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open this if you're not in France next year...
Into the time capsule we go for a peek into my head in summer 2020
2023 Joe’s Note:
I wrote this article in the summer of 2020 while living and racing in France. It wasn’t just my first time living out of the country, it was my first time living away from home. I laughed, I learned and I cried. There’s so so much that I could write about that year.
I remember writing this and titling it “Open this if you’re not in France next year”. A year later, I found it while living in Girona. It’s only now that, for some reason, I felt I could/should publish it.
This was written as a second year U23 and I look back now with a smile. At the time, it was anything but. Around a week after I wrote this, I remember calling my parents in tears that the dream could be over, but that’s a story for another day.
There are so many things in this piece that I can still relate to, but I also know that this a much younger, less mature Joe writing this. Enjoy, and please let me know if you want more “from the archives”, I’ve got thousands and thousands of words that nobody apart from me has ever seen.
Open this if you're not in France next year...
If this article ever sees the light of day, hello reader. If not then Hi, future Joe, how’s life? If you’re reading this article, it means that my life is on the move. Where? As I write this, I simply don’t know.
I’m writing this on August 19th, 2020. We’re in coronavirus times. Some say it’s all over, others say the second wave will be worse. Who knows?
Today has been one of those days that will be committed to the memory for a long time. I headed out to the Col du Grand Colombier with Dave ‘Shoddy’ Everett, to film a video about Stage 15 of the Tour de France. Roglic is going to win the Tour. [2023 Joe: Roglic did not win the Tour, but I was oh so close with that prediction]
Rolling out from my apartment in La Motte-Servolex at 8am, I put a decent two-hour loop in before meeting Shoddy. I’m greeted with a smile, and his distinguishable northern accent. It’s rare that I spend much time with fellow Brits out here, and it’s bloody good to catch-up and have a natter with someone who you can relate to.
Pain-au-choc consumed, it’s time to head up the Grand Colombier. A true bitch of a climb with some of the most beautiful views in the world. The first 4 km is littered with U-Turns as Shoddy asks for ‘‘one-more’’ take.
As the kilometres pass, the road opens to the right. We’re met with a view which could be sold on postcards around the world. Clear blue skies and a collection of mountains. The snow-capped Mont Blanc shining in the August sun like a jewel.
On one corner, a message pops up on my Garmin. It’s from a team that I’m in talks with for next season. I’ve waited for a reply for days. I hate this time of year. The transfer merry-go-round happens at all levels of cycling. It’s just at my level, there’s much less (no) money involved.
The text I read excites me and unnerves me. It’s a team I want to join, for sure. They say they’ll be in contact next week. Writing this now, I don’t know if that’s true, or if they’re just fobbing me off. That one text got my mind racing. [2023 Joe: I didn’t sign for this team, in fact that was one of the last texts that I received from them.]
On the side of this Alpine climb, I’m living the dream. Riding up a Col, in the famous brown shorts of the AG2R Team. The dream from the outside, isn’t always the dream it seems.
I roll back into La Motte-Servolex with just over 5hrs40 on my Garmin. A good day at the office. A trip to the boulangerie for a light lunch follows, before heading back up to the apartment. My mind returns to the text I received earlier. I checked this team’s Instagram page for the 10th time this week, imagining myself in their colours. Who knows…
I’m writing this at 21:32, on the same day. I don’t really know why. I suppose it’s a diary of sorts. Sitting here now, I don’t know where I’ll be living next year. Will I be back in France, or will I be on another adventure, in another country? The world of cycling is amazing, but it messes with your bloody mind.
The video Dave made that day. RIP CyclingTips, kind of gone but not forgotten💔
While you’re here…
I’ve added both paid subscription and a ‘Buy Me A Coffee’ link to this post. As the year progresses, I’m planning on building this blog and putting out articles which I’ve always wanted to write but for whatever reason, haven’t wanted to pitch.
Any money that I make from either my Substack, or BMC link will go straight back into supporting my 2023 racing project. I am planning on keeping all content on here free to view though!
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