Hello again to everyone at VeloVeritas! It has been a while since I have written about cycling on the Joshua Cunningham Blog, or anywhere else, but after a long and fairly productive, enjoyable winter, the ball has well and truly started rolling again, for what will hopefully be a continuation of that in 2012!
Participation in cycle racing, like any other sport, is a constantly changing cycle of highs and lows, and the graph of peaks and troughs is also as fragile as it is changeable. This is an aspect of the lifestyle I lead which at first I found hard to take, but now I see as just that; an aspect of the lifestyle that simply needs to be dealt with. The last time I wrote I was just beginning my Belgian campaign for the 2011 season, and it seemed like things were going well, which they were.
I've been in Belgium for a week now, but to be honest I feel like I've never been away with the same routines already re-emerging into the day. It is really good to feel like a full time racing cyclist again as after months of spreading myself thin over winter, all I have to think about is riding my bike. I arrived a week past Tuesday, the 1st of March, which was simply a date plucked out of the air to maximise winter earning time, but get here in time for the start of the season proper.
Now, if anyone was thinking of doing so, think long and hard before driving to Antwerp and back in a day, because the job in hand is just that-long and hard! Saturday gone was the date of my team presentation, or Ploegvoorstelling, so with the company of my girlfriend we took on the 500 mile round trip to meet and greet with team mates, sponsors, press, and the obligatory random Belgian cycling fanatics at the team café, St Barts, in Merksem, Antwerp.
Hello. I suppose I had better start with an introduction! My name is Josh Cunningham, I am 20 year old, and for two years I have committed myself to the formidable task of "making it", in the world of professional cycling, or at least get as far as I can possibly go in realising these utopian dreams.
The good news is that Scotland is eligible to field a team in the UCI Track Nations Cup events and encouragingly, we have around a dozen riders vying for a ride. One of those on the squad is 19 year-old Matti Dobbins from Bridge of Weir, who as a junior was a Scottish track champion across multi-disciplines and has been trialling with the GB squad at Manchester, focusing on making the GB and Scottish Team Pursuit squads.
In Part One of the Tim Mountford story we heard how the eighteen year-old Tim was living on his own, sharing a flat with another rider, working at a local bike shop and training for the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo, as well as being creating and being the chief editor of a cycling magazine titled the "Southern California Cycling Journal". Tim went on to race in two Olympic Games and competed at world level in the tandem sprint before turning to the Professional Six Day scene and working his way up through various sponsors and contracts to land the biggie; a place on the famous TI Raleigh team managed by the legendary Peter Post.
Tim Mountford was one of the pioneers of US professional cycling in the 60’s and 70’s; he recently gave freely of his time to tell VeloVeritas about his adventures in what was a golden age for European cycling.
When a man named Merckx emails us from The Netherlands and tells us that he likes our website and that he has a collection of 2,300 plus cycling jerseys, we have to pay attention, right?
Soigneurs; they shouldn’t be too young – they have to have lived a bit; they should be mysterious; surrounded by an aura of camphor and early season changing rooms; of few, gruff words; have hands like shovels... but blonde, cute, smiling, chatty, cheerful, Californian – and a woman? That was – and is – Ms. Shelley Verses, the first female to break into the closed world of pro cycling as a soigneur with Motorola, La Vie Claire, Toshiba and TVM.
What was it Oasis sang? ‘Don’t look back in anger.’ We look back on 2020 not with anger but with sadness - if you or your friends, colleagues or family have had the misfortune to encounter Covid then you have our commiserations. Here's our hindsight view of the VeloVeritas year.