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A year in which the Dave Rayner Fund celebrated twenty years of vital work in style, Milton Keynes hosted a 'cross World Cup to rival any, and in which Tennessee hosted both Rouleur and the US national championships, brought some lasting memories to magazine editor Ian Cleverly.

US Nationals, Chattanooga

“Travel the world and meet people” beauty pageant contestants invariably replied when I was a lad to the question posed by some smarmy, ogling TV presenter. We get to do exactly that without parading in swimwear, which is a blessing for all concerned, and we are very lucky to be in that position.

Cyclist, Taylor Phinney, warming up on bike, next to team bus, red and black, BMC RacingRouleur wasn't the only visitor to Tennessee in May. Taylor Phinney enjoyed the riding in Chattanooga too, leaving with the US national time trial title. pic: Daniel Sharp

I’ve been all over the States in the last four years and it never ceases to amaze me in all sorts of ways. Chattanooga is a terrific town: a fine mix of down-at-heel but on the way back again and tasteful regeneration. The riding is great – everywhere I go in the US claims to have the best riding in the country, but Chattanooga is certainly up there – and the people are delightful. Southern hospitality is alive and well in Tennessee.

“Y’all come back now, y’hear?” Sure will.

Driving the opening stage, Tour de France in Yorkshire

What a day! Steering my Skoda through the throng between Leeds and Harrogate was exhilarating and terrifying in equal measure. The concentration needed trying to avoid running anyone over gave me a pounding headache by the time we reached the finish line, but those four hours will last forever. How DS’s deal with that pressure every day for three weeks is beyond me.

Yorkshire, peloton racing, uphill, huge crowds, camerasDriving through Yorkshire with the Tour: exhilarating and terrifying. pic: Offside-L'Equipe

To top off a crazy day, we witnessed the great John Cooper Clarke and friends live in Harrogate, including a brilliant cameo from Matt Stephens as the one-and-only Kenny van Vlaminck. Some say it was a boring Tour. That one day in Yorkshire was enough excitement to last for years.

Dave Rayner Dinner

Ashamed to say, this year was the first time I have attended the Rayner dinner. I’m not a big fan of cycling dinners – speeches and formality start to annoy when there’s good conversation to be had – but this was a blast.

Dave Rayner fund dinner, cyclists sat at tables, dim room, looking at stageThe Dave Rayner Fund dinner was a blast: a memorable evening to celebrate a noble cause. pic: Simon Wilkinson/SWpix.com

Great company, copious wine consumption (thanks to the Millars on both counts) and a few hours of post-dinner dancing in a suitably gritty Leeds club, followed by the ubiquitous kebab. That’s a great night out in anyone’s book.

Milton Keynes World Cup cyclo-cross

I’ve heard Helen Wyman, when asked what the appeal of ‘cross might be, reply that it’s a tight-knit family: the same few hundred people gathering all over mainland Europe every weekend throughout the winter.

Milton Keynes World Cup Cyclocross, red welcome bannerCampbell Park in Milton Keynes hosted a round of the 'cross World Cup to rival any

Milton Keynes was the UK version of Helen’s extended family: everybody I knew in the world of cyclo-cross gathered in a park, plus thousands more besides, to witness the best in the world smashing it on a brilliantly challenging course. I got to ride it the following day, which merely served to confirm how poor my skill level is and great the pros are.

Ashdown Forest

What started out as “let’s do three or four hours easy” ended up as over six hours in the saddle and the longest ride I’d done for over a year, since smashing my shoulder up last summer. 

It’s easy to forget that totally exhausted, yet satisfying, feeling after a big ride: collapsed on the sofa, incapable of moving, aching and glowing in equal measure. It’s a very welcome return. Here’s to more of the same in 2015.

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