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Michael Burke- my Journey to becoming an elite cyclist ( part 1)

Recently I have been thinking a little bit about the past years and what I have been doing over them. This led me to think that maybe I ought to write some of it down. So starting off this is pretty much what I have been doing for the last 7 years, and what effectively I have almost devoted my life to, doing as much as I possibly can to make it happen.

Starting in the latter part of 2012 at Welland Valleys legendary Go Races at Bruntingthorpe it wasn’t until 2013 I would race in my first open road race. That race was an NCRA Handicap Race ironically hosted by my own club Welland Valley CC. The system was very much as it remains today with various groups set off at different times between approximately 7-8 minutes from the start to the back.

Word got out before the race and I was made known to the handicapper at the time that I had held my own in one of the local club chaingangs (thats not to say I was to great, just maybe not a beginner with no base fitness). I was put in the middle group with club mate James Moore. I can only remember how good everyone looked around me and how much better they probably were, and how much experience the may have. I also remember all to well how envious I was of club mate Ollie Taylor being positioned closer to the front of the race. Its funny little things like that matter greatly at the time but it is very laughable now!

Setting off ,our group rode into the abyss and we did not see anyone else for the entire race. Apart from our chaingang which was slowed down by a horse box, but that was it. The scratch group were not seen either and the front groups came together with a huge gap between us and them. When I got to the finish I asked a friend how far it was, I don’t remember the exact time but it wasn’t a handful of seconds or even under minute from memory.

NCRA Naseby 2013. Myself pictured first and James Moore pictured fourth in line.

I was looking forward to the next race after that. It was held on the Middleton Circuit by Rockingham Forest Wheelers. This time the groups were much closer together and in greater numbers the further back you went. Everyone at the beginning thought it would come together. Me and Ollie were in the same group this time too! We caught the front of the race as we got closer to the finish and just as we were to head down the Ashley straight we were caught by two members of the scratch group, Ryan Henry who went on to win and Stephen Colbert. These are the only two people I can ever remember surviving the scratch group in the spring. It’s not easy at the back and they really must of put a shift in to catch us. Picking up 5th in a bunch sprint it was my first taste of a result! I was very happy!!

NCRA Round 2 at Middleton 2013. The group heading up Bringhurst Hill.

NCRA: Picture taken in Ashley heading down to Middleton. Ollie Taylor pictured behind me.

Following that the year was very up and down. A puncture at a rainy Darley Moor, a trip to Portugal followed by getting dropped around the bowl followed by a massive learning curve at Harby Hill where I bit off much more than I could chew in a race which had half the field were dropped on the first lap. The level was much lower back then between the better riders and less strong riders. Some were even dropped on the neutralised lap. I lasted 3 laps before calling it a day. Ironically success followed, picking up a 6th to gain enough points to get my 3rd Category Licence around Cranfield at the Andy Morrison Memorial Road Race.

After this there was a lay off where I went to Kuwait in May/June for 3 weeks on a work trip, bad for not spending any time on the bike, good for money as I could now afford a new bike, power meter (there is a story behind the power meter which may follow sometime in another post) and a bike fit.

Before I got the bike the only races I did were the Welland Valley Club Series around Bruntingthorpe, the Duncan Murray Road Races and the Leicester Forest CC Race.

The Leicester Forest Race gave me a chance to put right some of the things that went wrong in the season, especially Harby Hill, I wanted to prove to myself I could be at that level so I wanted to finish! Something I achieved.

After this, it was a rest, with just riding when I felt like it and getting myself ready to go onto the next year!!

One of the last races of my 2013 season at Bruntingthorpe in the Legendary WVCC Road Runner Series. Pictured here I had just attacked from the front going into the final lap. Holding out for 1/2 lap. I was caught before the finish where James Moore won the bunch sprint.


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