Entering my 3rd year as a "Cyclist", 2017 was my year to take the stabilisers off and start tackling some non novice 3/4 races. I'm not a fan of technical circuits and Crits, Betteshanger is my favourite track, so seeing SERRL had launched women's races took my interest. It was a nerve wracking leap, lining up as I've seen my fellow male team mates do a thousand times before.
The lead car seemed to go off like a rocket and I'm not brave enough to get all elbowy to get a good position. The course, which I had pre ridden the week before, had a draggy climb and within cycling this is my Achilles heel! Sure enough I was a fully fledged member of Spatford Banks.....dumped off the group, breathing heavy and annoyed at my lack of Quintana legs I pushed on. I immediately thought I was last and sat up to catch my breath as I saw the group get further and further away. A lap solo I realised I wasn't heading for the broom wagon and was joined by 2 riders who had dropped before me, working together we caught a rider ahead and as our finish approached I was unaware that was it for us and was unprepared for the sprint.
I returned to HQ and wasn't very happy as I felt so far off the other riders and disappointed that I had been dropped so fast. I'm very hard on myself, many say far too hard, but if we didn't have that quality we wouldn't put ourselves through it in the first place. Lessons learnt and it made me train harder, push more, ready for next time.
After a year of novice racing in 2016 and dipping a very unsuccessful toe into some big girls races, 2017 is now the time to step it up. After my first taste of road racing i'm still a lowly 4th cat, but no longer a novice and I'm certainly not on the same level as others. It really is a hard sport across the board.
My training last year, coached by my partner, a super strong 2nd Cat, consisted of gym work, rides out, Wattbike and more rides out. January had different ideas. I returned to work. It was a luxury to have had so much time to ride last year. However, now working, 3 kids to look after as a single parent, my whole training schedule had to change! My hours reduced, the training got more intense and my rides out became carefully planned after work and before collecting ankle biters from school. It was hard work, I didn't like the change and felt like I was going to lose my fitness and the progress I had made. Dropping so many hours on the bike, on the road, for hour intensive sessions felt odd. 4 months later and I've changed my mind. Im stronger, faster, getting more confident and seeing progress. I go to the weekly smash fest at Betteshanger and love it. 4mph increase on my avg speed from a previous week and a full on solo breakaway had me buzzing!! I still have a lot to learn, still feel I'm in a Novice/4th Cat black hole but I'm gradually moving in the right direction and really looking forward to my next race!