Iona at Peterborough Crit

Iona at Peterborough Crit

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Cheshire Classic Womens National Series Race, 28th April

Probably one of the biggest races on the Women's calendar, the Cheshire Classic always attracts a really strong field, and this year that was more true than ever, with 120 pre-entries for 70 spaces.  3 of the team were lucky enough to get selected to start (Karen, Iona and Brit), with regular guest rider Jo Blackburn (Team Swift) also riding in GB colours today.

After a bit of an 'oopsie' about the race start time by Karen, the team gathered at HQ shortly after 8:30.  Rain was threatening, and it was cold and windy, but our spirits were not dampened. At 9:45 we lined up for the race briefing, then rolled out of HQ at about 9:55.

The neutralised section was rather jittery, but Brit and Karen managed to move their way to the front of the peloton without mishap, and when we got out on to the A49 bypass the flag dropped and we were off.  The course comprises of an out and back on the bypass, then a short but steepish climb up a hill known locally as 'The Cliff'.  It then loops round back over the bypass and drops back down to join it again.  Naturally, the finish line is half way up the Cliff.

Brit and Karen held their positions at the front of the peloton well, never looking at any risk of losing contact with the first group.  Karen had a couple of digs on the early climbs of the cliff, particularly when Sarah Byrne (Maxgear Champion Systems) came to the front.  Jo and Iona were closer to the back of the peloton, and unfortunately lost contact half way through the race when the pack started to chase down a group of 6 who had got away after the prime.

It was all looking very promising for a good result for Karen, until a crash on the Cliff on lap 8 of 10 brought her tumbling to the ground, and unable to clip out, she floundered there for what seemed like an age as the peloton climbed away into the distance.  A kind volunteer, and team photographer (and Karen's husband) Chris dashed to her rescue, and with good words of advice 'don't panic, you'll get back on', she was back on her bike and given a little push up the hill to get her going again.
It took a hard effort, but back round on the bypass the juncture was made, and Karen was back in the race. After 2 years of experience, she was smart enough to move through the peloton back to the front, and was comfortable enough going into the last lap.

The last lap was a fast and jittery affair, with everyone battling for position for the final sprint up the Cliff.  By this time Brit was in survival mode at the back of the main group, but Karen was scrapping it out right at the front, and was in a good position going round the final corner and onto the hill.  Strong legs did their job, bringing Karen through to an impressive 11th place, 4 places better than last years result, and agonisingly short of the prize money for the Top 10.  Brit finished towards the back of the main pack in 45th place, with Iona about 5 minutes back in 52nd.  The race was won in style by Karla Boddy, MG MaxGear.

Yorkshire Day @ The Races 2, Dishforth

Saturday 27th April.

I decided I'd head to Dishforth for race 2 of the Yorkshire Day @ the races.  There was a field of 8 girls and we were to set off with the 4th cat men.  It was very windy, as always, on the very exspossed airfield!

The circuit is 3 and a 1/2 miles long and it set off fast, even into the head wind off the start line.  By the time we reached the back straight on the first lane, I was spinning out trying to hang onto the wheel in front.  I got distanced and found myself in a small group of 4.  We caught 1 and 2s of riders up ahead as the race went on I managed to drop the 3 original riders I had been riding with and work with 2 stronger lads on the last lap into the finish!  

There had been one girl ahead in the main bunch, who won the Women's race and also finished 2nd overall in the 4th cat men's race.  I came in to finish 2nd in the Women's race, and win a whole £8 on top of getting my entry fee back, yay!

Race finished, then who should arrive but a car with  a bright pink puffer jacket in!  aka (Brit), who had maybe wisely or not decided to give today's race a miss, and so rolled up just in time for the prize presentation!  Anyway wise or not warm up done, now for the tomorrow and the Cheshire Classic!

By Iona

Newark Show-Ground Circuit Race

Saturday 27th April

It was a flat, fast course and the field split up pretty quickly.  One rider broke away and stayed ahead chasing the lead man, but we managed to pull her back.  At the finish it came down to a sprint between three of us, I was really pleased to come in 2nd and get on the podium.

By Lindy

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Evening Club Time Trials

Evening time trials are great training, and in Sudbury Suffolk, cycle club sudbury had their first Time Trial last thursday.
So along I pop with my old trusty road bike, thinking once i start riding the TT bike, my times will improve each week, psychologically!!
However Turby B had other ideas, as I ended up only getting about 3.5miles down the road before I felt the well known feeling of a puncture, and it was a long walk back to HQ.

This thursday evening however, I took the road bike out to ride the Brent Eleigh course which is a nice 8.7mile circuit. My warm up wasn't too grand, I had a small attack of the cramps, which I felt was unlike me, but when i thought about it, I have had a rather busy working week, lots of 5:30 starts and late finishes, and lots of driving, so I thought I would just ride, and enjoy.

I didn't feel top notch, and had to nurse a small twinge of cramp for a short while after the start. I also had the feeling of a few stomach cramps, and I thought its just tiredness. But I started to finally get into a rhythm, and made it back, with no punctures.

I didn't really feel like I had, had a comfy ride, perhaps too much shifting about, but I managed a 21:41which i am pleasantly surprised with, as it definitely didn't feel like that sought of ride. Time to get the TT bike out!!

By Sandra.

National Team Series 2 - Virginia Water

Team GB Cycles riders, Iona Sewell , Brit Tate and Sandra Mackay took to Virginia Water for the 2nd round of the Women's Team National Series.
The day was clear skies and beaming sunshine, and very warm, warm enough for no leg warmers or arm warmers, bliss!
With 64 riders signed on Team GB Cycles rider Karen Poole who was on a reserve list of 22 sadly didn't get to ride, but along with Rob she supported us as we raced around, firstly 13 laps of one loop then a final 5 laps of a different loop which took in a finish up hill.
The race started Neutralised, at a very fast pace, which dropped a few riders before the start.
The pace of the race was very fast, conditions were perfect. After lap four I found myself being dropped out of the back on the flat, but thankfully forming a strong 2nd group of good girls willing to all take a share of the work.
We hit the last lap as the main bunch came through to lap us, and we tagged on the back to then start the first of 5 laps.
I ended up catching Iona and riding along with a Twickenham girl, each taking a turn to work, sadly Iona punctured on the 2nd to last lap, so I finished on my own, some way behind the main bunch but no where near the last rider. A great race and great training!

This weekend Team GB Cycles are racing at the Cheshire Classic, the 2nd round of the Women's National Series, so good luck to all who are racing.

By Sandra.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Time Trials and Tribulations

It's been a while since I last contributed anything to the GBCycles blog. This has mainly because cycling has made my life so busy recently, and training and racing has taken priority over writing about said activities. I'm currently right in the middle of the three week block of British Universities and College Sports (BUCS) time trials which take place every April and are a relatively big focus for me. I'm going to spend most of the time talking about these races (well specifically the 10) but here is a quick run down of what I've been up to since my last post:

  1. I've proved I have no idea what I'm doing when it comes to road racing, but that I am not a completely lost cause as I am learning relatively quickly.
  2. I've ridden my first foreign and first stage race: The Tour Ta Malta. This was a great experience as I got to meet a number of my teammates for the year and manage to nab a podium spot on one of the stages (obligatory photo of me on the podium below). I finished 2nd in the first stage time trial (along the windest road I've ever had the misfortune to encounter - I still rode a 808 on the front) some distance behind stage winner (and eventual GC winner) Mathilde Matthijsse but nearly a minute clear of 3rd place Anna Reid. Stage 2 was very hilly and although I lost time to the mountain goats like Claire Lever and GBCycles own Iona Sewell, I rode strongly for a non-climber and finished inside the top 10. This was probably my best performance in a road race all year. It all went a bit wrong on the third stage and I lost a lot of time, the final stage time trial was then cancelled due to torrential rain. I was a bit sad about this as I was confident of getting on the podium again, however it was the right decision on the part of the organisers.
  3. Two weekends ago was the first of the BUCS time trials, the 3-up team time trial. I was joined in the Cambridge University team by Anna Railton and Jenny Haskell. Me and Anna had been part of the winning team last year (I'd also won it the year before) and we probably had the strongest team we've ever had, however we ended up coming away with the silver medal as Birmingham University (pulled along by Ciara Horne) put in a great ride to take the win - I was a bit gutted. We perhaps could have ridden a bit better as a team but the terrible weather meant communicating well and keeping it smooth was difficult. From a personal perspective at least it showed me that I was riding very strongly (not sure my team mates appreciated that fact quite so much at times).

The BUCS 10
This was held last weekend (20th April) in Oxford on a relatively flat course (the H10/17R for the TT geeks). This was quite a big target for me this year,  I'd (somewhat to my own surprise) finished 2nd in this event last year  and was desperate to go one better this year.  That was going to be a tough task as defending champion and multiple UCI Track World Cup medalist Ciara Horne was riding again. My preparation in the week leading up to the 10 was pretty much ideal; my numbers in training were good, I was getting plenty of sleep, eating well and my legs felt great (as evidenced by me beating my best time on our local TT course mid-week with a box section front wheel in) - everything had come together really well. My aim for the race was to try to get the absolute maximum out of myself and to try to be as close to Ciara as I could (last year I was 35 seconds down), this year I felt I could make the race a lot closer. As it turned out, it was really close, I took the win by 3secs with a time of 22:36!!  I was absolutely over the moon, though my over-whelming emotion when told was one of surprise. Corrine Hall rounded out the podium with a 23:19, it was great to share the podium with such great riders who are achieving so much in British cycling at the moment, it was even better to be on the top step  - cue photo:

Mine and Jenny Haskell's combined times were also good enough to give Cambridge University gold in the team competition as well - all in all a very good weekend (photo of happy Hayley with 2 gold medals below!).

Next up, this Saturday, is the BUCS 25m TT on my local course in Cambridge. Again I'll be up against Ciara Horne and Corrine Hall. Claire Galloway is also riding so it will be even more competitive, and there are a whole host of other riders who could potentially be in the mix. It's amazing how much the standard in the women's BUCS events has gone up since I first started cycling - it's great to see. 

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

RST Yorkshire Day @ The Races 1

One of the best day's weather of this year so far, (well apart form Malta, if you don't count the rain storm!) and Brit, Linda and myself arrived at Forge Valley Community School in Sheffield for today's crit.  I arrived early, this was a new circuit so was keen to see what it would be like given that this was a school, and so went to take a look.  It reminded me of Prissick in Middlesborough, long straights with plenty of twisty more technical sections.  It looked like a great circuit and so it proved to be!

With 10 mins to spare before start of race, there was still no sign of Linda!  Just as we rolled up to the start line with 5 mins to start Linda rolled up!  Bad traffic and a mad rush to get to the start meant very little if no warm up for her.

13 starters for the Women's race and the 3 of us lined up on the front.  We had hoped to split the field and get of the front!  Annie Simpson (team Hope) had turned up, so we knew the likely hood was that there was little chance of getting rid of her.  This is what happened first lap I led off and within the first lap it was myself, Brit and Annie off the front.

The race went on, with the 3 of us slowly reeling in the bunch.  At about 1/2 distance, I had been on the front when Annie attacked form behind.  Brit on her wheel, I got distanced slightly by a bike length or two.  I closed the gap a lap later and once I reached them I kept on going, with Annie on the front I attacked back!  Forcing Annie to close the gap!  I got away brifly but by this point we were almost about to lap the main bunch.  I caught the bunch, Linda was at the front driving it.  She asked what she should do (don't sit on my wheel I tried to say.)  As at that point in time I realised that if they didn't let me go off the front of the lapped bunch, that was, that then Brit and Annie were going to lap the bunch too and so once in the bunch, and they had effectively brought any attack back!  Annie and Brit did indeed jump on back of bunch and so now I was dragging the entire field around!

Back to stale mate and the 3 of us were sat on the front of the lapped field!  A few laps like this and I tried to break things up again.  Not wanting the others to get mixed up in the finish.  It worked and Brit, Annie and myself got a gap again, but when trying to get Annie to come through, we then ground to a halt, no one wanting sit on the front, to drag the other around!
By this point 2 or 3 of the bunch behind then caught us again and Linda came straight to the front to work for us.  5 laps to go, i had one last go at splitting things, before deciding that best action to take was to allow Linda to lead us out for the finish.

I messed the finish up, I was 2nd wheel behind Linda.  We had agreed before that Annie can sprint and she would probably go for a long one and that's exactly what she did.  She attacked last lap into the headwind before the last corner.  You need to be first into last corner.  Annie went one side of Linda I went the other (first mistake not getting the jump first, second going the wrong side.)  Brit was on her wheel.  Annie won, but Brit was closing on her in the run into the line!  I ended up battling to get around a lapped rider into the finish who slowed me down into the final corner!  Overall a good  new circuit and a good race, despite my annoyance at my finish!  Brit 2nd, me 3rd, Linda 5th!

By Iona.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Tour ta Malta 2013

We returned from Sicily on Monday with a couple of day's before the start of the race.  Tuesday morning, we headed to our base for the rest of the week, the Soreda hotel, where we met the rest of the team, Steve, Jo and Stuart who had arrived the day before.

Tuesday/Wednesday were about reccying the first TT stage, and 2 road stages.  For me this year is my 5th year riding the Tour ta Malta, and by now know each stage well.  So these two day's were more about riding the bikes and checking all was working!  (Which wasn't exactly the case!)  The bottom bracket on my road bike had decayed over the time in Sicily and needed replacing!  So while I had the job of showing the others the courses for the race on my borrowed TT bike!  Enter Steve and Steph who very kindly went on a tour of the island in search of a bottom bracket, to what must have been virtually every bike shop there was!  Thank you very much to both of you and bike all sorted!

Wednesday and we headed again to the Coast Road, to practise on the TT bikes and for Brit to try the clip on bars that she'd never ridden with!  Today we were also joined by Steph who also wanted to practise on the new TT bike.

                                                       Race day, stage 1.


Thursday, race day!  The first TT on the Coast Road and to my disappointment the race distance had been shorted to 3 laps instead of 4!  It's a great stage this and i've always enjoyed this stage, if of course that is the right word to describe a TT!?  We were very lucky that team Agones very kindly let us borrow their turbos for the warm up.  So all went to plan and we all went off the start ramp and finished with no incidents, now just to wait for the results!

A super ride by Hayley ensured her 2nd place on the podium.  Jo and myself finished in 4th and 5th place with the 3rd placed rider being only 1 and 2 seconds in front of us!  Ahhhh how close that either one of us could have also made the podium along with Hayley.  With all of us safely within the top 14 after stage 1 everyone was ready for the first road stage next day.

Stage 2, St Martins.  6 laps of the best road stage (it's hilly), despite a few seriously bumpy bits of road!  I was happy to have got a good start off the line, but very quickly Zappi's came to the front and it was clear their plan was to blow things apart early on.  This was a good thing, it saved the messing around crawling up the hill for the first couple of laps and also reduced the risk of the women's race getting mixed up with the men's, which always seems to happen!

First time up the hill and I knew my only chance of keeping contact with the leaders was to be on a good wheel going into the hill.  Which I wasn't!  I found myself having to move up the outside trying to get back in contact with the leaders at front of the group!  Ahhh why oh why!  I was in no man's land, trying to get back up to leaders who had moved off the front of group.  I knew then there was no getting back, but I still had to try!

Lap 2 and I got a gap on the hill again.  There were 2 Zappi's riders, Clare and Anna, up the road, and a 3rd Zappi's rider Sian, was the only other rider to come with me up the hill.  Lap 2 we got brought back, but I knew it was just a matter of time before we would be in no man's land between the leaders and the main bunch again.  Up the hill for the 3rd time and I rode off the front again, the Zappi's rider came with me, while Brit rode at the front behind.

Last lap and to my surprise we caught Steph!  Turns out she'd had the worst bad luck ever, suffering a double puncture!  With no neutral service car to be seen for ages!  By the time it did arrive, it had no spare wheels left!  She finally did make it back into the race!

The results came in that evening and no surprises they were messed up again!  Somehow lapped riders had appeared in front of all of us on the day's stage!  Everything was eventually corrected and those of us who have been to this race for a number of years are all used to these usual errors!  (But the excuse 'it's Malta it always happens' is wearing a bit thin!!)

Day 3 and St Paul's by pass.  Again Zappi's took the lead and there was plenty of attacking early on.  The main group was quickly whittled down, but this not being a mountain goats course the group remained bigger.  By half distance we seemed to have reached a stale mate, no one was getting away!  With 2 laps to go we were caught by the men's field.  Like in previous years it took this to really split the field.  I was ready but still somehow missed the split.  I was spinning out trying to close a couple of bike lengths gap to the 5 who had escaped onto the back of the men's field!  Next time up the climb and I found myself behind one of the Italian girls, and she was being dropped.  With the Women's field still mixed up in the men's race, I was trying to maintain contact with the group containing the rest the team.  I could see Brit, Steph and Jo ahead, all trying desperately too to main contact with the group ahead.  Jo was the nearest, and I yelled ahead.  She heard and dropped back to drag me back onto the group!   Back to the group and with 5 up the road I went straight to the front and tried to push the pace but we were never going to get back up to the leaders now!

1 lap to go and Brit reported she was knackered!, (last lap, it's all or nothing I told her!)  I asked Jo and Brit to take it in turns to keep the pace going on the front.  Which they both did brilliantly, keeping a train going on the front for the whole of the last lap.  Round the last corner and up the hill for the last time to the finish.  With Jo and Brit on the front, Sian one fo the Zappi's rider attacked in a last ditch effort to the line.  I was 3rd in line in our train, how long do I leave it before I think I could close the gap to her, she would tire I knew!  Over the steepest section at the bottom of the hill, and I went, with Steph on my wheel.  I was closing in on the rider ahead, and as we reached the brow of the hill, and in sight of the finish Steph launched from behind and flew past Sian (Zappi's) to beat her to the line for 6th place, with my yell's of 'Go Steph!'

A trip to Selima for gymnastics in the shopping mall!

                                                          Leap frog practice!

Stage 4 and the promised rain forecast the day before had arrived!  We all waited to leave the hotel, praying it would stop!  The roads are like glass when wet!  The road the TT was being held on was of a much better surface so the hope was that this would still be ok given the conditions.  Our departure form hotel was delayed by 30min, probably in the hope that the spitting rain would stop.  But as we eventually left the hotel, it soon became clear that this was not going to be the case!  The rain got worse and within abut 10 minutes we were all drenched.  I rode a fair way off the back of the bunch hoping to avoid incident on the way out to the course!  Steph had told us all many times about how bad the roads can be!

We reached the course and just to add to everything, we found that there was diesel right across the road on one of the turn points!  By this point I had decided that I didn't need to race in this!  It was clear that there would be a lot of riders off on that today!  We all took shelter in the team car, Hayley continued to prepare to race, until she heard otherwise!   I was pretty certain the race would be called off and within half an hour it was announced that the stage had indeed been cancelled!

Luckily we all managed to get back to the hotel by car, and with the bikes safely stowed in a van, we didn't have to creep back by bike!  11am and the overall GC presentation.  After the bad luck of stage 2, Steph was awarded 3rd Maltese rider overall.

                                                     Final presentation that evening.

                                                      Team prize presentation.

                                                     Next morning, home time.

Written by Iona.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Training in Sicily 29th March to 1st April 2013.

We arrived in Malta and tried to pack a car already full with traffic cones and spare wheels!  Where were the passengers going to sit!?  3 bike boxes later in Steph's car and we were on our way!

Trip to Magri cycles to buy lights and shop for our new team bikes!

Next morning it was up at 5am to catch the ferry to Sicily for 4 day's training in the sunshine
                                  Good Friday in Sicily and Brit dresses for the occasion!



Juggling................Steph shows off!

                                                        Leapfrog in Sicily

                             When they say Chip Pizza on the menu, they mean chip Pizza!

                                                            More Leapfrog!

Lunch time and horse pizza was on the menu!

Ruben, Justin and Caroline set sail back to Malta.  1 more day in Sicily and we'll head back to 
Malta too!

                                                We wave goodbye to the ferry.

                                              Brit seems happy with her new balloon!

                                         Waiting for the ferry, we head back to Malta.

Aboard the ferry and we wish we'd got a picture of all the ferry crew workers gathered around Barbie and the bikes, lol!

Back to Malta!

Written by Iona.