Those of you who’ve read my blog before probably know that I come from a ‘freestyle’ background, that is, I’ve always been keen on learning tricks, riding jumps, that kinda thing.
For some weird reason that I’ve still not figured out yet, I recently decided that I’d try a few races as well. Now bear in mind that when I was a pro snowboarder you certainly didn’t ‘train,’ and then after that I toured in a metal band, so that meant that I was just really good at drinking. Post metal band I lived in London and though I loved riding my bike, I also loved drinking and smoking.
These days, I still love beer but smoking is no longer on the menu and I have developed a love of fitness for fitness’ sake. So alongside chucking myself erratically off dirt jumps, pegging it down hillsides on my mountain bike and thrashing out a few miles on the road, I actively seek out exercise for the fun of it. Basically the point I’m slowly getting to is that I actually enjoy working out. So maybe that’s why I decided I wanted to race; because it would give me something to work towards?
Anyway, I entered my first cyclocross race about six months ago, then next up was my first track bike crit. This week, I tried my hand at road racing on the Wilier ‘Stella’ I’m reviewing for Total Womens’ Cycling.
I initially entered the race as it was one of only a handful of women’s races taking place this summer down here in Devon where I live. I thought that racing against women would be somehow less intimidating, I don’t know exactly why, but if you’re a woman you’ll probably get it. Unfortunately, due to some issues with timing, at the last minute the organisers decided to run us ladies in the same race as the Cat 3 and 4 men. Why the hell is it always the ladies races that get pushed to one side?
Anyway, us ladies decided to have our own race within a race so we let kind of let the men go at the start and then the eight of us raced together. As everyone (except two of us – myself and Nik) was a regular racer, the other ladies pretty much immediately partnered up with their buddies and took it in turns to draft each the whole race. I wasn’t quite quick enough to tag along with any of them so rode the whole race on my own, which was exhausting and basically not as fun as if I’d been riding in a group either. A couple of times during the 40 minute race, I was lapped by the male field and I’d tuck myself into their group, riding with them for a lap or so. I couldn’t keep up with their pace for too long, but it really reinforced how much more enjoyable racing is if you can stay with the bunch. It’s not even just about saving energy by drafting, it’s just really exciting navigating the turns of the course in such close proximity to so many people.
In the end, I was pretty happy with how I did. Yes, it would be preferable to ride with the other ladies, but that will come, and for now I’m just happy that for the entire 40 minutes, I rode hell for leather, and I didn’t allow myself even a moment’s break, I honestly didn’t slack off for a single second. I’m really glad I didn’t just give up to be honest, and I’m definitely fitter than I was. I mean, there’s plenty of room for improvement, but still!
It was great to meet some of the other ladies, hope to see you again soon girls! And thanks to Exeter Wheelers for putting on the race.