I think it would be fair to say that my upkeep of this blog has been pretty shabby. I've been pedalling a fair bit, and my cycling chi is doing spiffingly. I don't want the road season to be over! I've decided not to do cross this season, in the hope of saving some pennies for racing next season.
So, where to begin? I did the weekend of racing in Dumfries, which included a criterium on the Friday and a road race on the Sunday. The criterium was too fast for me, but got my legs going for the road race which I enjoyed. It seems odd looking back to those races and thinking they were at the start of this season, because I feel so much stronger now. After that I did a really hilly women's National Series race at Capernwray, which had a 1 mile climb we had to ride up six times. This was a slightly frustrating race as I was at the tail end of the bunch the first time up the climb and we were cut off from getting back into the lead group by people in cars over taking us and pulling in, the roads were too narrow and bendy to get back past. It is possible I shouted a few things at the car drivers. I don't remember what.
I also did a 3/4 cat race near my home in Cumbria. I was a bit nervous, the last time I raced with men I found terrifying, the pace was too high and crashes seemed inevitable. This time though, I was really pleased. The pace was a lot lower than the Capernwray race, it was a lot easier to move up in the bunch. In my over excitement at not getting dropped immediately I went with a couple of attacks, sat in a bit, and really, really enjoyed it.
I've also been doing a fair bit of time trialling, and was really pleased to beat my 10 mile pb and go under 24 minutes for the first time. I also travelled down to South Wales to do the BC National TT Champs, I wanted to get a bench mark time against the likes of Emma Pooley. It turned out to be a good bench mark to get, as she is now World Champion. I also got 3rd in the Espoir Category which was great, and had the advantage of not having to saw my bike into bits to meet the UCI regulations as a lot of competitors found themselves having to do.
Another event I really enjoyed was the Erskine women's crit, the course was quite technical, but the race was great. If I get my points from this event (I think the electronic timing didn't work) then I will also have my 2nd cat licence.
The Darley Moore Women's National Team Series race was another highlight of this year, because it is the first time I have felt on a par with the girls in those sort of races. It is a flat motor bike circuit, so the race is sort of like a big crit. I finished in the main bunch sprint, in the same race last year I was lapped.
A couple of weeks ago I did the Tour of the Campsies. I had never ridden the course before, so decided to take it easy-ish up the Crow Road in case the back section turned out to be really hard. I was 2nd up the hill by 10 seconds, and 2nd in the event by 2 minutes. My descending was horrendous, and the road surface really bad, but I enjoyed the event and was honestly pleased to finish with my bike in one piece after some of those pot holes. The cake at the end was beyond compare, definitely worth doing the TT for the cake (mm, and the sandwiches, I've just remembered the sandwhiches - ham, cheese AND mustard...in one sandwich!).
Last but not least I went to Ireland to do the women's Ras na mBan. It was...awesome. Fast racing on terrible road surfaces with stunning views and a nice mix of terrible weather on the last day too (which I strangely really enjoyed).
I was pretty tired before we started from carrying my bike bag around at the airport, I didn't have a pound coin so couldn't get a trolley, and had to pull my bag from the parking to the terminal. On the first day I was really frustrated as I thought I was last, I spent the first half of the race chasing attacks and being in attacks and then got dropped going over the top of the first big climb and trying to chase back on on my own. As I was coming up to the line I looked behind and saw two girls chasing me, I knew I would be really gutted if I got caught so I just put my head down and pedalled as hard as I could, but my legs had nothing left after the chasing I'd been doing. The girls were about 2cm from catching me on the line. It turned out I was not last, I was in the top half of the field (34th/69).
The next day was a gravelly circuit with a long climb, I decided to try and conserve some energy and sit in a bit more to see if I could recover for the next days stage. I finished with a group of about 15 girls, and enjoyed the tactics of the sprint.
The time trial in the afternoon wasn't great for me, 2km down hill. I was something like 52nd compared to my 34th on GC, so moved down to 39th overall.
The last stage was a 60mile road race with over 800 metres of ascent. I opened the curtains in the morning to see that it was raining sideways. I spent this stage really trying to concentrate on sitting in. I think I've been so excited to not get dropped I've been doing too much attacking, chasing attacks and sitting on the front. I tried to sit near girls I knew were unlikely to get dropped, and see that they really do just sit in the bunch as much as possible. There was a cat 1 climb which we had to climb over, ride down the other side and around a circuit and then back over the climb. I was dropped the first time over the climb, just near the top. I was then in some sort of crazy chase on the descent which I would rather my Mum didn't find out about. It was fast. I was so happy to get back into the bunch as I wasn't expecting it. I sat in again until the next time up the climb where I was dropped again really near the top of the climb. I rode in on my own, and caught and passed a few other girls. I had no idea where I had finished, so was really pleased to see I was 35th on the day and had moved up to 36th on GC. Last year the racing was slower and I was a lot further down on GC, and moved even further down on the last stage, so I was really pleased to beat all the girls I was near in GC on that last stage.
After the stage I had to scrub my legs to get the 'mud/oil lines' off. Who needs tan lines?
Good Lord, I've not even said anything about my riding in France...well, I went to France. I rode there. I won three races and was second in one. I rode Alp d'Huez in a pb time and beat a girl who races for Max Gear and got in the top ten for all women who have ridden the climb using the Timtoo timing system. Number 1 is Jeannie Longo. It was 42 degrees C in the Haut Jura and I went for a bike ride. I had to shelter under a tree, and thought 'man, I'm lame, I can't even cope with a little bit of heat'. Only when I got back did I see what the temperature had been. I SAW LANCE ARMSTRONG. I literally went weak at the knees. Kolobnev stared at me as he rode by...no, really. He actually LOOKED AT ME.
Right. Wow. Sorry about that. That is a lot of writing. Here are some pictures. And yes, no matter what country I am in, it would appear I do race in those terrible green shorts.