2021 will be a 20 lap Criterium race where you know you have good legs at sign-on. The chain won’t move up to the big ring in the first lap and you are hanging last rider. Light is opening between the wheel in front and you are spinning out – on the last try of the lever, the chain catches the big plate and the 53 starts to rotate. A few late braking corners that scare you..and back in the group. The shaky back bit of the group where the riders know they don’t belong. You move up.

Hanging mid pack, watching heroes jump off the front, you find the rhythm of the straights and relax into the pain. After a blur of finish line passes, the group is smaller and the early break is coming back. There is a stall to see who is going to make the effort to bridge across. You follow a rider who is keen and making all the right gear changes and looks over their shoulder. They explode out of a right hand bend but 15 seconds in to the attack..they fade.

You sit for a moment on their wheel and can see your gap to the group start to disappear. You commit. Under their right hand shoulder , click down to the 11 and go. The racing line skims the kerb and the barrier. You think you have tipped both and nearly smile. The spectators roar and you push through. You think you hear your name but the only sound is of breathing and the ugly face you are making to get more air in. You dare not look back. Up to the 13 round the long last bend and kick out of it. No tyre is visible each side of your seat post as you caution a glance.2021 will be the last lap. You hear the bell and someone you know from race day side lines shouts a name, your name and the gap: “15 seconds” 2021 is the last lap. All the horrific training and winter sleet headwinds that have passed in 2020. They shook your soul but you came home alive and stronger, with a story to tell. Now you look back and the line of riders are just colours and fear. You have this. The last bend is slower and savoured. The finish line is just there and on the other side of it, life will be better. It is just there. You can see the flag. Tired, sore but not beaten you freewheel across the line into joy.Ride Safe. We will all win 2021.

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