Never before in my racing days, have I been subjected to such a high intensity of racing.
This year, racing was limited and kind of rare. I was therefore looking forward to it more and was more hungry for success. Then it came last week. Four races in four days. Not just any races.
After about two weeks of discussions, unknown and total chaos, we finally turned some wheels at Exeter in long awaited Test Series between Poland and GB. I don’t really want to go into details of the last minute team structuring and emergency plans to get the team together, I just say one thing. If it wasn’t for Dave Murphy, there would be a lot of explaining to be done by the people responsible.
I always have mixed feelings about any international matches, because of bad experiences in the past. First series was marred by awful refereeing, which was often blatant and arrogant. Although racing used to be very physical and tough, we definitely have been cheated on more than one occasion, or if not cheated, there was a lot of really bad calls.
This time around I have to say, reffing was top notch. My team was not happy about a couple of decisions in the last match, but I didn’t really think there was anything wrong in. Same goes for the first two, so well done guys in the middle. Do we see a change for the better? Hope so.
Exeter match went the way I feared they might all go. Poland didn’t have the strongest side on paper. First match was the one we thought we could win. We knew this was the only time we’d have our best possible 8 available. From the start Great Britain rode a great tactical match and started to pull away. They were better on every aspect. Quicker around the track, rode as a team and won the match in a convincing style. For all the guys in the car, it was a struggle to ride straight from a 29 hour journey across Europe, so we had our hopes high for the Newport game. We have managed to persuade Grzegorz to come over as well, or rather his wife to let him go :D
Match at Newport was a different day altogether. Lads had a good night of sleep, thanks to some very kind people at Exeter. They were fresh and ready to go. I was running late, going straight from work, so stress levels were quite high. I was greeted by some smiley faces and one young face I didn’t know I am going to see. Pawel Idziorek could make it and I was glad to see him wearing white and red for the first time in his life.
Pawel is the only Polish rider ever to start racing CS in the UK. He has never done cycle speedway in Poland before, and once he moved to the UK in a very young age, he started doing it over here.
We started the match very strong, and after a few tape exclusions we were comfortably in front. I was kind of expecting a strong second half from Boaler and the rest, I know how strong they are on the mental side of racing, but a little muted GB team was never really there to challenge us. I would say an easy win for us and a test decider to come day after.
Now i need to clarify few things. I only known for a few weeks before the tests were announced the dates and times. I switched my days off so I could travel to Exeter on Thursday, as the shop closes at 7 and I could never do it in time. On a Friday we shut at 5:30 and a short trip to Newport was more of a possibility. But because we had league that week, I had a Sunday booked off, so had to be at work on Saturday. I really didn’t want to ride in all matches as Wednesfield away on a Sunday was already a leg breaker. That was before I knew what team we are going to have. I thought there will be more people coming over from Poland with Mr Szymanski making the trip, I thought we could afford to make room for somebody else at Poole. After Newport I had a sleepless night and a real heartache. I so wanted to be at Poole and finish the job off in style. I went to work with mixed feelings. I wanted to be fair with my employers, at the end of the day they have done great things to help me my racing career, so I didn’t have my expectations too high. After a quick word with the boss, I was quickly on the phone to Magda to get my kit all ready as I’m able to go early at 2. Didn’t even have time to let the guys know, I only managed a quick text to Pawel to keep delaying the parade and for a few crashes in the first race to give me more time. Luckily I made it in time, but when I saw that rain on the way there, I thought to myself, what a shame. Such a great day in prospect ruined by the weather. I was hoping for a good crowd and some exciting fast racing. Crowd was there, very enthusiastic and very supportive, but racing was demanding and hard.
First half was an absolute nightmare. We could not get the best out of the riders we were counting on the most. Arek had a couple of bad rides, which really knocked his confidence. They are all young lads who are really emotional about their racing and it’s a job to pick them up after a bad race. It does make it up in their application to the match. They are giving absolutely everything to their team, something I can certainly learn from them. You really don’t know what to expect, this is why I wasn’t giving up to the end. I knew that all of my riders could beat anybody out of any grids on that heavy track. We had a super sub in Pawel and we were using him well. Pawel scored 18 points and got us an all important 7:3 with Greg in heat 17 setting up a last heat decider. Last race didn’t go to plan, as we had no concept whatsoever, but a brave move by Marcin Paradzinski won us the match and the whole series.
I was very proud of the result and proud to be riding with those guys. It certainly gives Poland hope for the future. The riders doing the hard work on the track were getting their first international senior experience and 4 out of 8 were juniors.
It made it worth all the hassle and the traveling.
The day after tomorrow…
Wednesfield away was going to be a struggle after the heroics of Saturday night down the coast. Wednesfield track is never easy to ride on. Always demanding 100% out of riders with long bends often slippery, you have to drive in as long as possible. We knew that Sunday was going to be make or break. If we were to lose, any title hopes, however slim, would be gone. We have started OK, but nerves started to kick in. You could see some of us were simply lacking racing over the last weeks. We were leading the Aces only by a couple of points, but towards the end they have closed the gap to just two. We did get the all important 5:5 in race 17 and won the match in the last race with a 6:4 of the ins. There was a little matter of the Match Race Trophy to settle. I really wanted that one off Paul’s hands. He was holding on to it for far too long. I didn’t feel ready to race in it at the start of the year, as it was my first match back in Horspath’s colours and didn’t feel appropriate to walk in and do as I pleased. This time around I was happy to race and happily won.
In the meantime I have been given the new version of the Archie frame. Unfortunately didn’t have enough time to give it a go yet. Will be testing it in the next couple of sessions and will decide if I’m ready to race on it against Sheffield in the next Elite match.
I will also be selling some of the bikes I am no longer using, so watch this space. Some mega lightweight bikes on the market. Polska!!!