Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Masters Road Race Champs

I’ve been trying to kid myself I’m still an under 23 for far too long and I’ve got no excuse to carry on pretending anymore since winning the National Masters Championships on Saturday.  For anyone who doesn’t cycle you have to be over 30 to even enter but I tried not to let that put me off.

The championships for the various age categories were held over the weekend in Virginia Water over the courses often used for road racing near Kitsmead Lane and Acoommodation Road.  The women’s race was the first event combined with the men’s over 60s.  Lining up I had no idea what the racing would be like and how having two championships in one race would affect the tactics.  I was only informed that veterans don’t like crashing, which was absolutely fine by me!

I’d spent much of the week before the championships camping in Snowdonia experiencing almost every season available.  It felt like my feet had gone mouldy yet I’d also been sunburnt but I was happy to have enjoyed a week under canvas despite everyone telling me it was a ridiculous idea.  It turned out to be great preparation for a road race all the same, helped along by the numerous tea shops and cafes.  I can particularly recommend the bread & butter pudding from Caffi Gwynant and under no circumstances should you believe anyone who tells you I ate that for breakfast!

Back to the race, my eyes were firmly fixed on Adel Tyson-Bloor (VC Raphael) and Elise Laverick (Look Mum No Hands) whose eyes were also fixed on me it seemed.  Everywhere one of us went the others weren't far behind!  My plan was to watch any early moves but not to attack myself until 4 laps to go on the Staple Hill Circuit but as always seems to happen I found myself attacking while we were still on The Valley End loop.  There were some strong legs on the early laps with the bunch being well strung out up the drag but the elastic never seemed to snap.

With 5 or 6 laps to go (I’m not to sure of the exact amount, my eyes were a bit blurry from then on) I was in a good position on the way up Staple Hill so decided to launch a bit of an attack.  At the top I was on my own but could see Adel and Elise putting in a big effort to catch me.  The men had reportedly sat back and made them do the chasing which was nice for our race but no doubt very frustrating for theirs.  Perhaps something to do with the cake fueled previous week I really wasn’t feeling happy as I tried to stay away from the chasing bunch and my breakfast (a more appropriate bowl of porridge this time) kept threatening to make a re-appearance.  Despite this, I was really happy to start extending my lead and came over the line 1st about a minute and a half ahead of the sprint finish which saw Adel take 2nd and Elise 3rd.

Now I'm just looking forward to my team mates getting old enough to join me for the racing but sadly I'm in for a long wait!

Natalie xxx

Monday, 16 July 2012

Tour of Blackpool

Consisting of a 1km prologue around a crit circuit, a crit, and a short flat road race, we went to Blackpool with high hopes for a good result, particularly for Lou who is a fast cornerer and explosive on the flat.

On the way up north we visited our lovely teammate Phoebe, and got an idea how she got to be so good at climbing, with her house being surrounded by what look like mountains to a Londoner!
The circuit turned out to be a long oval, with a hairpin at one end and a slightly wider one at the other, and two long straights, not quite the twisty circuit we were hoping for but with a good crowd around and kids races on we were feeling pretty positive and having fun anyway. We put on our new and improved skinsuits, from Halo Sports, which look awesome, and long sleeved jerseys and started warming up, unfortunately we got a bit carried away warming up and missed the chance to do a practice lap of the course so the prologue ended up being a very fast sighting lap – not ideal, and we finished within 0.1 seconds of each other is 26th and 28th respectively or thereabouts, but only six seconds back from the leader.

We both went into the crit with all guns blazing and Lou attacked from the start, making sure it was an exciting race, despite lots of attacking, nothing stuck and it came down to a bunch sprint, and we both finished around the middle. I was very happy to make it to the end of the crit with the main bunch for the first time this year, but personal victory aside, we hadn’t done anything to improve our standing in the race!

I could hardly contain my excitement to be at the seaside so we had fish and chips by the sea and looked at the tower and the hen parties and dodged seagulls for a bit before heading over to Burnley to stay the night before the road race. Lou had picked us what may once have been a spectacular hotel but undergoing ‘restoration’ and after a pre bed trip to McDonalds we settled in to watch the tour and get some sleep.

The road race was 12 laps of a twisty rolling circuit on narrow roads and with some very muddy bits. Unfortunately Lou got someone’s handlebars stuck in her wheel after a few girls came down and lost two spokes, and the race, and that was the end of that!

On the 200 mile drive home we drowned our sorrows in a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts and sang along to the radio, and in the end, racing aside, I had a fun weekend away with Lou in Blackpool, and hearing that Natalie had become a National Champion while we were away made for a pretty successful weekend for TMBG!