Iona at Peterborough Crit

Iona at Peterborough Crit

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

A Weekends Racing

This weekend was about the Cheshire Classic. But before we get to that let's talk about Saturday.  Saturday was a small local crit in York, and I'd decided to ride it,  just because, yep just because. .......because I wanted to! No other good reason,  if there's a race I'll usual try to ride it regardless of if I should or not!

Now after returning from Tour ta Malta and Sicily training camp two weeks earlier, I'd managed to nearly train myself into a black hole the previous week, with no rest followed by a Easter weekend of a planned 4 days of back to back racing, (I say planned as I had to finally admit defeat and pull out of 2 day stage race, and that's a first, I never abandon a race!) Here you see the flaw in the plan with trying to enter every race possible!

So anyway back to last Saturday!  Today was going to be first day back on bike after forcing myself to have complete rest week (well 4 days!)
There were 20 women on the start line, and Brit and I hoping for something a bit more interesting than the usual 2 up team time trial of a race! So we were happy when they didn't handicap the start.

The race went of steady enough,  I came to the front straight away and decided to make sure it at least stayed a decent speed.  Next thing and a lap or two laps in Brit shouts and comes around me to take a turn. Apparently we have a gap! Wow ok so I hadn't even attacked and 3 of us were away.  Someone had simply let a gap go on a corner and it had caught quite a few of the stronger riders napping! Brit and I pressed on all to aware that we had escaped a few potential threats in the bunch behind!
Our third break away companion didn't seem keen to work but we solved that problem,  when Brit let my wheel go forcing the other girl to chase!

The race was only 30 minutes today,  and we worked well with a good lead over bunch.  Up until 8 laps to go when I thought I'd mix things up a bit, and through in a few attacks.  I had no expectations to get away but it at least forced the other girl to chase.
3 laps to go and stale mate, she didn't trust us now and working together was long gone!
Now we were in was cat and mouse,  the pase slowing as Brit and I tried to force her through.  It certainly made things interesting.  We were be caught again by lapped riders we had just caught.  And apparently we weren't far off being caught by bunch!  With two laps to Brit took up front, before I took over, this was was going to be a long lead out with 1 1/2 laps to go!

I led the sprint out from last corner, and just tried to hold it right to the line,  and hope no one but Brit can get round!  This time however I managed to hold on for the win, Brit in 2nd (but she'll be back :-)!)

Now for Cheshire Classic!
There was 3 of us riding,  myself, Jo, and Nicola. Sandra hadn't made the start sheet,  so our suicidal attack from the gun trump card was missing,  but she was there in force riding the course in reverse to yell support at us as we passed each lap!

This year the field was stronger than ever, and this proved true of the pase, fast from the start!  But for some reason today none of this bothered me.  Early on Eve Roade up and said something like, u can do this, get stuck in there! I don't know why but I moved up! I kept losing position on the climb a few times,  but it was certainly easier moving up the bunch than in previous years. Wheather the faster pase was shelling out more of the dodgier riding I don't know, but it certainly felt like a safer bunch than a lot of flat team series races andoso for once I was happy to be in the bunch.

End of lap 2 and I was out the back of bunch over fast section after top of climb! We flew past Sandra shouting to get back in there! Legs wouldn't go any faster but by the dual carriageway, me and another rider made it back to bunch.

The first lap it was like they sprinted up that climb. Subsequent laps it eased a little and I felt that I could maybe survive a bit longer.

Lap 6 of 12 tho,  and it was finally the prime lap that caught me out,  the one time I hadn't managed to move up bunch before climb and I find myself without a wheel to follow as they sprint into the hill for the line. I'm gone and out the back!  Damn if only I could of survived till top of climb I might have had a slim chance of getting back on, but not now!

Instead I caught Hannah Walker,  who had been in an earlier break. We worked together for another 3 laps before we were pulled out with 3 to go.

Jo was still hanging in there, well more than hanging in there,  taking turns on front,  getting in breaks, and making it her mission to mark the strong riders, it certainly worked and she hung in to finish with the bunch,  great riding Jo, onwards and upwards!

I too strangely enough enjoyed the race, despite being dropped, it was still a good race for me and progress on last year's result!
Now for over coming the bug bear of Bedford and the flat horrid courses,  with cars around every bend and choppy riding!  It's never a favourite race of mine, but all I need to do is believe it's an absolutely fantastic course, and all will be fine ;-)


Monday, 14 April 2014

Tour of the Reservoir 12th April, by Karen

After our success at Capernwray and Jo's awesome result at Tour ta Malta, it had the potential to be another day for the GB Cycles climbing whippets on 12th April at Derwent Reservoir in Northumberland.

This race was put in my calendar months ago when it was first publicised, and a long time before it was added to the National Series. So I was targetting it as a key early season race with ambitions of doing very well.  I managed to persuade Jo to come and join me, while the other girls were still enjoying the sun in Sicily.  I had previously ridden most of the course as part of a triathlon and also went out to pre-ride it last weekend in preparation.  It wasn't super-hilly but with prevailing winds whipping down the reservoir it was going to be a tough race.

We all lined up in the square in Blanchland just before 9 on Saturday morning - about 60 women took to the start line.  We did a couple of nervy neutralised miles then the racing started.  Epic - Scott with 9 riders in the race were always going to be the dominant team and so it turned out right from the flag dropping.  As always there was a lot of fighting for position in the early kilometres and I thought I had done ok getting up to the front quickly, but found myself swamped going into the big climb for the first time.  No one pushed the pace so the whole field was bunched up.  I had an inexperienced rider in front of me who was making me nervous.  I was proved right when she wobbled and fell into the verge right in front of me, leaving me nowhere to go.  I fell as gently as I could, stayed calm, picked myself up, popped my chain back on and off I went again, with the whole field up the road ahead.  I chased hard, catching up and overtaking the back-markers quickly, but then started to struggle in the crosswinds on the top.  A few others were around with me, and together we managed to get back on just before the road turned into the headwind.  I moved straight through the field back to the front ready to watch and cover any moves from Epic - Scott or Matrix.

Karen sitting comfortably in the lead group

The next lap and a half saw the field gradually being whittled down, and at the end of lap 2 attacks were starting to fly off the front only to be caught again.  I was there and feeling comfortable (although hadn't realised that Jo had been having mechanical problems and had been dropped) when disaster struck.  On the descent into Edmundbyers Hayley Jones (Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International) lost her wheel on the slightly greasy road, sliding out right into me; nothing I could do to avoid hitting the tarmac very hard and sliding across it for what felt like an age.  Then I felt someone else go right over the top of me.  OK, is anything badly hurt? No, I don't think so, but a quick decision that I wasn't going to carry on any further.  I picked me and my bike up to see who else was down.  As well as Hayley and me, it was Mel Brand (Epic - Scott) and Liz Malins (Fusion RT).  Everyone else was looked after by team cars but after a quick check over by the paramedic I was left on the side of the road in pain with no extra clothes and an unfunctional bike.

Having sent one spectator to go and send a message to Mr Red Riding Hood at the feed zone, another very friendly spectator lent me his coat and let me sit in his car until I was picked up.  By this time I had realised that there was very little non-painful movement coming from my left shoulder.  Mr Red Riding Hood (my knight in shining skoda) eventually arrived a whole lap later with Tom and Eve's dad also in the car.  I got bundled in while the bike was put in the boot, and we drove round to the finish.

By this time in the race, a 2-up break of Alexie Shaw (Epic - Scott) and Nikki Juniper (Pearl Izumi Sports Tours) had gone clear, and with Matrix seemingly lacking fire-power in the bunch the gap was never going to close.  Jo was storming through the tail-end of the now disintegrated peloton, having sorted out her mechanical problem.  On the final sprint Nikki outwitted Alexie to take an impressive win.  But as always Jo was our hero, having pulled herself back up into 25th position.  Here she is crossing the finishing line.

This new race on the calendar was a great success.  Hopefully next year the girls will get to do the full two-day race that the men do, which will certainly sort out the women from the girls.

And just in case you are wondering, the shoulder is not broken, but it has a visit to my very friendly shoulder physio tomorrow to see what is wrong with it!

Friday, 11 April 2014

Post Tour Ta Malta training and mostly eating camp in Sicily

After a very physically and emotionally taxing four days racing in Malta, mainly down to suffering with a violent stomach bug/food poisoning over the last 2 days of the tour, I was definitely ready for some chill out time, recovery rides and then some productive training in the sun (without horrific stomach pain!) before returning to the UK.

Our Sicily group consisted of Iona, Sandra, Steph, Michelle me and Rob. We spent two days off the bike in Malta recovering after the Tour doing some sight seeing in Valetta the old capital city of Malta which was definitely needed as I was still suffering from some of the post effects of the stomach bug so I did a lot of sleeping too!

At 4am we woke up to ride down to the ferry which was a surprising nice ride considering it was just past dawn! My legs were still very heavy from the Tour so it was nice to spin them out before we rode later in the day in Sicily. We all had a good sleep on the ferry before we got picked up at the ferry port by our lovely host called Salvo in Sicily. Later that day we had an easy 2 hr spin out to Milo were I was starting to worry if my legs would ever feel the same again!

The next day, after a humongous pizza and a good sleep my legs suddenly reappeared! We set off up Mount Etna for our first climb of the training camp. It was a long 20k climb so 1hr and 30 mins later we arrived at the top of Etna. The mist was really thick at the top and the temperature as sub zero with not much of a view to see except the team saxo bank car that we all got very excited about, we all huddled into the restaurant for a quick coffee before we descended. At this point however both me and Iona shivering badly so when we started descending I really suffered. My body completely froze up and I don't think iv ever been as cold on a bike and thats saying something as iv been in some bad situations in the uk! Then I got a puncture! Rob very kindly sorted out my puncture as I couldn't feel my fingers! I decided I needed to go home to get warm so Rob very kindly escorted me home and the girls carried on to do abit more of a ride. When I got back to the hotel I got straight into bed and slept for 4 hours! All the girls rode really well today and climbed great!

Day 2 I finally felt like I was recovering from the stomach illness and was excited to ride up Etna again, today we were riding up the steepest side of Etna and as soon as we hit the climb me Rob and Iona hit it hard! I loved this climb it was my favourite climb so far since iv started cycling...just a brutal climb for 1hour 30 mins! It was a much better and warmer day thankfully! So when we got to the top we got an amazing view and took a lot of pictures which I didn't think we would get to do considering how cold it was at the top yesterday. We had a guide today a lovely guy also called Salvo, it seems everyone in Sicily seems to be called Salvo! After the ride Salvo invited us to go to meet his Mum who ran an old people's home at the most of Etna she cooked us a three course meal which was amazing including all homemade wine, vegetables, and olives. We had a lot of banter although only Steph could understand Salvo who couldn't speak any English and we couldn't speak any Italian so it was a rather amusing meal signing to each other.

I am currently sat here about to go to tea with the team and I can officially say I have my appetite back yeppeee! Tomorrow we are planning an easy 2 hour ride before we head back to Malta for one day then fly back to the UK on Monday :(

It's been a great four days in Sicily the girls have been great fun and have all ridden really well and I definitely want to come back here to batter myself up Etna some more next year!

That's all for now, next race Nigel Measom 2-day stage race then Cheshire Classic...bring it on!

Baby Tate


Thursday, 3 April 2014

Tour ta Malta, Stage 1

Today was TT day!  There had been a last minute change of course a couple of day's before we were due to fly out to Malta.  So instead of the 3 laps and 15 miles of the coast road, it was moved to a straight bit of dual carriage way on top of a hill!  With 7 laps!

On route to course!

1. One of the motor bike marshalls drove into the kerb and fell off!
2. Nic thought she had a puncture, but no it was just the shorts!
3. Eve realised her wheel was not in straight and was rubbing against frame. (She wondered why the hill was such hard work!
43. We got there, and rode course!

What else can we tell you! 

Oh we must thank the lady who owned the pet shop!

TT time!
Jo managed to miss the turn point on first lap!  She headed straight round roundabout instead.

Anyway we rode the tt, I caught several people, and it was very windy!

Results in and as per usual they were dubious!  Jo was in 4th despite the missing turn and adding on valuable time.  She did a 33min 43sec, so we thought she might stand a good chance of a podium place, but no!  Instead the winning time was 32 min!
With all of us in the first half of field, and 5 of us the first 11, we are set for road race next day and the best course of the tour, despite the rather bumpy decent and corners!


Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Victory for Jo at Capernwray, by Karen

Just before the start

The CDNW series of races is going from strength to strength, and the 3rd race in the 2014 league took place on the Capernwray course on 30th March.  The course used to be a National Women's Series race, last used in 2012 when Karen first experienced the course.  It is a proper hilly course, so Team GB Cycles set their climbing whippets loose to run havoc with the rest of the field.

With clocks changing on Saturday night, it felt like a particularly early start, but nevertheless the sun was shining and it warmed up quickly enough, and it was shorts and short sleeves once the race got going.  The rollout and first climb of Sunny Bank was neutralised, then the flag dropped and off we went.  This was the first CDNW race I had ever done, and I must say the atmosphere in the peloton was a sheer pleasure.  We were all looking after each other and there was a bit of time for chatting and getting to know some of the other girls.  There were a few attacks in the first lap, none of which worried us at all, knowing that subsequent climbs of Sunny Bank would make the race.  Soon enough we were back round, and despite the voice in my head telling me that I didn't really want to be on the front, I ended up there and cranked up the pace, not looking back until the top of the hill to see what damage I had done.  Yes, all the usual suspects were there - Lynn Hamel, Claire Martin, Eve Dixon, Ness Whitfield and some others who I didn't recognise - a group of 10 or 11 in total.  A quick whisper to Jo acknowledging that stage 1 of the plan had been executed and a check on how each of us was feeling, and on we went.  Again, lap 2 saw a few attacks off the front, but soon enough they were pulled in with most riders taking a turn in pace setting and chasing.  Yet again I found myself on the front climbing Sunny Bank although let others take the prime.  Lap 3 went the same way again and soon enough we were half way round the last lap and another quick whisper with Jo to check how we were feeling.

Near the top of Sunny Bank
Going into the bottom of Sunny Bank for the last time, both of us were watching Lynn Hamel, expecting her to launch an attack; I was second or third wheel, with Jo coming round the outside to take the lead, and steadily she opened up a gap.  Come on Eve, Lynn - are you not going with Jo?  No movement.  OK, I'll go then, and suddenly we had a 10s then 20s then 30s gap and as we climbed it grew all the time.  I said "Jo, we've only gone and done it" to which the response I got was "we haven't yet" and we kept on pushing.  Because Jo had been sitting in the bunch for the race while I had been doing a bit more work, and because she is an amazing climber, she eventually gapped me and flew up the hill to take a brilliant win.  Lynn managed to find something to close the gap to me, but I was aware she was approaching and had a final kick left to make sure she didn't come past me.  1-2 for Team GB Cycles.  Massive hugs and smiles and a bit of couldn't quite believe that we'd done it ensued.  It was a brand new feeling and incredibly satisfying to be sitting in a peloton mid-race and knowing that there was no one in the race to be daunted by and actually really believing that we could win.  I can't wait for the next climbing whippet outing at Tour of the Reservoir on 12th April.

Jo taking the win.

Karen taking second, Lynn Hamel third.