Wednesday, 31 July 2013

British Junior RR Champs

This weekend I travelled back to Yorkshire for the Rydale GP which incorporated the British Junior Road Race Champs. The race started at Ampleforth Abbey and was on a challenging course to say the least. Our race consisted of 2 big laps and 1 small lap and with 3 climbs on the big lap and 2 on the small lap.. it was gonna be a lot of climbing! This was exactly what I'd expected though and had prepared for it in the build up to the race. Over the previous weeks I had seen my climbing improve, I was very happy with it at Essex especially and was looking forward to the champs, hopeful of a good result.

In preride the day before my legs didn't feel great, they felt very heavy and not "pinging" as I was hoping they would be. When the legs feel that way it either means you've had too much rest and your legs need waking up or you've done too much training and you're just tired. Seen as theres nothing can be done about being tired the day before the race I just had to hope the legs would wake up after a bit of hard riding and some sprints.

So to race morning, I'd done all I could do, all that was left was to ride my hardest. After a bit of a strange roll out and long neutralised section we were racing and pretty much immediately into the first hill, I followed the other juniors and managed to hold position all the way up, not without a bit of suffering though. Riding to the next hill I just felt terrible, literally my whole body just felt tired and weak, I knew it wasn't my day but I still tired my best to hang on up the next hill. This one was steeper and I got distanced, I managed to chase back on on the descent but lost the wheels again up the next hill. After this one I benefited from the chasing of Matrix Fitness as they tried to pace Mel Lowther back to the bunch, again we made it back but only just before the next climb. This climb was one too many, the gap was too big and although I could see the bunch for quite a while I just didn't have the power to get across. This left me in a small bunch behind with 3 other juniors, knowing that the front bunch was pretty much out of reach I concentrated on getting the best position I could from the bunch I was in. This meant I attacked over the top of the last climb on the last lap, on the flat I put the power down, managing to open up a gap with 2 other senior women. I was happy to do a lot of the work to keep away from the bunch behind which we managed to do for me to take 4th Junior.

Yup that hurt.

It has to be one of the hardest races I've done and I know I gave it my best shot, but equally I know my legs were nothing like at their best. This was confirmed the next morning when I woke up feeling like I'd been hit by a train, my body was a bit of a wreck so I think that confirms the reason my legs were feeling rubbish was because they were tired. But looking ahead a few days off and I'll be recovered and we now know my limits and what kind of taper doesn't work for me in the lead up to a big race. I've now got the Stafford GP to look forward to next Friday and then the British Junior Track Champs from the 14th - 17th August, but currently I'm enjoying a few days off and eating what I want for once! Thanks again to Huw Williams for the photos.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

British Crit Champs

Last weekend I headed to York for the British Crit Champs, I was quite looking forward to the race, there was no pressure or expectations and I was very up for just attacking the race. After preriding the course I had very little hopes of actually managing to get a break away to stick, it was very flat and although there was some cobbles I didn't think they were enough to force a split. But anyway that didn't change the game plan, I was going to try my best to get away.

From the start I was up near the front just eager to attack, but I knew it was better to wait a few laps, soon Louise Mahe of Mulebar girls attacked and with no one taking up the chase for about half a lap I decided to go after her, unfortunately just as I got close we rounded a corner to find the race had been stopped due to a crash on the previous lap. This meant we all rolled round to the start for a restart. From the restart I found myself much further back than I would've liked but I worked my way up to the front and got there just before the tightest corner on the circuit which I knew I could go round well, so I decided to go for it, I knew it was super early in the race but worth a shot. I very, very nearly came off at the corner, just managing to save it before I went into the barriers. But it worked and I nailed myself for a whole lap, luckily Hayley Edwards of MG-Maxifuel had come with me and worked together for a few laps till Amy Hill of Abergavenny came across. Amy was really strong and put the power down when she hit the front which had me hanging on and meant Hayley got distanced. Then it was just me and Amy for a bit, I had no idea how close the bunch was behind us but watching it on the TV they actually came pretty close to catching. What really helped us away though was first Eileen Roe and Katie Archibald coming across and really upping the speed then Hannah Barnes making it across too. This meant some serious speed and at points I was suffering to just hang on, I think the initial effort to get away took a lot out of me! Soon it was 10 laps to go and we were still working well together, I still had no idea of the gap but at 5 to go the commentator said that it was 58 seconds. We were away and clear, baring disaster I was guaranteed 5th! And in the end I just didn't have the legs at the end and had to settle for 5th, but still really happy in my first Senior Championships on the road. A very hard day out on the bike though with effectively flat out for an hour!

Attacking to start the winning break
Had my new Oakleys on for the first time in the race as well and would like to say a big thanks to The Tri Centre, Field and Lawn Marqees and Edinburgh RC for them.

Highlights of the race were on ITV4 during the week and you can watch them on ITV player here:

This weekend I'm off to Yorkshire again for the British Junior Road Race cha
mps at Ampleforth, its a very hilly course but I will be giving it my best shot.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Oakley Village Races, Guildford Crits and Essex Giro

I was writing my last post on the road south for a 10 day trip down south. I'm now home so heres an update of how I got on in all the races, I've also added a load of photos from the past few weeks at the bottom, thanks very much to Huw Williams for taking most of them!

After Otley I had a day off as we were travelling south to the Travel Lodge at Gatwick Airport which was my new home for the next week and a bit, then on Saturday we head north to Oakley for the Womens Team Series where I would be guesting for Team ASL360 again. It was a boiling hot day and it only got hotter throughout the race, the race was 6 laps of a very flat course, with primes at the end of laps 2 and 4. There was plenty of attacks but the nature of the course didn't make it very easy to get away, I tried myself after the first prime lap but got nowhere so decided it was better to bide my time in the bunch. When we came round for the second prime I made sure to stay up in a good position and as 4 women came round the side of the bunch I managed to accelerate onto their wheels and come round them at just the right time to take the prime, I was pretty surprised at that seen as I don't consider myself that good a sprinter! So it all came down to the final sprint after a tense last 2 laps where I was more concerned about staying on my bike than anything else at there was at least 2 crashes. At the end my team mate Dani attacked with about 1km to go and was looking really strong just in front of the bunch. At this point I was on the wheel of Hannah Barnes, perfectly positioned, or so I thought, however due to Dani being out front Hannah decided to start her sprint very early. I couldn't quite hold her wheel in the initial acceleration leaving me between the front 2 and the bunch just burying myself to get to the line, 2 girls from Matrix Fitness came past me but I managed to stay ahead of the rest of the bunch for 5th. I also picked up the prize for first junior which I was pretty happy with!

Straight after the race we were off to Birmingham for the Dudley track meet the next day. Having not raced the track in a good 2 months I was severely struggling to find my track legs. The fact that the first event in the omnium was a 400m TT didn't really help either, not something I'm very good at! So first event wasn't the best, then in the points race I got 3 points to finish 6th, in the sprint I wasn't last (happy with that!), pursuit I was 6th again. Then came the final event, the scratch, 20 laps to leave it all on the track and finish the day on a high. So I attacked and attacked till I got away, then I just put my head down. Seeing I still had 11 laps to go I knew this was not going to be the most fun! But the bunch had sat up and soon I had half a lap, then a bit more, every time the bunch swung up the track I got a bit closer and eventually managed to lap them. I then just sat in the bunch to take the win, very nice way to end the day!

On the cobbles at Guildford
We then had one easy day before racing Hillingdon weekly races on Tuesday night, we were racing with the 4th cat men so it was just for training effect but I got in a few moves but nothing stuck and I was out of it at the end. Anyway the next day was more important, we were off to Guildford for the town centre crits where Joanna Rowsell would be racing. The course included a uphill cobbles section which was just perfect for me, I really like the cobbles because you have to be really strong to get over them. From the off Jo Rowsell was away, I was straight onto her wheel and surprised myself managing to hold it. We were soon joined by Hannah Barnes and then Alexie Shaw, I was taking my turn and I knew we were getting away from the rest of the field which was just in pieces I think. I stuck with the 3 till about half way through when Jo Rowsell put in an attack on the cobbles which I just couldn't follow. So I was on my own but I just kept going and kept ahead of the small bunch behind me to take 4th, but it was very, very tough for a 25 minute race!

Start line at Guildford
On the climb at Essex

After this the road home was in sight, just 2 more nights at Gatwick Airport then I would move to Stansted Airport for the Essex Giro at the weekend. This started with an 11km TT which was on a rolling course, I struggled to find my rhythm for the first half but got into it and managed to catch the girl in front of me and take 9th place. Next up was a kermesse over 8 laps of a tough course with a hill on a single track road. I did my best to be at the front of the bunch for the start of the climb every lap and found I was climbing quite well. There was some breaks away but everything got brought back on the fast descent. It all came down to the last lap up the hill, I didn't quite have the legs to go for the win but I managed to stick with the front group which I was happy with. The next day was a long road race, the longest I've ever done at 128km. Luckily it was on a slightly flatter course so the race went quickly. An unfortunate crash meant the race had to be stopped for 40 minutes as ambulances were brought in, I think everyone involved was ok though. After this the race was shortened by a lap to 110km, there was a break away in the early part of the race but was brought back and the race was all together for the final lap. I managed to maintain a good position but was just on the wrong side for the final corner so couldn't find a way out and finished 6th. This left me in 9th overall which I was happy with.

Next up I've got the British Crit Champs this Sunday before the British Junior Road Race Champs the week after, will keep this updated with how I get on!
Ahead at Woking
Thanks for reading.
On the attack at Woking

Podium for most combative rider at Woking

London Nocturne
Aylsham in the pouring rain

Time Trial at Surf n Turf
Time Trial at Surf n Turf

Attacking in the crit at Surf n Turf

In a break at Surf n Turf
Off the start line at Otley
Front of the race at Otley
Front of the group at Surf n Turf

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Update on Past 2 Weeks

It's been a few weeks since I've got round to updating the blog so I thought I'd just do a quick summary of the past few weeks. Unfortunately I'm on the road again so no pictures for now! 

So my last post was after the Woking tour series, next up on the Thursday was the tour series at Aylsham and we were greeted with pouring rain, it had to be some of the worst rain I've raced in. When it was at its heaviest it was actually hard to see! Naturally the slippy roads made for a lot of crashes, including me unfortunately. I stuck with the main bunch for the whole race until I crashed with 3 to go, I was pretty gutted especially as I'd managed to score some points at both the sprint laps so I think I was going well for the sprint. But the crowds were amazing, cheering when I got up and then again on the last few laps when I was on my own.

The next day was a long drive over to Preston as I was racing the Surf and Turf stage race at the weekend. The race consisted of a 1 km TT, a crit and a road race. I did a good time in the TT coming in 9th. In the crit I was up the front the whole race and took 5th in the sprint, although I wasn't helped by a tail wind up the finishing straight which meant I was at the top of my junior gears.

Next day was the road race and despite attacking and riding across to attacks for most of the second half of the race nothing was sticking and it came down to a sprint where I unfortunately mistook the 200 m to go sign for the finish.. So blew up a bit! But managed to keep 9th on GC. 

After being away for so long and a lot of racing I had a really easy week, with just a few days on the bike. After this I was really looking forward to getting back into some good, hard training. So that brings me to last weekend where I was doing the Curlew Cup race, near to Newcastle. It was my first race in 2 weeks so I was pretty excited and ready to go. My legs were suffering a bit but I tried to get in a few moves, unfortunately completely missed the one that stuck but you can't go with every attack! So I was in the bunch and would be contesting for 6th place.. I knew if I waited for the sprint I wasn't going to get 6th, there was quite a few good sprinters in the bunch, so I went for it with 1km to go, I got a gap and basically nailed myself to try and hold off the bunch.. Unfortunately it didn't work and I got caught with 200m to go, of course my legs were now dead so I rolled in 37th, but worth a shot!

Finally I was in Otley last night for the crit racing, this is the first year they've run a women's race and it was a great atmosphere with big crowds, so thanks very much to the organisers for putting the women's race on! I had raced the youth race on the same course 2 years ago and had horrible memories of the hill, having done a few practice laps it didn't seem so bad though. Throughout the race I kept up near the front and kept an eye on Elinor Barker and Hannah Barnes who were probably the 2 strongest riders, a couple of times they would open a gap that I managed to bridge only for the bunch to follow a few seconds later which was a bit gutting! In the end it came down to a sprint, I was in a good position coming into the descent but lost a few places before the final corner and ended up 5th. I am happy with that but I do have this constant feeling of wanting to do better!

So now I'm on the road south for a 10 day trip starting with the women's team series at Oakley on Saturday followed by the Dudley women's omnium round on Sunday and town centre crits in Guildford on Wednesday before the Essex Giro 2 day next weekend. Lots of racing, I will try to do a bit of an update between races!

Thanks for reading!