I’ve done a couple of weekends racing now this season and it’s going alright so far. I’m under no illusions that it’s early season and each rider’s form is pretty variable at the moment. I know myself that I’ve left higher intensity race specific training until much later this year, making the decision to use the local race scene to get some speed in the legs. My first race this year was the Winter Warrior criterium at Salt Ayre sponsored by Total Cycle Coach on 28th February. The early stages of the race were real negative. A very steady pace with attacks that were immediately brought back as the bunch had many fresh legs to do so. After around 10 minutes of this I was frustrated to say the least and I’m very sure a number of other riders were too. So when Gemma Sargent (The Racing Chance Foundation) attacked taking two ladies with her I jumped across the gap, sat fourth wheel round the bend up the top of the course and pulled away up the small rise. I didn’t expect to get a gap but kept the pace up. As soon as this gap grew I knew the desire to chase would deminish and I could ride round in the relatively nice situation of pacing myself rather than having someone else dish out the pain!
35 minutes of solo riding later and I’d won the prime and the race. I was a bit shocked to be honest. The next weekend I rode both the second Winter Warrior criterium on the 7th and Pimbo RR on 8th March. Incredibly Saturday’s race panned out in much the same way as the week before. Early on Pia de Quint (Velosure Starley Primal) attacked and strung out the bunch. I didn’t want to miss the move so chased it down, annoyingly bringing the rest of the bunch with me. So when I caught them, I attacked hard. It had to be much harder this time as I knew a few of the riders would be expecting it. I gave it beans for a couple of minutes and once I had a gap eased into a good tempo. I scooped up the prime again and with 10 minutes to go I eased off a little knowing I had Pimbo the next day. I was more than chuffed to roll in for my second win of the season.
Pimbo RR is a race that deosn’t particularly suit me. It is has no natural difficulties to break up the race and therefore usually concludes with a bunch sprint. The riders know this too which makes for a lot of sitting in. This course was great when I first started racing as I usually struggled to stay with the bunch and this race gave me the opportunity to stay with some riders for once! But now I feel comfortable in a women’s 2/3/4 bunch, it is not so fun. I cannot sit in the bunch and trundle round for 38 miles waiting for a sprint. It’s not my idea of racing or a fun way to spend a Sunday. Especially when it’s chucking it down and most the peloton are shivering so much they can barely function. I stayed up the front for the first few laps and kept a good position during and after the first prime as I thought a small group might be able to escape. I got away with Amy Gornall (Aspire HSS) for maybe half a lap a little later but even with both of us the Pimbo headwind was a sod. Amy was strong enough to try an attack immediately after we were brought back but again it didn’t last long.
I got away on my own later in the race to be brought back after only a lap. Rested in the bunch for 2 laps and then gave it a final shot. I attacked so hard to get a good gap that when I finally settled into a TT pace I struggled. Pushing through I thought if I get away with this, this is going to be the hardest effort yet. I couldn’t feel my legs due to the cold, so it wasn’t so much that it was painful, more that I couldn’t blooming well push the pedals. I stayed away 2 laps and am pretty grateful for the cheers from the sidelines but I was doomed (as ever it seems at Pimbo for most) to be caught and rolled in with the bunch a couple of laps later to finish 24th.
The scenes after the race were not pretty. So many friends I race with looking hypothermic. My team mate Victoria Hood possibily one of the worst. I found her later on with about 6 jackets on riding the rollers to try in vain to warm up. It was so nice to get home and have a bath! Honestly the best bath ever. So warm and bubbly. Then I sat with brew after brew and Malteaser bunnies for company. A positive weekend but I really cannot wait for a race where the sun shines 🙂