Sunday, 8 May 2011

Racing in Belgium, Bedford and Clitheroe!

Right bit of a catch up update been a bit slack recently! Firstly Belgium… I travelled out to Roeselare for the UCI 1.1 ranked race with all the world’s best competing on Easter day with the team (For VioRed) in the trusty Tiger Tours van. After an overnight stop on the French border somewhere, and eating the hotel out of food at the buffet breakfast we drove to Belgium. It was pissing it down so we were all slightly anxious about the prospect of tackling the brutal 25% cobbled climb in the rain! Luckily the sun came out in time to dry up the course and it ended up being a scorcher of a day! I learnt a very important lesson about bike racing in Belgium, you can’t just rock up to the start line 5 mins before the race is scheduled to start and push your way to the front. No, you need to start lining up at least an hour before to ensure prime position. I was destined for a bad race lining myself up towards the back of a field of 200 riders, because once the race starts its just chaos and so hard to move up the bunch. The race was crazy with riders hopping onto pavements and over roundabouts left right and centre just to try and move up.  I was in a rubbish position coming into the first major climb and got stuck practically track standing behind someone whose chain had come off, a gap opened and I changed down a gear then my chain came off so I succumbed to running up the climb along with many others. From then on it was game over really that climb had split the peloton. Really disappointing but another learning experience at the end of the day! In the end I think about 20-30 riders finished! The rest of my team mates hadn't had much better luck, getting pushed into nettles and puncturing!

Right onto the Bedford  2 Day… we all travelled up the day before to cram in some last minute TTT practice in preparation for stage 1. It was great to be kitted out with our long awaited new team kit! Then it was back to Premier Inn for the night where I was lucky enough to be sharing a double bed with Curley in a disabled room!! Little did she know what she was in for when I kicked her in my sleep! I managed to successfully cook my supper on my portable hob this time without triggering a power cut. It was quite comical sneaking my prepared meal into the restaurant to eat with rest of the team and hiding behind the menus! I was glad to not have to eat the restaurant food after Ro ordered roast chicken and it came to her still partially frozen! The waiter proceeded to test it by sticking his finger into it to check. It caused a bit of an uproar when he brought back the same chicken with his finger hole mark!

We came 2nd in stage 1, the TTT losing out to Horizon in the second half despite being 20 seconds up on them. This was a bit of a blow but they did have all the TT gear and were well drilled after a training camp in Italy. It was fab to have Jody as our team masseur to aid recovery in between stages which really helped. Stage 2 was a bit hairy at times; I think everyone was quite nervous after the way the last team series race panned out! I was keen to get away and made a few attempts to do so. In the end it came down to the usual team series bunch sprint. After a bit of a miscommunication about lead outs for the sprint I stupidly ended up spending the last 10k or so on the front so didn’t have the legs for the sprint and finished 5th but managing to make up some time on GC by going for hill primes. The next day started with a 7k TT, I had big hopes for this after finishing second and not far off Sarah Storey last year. It wasn’t to be though; it turned out to be a bit of a shocker. Needless to say it was enough to move me up to 3rd on GC. The final stage was a bit more exciting, it was laps of the Millbrook course which is where they test all the cars out for top gear! It had a decent climb so I was hoping the race would break up. I had to make up 15 seconds to finish second so that was my goal for the race. In hindsight I rode like an idiot making it as hard for myself as possible, failing to accept the fact that despite the fact a break of about 4 of us would get away on the climb we would get caught on the flat sections, I stupidly kept trying. In the end it came down to a sprint which was so frustrating, suddenly all these riders that I hadn’t seen all race made an appearance! So I ended up finishing 3rd, which wasn’t the result I wanted!

Yesterday was the second round of the National Women’s Series up in Clitheroe Lancashire. After some last minute bike chaos which left me bike less and an expensive trip to the bike shop later I had a new road bike (massively grateful to AW Cycles)! I had a quick spin on it to try and get my head round the SRAM gears then headed up north to Lancashire at snail’s pace thanks to the Friday evening traffic! I stayed with some family friends of ours just a few miles from the course which was a nice break from the usual Premier Inn! My aim for the race was to save my legs as much as possible and see if I had the patience to just roll around and wait for the inevitable bunch sprint (pretty negative but that was how the race was going to be won!) The course was so rubbish it was such a shame, the organisers had done well to find a pan flat course in an area where big hill ranges loom from everywhere. Apparently someone questioned the organiser as to why the women didn’t get to use the hilly men’s course, by which they replied ‘because you are women’!! Shocking!! I couldn’t resist having one little attack when I saw Rebecca Romero move to the front; surely the Olympic Champion could make a break stay away! So I just rolled around in the bunch in the rain for 12 laps just biding my time for the sprint and avoiding crashes on the slippery corners.  As far as I am concerned the race could have been over 2 laps and it would have had the same outcome! I jostled for position coming off the final corner and then got shoved out a bit, luckily a gap opened and I just beasted it full gas to make up the lost ground. Again the line came too soon and I finished 3rd… again!! Story of my life!! Not a very satisfying race to say the least! Managed to cram in a cheeky shopping trip to the Trafford Centre with my old chum Imy to make the 5 hour road trip worthwhile!

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