Virtual Motavation 1 Report by Graham Bridges

Back in the day…

For the first Motavation of the season, a convoy of ERR cars would travel to Charlton on Otmoor on a Thursday evening, park in the field, clamber through the gap in the hedge that I don’t think you were supposed to go through, before meeting various club members or friends from other clubs who you perhaps hadn’t seen since the previous summer. Having established that it was far too cold/wet/miserable for the first race of a summer, we would leave our bags in a pile in front of the pavilion, wonder about getting everyone together for a team photo, realise that we really should have thought about that earlier and that it would have to wait until Bletchingdon, before going on a warm-up lap or two of the fields.

We would be summoned back by the fruity tones of Michael Collins saying “10 minutes” (or was it Andy Creasey impersonating Michael Collins?), and then gather in the starting pens while trying to see if any rivals had stolen a few yards already. Michael would then make his speech welcoming us to a new season (possibly, I’ve never actually heard what he says), and we would move onto the road through the village for the start. Having been cheered on by some local residents, and sneered at by the odd impatient driver, after about a mile I would realise that I had set off far too quickly and would never maintain that pace, or that I was too far back in the field and really shouldn’t have messed about in the early stages. With either of these tactical errors behind me, I would finish in about the same place as I always finish, and in about the same time. After congratulating those who finished before me (“Well done Robert/Mark/various others…”), we would cheer in our remaining clubmates, who generally seemed to smile more the further back they were in the field.

Bags emptied of warm clothes, we would ignore the presentation ceremony and head to the Red Lion in Islip for a hearty, if not altogether healthy, combination of chips, crisps and beer, along with a discussion about tonight’s race, and how it wasn’t like the old days (don’t you just hate people who always go on about that?). By the time we got home it would be too late to cook anything worthwhile, so I would generally add to the health food intake to round off the evening.

This year I ran flat out along Burleigh Road out and back, before coming home to add it to Strava and the VOCC website. Although I was pleased with my time and ERR’s 2nd place in the virtual club challenge, it seemed to lack a certain something.