Done and dusted. 2015 is now over. Last Elite League match was lost by us to the Champions, Wednesfield. Their team was complete this year. They have gone through the cards unbeaten. Something that Horspath had monopoly for in the League. I am quite happy to say I have improved from last year. My average is up, my form is on a high and for once I am looking forward to next year. Horspath had an up and down year, mainly due to fixture clashes with Poland. I have pleaded to ride for the club regardless the fixtures, so I was there for all 10 matches. It is hard to keep everybody happy, my Polish club have missed me in last two league fixtures which we have lost and it reflected in last place. I don’t think we deserve last place but we have to improve if we want to be competitive. There is loads to work on and I hope I can still be a part of it.
Sunday was very much how it was all year for me. A hard first race, often from 4. Wasn’t able to get anything on Bobby Mac and ran a last. From then it was winning all the way. A bit of team riding and trying to keep the scores close. Hammertime means, you keep it close, until the last race and you deal with it in the decider. Aces were vigilant and made no mistakes, we were a bit too anxious, impatient. I am content with the way I rode all year, more or less. I have also won my only trophy this year. Match Race Trophy which I had to race Ben Mould for. Have to say thanks to Lewis, he was kind enough to let me do it, even though he scored more points.
Definitely an improvement on 2014. I am getting a year older every winter but I am very positive about the season coming. I am trying to look at the positives and I certainly improved the things I have lost a bit, which is getting out of the gate. I believe I can get my stamina up to scratch and perhaps work on speed a bit, but what’s more important I want to keep enjoying it. This was the story of this year. I got the hunger back and I was enjoying the sport again. The Worlds were a success, whatever that means. I was happy with the way I rode, perhaps a few mistakes, but who doesn’t make them? Even the Champ has made some in that final. I still believe I’ve got a podium place in me left, and this is my motivation for the forthcoming year.
There is hope we can get the track in Wroclaw back up and running. A local public funding scheme had made it possible. From a list of local projects, people of Wroclaw are allowed to choose 3 and top 10 projects get funding. One of them is a plan to refurbish playing fields around my old school, re do the running track on which I am training sometimes, and re build the CS track. It would be done as an open to public complex and we’ve got backing of Pawel Randa, former Olympic Silver Medalist rower from Wroclaw, who frequented the school and was a rider back in the day too. Obviously Marcin Szymanski is also full of hope. If that goes ahead, I will do everything in my powers to get the team back to my city. It is long overdue. Plenty of clubs have benefited from Sparta’s talent. If I stand corrected, every World Championship since 2003 had a Wroclaw rider in top four. Since 2003 Poland always had at least one of us in either World or Euro Cup. Voting has begun. Cross your fingers, cast your votes if you can.
Ekstraliga, Polish equivalent of the Elite League has not been a success at all. Slask Swietochlowice came last, winning one match, drawing one losing the rest. I’d like to say we deserved a bit more. Maybe if I could do all the matches? I think it’s a little bit more complex than that. The club is very well organised with a perfectly located track, a large group of supporters and a good squad of riders. The team is quite young, me being the oldest by quite a lot. A positive image which I like a lot, but… there are a few issues that I think overshadow and, in some ways, stop the club going forward. The biggest issue here is inability to graciously take a defeat. It was bugging me every time I was going to a home match. Those great people cheering for us and wishing us well were turning nasty every time a referee was making a decision which wasn’t going for us, regardless if it was right or wrong. I always try to keep a cool head in the pits, and never ever argue with an official. The sport is a fun way of spending your free time and we are getting a fine reward in return of competitive racing. I love to race and I love winning, but I feel for referees in our sport. I said it many times and will say it again. Those guys deserve more credit than we do. They do this “task” of officiating often heavy meetings and get nothing in return. They don’t race. Ask yourself, would you do it? Would you travel, let’s say 150 miles each way just to put a black and white shirt on, get a whistle in your mouth and referee a cycle speedway match? Would you give up 10 or 15 sunny Sundays in a year? A rider does it because he races, he wins or looses. Ref does it for different reasons. He does not need all the aggro, all the swearing and bullying that goes with it. Without one, there is no sport. Unfortunately it happened too often. All the home matches we have lost ended the same. Ref being cornered, abuse flowing from the supporters. Very nasty and something I wasn’t looking forward to before the next game. Every one of those matches we have lost due to our own faults whether it was wrong decisions picking grids, badly managed programme or simply not being good enough on the track. I put my hands up and admit, the first match against Ostrow I wasn’t good enough. I made mistakes, tried to team ride instead of getting the points. There is a lot of work to be done in the club, and I believe these things will be addressed. I am not sure what the future holds, so won’t go beyond that now. Nevertheless if there is a will, I’d like to give it another year and try to build on the positives. I think we can charge for medals with the right attitude.
Last but not least. I’d like to say massive thank you to Geoff Gamage. A true Hammer, without him there is no racing at the Village. His time and resources are always undervalued, hope that my points scored this year are good enough for him. Also thank you Archie Wilkinson. The new frame gave me a new lease of life and a turning point in my racing career. Krzysztof Bas and all from Swietochlowice. Hope we can do better next year. Magdalena. You let me do this year after year and I know how tough it is, so all this is thanks to You.
Also a word for my employer. Im-Motion.pl best bike shops in Wroclaw. Appreciated that you guys have let me go during the summer season to chase my World Champ dream.
I was being lazy for the last month, here is a couple of links to some videos:
Slask v Torun
Ostrow v Slask 1
Ostrow v Slask 2
Czestochowa v Slask
Sheffield v Horspath
photo: Karol Stodolka Photography
A tutaj link do Glosowania w WBO: