As always it’s been a while since I got my act together and wrote a blog! It has been pretty hectic few months not helped by having to make some big decisions. So here’s what I’ve been up to since I last blogged… after racing in Czech we drove back to Belgium where Ella, Gaby and I stayed for the week. We raced the UCI 1.2 Dwars Doors De Westhoek race in West Flanders. It was typical Belgian carnage- cobbles, heaps of road furniture, brutal side winds and very narrow ‘bergs’. Positioning was going to make or break this race for me. I was gutted to see a strong break form on the first narrow climb, there was nothing I could do about it being poorly positioned in the bunch at the time. I tried to jump across but it was a tall order on my own in the strong cross winds. 5k from the finish I attacked off the front of the peloton and managed to bag my first UCI top 10. As much as I hate having to say this, it was a good experience just frustrating to miss the break that stuck when I had the legs!
From there we drove to Roubaix where we were put up in a hotel for a couple of days before embarking on our road trip to Limousin. 2 days spent watching French TV was enough to brush up on my broken AS French! From there we drove 8hrs to Limousin in France and spent the night in a grotty hotel in a very wet and miserable place in central France. After getting stuck into the hotel buffet we put our heads down in prep for the coming stages. After Czech I wasn’t expecting anything luxurious from our digs so was pleasantly surprised to find the rooms had blinds and the communal showers had curtains! I had learnt a key lesson in Czech; be wary about everything you put in your mouth! Lunch of pigeon and buttered macaroni (the canteen’s speciality) at 10am seemed like the kind of food you’d see again during a hard race, so my trusty hob came in handy! Stage 1 was rubbish, my positioning cost me a decent result, same old story. Stage 2 ITT- nothing spectacular but pleased that for once I felt like I had paced it well getting every last ounce of effort out of myself without blowing up too soon. Stage 3 was a hard and hilly one. It came down to a long uphill sprint on very tired legs, my kind of sprint! I managed to dig in and get 5th which I was really chuffed with and was a needed confidence boost! The final stage was a toughie, long draggy climbs not the short steep power climbs that I’m better suited to. When the hammer went down on the main climb of the day I didn’t have the legs to go with the pace. When the going gets tough you start to employ everything you can to distract yourself from the pain, whether it’s staring at the tyre in front counting to yourself, reciting motivational quotes or imagining how Wiggins or Contador would be able to dig even deeper! I often think about what an old French pro told me last year, ‘pour reussir au cyclisme vous devez aimer souffrir (to succeed in cycling you must enjoy suffering) Frustrating though when your legs won’t do what they are being asked to do! Nonetheless it was put down as (yet) another learning experience!
So from Limousin we drove through the night, boarded the ferry at 4am and arrived back in London at 7am! I arrived home shattered and happy not to see my bike for a couple of days. I was down to guest for a team in the Sparkassen Giro in Germany but unfortunately was unable to in the end so popped down to Cornwall with the extended fam for a few days. Training in Cornwall is good but there are some nasty coastal climbs with gradients of 38%! Riding up these you are literally lifting your front wheel off the ground to propel yourself forward (no big ringing heroics) and descending them is even worse as they are just about wide enough for a 4x4. Last year I was descending one in the rain, met a tractor that was hogging the entire road and had no choice but to take myself quietly out into the brambles! From Cornwall I went back to Belgium with my padre. I gave up in persuading my parents that I was a competent driver and more than capable of driving on the wrong side of the road. So Dad came with me to guide me in my right hand driving experience! After a few hours driving in Europe I had gained his respect as a safe driver; by leaving no less than 20 chevrons distance to the car in front and not venturing out of the slow lane. I can safely say I won’t be taking myself back to Europe on my own any time soon, for as soon as I exited the motorway I proceeded to opt for the left hand side of the road into an oncoming car! All respect lost.
I was fortunate to be guesting with the Dutch team Specialized DPD on the same team as Emma Crum, a kiwi who I rode with in the Tour of NZ. They were a really nice team and it was good to experience a different team setup. Unfortunately this race did not go well at all, won’t go into the details so yeah moving swiftly on from that one. So it was back home after that to try and work out why my legs weren’t outputting my usual wattage. After a few recovery days, I did a few efforts to see if I could hit some good numbers. I seemed to be over the bout of ‘overdoing it’ and decided that I would be up for racing in the final national women’s series of the season, the Essex Giro 2 day. I was the 2nd fastest time in the time trial which set me up ok for the stages to come. Stage 2 proved to be very tactical. Anna Fischer of Abus Nutrixxion got away very early on, so early on that the bunch was inclined to let her go. I had the legs to try and bridge the gap but I was marked and not allowed to do so which was very frustrating. So in the end the best I could do was win the bunch sprint. Hats off to Anna though for a very impressive solo win! I went into the final stage knowing that I had to do something drastic. But again I wasn’t allowed to get away.
I came away from the weekend feeling quite frustrated at how tactics had played a massive part. So on that note I decided to get my head down and do some time trialling. An event where there are zero tactics, the strongest rider wins! I managed to clock a 10 mile PB in Farnham. Getting stuck in traffic for 1hr, arriving 5 mins before my start time, and racing on a full bladder with no warm up and 60psi in my tyres is the key to going fast! Then today I raced in the Blenheim Palace 20k TT. It was an amazing event raced around the stunning grounds. I came 2nd to Sarah Storey who is a very classy time trialler.
So for now I have 4 days at home then I am off to the States to finish my season racing for the American pro team Colavita http://www.teamcolavita.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=page.display&page_id=31 which I am really excited about. I fly to Binghampton NY on the 25th where I will meet the team. I am really looking forward to getting a taste of American racing and ‘living the American dream’ haha. I will then fly home and start uni straight away (missing a couple of days of freshers!). So weird to be going to uni! I went on a little trip to Bath a few days ago to see what the training country is like; it’s so pretty but really hilly; my warm downs will consist of 1 mile at 12% back to campus. Such a cool, upmarket city, my kind of place!
Thanks for reading! xxx