What is this madness inside me? Winter’s around the corner, my form is shit, there’s a fresh season of 4th Cat racing waiting for me in 2012… and yet… and yet I’m now seriously looking at one last race this year, in a bid to secure the four points I need to become a 3rd Cat.
Against all logic and better judgement, I’m going to try to haul my body back to some degree of fitness in time for the very appropriately named Omega Points Chaser Circuits, which take place at Portsmouth’s Mountbatten Circuit towards the end of October.
At the rate I’m going this season I’ll end up with more curtain calls than Frank Sinatra. But why? Why bother? Well, I guess I finally have to admit it: under this self-deprecating shell I am in fact a deeply competitive individual.
I try to hide it, because I don’t feel it’s one of Man’s greatest virtues. Particularly when there’s insufficient talent to justify it. But I can’t help it; once I’m in a properly competitive situation it takes over and becomes a sort of addiction. That’s why on the back of my two top ten finishes I can no longer face doing the sensible thing and waiting a few months… I have to go again now, I need my fix, I need to know…
It’s something that’s clearly in the genes. With absolutely no prompting from myself (honest), my lad is already super-competitive at everything, especially football, where he gleefully engages in eye-watering Stuart Pearce-like tackling despite his tender years. He even had a – thankfully short-lived – spell of bursting into tears when the opposition scored, let alone won the game. He cares that much…what hope has he got?
Unfortunately there is a darker side to this affliction too, and it’s a pathological hatred of losing. As a child I hated losing so badly that even defeat in a simple board game would cause me to scatter the pieces to the four corners, before slinking off in a funk for – at least – the rest of the day.
As an adult I’m no better. My wife has occasionally reminded me of a family tenpin bowling evening early in our relationship, when the competition between myself and my Dad became so intense (to be fair, we have both played at league level in our time) she thought it was going to come to blows. I won by the way.
Thankfully, for much of the cycle racing season this monster has slumbered away quite happily, sedated by my total lack of competitiveness and the fact that I’ve been more concerned with staying out of trouble than troubling the scorers.
It didn’t take much to unleash the beast, though. Just a whiff of parity with my peers and now I’m desperate to get stuck in again. In fairness, it’s not only about the urge for personal success. Watching my team ride as a team to win the recent Goodwood 3rds race also showed me what I’m missing while I languish in the 4th Cats, our sole representative in most races. I’d love to move up so I can do my bit for our better riders, even if it’s just working to bring back a break or other domestique duties.
There’s also the small matter of providing fresh meat for this blog, both to keep me interested in writing it and you in reading it. What better than entering a brave new world of ‘proper’ 3rd Cat racing to stimulate my 2012 blogging?
So, Portsmouth it is. Last Chance Motel. I have no idea how many other sorry individuals will crawl out of the woodwork on the day, although a paltry turnout of 11 riders at last weekend’s equivalent 4th Cat fixture bodes well, to be sure.
Regardless of the quantity and quality of the opposition, I’ll be doing my very best to put into practice everything I’ve learned over these past months of racing. Seventh will do, although no prizes for guessing what I really want…