29 June 2014 was not only the date of the National Road Race Championships it also marked the fourth round of the CDNW women’s league, returning for the second time to Pimbo Industrial Estate, Skelmersdale, Lancashire.
The Pimbo circuit is pretty flat, although the finish is on a slight incline, which seems to get harder the further you ride!
33 women took to the start line, which is about half the number that attended the first race at Pimbo in March, but this time at least it was slightly warmer and we had sun! The last few times that I’ve ridden at Pimbo I haven’t been able to do a proper warm up as there were other things that I needed to do before the start of the race, so this time I was determined to have a half decent warm up. I knew that my form had started to pick up, with some half decent time trial times and a win last week, so it was important for me that I did a proper warm up, especially isn’t my type of circuit.
After warming up at the HQ, I rode out to the circuit, trying to eat a pain au chocolat at the same time, which basically meant that I was riding along with half of it in my mouth – proper classy as always!
Before the race started, the Chief Commissaire read out the new #racesmart guidelines from British Cycling (basically reminding us that we are on the open road) and then we were off for 20 laps of the two mile circuit.
The two people most likely to benefit from current league leader Eve Dixon’s absence (on duty at the National Road Championships) were her Team 22 WRT team-mate, Jen Edwards (who had won the first two rounds of the league) and Ruth Taylor of Manchester Wheelers (who had come second to Eve at the previous round at Bickerstaffe in April). Due to the non-technical nature of the circuit, it is really difficult to make a breakaway stick, so I had decided to stay up near the front for the first 15 laps, but in the end, Sinead Burke from PH-MAS Cycling attacked with 7 laps to go and Jen followed her, so it wasn’t an attack that I was going to let go up the road. In the end, it brought home to me how strong the wind was on the top corner of the circuit and that there was no point trying to instigate an attack. With that in mind, I decided to sit in and wait for the sprint.
There was a few digs from RST Racing’s Amy Gornall and PH-MAS Cycling also tried to control the race early doors, but ultimately nothing stuck and as the bell lap came round, I tried to make my way up to the front and found myself on Jen’s wheel. The sprint started off okay but I ended up boxed in and managed to find a gap to get out, which is probably a first for me as I don’t tend to contest sprints. As we neared the line it seemed to go into slow motion and seemed like it was never going to finish, but Jen eventually took the win from Amy and Ruth. There was a crash in the finishing straight which saw Claire Offley from Chester Road Club taken out, with some damage to her bike and a bad cut to her knee (get well soon, Claire), a timely reminder to everyone about how important it is to hold your line, especially in a sprint.
I managed to bag 8th, which is my best placed finish in that event, which I was really pleased with. However, the best thing about today was seeing so many people who had been dropped at the first event in the league three months earlier actually digging in and staying with the bunch. There were so many smiles at the finish from those who had achieved a bunch finish for the first time that it makes all the hard work worthwhile. Hopefully, those riders will gain confidence from that race to continue developing and making progress. For someone who seems to spend a lot of their spare time trying to encourage women to take up competitive cycling, that is better than any top ten finish.
CDNW Women 2/3/4 – Pimbo (results provided by CDNW’s Facebook page)
29-Jun-14 CDNW Women’s League, Event 5 – Pimbo
Categories: W2 W3 W4
Chief commissaire: Peter Jack
Assistant commissaire: Len Woffindin Distance/Time
Moto commissaire: Gary Burns 65km/1:45:00
Judge: Simon Wilson
Race number Position Name Team/Club
25 1 Jennifer Edwards Team 22
22 2 Amy Gornall RST Racing Team
9 3 Ruth Taylor Manchester Whlrs Club
26 4 Sarah Rose Team 22
17 5 Natalie Hodson PH-MAS Cycling
2 6 Melanie Potter Bromsgrove Olympique CC
15 7 Sinead Burke PH-MAS Cycling
28 8 Heather Bamforth Team Jadan
14 9 Nikola Butler Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International
24 10 Flora Gillies Speg – Project 51
21 11 Charlotte Mckernon Rhos On Sea Cycling Club
1 12 Lindsay Atkinson-Wright Albarosa Cycling Club
18 13 Amy OHalloran PH-MAS Cycling
37 14 Clara Sandelina PH-MAS Cycling
31 15 Claire Rutherford Team Wheelguru
8 16 Joanne Street Manchester Whlrs Club
16 17 Martha Gill PH-MAS Cycling
23 18 Gabrielle Duckworth Salt Ayre Cog Set
12 19 Laura Morgan Merlin Cycles
10 20 Kim Walravens Manchester Whlrs Club
5 21 Nicola Fox Manchester Whlrs Club
34 22 Eirwen Williams Clwb Beicis Dwyfor
30 23 Frankie White Team Jadan
35 24 Lauren Brown Team Jadan
36 25 Leah Pheasy PH-MAS Cycling
19 26 Madeleine Scott PH-MAS Cycling
3 27 Claire Offley Chester RC
38 28 Jessica Taylor PH-MAS Cycling
32 29 Catherine Waters R.V. Juns
20 30 Rachel Mullard-Wilson Revolutions Racing
6 31 Cathy Murray Manchester Whlrs Club
Ever since I came back into cycling in 2011, I have had two goals which will no doubt seem a bit rubbish to many – the first was to ride a 25 minute 10 mile time trial on Cheshire and the second was to ride a 25 mile time trial on my local course in less than 1:06:00 (i.e. 1:05:something).
I have never done much time trialling – years ago you either did time trials or you did road racing, and I followed the road racing/track path. I wasn’t a natural when it came to time trialling, I found it really boring and I wasn’t very good, so I did the usual thing of steering clear. Nowadays, there are less road events and therefore more opportunities to ride time trials and road races, and I felt that time trialling was something that I wanted to get better at, as by doing so it would make me a stronger rider.
Having said that, I still haven’t ridden as many time trials as people might think (yesterday was probably my fifth or sixth solo “25” ever) and so I still consider myself to be in the “learning” phase. Last season, it took me all year to get my position right, but I am finally at a position where I like the bike that I ride and I have felt stronger this year.
Unfortunately, there have been loads of road works on our local course (for those of you into time trialling it is the J2/9) so I have only actually ridden the local course three times now, although it feels like I have ridden it more than that!
I don’t have a power meter so I have to go off heart rate, and it is only recently that I have taken to analysing how I am riding the events. The problem with riding on heart rate is that there is a lag before your heart rate goes to the level which it stays at, so you run the risk of going off too hard and not pacing it correctly, because you think you should be going harder than you need to. Luckily, I am aware of this, so I know that I need to keep my head at the start and, to be fair, I seem to be okay at pacing it now, although I think that is partly to do with the fact that my heart is fitter than my legs are strong, so I can’t go much faster!
Yesterday’s event, hosted by Janus RC, was no exception. When I rode the course last year (in admittedly sweltering conditions) I completed it in 1:08:40, and was around eight minutes off the winner. I had achieved my PB of 1:07:17 on the faster Blythe Bridge course in 2011 when I was quite a bit heavier (about 15 kg or 2 ½ stone) but winter training was beginning to pay off as I completed the course earlier this year in 1:07:19, despite still feeling the after effects of the crash three weeks before. This year, I have also had the benefit of a long-sleeved skin suit (I didn’t have one last year but I absolutely love my Bioracer one), a helmet that fits properly (I swapped my Giro Selector, which kept falling over my eyes so I couldn’t see, to a Kask Bambino which is just brill) and a much comfier position on my time trial bike (a Halfords-bought Boardman bike adapted for time trialling).
I knew I was starting to get faster as I was nearer to the winner on the short course a few weeks ago, around five minutes, so Fred decided that I should the disc wheel for yesterday’s event, which I haven’t used before. Before the last “25” (or the short one), I hadn’t really done a warm up, so this time I took the turbo and a wheel for it and actually did a warm up (first time for everything!). I wanted to keep my cadence higher this time as it was slightly too low for the last (short) “25” at around 83 rpm, when it needs to be around 90 – 95 rpm instead, so that was another thing on my list to concentrate on.
As Fred (my husband) was off about 40 minutes before me, I enlisted the help of Simon Bridge to get my disc wheel in otherwise I wouldn’t have managed it. I set off for the start, hoping that the black clouds looming would stay away. The disc wheel felt great, but I just hoped that I would do it justice, with it being the first time I had used it. I set off and felt like I was going really well, my heart rate was where I wanted it to be and my legs felt fine too (benefits of a warm up I suppose!). I got caught up in traffic (our local course is pretty narrow in places meaning that cars can’t overtake) but I quickly caught the guy who was two minutes in front of me and I could see the guy a minute in front of me too. Fred went past me and told me to keep going, which I did. I seemed to be riding at about 2 – 3mph over what I usually did on the harder parts of the circuit, so coming into the technical section of the circuit I felt like I was going okay. Unfortunately, it then decided to rain, which meant the temperature dropped, as did my speed, and it took me a further five miles before I was out of the rain and the temperature was back up before I got going again.
However, as I approached the finish, I knew I was on for a good time (for me) and I realised that I had beaten my PB. I was a bit disappointed that I only did a 1:04:56 but I got over it pretty quickly because I still had beaten my PB by over two minutes on a course that isn’t as fast as others and I had got stuck in traffic, so all in all, I had to be satisfied with that.
It has taken me nearly three years to achieve those goals but at the moment, I can’t help but feel a bit of a sense of anti-climax, possibly because I have been chasing those times for so long and now I’ve achieved them I’m a bit at a loss. I definitely underestimated how much power I had lost by losing 20% of my body weight, and how long it would take to start from scratch, effectively. Having said that, I definitely feel better for being lighter as I can get up hills much easier! I have adjusted my focus somewhat this season – I now know that I have too many other hurdles that I have to get over (whether that be work, health conditions or just getting older) to know that I don’t have the time or the inclination to compete in National Series level events and therefore they won’t be on my agenda next year. In the short term though, I have some more time trials lined up, including my first ever “50” and the remaining CDNW women’s events, including Oakenclough and Great Budworth, so no doubt I will have enough to keep me focused, I suppose I better do some training then!
Doncaster Cycle Festival 2014 Film by Matt Pennell with a glimpse of Victoria.
1st June 2014
Results Women 2/3/4
1. Paige Willmard, bikepure
2. Abby Mae Parkinson, RST Racing
3. Penny Rowson, Matrix Volpine
4. Sam Burman, WNT
5. Lauren O’Brien, RST Racing
6. Rebecca Rimmington, Merlin
7. Sam Thoy, Jadan
8. Alison Kinloch, PH Mas
9. Nicola Moore, Squadra RT
10. Joanne Blakeley, GB Cycles