Believe in your dreams enough and one day they may come true
On Sunday the 25th of May exactly that happened. My dream ambition of winning an Elite Town Centre Crit became a reality.
The Shrewsbury GP returned this year after 20 years of not running; consequently there had been a huge build up to this event in Shrospshire with many news articles and an official Shrewsbury GP website drip feeding the public with news about the event in the weeks prior to the event. The biggest news being Jo Rowsell MBE,eam Pursuit World Record holder, 4 x Team Pursuit World Champion, and Olympic Medallist had entered and was set to ride the event. With the knowledge of Jo riding I knew the race was going to be an exciting one!
Arriving at the event the atmosphere was electric, the music was pumping and the crowds were in their thousands.
Standing on the start line I felt quite nervous as I had never ridden a course quite as tight and technical as the course set out before me. The course started out on a straight of cobbles before sweeping round into a short sharp climb. It then consisted of a series of corners sweeping down into a very tight bend onto the cobbled 200m finish straight. I knew being on the front on the start line was crucial if I was to keep up with the leaders due to the narrowness of the circuit which wouldn’t allow for much movement once you were in position.
The countdown began…5…4…’God I need a wee’…3…’not sure if Im really ready for this’…2…’oh crap’…1…’go go go!’.
From the off Jo Roswell hit the front like a bullet out of a gun and set a hard fast tempo stringing out the bunch behind. I knew I had to stick on her wheel like glue or else id be out the back so I did just that! After 2-3 laps I had a quick look around to see how the bunch were looking and to my utter surprise realised there was only myself, Harriet Owen of Matrix Fitness and Lydia Gurley of Merlin Cycles following my wheel with Jo infront. ‘Wow’ I thought, maybe this could go quite well.
Jo set the pace for the majority of the race putting in a couple of attacks to see if she could separate herself from us but with no such luck. I tried to take some laps leading our group to help Jo out as I felt that it wasn’t right she did all the work whether she’s an Olympic Champion or not! I was feeling pretty comfortable at this point and was starting to get abit giddy knowing if we continued in such a way I was going to get 4th as a minimum. At 30 minutes however, a group of about 6-7 riders caught us from behind and I thought…bugger! But then
comes charging past onto the front and I was very pleased to see her! It seems
Jo wanted to keep our group away however as she immediately attacked up the
short climb and that was it…back to the four of us in the original breakaway again.
The crowds throughout were phenomenal banging on the side boards, cheering and clapping their hands, ive never felt so electric in a race being in the front group with so much support behind us.
Coming into the final 5 laps with our group having an extensive lead on the next bunch back, I felt so comfortable yet I never thought I was going to win it I was just so happy that I was potentially going to be in the top 4 in an Elite Crit.
On the final lap Lydia attacked up the climb and I knew I had to be 1st or 2nd wheel minimum coming into the final cobbled corner so I jumped onto her wheel and dived through the last series of corners into the final cobbled corner where we had to negotiate our way through a bunch of riders we were lapping in maybe the worse place possible on the course! I took abit of a do or die line through the corner and saw the finish line approach.
moved to the right which gave me a clear line to the finish which I hardly ever
get so I took the chance and sprinted my heart out leaving nothing left in my
legs. I came over the finish line and was actually very confused! I thought ‘Oh
my God I think ive just won it!’ But I was so surprised I just didn’t believe
it until the commentator came up to me and told me to come up to the podium for
an interview on my win! Lydia
Iv only ever felt as happy as I did that evening once, and that was when I won Bronze at the U20 World Age Group Triathlon in Budapest 2010 as a 16 year old and the feeling was unspeakably good!
After the podium presentation I was whisked away for interviews and a prize presentation in which I received a pair of Bontrager wheels, a pair of Podium glasses, a bunch of gorgeous flowers, an amazing glass trophy and £500 cash prize money! What a haul! And what made the evening that much better was that my boyfriend Rob Watson won the Elite Mens Race to make it the double!
We had a very happy car journey home with our prizes retelling our races to each other over and over not quite believing we both had won!
I am very grateful for the hard work and efforts of the organiser of the race and everyone involved in making it such a successful evening including all those that came out to watch.
I am also so grateful to my teammates, friends and family, boyfriend and coach for helping me to achieve one of my biggest ambitions in cycling.
Our Breakaway group consisting of myself, Jo Rowsell MBE, Harriet Owen and Lydia Gurley
Managed to get my arm up in celebration after the initial shock