Terry's Take (in the light of no other offerings, so a really personal slant as always)
I’m not very well writing this, really struggling to get fit again for East London’s Euro-Vets, so that’s probably affecting my brain patterns, but whatever, I’m not known for not being able to annoy people, so:
My pre-match prediction to colleagues of the outcome of a couple of races came true, and once again poor old me felt a little intimidated in two of my races, a regular occurrence over the last 3 or 4 years in this and the corresponding home fixtures.Fortunately I usually spot these scary approaches coming a mile away and somehow just manage to avoid them. Old photos and videos will bear witness. All I want to do is race as fast as I can. I’m too old and too fragile to put my health in jeopardy like so many of today’s riders who seem to have little or no regard for their own safety or anyone else’s and just whack it in there.
So that put me on a downer immediately (as well as having a decent bout of the lurgy that started the day before) and this has to be my worst performance for a good while. Fellow Vikings, I apologise. We knew that even with Gavin, who hadn’t pedalled a bike for a couple of months, heavy defeat was a foregone conclusion at the home of the reigning NL champions, and although they currently have rider issues themselves they are nowhere near as bad as ours. The final score speaks for itself, I think.
Err, not quite! Refereeing is absolutely THE worst job in the world for most of us, so generally I have the utmost sympathy for them. But there are exceptions who consider themselves so aloof that nothing they do, however grossly f****d up, makes them bat an eyelid. Most seem to be in the Northern League. Superiority reigns. So it was that today we were treated (!) to a shining example of such woeful rule comprehension and total lack of consistency in their application. Honestly this isn’t sour grapes, No, honestly! I went there to get beaten although one particular example of this inconsistency had me taking to the pits concrete in the interests of self-preservation after another rider had been excluded earlier for a similar offence at the other side of the track. And the same thing happened again in the Division Two encounter without penalty. If my pal Lee Lawrence, a wily old fox but currently struggling for fitness, can leave me a few inches of room on the outside to RACE on why can't everyone else?
So, how was it really Terry? A decent afternoon, quite warm when the sun popped out, with a firm breeze that was blowing the starting tapes back but soon cured with the Falcon’s centre support. There were quite a few instances of the tapes catching helmets at the starts but that was probably the wind too, otherwise a nicely prepared track with the now familiar crunchy top dressing, the same at most places currently and absolutely fine. It was good to catch up with the boys and backroom staff again; we always get a super welcome from them.
The match itself kicked off just as I had expected under the new for 2017, ridiculous 6/10 man format designed to suit no-one north of 53.5º, with me being taken well wide on the first turn although I hardly presented a threat. Turning a race into a procession might be great for the perpetrator and his team’s scoreline but what about people watching, those who are seeing it for the first time maybe and hoping to see good RACING? Grrrr. With my now permanent partner Jason also having a real off day out of the gate and while leading we’d be looking somewhere else to avoid a near whitewash. Of course the somewhere else was returnee Gavin and he did a great job of shepherding partner Dan in most of their races to pull in a few shared heats, but wasn’t in the right physical condition to do what he normally does. Otherwise it was the same, depressing run of heat losses we’ve become accustomed to now.
However, apart from those few issues the Falcons raced fairly and fully deserved their easy win, and that made it at least a half decent day for us. Not much more to say really.
Division Two is our actual NL level now, I’m sure everyone at Northumbria knows that, and once again the boys put in some great effort to make the event much more watchable than the first match. Without exception our five riders did everything they could but still couldn’t overcome the strong home heat leaders, running out brave losers. Keith was best after his long layoff while Bradley continued his recent improvement and Neil once again had a couple of good quick rides. It goes without saying that Andy did everything possible to help his partner yet again while Paul again put his heart and soul into it. Both sides raced perfectly throughout this one, although I'll never be a fan of Andy's permanent rearward stance; that's got to hurt your neck muscles matey!
While newcomers Fife Revolutions are making all the headlines, can someone please tell me how another school with a track in its back garden doesn’t have a super young set of CS riders, I’m flummoxed.