Monday, 20 May 2013

Scottish Road Race Champs

Last weekend I headed north to the small town of Alford for the Scottish Road Race Champs. The race was going to be demanding to say the least. I'd seen a preview of the course which included an ascent of the famous climb "The Suie" - You can read about it on Owen Philipson's Blog here:

So after reading that I think it was safe to say I was a little nervous about the race. Hills aren't usually my strongest point so I was just hoping to make it to the bottom of the climb with the main bunch. The climb came in the last 12km of the 87km race which was already on fairly rolling roads to that point.

I had planned to pre ride a bit of the course the day before but I missed the dry part of the day and, call me soft, but the torrential rain didn't seem too clever to go out in, so a pre race ride on the rollers to get the travel out my legs sufficed. I did however have a drive round the course, including the hill, which just seemed to rise up like a wall, yup it was gonna live up to expectations for sure!

So finally race day was here and it was really warm! Unusual for the north of Scotland but not unwelcome at all. I got a good warm up done on the rollers before assembling with all the other women behind the pipe band and Youth D racers on the circuit in the Grampian Transport Museum. What followed was a rather entertaining ride around the circuit as we all followed the pipe band round at walking pace trying not to fall off our bikes! I think it added to the event however and I think it was good for all the youngsters to see what they should be aspiring to in a few years time.

After that we headed out onto the road for a short neutralised section before we were racing. We had one long circuit before we were onto the shorter circuit with the climb on it. The racing on the big circuit was on the whole a bit uneventful, there were some slopes on the far side which the Breast Cancer Care team tried to get away on, pinging one rider after another away off the front, but nothing was sticking. After that it was mainly rolling and downhill for quite a while and the bunch just rolled along, slowly. Infact so slowly that the men, who had started half an hour behind us, caught us up and we had to stop to let them past. After that we had a bit of a climb before we hit the road leading up to the Suie, up here Jen Taylor attacked and the bunch was strung out with riders trying to pull her back, I was really struggling at this point. I had been feeling so nervous and sick before the race I don't think I had eaten enough, and it was telling on my legs, but I took a gel and that got me home. There was nearly a group of 6 of us got away up one of the hills on the road up to the Suie but it didn't stick and again the bunch just rolled along. I think everyone just knew how hard the last hill was going to be so wanted to save something effectively.

The bunch rolling along.

The Suie in the car on the Saturday, this photo
doesn't really show how steep it was!
Then we hit the climb, pretty much immediately Jen Taylor and Julie Erskine rode off into the distance, seriously impressive riding from those two, I really wish I could climb like that! I tried to hold onto the wheels in front but was really really struggling, about half way up I was in 10th position, with everyone fairly spaced out, but going backwards. Luckily though Fiona Duncan came up beside me and offered a few words of encouragement, she paced me up the last bit of the climb, we managed to limit our losses and had the group of 6 in front of us insight. We pushed on down the descent and worked really well on the next part to make it up to the group in front. We were now competing for the final spot on the podium but my legs were seriously feeling it by now. Up the finishing straight and Eileen Roe went on the left hand side and I knew the sprint was about to start but it was just like screaming pain in my legs so I only managed 5th in our group and 7th overall. But wow was I happy with that. To finish that demanding a race in that company was really incredible, all the women in that group of 8 were super strong, no one could just hide away and get a free ride to the finish, you had to be strong to get there. So yeah it felt a bit like finishing a stage of the tour de france with the favourites. Buzzing, as Gavin would say.

Finishing in 7th meant I took the Junior Womens Title, and it was really nice to get presented with a jersey and medal with the other winners and receive a prize, because I feel sometimes people forget that junior women are having to compete with elite women from the moment they move out of youth categories and rarely is a junior prize awarded, so I would really like to thank the organiser for leading the way in that respect and putting on a great race. Also big congrats to Jen Taylor for taking the win in what I hear was a very close sprint with Julie Erskine. Thanks very much to Fiona Duncan for getting me up the last bit of the climb and working hard to get back on the group in front.

Medal Winners, me on the left with the jersey for Junior Womens Champion

Thanks for reading, next up I've got about 3 weeks of solid crit racing, which should be fun! Going to be racing some big names so will hopefully get my name up on the results sheet alongside theirs.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Cheshire Classic

Bit late with this post but just a wee update on how I got on at the 2nd round of the British Series, the Cheshire Classic, which took place last weekend. I travelled south with my mum and team mate Claire on Saturday and had a quick preride of the course, which included a hill named 'The Cliff' as you can imagine, it was pretty steep. It felt okay in practise but I knew after a few times up it, it was going to start to sting a bit.

So onto race day and we arrived at the HQ in plenty of time to get warmed up and ready for the start at 10. With a big field of 71 riders I knew I wanted to be at the front for the neutralised section, which was about 4km long before we hit the course for 10 laps of the 7.7km course. I was right on the lead car as it pulled away, which was perfect because it meant I didn't have to worry about holding my position or moving up or anything. Soon the lead car pulled away and we were off, I got in the wheels and just tried to move up into the top 10 for the hill every lap, which seemed to work because I would slide back a bit but only found myself at the back of the bunch once. I had one scary moment when there was a crash just in front of me going up the hill but I managed to get round it an chase back on.

After much pain every time up the hill it was finally the last lap, the finish was half way up the hill so there was technically still a bit to go but for some reason I just totally lost my racing mentality, I think I had been so focused on sticking in the bunch to the finish that I just forgot what to do at the finish of the race, so ended up way too far back to be competitive at all and came in 26th. I think I just need more experience of the finish of races in bunches but I'm sure it'll come with practise.

Congrats to Karla Boddy on a great win! There is a good wee video of the race on the website at

Thanks for reading, got a few quiet weekends before the Scottish Road Race Champs up in Aberdeen in 2 weeks time