People often ask me what it’s like to be married to a Speedway Rider, and I was asked to write this article, so in brief, here goes ....
It’s exciting, exhilarating, dangerous, hectic, thrilling, overpowering, mind-blowing, sensational, stressful, overwhelming, demanding, tiring, intimidating, unnerving, fulfilling, rewarding, worrying, isolating, lonely, sacrificing and so much more ...
Every time Chris leaves our home to go racing and says goodbye, I always have a mixed bag of emotions. It’s not just as simple as good luck and see you tonight.
My head spins – will the children wake up tomorrow with daddy in one piece, will he arrive on time whilst I pop on my phone checking the traffic, will the meeting go ahead or will we have sacrificed precious family time for a rain-off, how am I going to juggle single parenting today – work, school, out of school activities, cooking, homework, how can I explain a different way (I’ve tried a million ways already) that daddy can’t come with us to a family celebration, or an event with friends, or their school play …
When he’s actually racing it’s tough to put into words and strangely, I feel more at ease when we are there with him because I can see everything in real time, and I can be there if he needs me. Sitting at home it’s not quite the same because a lot of the time it’s the unknown and the waiting patiently to hear from him - I try to keep myself distracted, but my stomach spins like a washing machine, and I have a habit of spinning my wedding ring or playing with my necklace which I guess is the anxiety kicking in.
There is always the worry of ‘the phone call’ but I try to keep up to date with updates, live streams etc and Chris will always try and reassure me all’s good by a quick text, a nod or a hand gesture so I know he’s good – you can’t always believe what you read on the updates let me tell you that.
We try to go and support Chris as much as we can - the kids absolutely love it and I’ve been a speedway fan since my first trip to Brandon at 3 weeks old. Amara-Mae & Cruz are often bombing around on bikes, or hanging out in the pits, or amusingly you might see Cruz mimic daddy’s start routine when the real racing starts – it’s like he’s in the race. They shout and cheer, and the little ones think the crashing is cool at this age, Mia-Faye however, is like me and takes in a gasp and waits to see if he’s ok. These memories and moments are so precious, I hope they cherish them all as they grow up, like I do.
There’s a whole lot to organise for Chris’s racing from ferries to flights, hotels, car parks, tickets, insurance, Brexit forms, entry forms and so much more ...
There are so many highs when Chris has good meetings and/or races as they say ‘Bomber doing Bomber things’ - my phone goes crazy from family, friends to fans far and wide. I have an overwhelming feeling of pride and I genuinely feel so happy for him, but also envious he’s living his dream. There’s also a feeling of sadness if we weren’t there supporting him and that we missed these moments.
There are some benefits/perks as people call it – invitations to places, awards nights, dinner dances and of course travelling the world and I can tell you I am grateful for all of it. From the kind words of the supporter’s club who are elated that we turned up, to standing on the Edge in a transparent glass cube at Melbourne Skydeck - my gratitude knows no bounds.
I have had the pleasure to meet so so many lovely, kind, funny people through this speedway life and I thank each and every single one of you and I am honoured to have made some lifelong friends. With the good always come the bad – but we won’t give those people the time of day in this article.
There have been some real lows, and some horrible dark times - when Chris has been in a rut with bike problems, the people around him, low confidence, or struggled with injury and that’s when you realise who’s got your back and who your real friends are. Let me tell you – that hurts, but it’s life and you learn your lessons.
With Chris away so much it can be really lonely, all of our family live in Cornwall or far away so I feel very isolated especially when the children are in bed. Life for me is impossible through the speedway season, I can’t just pop out for a coffee with a friend or go on a works do because we don’t have a support network / childcare for our children.
I have my own career, currently in the midst of my 24th year working for JaguarLandRover so there is a lot of juggling to do, I am very much a believer of earning my money and I pride myself on my work hard ethic.
I have sacrificed so much of my life, my time, my dreams, my goals so that Chris can continue to follow his. Some days I feel angry, envious, frustrated, and wonder what if ….
But after all of that and so much more, I can hand on heart tell you that I wouldn’t change it for the world – watching Chris do what he does, the sparkle in his eye, and the happiness and excitement he brings – it makes my heart and soul happy.
Seeing someone you love living their dream and thriving is just a feeling that you cannot put into words, it’s just everything and more.