Having raced at Herne Hill the previous day, with mixed success, I arrived at Lou’s to go to the race a bit tired and with a very uncomfortable saddle, having left mine on my bike at the velodrome after the race! This was the first time I've raced on open roads and I had heard some horror stories about crashes in previous years so I was pretty nervous but eager to do my best to help Natalie, having seen her in action at Hog Hill at the first team series race.
Natalie was away within minutes of the race starting so in a way I felt I could relax a bit as, barring a puncture, Natalie has the legs to stay away. The Matrix girls were doing a good job controlling the pace as they had a teammate up the road too, so for me it was just a matter of staying in the bunch and trying to improve my position. I was really lucky to have Lou and V around as by this point, being sat a the back and having to really push out of every corner to hang onto the group, my legs were feeling pretty weak and my head wasn’t quite in it, but they kept moving me up and telling me to eat and drink, and once we got onto the second circuit I started to get into the swing of things a bit more.
We were getting told that the gap had increased to 2 minutes, then 3, and by this point Natalie was alone, and nearing the end, and both me and Lou were pretty confident she had it in the bag, so now we had the bunch sprint with a world champion and several big teams of really strong girls to contend with. With a lap to go Lou gave me a little pep talk and a big shove onto Lucy Garners wheel (a bit star struck…), where I stayed for about 30 seconds before getting shoved off! Coming up to the final climb to the finish the bunch spread right across the road and the pace slowly ramped up, I was sat in the second line of riders, in the middle of the road when the sprint went off, I reacted as fast as I could and held on for a good while, sitting in about 6th position until the girls getting led out started jumping and I started going backwards, I crossed the line 15th, absolutely shattered, until Lou rolled past and reminded me our team had won!
Obviously I still have a lot to learn but I think that will come with time and having such an amazing, experienced and supportive team around is helping. It also set my mind at rest to see that the standard of riding was really good all round, there were no crashes, the course was great and the marshalling was great and it was a really good experience, we even got some sunshine! I woke up this morning aching all over but suddenly looking forward to racing in Cheshire next week.