This year I've seen Tom's cycling move on to another level. He's probably ridden less miles than last year, but his bike handling, stamina, and road craft have moved on so much, that I no longer plan a ride having to make allowances for any inability. Though we rarely worry about going fast, he's getting faster too.
I could say it's because he's naturally gifted, but that wouldn't be true. He has got to where he is by putting in the miles (3000 in the last two years). He's been too hot, cold, wet, fallen off his bike and been bitten by a dog among other hardships. He loves riding his bike, but as every cyclist knows, it isn't always easy.
One particular ride this year, made me realise how much he has improved.
Our local running club organises a bike vs runner handicap race. Two years ago Tom rode this race, and in spite of setting off well before everyone, he came second from last.
Last year we gave it a miss, but this year we entered again.
Dave who organises it eyed Tom up and down, and decided that though he could set off before the other cyclists, he would have to leave behind all but the elite runners.
The first section of the race was flat, and Tom reeled in many of the runners as he touched 20mph. What comes next though is a climb of 1 1/2 miles with 800 feet of climbing over loose, then rutted and sometimes boggy ground. He didn't get passed by all the runners, but there weren't many still behind. Still no sign of the other cyclists though.
From the high point there's a technical descent, which then becomes a fast gravel track. He was picking up the runners one by one.
From the road crossing there is a slight climb. I'd told him, if he made the top of it, before any other of the cyclists, he on his mountain bike would have the upper hand against those (training for the 3 Peaks) on their cyclocross bikes on the final descent.
He rode hard to the last col. We passed more runners, but no sign of any cyclists.
He flew down the loose rocky descent. He took a quicker line than me through one section whilst passing a runner I had to work hard to get back on his wheel. We passed lots of runners.
Now back on the outskirts of the village, the surface turned to tarmac, and it was just a matter of riding hard to the finish.
At the finish there were two runners, and Nick Craig the first cyclist who had taken a slightly different line to the finish. So, out of 24 entrants, Tom finished 4th.
Tom was told by the organiser that next time, he wouldn't get away with pretending he was a kid!
Anyhow, 2014 isn't quite done yet. For the third year we'll be doing the Rapha #festive500. Minipips has an ambitious plan for that.
Once that is done, we'll have some exciting news about rides and sponsors for 2015!