our friendship.

Alex called in sick and so the three of us decided to ride to the tower overlooking Wanganui. It was the perfect day as exams had just finished and we could accept the allure of the dazzling Manawatu sun and relax with just a couple of lazy school weeks left before a summer full of awesomeness. We had a lot of fun catching up on my lost time and despite him always protecting me, Hayden was once again acting our age and I promise, it wasn't any show by him. Then, as we picked up some caramel mochas (my treat, pocket money zapped out of my wallet), someone, and I like to blame Hayden, said we should get takeaway cups and drink them before we reach the ascent to the tower. That was, obviously, incredibly stupid. As in hindsight wasn't hard to foresee, one of us didn't make it to the hill. With my luck, obviously me.

The pain wasn't there until Hayden pointed out my arm was flopping did I feel the pain and tears formed in my eyes. I was taken to the hospital and the worst, confirmed: broken arm. The real shock was the diagnosis: Seven weeks off running, Six weeks of outdoor biking, five off the turbo trainer. That was the first time I swore in front of my parents. Over the next six weeks, it wasn't my last. I was a moody so-and-so.

Unfortunately for me four holiday weeks with no racing meant I had but three weeks over the summer to race without school being a part of my life too. And I had only drank half of this caramel mocha.
Edited by jandal7 on 17-04-2020 07:48
just want to let you know I´m following this mate, but commenting feels like interrupting the storyline so I´m a silent fan :)
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Sad that isn't good...

"What done is, is one." - Benji Naesen
Is his holidays gone? Sad
Ian Butler
Ouch. Broken arm doesn't sound too good Frown
@Croatia - You can feel free to comment anytime Wink but as a silent follower of many stories, including yours, I know the feel Pfft

@trek - Yeah it sucks.
You know, your name is part of my copy and paste, I just leave it there at the top, ready for action Pfft

@DiCyc, Ian - Yeah SadWell without spoiling to much an NZ summer holiday usually lasts around 7 weeks, so 6 weeks off the bike including two ones where he is at school means roughly three weeks of holiday to ride, luck on his side

Fustration and Solitude

"The longer I lived without my bike, the more amazing the feeling of riding became in my head."

I woke up the next day in the hospital bed. I was just in there for precautionary reasons but as soon as I had told them I was fine to eat breakfast with my right arm (despite being my bad one) and that the cast they had put on wasn't itching (I just knew the next one wouldn't be any better) and ate said breakfast was I on my way, physically feeling fine (testing the boundaries of what angle he could move his finger to before he screamed was Hayden's job) but mentally feeling worse than I did when the arm broke.

When I got home Mum told me that she had bought one of the tri-pillows from the hospital for me. It cheered me up on the physical front but I was too busy wallowing in my own self-pity. Four weeks, at least, of my holidays ruined because I agreed that I could ride my bike through busy city streets while drinking a caramel bleeding mochaccino.

Now, I'll be honest, that line at the end of the last episode was just something that sounded cool in my head. The minor insult to injury I received was that Alex was in New York all Holiday. I knew Hayden would try but I didn't resent him for not really changing his biking schedule, just taking out some of the leisurely rides we might usually undertake together in order to spend time with me. Rose also had a lot of stuff to do but we met up a few times and hung out.

I just felt so goddamn useless. The longer I lived without my bike the more beautiful the feeling of riding became in my head. I knew I was being melodramatic but I missed my bike more than anything. It wasn't I had nothing to do, just not much. Cycling wasn't the only thing I lost with my broken arm.
Edited by jandal7 on 17-04-2020 07:49
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