On the Sunday journey back to Wales, sitting in the van with Paul, Graham and Kevin, plenty of time to reflect on the event, the team and individual performances. Some good discussion, especially with the increasing awareness that it is really a team event. With people lending bikes, (the Stanton CZ to me, the Husqvarna to Geoff Taylor for example), helping with mechanical issues and generally ensure that everyone made their race, there was a great team atmosphere, which is as much as the experience of riding the race is. It was a great track and similar to what British teams would expect and it probably not something that would be found at continental events.
The Welsh team, its organisers and riders are still very much on the learning curve, so the 2nd place for the 30+ and 3rd place for the 70+ team were very much a bonus. Fast, consistent riding from the Wales A team counted where the competition (in Northern Ireland and England-2) didn’t quite match the performance. On paper, England-2 should have got 2nd place but DNFs put them out of the picture. Rider fitness is also important as a 20 or 15 minute race isn’t easy on any track.
But it’s the right spirit for a Welsh team, picking people who want to be part of the team and not just ride for themselves and giving people to ride at event like no other in the calendar, so even without the trophies that is what has been achieved. Like both Northern Ireland and Scotland, Wales doesn’t have a large pool of riders to select from, but the aim will be have people participate and should see it as an opportunity to represent their country.
The move to pre74 bikes opens up the number of available riders, though the commitment of travelling to Denmark for 2017 and then the Czech Republic for 2018 is significant, both in terms of cost and time. However, for me and others, riding for or watching a Welsh national team is well worth the effort and it is something that is great to be a part of.