Iona at Peterborough Crit

Iona at Peterborough Crit

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Surrey League RR, Henfold Hill

"To race or not to race?" Again, the same old question was playing on my mind. After a very tiring run of six shifts, working in A+E, I was absolutely shattered... but I'd been given the day off to race and so really ought to race! Steve agreed that I should go for it and described the course as "a bit up and down" (but failed to mention the 17% climb!!)

Thankfully the traffic on the M25 wasn't too bad and I arrived at the HQ in time, albeit rather frazzled. I had planned to ride the course beforehand but Garmin failed to navigate onto the course and instead I ended up riding up and down a busy dual carriageway!

It was a scorching hot day - 30C according to Garmin - it certainly felt like it. I was struggling to get enough fluid down and my body just didn't want to work hard!

The race was 45 miles - 5.5 laps of an undulating circuit with 3 climbs on each lap, including the 17% section. It was a fairly small field - 21 in total - as the Hillingdon GP was taking place on the same day and had attracted most riders.

I had underestimated this race! Attacks came thick and fast, the pace remained high over the climbs and despite the small field, there was some serious racing going on! I was struggling in the heat and just didn't have the legs today... There were a few moments when I thought I had ended up in a break that was going to stick but the bunch was working well together and no one managed to get away for much more than half a mile.

On the final lap, I managed to position myself well for the climbs and going into the final corners, setting myself up for the sprint. (I'm really not a sprinter!) I was really pleased to finish in 6th place overall, despite the heat, feeling exhausted and heavy legs.

Steve was also pleased and asked me whether I would have raced if he'd told me there was a 17% climb on each lap of the course...!!


Sunday, 20 May 2012

Iona crowned Yorkshire Regional Road Race Champion!

Yorkshire Regional Road Race Championships.

Love only having a 13 mile drive from home this morning! 

This circuit is a tough one with the Elite men completing 8 laps and 8 times up the hill known as Bulmer Bank!  Luckily for me I only have to make the ascent 3 times!
So the girls (all 5 of us) are to race with the junior men and masters (or at least try to!) 

This part is the absolute joke, as if you look at the numbers of girls other regions get for a regional race then today's race is ridiculous!  It's a hang on to the juniors wheels for as long as you possibly can, and hope you don't get caught from behind by the men who have been dropped, who then drag the other girls back up to you!  If you made it a women's only race we wouldn't be short of entries!

This was going to be hard!  I rode this circuit 3 years ago, and back then it was only my second ever road race, and it wasn't very good, so I was hoping for better today, one good point was the lack of rain this time!

Form the the start the juniors set the pace high.  It's about a mile to Bulmer Bank from the start line.  I was too close to the front from the start and I was struggling to find a wheel to follow as the bunch was being strung out!

We reached Bulmer, now this is where it was make or break!  I was hoping not to be left in no man's land this year, and stay with the main field for longer or at least to have a group to ride with!
There's a fast descent straight into the climb of Bulmer Bank, and the hill kicks to the left on the bend and gets steeper! 

The men pulled away after I lost the momentum I had got from the descent.  I got to the left hand kick on the climb where it ramps up, and it was just get up at your own pace by then!  I glanced to my left and saw one of the other girls, she came past me out of the bend and I sat on her wheel until over the top of the worst of the climb.  Then it starts to level out a little, and we worked together to drag ourselves back onto the main bunch!

By the time we entered Terrington Village, half way around the first lap, the bunch was strung out again, and I was also hoping that I was now the last girl still hanging on, and it was exactly that, Hanging on!  Luckily the pace slowed and I managed to stay with it. 

Now for the 50mph descent of Terrington Bank! (although for me more like 40mph.)  I had all on trying to hold my bike steady, as the bunch tried to avoid on coming cars on the opposite side of road, coming up the hill, as well a negotiate the rough road surface on the inside of the descent!  As you hit the flat at the bottom of the descent, I was spinning out at the back of the bunch, trying to maintain contact!

I was off the back and in the cars, but thankfully Mark Barry (neutral service) got me back up to the bunch for the start of the second lap!  We went up the nasty drag of a finishing hill, through the start finish area, and started our approach to Bulmer Bank again!  By this time i was losing contact with the main field and this time up Bulmer I didn't make it back onto the main bunch.

It's lap 2  and after being dropped on Bulmer I can see a CrossTrack rider ahead, I'm gaining ground on him.  By Terrington I catch him on the drag through the village.  I carry on but he doesn't come with me, but he later catches me back up, and helps me out on the flat.  For which I'm very grateful, as I'm all too aware that I'm in no man's land with no help of a bunch, and behind is the only other girl I saw manage to get back onto the bunch, and I bet that she's got the help of being towed back up by other riders!

The fast tailwind section after the descent of Terrington Bank and the neutral service car goes flying past me, to get back up to the bunch!  Next thing there's a bike in the air, as it flies off the roof of the service car, it bounces in the road and lands in the grass verge!  I'm just glad it didn't fly off 5 seconds earlier, or I'd have been in danger of being hit by a flying bike at high speed, wouldn't have been good!!!

Lap 3, and 5 miles to go, a group of about 4 master's riders catch me and the CrossTrack rider from behind.  One guy is setting the pace, and I continue to work with him to get to the finish.  Up the hill to the finish and I'm about 90% certain I've won, but not totally, and it's my brother's yells of "put your arms up", (so I do) that confirms to me that I must have won!


Training in the Pyrenees

Just come back from a wonderful week riding in the Pyrenees, in preparation for a few epic adventures later on in the summer... watch this space!

Ian and Julie of Pyrenees Multisport couldn't have done more to look after me... with awesome routes, delicious home-cooked meals and general cycling banter!

One of the highlights of the week was racing 10 Army guys up the Port de Bales (18 km, 1775m, HC), beating all but two of them and knocking 12 minutes off my previous time!

The week ended with a cold, cloudy climb up the Col du Tourmalet, which had only been open for a few days, as the snow has only just cleared. It was a tough old climb with the last 10km of climbing done in a cloud! I could barely see where the road was going and I was worried the motorbikers zooming up behind me might not be able to see me.

There was applause from a coach-party when I got to the top. Unfortunately the cafe wasn't open, so I put on all the clothes I had (only gilet and arm-warmers) and set off down the mountain. I could barely see more than 2m in front of me. I had the brakes on most of the way for the first 10km or so, as I just could not see where the road was going. I FROZE. I couldn't feel my fingers and I couldn't pedal because I couldn't see where I was going. There were tears! It was probably one of the most unpleasant experiences I have ever had on my bike!!

Below the cloud line, the temperature increased quite substantially and I managed to power down the last few km of the descent. Thankfully the van was at the bottom with some dry clothes waiting for me. Phew. Just enough time for the best chocolat chaud I have ever had, in a cafe in the village, before heading home.

All in all a fantastic week: around 47,630 ft (14,500 m) climbing; 450 miles and 32 hours of riding! Big thanks to Ian and Julie for all their support and encouragement. I will be back...


Friday, 18 May 2012

Team GB Cycles rider Sandra's road to recovery!

At the end of March I had an Anterior Cruciate Ligament reconstruction following an injury I sustained early December!
MRI scans showed a complete ruptur of the ACL, Fracture to the Tibia, crack to the head of the femur, and dense bone marrow bruising. I had carried on cycling and training as normal, playing 2 further games of rugby and 1 of hockey, which i think led to further damage! When you realise the extent of your injuries, it does make you stop and think.
I had an arthroscopy in the middle of Jan which was routine to check for any further bone damage, and there was, a crack to the retro side of the patella, which was filled in like a crack in the wall.

My training continued as normal, and I booked my ACL reconstruction to coinside with work and school holidays at Easter,my aim was to fit in a few time trials, before the Op.

I ended up doing 4, the first one I punctured, and had a 5 mile walk back, the second I came 2nd to Anna Grundy of look mum no hands, the third I won having taken the wrong exit at the roundabout, and the last time trial again comming 2nd to Anna Grundy. But I have to say it was nice to get those 4 time trials in, in such lovely weather.

The op went well, and I threw away the cructhes from day 2, I was very lucky to have use of a game ready Ice and Compression machine, which was bliss and controlled the swelling immensley

Day 12 I went to have the staples taken out and the incision hadnt healed so it started to fall apart, so a trip back to see Professor Kevin Chea to check there were no infections was done, and he was amazed at my recovery, and my walking, and said "Walk as much as you like" maybe wrong choice of words!

Four days later I was back for my check up with Kevin, and I faced a cross surgeon, who said Id over done it, the punishment was having my knee drained, not very pleasent! What he told me is this, "When I said you could walk as much as you liked, Most people cannot, so dont over do it!"

Week 4 I was on the turbo, just 20 minutes easy spinning,along with doing pilates, and all the propriosceptive work advised. I was also back at work at this point too!

End of week four I ventured out with two of my best friends looking after me, out on the suffolk roads on my trusty cyclocross bike called Paul, as the roads were slightly flooded, it was just so nice to get outside, and there was no pain to the knee, just amazing how much strength has gone in it.

Week 7, and I had another visit to Kevin, who was amazed and very pleased at my recovery, he said normally people are 50% recovered but you are 75/80% its amazing! But please ease back a bit, now you are so far ahead.

I have been given the all clear to ride out on the road now!!!! ;-) , and do some hill work or inclines!! On the whole its nice to get out,and I really appreciate being able to get out and ride, also there is alot of strength that needs building up, but I have to take each day as it comes, but so far so good.
In 3 weeks time i am allowed to start the use of free weights, and also my 1st club 10TT to see how it goes.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Bedford 2-Day Stage Race

Adele and Iona raced in Bedford at the weekend. Sarah had hoped to race but unfortunately didn't make it... check out her blog here to find out why!

Adele writes...

It was a great start to the day and the weather wasn't too bad, apart from a little wind. The team time trial went ok considering we had never ridden as a team before!

After a little break we started to warm up for the road race. It was going well and the pace was good. There was a crash on the first lap, where I injured my wrist. After carrying on for another couple of laps the pain started to kick in. Steve then took me to hospital and unfortunately that was the end of my weekend racing!

Steve spent most of the first day picking riders off the floor and ferrying them back and forth from the hospital.

Iona stayed upright and thoroughly enjoyed the final two stages (in the pouring rain).

Get well soon Adele and hoping you'll be fighting fit for the Junior National Championships next weekend.