Tuesday, 19 April 2011

The racing season starts!

So I have been back in the UK for nearly 3 weeks now; it was nice to be home at first but after successive days of grey sky, rain and just general  miserable englishness I was ready to pack my bags up again and head back down under! I was training in the same amount of kit as I wore back in December- 3 pairs of socks, 2 pairs of overshoes, 3 thermals etc etc and pass cyclists baring their pasty flesh in shorts and short sleeves lapping up the 12 degrees! Luckily this freak April heat wave has boosted the spirits!

My first race of the 2011 British season was the Cheshire Classic; I was pretty keen to make my mark early on in the season after a solid winter. I entered the Hogg Hill ELV women’s race last weekend for training and to get some speed into my legs before Cheshire. I tried to spice things up attacking from the start, which although being good prep for Cheshire did not land me with the win I was hoping for as Amy Roberts who had ridden a clever race kicked past me in the final metres. Nevertheless it was a good workout ahead of next weekend and I was awarded the ‘most aggressive rider’ award… great!! It made me feel like a winner!

After a week spent getting race sharp for Cheshire I felt psyched and looking forward to getting stuck into racing again alongside my new team mates (For VioRed). A massive thank you to Craig from Giant in Bristol for loaning me a top-notch speedy bike for the race! I managed to convince my parents that if I could travel 12,000 miles to the other side of the world without any major mishaps I was sufficiently mature and responsible enough to get myself to Cheshire. Just plug in the old sat nav and drive obediently, couldn’t for the life of me tell you how I got there! I decided it would be an excellent idea to purchase a portable hob from Argos and cook up my own grub in my hotel room to fuel up suitably before the race. So after checking out the course I took to heating up my supper, I wack the hob on max power… BAM milliseconds later I had successfully managed to trigger a powercut! I quickly hid the offending device and pots and pans, sprayed deodorant around the room to get rid of the turkey aroma and proceeded to plug in all the electrical devices I had brought with me (hair straighteners, hair dryer, laptop etc etc) to pass them off as the cause. Eventually they managed to fix it and I decided to risk using the small ring - I got my hot turkey and brown rice pasta in the end so it was all good!

It was cool to be lined up next to some big names like Rebecca Romero and Sarah Storey on the start line. The race went off pretty steadily but still managed to shell riders out the back, positioning on the climb was key as that was where potential breaks could get away. Meanwhile there were people puncturing left right and centre. Some clown had spilt tacks all over the road, whether this was deliberate who knows! On the dual carriage way section during the second lap there was a horrific crash involving a car clipping some riders.  The race had to be stopped for over 40 mins to allow ambulances onto the course to treat the injured riders. Eventually the race was restarted and I made sure to position myself right near the front to avoid any tumbles and made a point of avoiding wheels of bikes with saddle pouches and lights attached!

Despite trying to drive breaks that looked hopeful on over the hill there was enough of a downhill section for riders to chase back on so I resigned to the fact it was going to be decided in a bunch sprint.  I tried to position myself well for the final corner but lost a few wheels so had to go full gas right from the bottom to make up lost ground, sadly the line came too soon. Lucy Garner from Motorpoint took the victory, I don’t know where she came from but she had an impressive jump, Hannah Rich took 2nd with me in 3rd. Not the result I was after but that’s cycling! I had high hopes for the race to break up like last year which would have played more to my advantage, but with strong teams like Horizon and Motorpoint it was always going to be hard to get away particularly with the nature of the terrain. Congrats to the rest of the team, looking forward to implementing some team tactics in future races. Again really grateful to Giant Bristol for the bike, it probably made the difference between finishing on the podium and finishing nowhere!! Looking forward to my next race with the team this coming weekend- the GP Stad Roselare in Belgium a UCI 1.1 race, it is going to be tough!

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