By Joshua Lawless
For those of you that don’t know, I am racing professionally in Brittany in a small regional team (U.C.L.H.) courtesy of the John Ibbotson Fund that support and set this up on my behalf. We are just over the mid-point of the season and Steve said it would be a good idea for me to update everyone on what life is like over here and how my cycling is going.
The level of ability over here in France as compared to the racing scene back at home is on a different scale, over here I am just a decent Second category rider, whilst in Britain I’m a first/elite category rider. The races are so much more difficult as your average National B ranked event like the South-East Regional Champs are slightly less difficult or the same in difficulty as a 2/3 category race in France. Whilst in Britain you only have one step up in quality after that to National A ranked races, here in Brittany there are still another 2 higher ranked races after the 2/3 ones.
Cycling is definitely one of the major sports here, with closed roads, literally thousands at some of the bigger races and as many bike shops as there are football pitches; it’s truly amazing and I am a very lucky boy. Some of the fields have had over 200 competitors in them and going up some iconic hills like Plumelec really is spine-tingling as the crowd separates before you, the horns blast, the bells ring, the fags, the beer, the wine, banners across the roads, graffiti on the roads and lots of flags… The sensations manage to manifest themselves into getting every last ounce of suffering out of your body.
What’s really helped me settle are a number of factors; I’m on the same team as two other English boys, there are two others on the other team based in Hennebont, the majority of my team are really friendly and I live with a lovely woman called Marie who is my Team President’s Mother-in-Law.
A month ago I was diagnosed with tendonitis in my right knee and was given 2 options; either to race and not train at all and expect my recovery to take up to 3 months or sit on my bum and do nothing for 6 weeks. A very hard choice, but I went with the former as unfortunately if I want to achieve my dream of turning professional I need results to get on a bigger and better team.other team based in Hennebont, the majority of my team are really friendly and I live with a lovely woman called Marie who is my Team President’s Mother-in-Law.
During this period though and certainly since the arrival of my new bike, courtesy of Aprire, I have achieved some really consistent results; since the beginning of May I’ve got 9 top 20’s and 4 top 10’s so I’m really hoping that I manage to bag my first win soon, but I feel the lack of training, even just a little, is putting pay to this as I feel I’m just haven’t quite got the necessary edge to my performance.
Hopefully though the win will come soon and I will no doubt continue to enjoy my little odyssey out here, having said that I’m already beginning to plan my return to Blighty as well as what I might be doing this winter and next year. Then again I do love planning, I colour-code my spreadsheets even!
Read more about Josh’ experience out in France and his race achievements at his blog, Joshua Lawless Cycling.