"Who is that over there talking to Sally Gunnell?" is something I've never heard said at a dinner party before, and it made me snort like a pig.
I had previously always sworn that the only way I'd go back to London would be to watch Plymouth Argyle play at Wembley or pick up our OBEs. But the opportunity to represent the wonderful Pilgrim Flyers and drink our weight in free champagne was too good to miss.
The initial phone call invite was so out of the blue, and the subsequent lack of contact so suspicious, that we started to think that it was some sort of bizarre hoax. On the train down to London, I still wondered if we were heading towards the UK Hunger Games; two unsuspecting numpties from each of the provinces enticed down to the capital to fight to the death in front of Judy Murray. Luckily, it was the real deal, we were housed in Hilton's finest Travelodge rip-off on Hyde Park, welcomed with a bottle of bubbly and free umbrella (useful when you come from Devon), and treated to a glacial speed taxi ride to the Grosevnor to remind us why we live in Devon.
After being ignored by the autograph hunters and snubbed by the paparazzi, we broke the World Record for the fastest crossing of a red carpet. The carpet is clearly designed to automatically repel anyone who hasn't been in Hello magazine, and we went up it like we'd been fired out of a cannon. Luckily for us, but not for anyone else, it meant that we were first to hit the free booze, and assuming we were just there as rent-a-crowd, proceeded towards alcohol poisoning and incoherence.
Once seated at our table, the traditional game of 'What's His Name?' started among us non-celebs, not helped by the fact that we were all rubbish at remembering names, the famous faces there present were B-list at best, and our brain cells were being rapidly pickled. Remember, we were just there as fodder, to politely applaud when the eventual winners were announced and then head off to find the nearest Wetherspoons and so avoiding spending £40 on a £5 bottle of wine. Dirty robbing Londoners.
When the Pilgrims were announced as winners of Grassroots Club of the Year, my stomach lurched. The reality of having to climb on to the stage and be interviewed hit home and images of Oliver Reed on the Russell Harty show flashed through my head. Maddie had made herself comfortable and taken her shoes off, but we eventually ambled up the steps to collect the trophy and garble some nonsense at a bemused gaggle of celebs. A swift round of backstage photos and interviews followed which made me wonder why they didn't just stick us all on roller skates and push us round to where they wanted us.
And on the evening went; we met some really nice 'grass-roots' people and some really rude 'celebs' who proceeded to talk loudly and play with their phones through most of the awards. (Kudos to Maddie who went over to tell them to 'shut up') The after-party turned out to be an opportunity to sell us massively expensive bottles of beer, and nowhere near as exciting as I thought it would be, given the presence of a load of footballers. Where's Wayne Rooney when you need him?
The magnesium flare of moments like this has thankfully burned out and we can get back to the important job of buggering about on bikes with a bunch of crazy kids. We are so proud of being part of the Pilgrim Flyers, but as the Wonder Stuff said, we're 'just two legs of the Groove Machine'. The award and the credit belongs to everyone who has abandoned the traditional cyclist "what's in it for me?" attitude and given their time for the club - the coaches, riders, parents and the vast amount of people who have had a positive influence on what we do.
Next up is our club Christmas Bash at Newnham Park. The rider who gets voted the Flyers' Flyer of the Year will get to take home the Pride of Sport trophy, and have their mother polish it. The coaches get to finish off the remaining bottle of bubbly, so everyone's a winner.