Sometimes it means that little bit more to win…

Posted on Mar 11, 2016 in Athlete Blogs

Pete Nicholls Services National ChampionWhy would someone jump out of bed at 5.30am and drive themselves five hours up the motorway to race a Road Race in Gifford, Scotland?

I happen to be fortunate to be in a job I love; a Firefighter, a job with camaraderie, banter, wit and team spirit. I also love cycling with a passion. What better way to combine the two with like-minded people than at the Emergency Services National Road Race Championships.  Every year the Emergency Services come together for the National Road Race and battle it out. Firefighters verses Police and Ambulance staff. Held within the race is each individual services’ National Champs. As a cyclist and a firefighter, this is the one event I want to be part of every year no matter what. I’ve made some good friends and met some great people through such events.

The Fire Service National Champions Trophy has a special place within the Brigade. The Colin Townsley Trophy means so much to us all because of what it represents.  Colin Townsley was a keen cyclist and Sub Officer who gave his life selflessly in service during the King’s Cross Fire in 1984. The trophy was donated by his family and has been fought for every year since.

With the long journey behind me I took a nice stroll around Gifford and sat with a coffee contemplating the race before me. I had nothing to lose; I was here ready to race. 2015 had mainly consisted of time-trialling for me, so during the last twelve months I had only competed in one road race, which strangely helped me relax!  Enjoy the occasion and enjoy the lovely course was my approach mentally.

The plan was to attack with fellow firefighters Chris Smart and Gary Davidson once the legs in the bunch started to tire. Get the gap and fight it out for the podium places.

A lumpy, windy course was perfect for us to play this out.  With two laps to go, Chris punched off the front but did no more than string the bunch out.  Next, Gary had a pop and then myself, but nothing would stick. A quick look around and everyone was sat up blowing, it was now or never. I punched again and the gap came. I hovered, waiting for some help but I was on my own. Nineteen miles to go…what do I do? Remember that Trophy, you work for it, and that was that. I buried myself to the finish line, smiling from ear to ear for the last mile. Not until I crossed the line did I really believe I’d done it. Things then got even better as the next two riders over the crest to drop into the finish line were Chris Smart and Gary Davidson. They’d managed to break with a lap to go. A Fire Service 1,2,3 and the Fire Service Colin Townsley trophy taken with the overall win; just the way it should be! Group hug and job done, we had a plan, we executed it and achieved our goal as a team of three, no better feeling in sport!

Pete Nicholls