Thursday, 12 December 2013

Di Lee becomes Midland CX Champ!

The last 2 weeks have been a bit up and down for me and Sneddon, I don’t like to moan about illness but we really haven’t been on top form. Both of us have been full of colds and working silly hours at work so our training has not been up to our normal standard. We both planned to do Milton Keynes National Trophy, but on the Friday morning I was cleaning my bike and managed to get chain cleaner in my eye. I gained an attractive eye infection and I couldn't face racing at the weekend - well actually I couldn't see and would have been a total liability. However Phoebe battled on and went to race, completing a good performance, considering she didn’t have the best gridding (I will leave her to tell you about the race). While I sulked at home I learnt that my Oakley glasses are not only amazing for riding but a good health and safety accessory for when cleaning my bike. I can hear you saying how the hell did, you manage to get chain cleaner in your eye, but using a toothbrush on a windy day is not advisable. You’d think having a best mate as a doctor, phoebe would give me some sympathy. Oh no she just said Di you look like you have a hangover, and only you could miss a race due to cleaning your bike. 

So we had one week to one of our main target race of the CX season, both still feeling ill we motivated each other to a turbo on Monday evening however it possibly was not the best thing. One day we will learn, when you are ill - rest. Training didn’t do us much good so Tuesday was spent lay on the sofa, we like to look at this as optimal resting. I felt a bit better toward the end of the week and I was pretty excited about the Midlands. Sunday morning came and I did a practice lap and found Phoebe coughing on the side of the course and told her not to race, quickly promoting her to chief cheerer. Phoebe then ensured I was well looked after she made me wear ever piece of kit I owned to keep warm pre-race – she bought her new puppy over to distract the nerves and generally nagged me J in a good way - of course she was very motivational. The race was very bumpy and hard going, but I held a good lead from the start and took the win becoming Midland Champion. There were some bonuses too with Phoebe not racing I was well looked after and I stole her picnic afterwards. So this week we are going to focus on getting back into training and ponder over how many Christmas trees we can get in Phoebe’s new house. Mule Bar Girl Louise also won her regional Champs which was great news. 

One last thanks and recommendation, we are loving our new Ana Nichoola Snowcat jackets, they definitely helped cheer us up. 

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Laughter is Good for the Soul...The MBG's take the spectators stance for once

Last weekend we decided to organise and end-of-season party in style and our amazing whip, V, sorted out a trip of a lifetime, to Ghent.

As a team we are thrilled by track racing, the ultimate of which is the Madison, we love to get muddy with some cyclo-cross and of course, we love to party! The trip to Ghent was bang-on, with a tour via Koksjide Cyclo-Cross in the day and then driving on to Ghent to watch some of the spectacle that is the Ghent 6-Day track racing.

Here's how each of us found the trip and a highlight memory each:



REBECCA CHARLTON


"Being able to unwind at the end of the season was fantastic and the amount of laughter over the weekend reaffirms why we all get on so well as a team.
Seeing our Brit girls Nikki Harris, Helen Wyman and Gabby Day racing at Koksjide was amazing and we were loving the Belgian vibe!
Next stop was the velodrome & Kenny De Ketele & Iljo Keisse didn't fail to impress as our predicted favorites.
The whole evening descended into typical MBG carnage & my stomach muscles still ache from laughing so hard! 
Beer, smiles, awesome friends, & racing.

Becca xxx"



WIESIA (V) KUCZAJ


"The whole weekend was bloody amazing, I don't think I have laughed that much in a long time. 

The cross was an awesome experience, beer, dancing and bike racing - what more do you need in life!

Then on to Ghent for the 6-day... I was a tad nervous about not having the stamina to last an all-day drinking session. We spent the first part of the night actually watching the racing, it was fast, furious and very exciting, exactly how we like to race! The events were all Madison based so there was never a dull moment, luckily had Rebecca chatting me through all the changes during the Madison Scratch and we were both getting super excited about racing it next season.

After spotting the boys in the middle of the track having 'far' too much fun we decided that was enough of spectating and it was time to party. After that the night is pretty much consisted off of beer, dancing, laughing, dancing, searching for Rebecca's coat, a bit more dancing, searching for Rebecca's coat, a bit more laughing and then again searching for Rebecca's coat - this went on until about 5am I believe. The whole day/night was hilarious and I feel so lucky to have such a cool bunch of team mates and friends to have shared the weekend with.

If you like beer and bike racing you must pay a visit to one of the 6-day events!

The only thing that would have made it better would be to have Di, Nat and Emily with us - we missed you guys xxx"


CLEMENCE COPIE



"Having never watched any live cycling events besides road races, the MBG team weekend was the perfect introduction into Cyclocross with a stop at UCI Worldcup Round 3 in Koksijde and live commentary - along with rider profiles - from Phoebe. Then, we were off to Ghent for my introduction to Track with technical experts Louise & V who managed to make some sort of sense of a “Madison”  - helped with beers….everything topped with some classic Belgian tunes! Loved the Madison scratch race and our stop in Bruges on the way back with full Christmas decorations on show…and chocolate fountains!! To sum up: cycling, drinking, dancing, laughing, partying, table football playing, sobering, pranking Adel, visiting, eating, driving…in that order! As much as I love my road teamies, it was great to spend some time with the other MBG riders: Phoebe, Anna & Rebecca.

By the way, here are below the remains of our Belgian escapade (picture attached). Let me know who they belong to with address and I’ll send them back!
-          MBG beanie
-          iPhone USB cable
-          An earing"




PHOEBE (PHOBIE) SNEDDON


"This weekend I joined most of my team mates for a dirty weekend away in belgium. I got up at 4.30am and whizzed down the motorway to shotgun the front seat of Clem's van. We gathered up a few more team mates somewhere in london and hit the open road. Despite clem being french she is a fantastic driver - with her foot to the floor she flew past various pensioners and lunatics on the road with us waving and gesturing out the window (similar to a school trip on a mini bus). We made it via the tunnel under the channel with some of the girls hoping to see fish swimming past the window!! 

Once on belgium territory I managed to persuade the girls to call by at the Koksijde CX world cup. Thankfully we arrived just in time to see Nikki harris smash her way over the sand dunes to 3rd place. The rest of the girls soon found the infamous "party tents" and the beer started to flow. 

Next stop was gent for the track racing. As chief navigator I naturally fell straight to sleep as soon as i got in the car. I was then woken up and asked to find the hotel, turns out we were no where near where we thought we were. after travelling in the opposite direction down a motorway i managed to negotiate the gent roads and waterways to our hotel. Adel followed closely behind in a sort of high speed car chase any hollywood movie would be proud of. A quick turn around and we were all baking in the gent velodrome oven - being athletes we soon realised the important of staying hydrated in such temperatures. We threw the beer down our necks and got into full flow mingling with the belgies. This resulted in a number of marriage proposals and rather a lot of groping. Thankfully we had the protection of the boys from herne hill! The racing finished at 2am and I was starting to fade. However the MBGs have the stamina of seasoned alcoholics and we hit the nearest bar. The partying carried on well into the early hours of the morning interspersed with one million searches for rebecca's coat (which I am going to surgically attach to her next time she ventures out).

The following day various bodies were gathered up from the hotel corridors and dumped in the van. Dragging our hangovers behind us we mooched around Brugge and attempted some tourist activites before heading home. 
The whole trip was absolutely fantastic. I feel so lucky to be part of such a fun and friendly team. Thanks for making me feel so welcome. I am still recovering. 

love phoebe"


ANNA GLOWINSKI

"I was really excited to spend the weekend with a whole load of the old and new MBG's...the road team have a bit of a "thing" going on, with all their adventures around the country and beyond, chasing races and I'm normally too busy getting muddy or jumping shit to join them, so this was my chance!

The best thing was that everyone got on so great, the girls are brutally harsh in their sense of humours, complete piss-takers and, to be frank, pretty damn loud. Each girl is awesome, as a group, it is a force to be reckoned with!

I don't do well at spectating, I find it hard to concentrate, but the Madion racing was so fast paced and exciting....combined with not knowing what was going on and trying to work it out, it managed to keep me entertained for the duration of the main race. After that all hell let loose, My highlight of the evening was Cup Jumping in the track centre, where the boys had built a tower of empty plastic cups and we all took it in turns to jump over it, adding  extra cups to make it taller every now and again. We cleared a massive space and had the crowd clapping and cheering whenever someone cleared it....never mind the bike racing going on around us or anything!!

I also fell asleep in the hotel corridor looking after Lois (a team stray for the weekend) after she got locked out.

What this trip reminded me was that cycling brings me in touch with other like-minded women and I am so grateful to be a part of the MBG team! Can't wait til our training camp with ALL the girls...

Anna xx"



LOUISE MAHE



Louise stopping traffic to allow us to cross the road safely...she didn't notice that in fact the red light was doing all the work for her!

"In true MBG fashion I was running late when I left the house on Saturday morning to catch the train to meet the rest of the girls. Texting V to let her know and see exactly how late I was I got a response telling me to "stop text and SPRINT" so I did. However with no sports bra, a massive rucksack and a pair of unsupportive converse, and over a mile to the station I was broken and aching before I even got to Belgium!  

Once on the other side it was Adel's job to follow Clem's somewhat erratic driving to get us to watch the cross in koksijde (a name that in true Brit style we had a good giggle at). We made it just in time to yell for the British girls, in particular  Nikki Harris who was in 3rd and youngster hannah Payton who had stepped up to take on the tough sand dunes. Then it time for some beer and chips with a lot of Mayo! After giving fieldy a good yell in the men's race it was back to the road, destination Gent.

Following Clem wasn't too bad now we'd finally work out every time we'd pull in behind her, in the slow lane, she'd be pulling out again to overtake. However once we got into gent it wasn't so straight forward with a few left turns that suddenly became Uturns (across a few lanes of traffic) but somehow we made it to the hotel. After an hour or so unwinding time (possibly drinking for a few of the party) we headed down to grab some grub before heading to the velodrome. Once there this is my main recollections of the night; bloody hot, get beer tokens, track centre, watch racing, get dizzy, beer, find seats, move seats, beer, watch racing, you have to pay to pee?, beer, signer, beer, party time, track centre, jumping cups, sweaty men, lots more beer and then it's a bit of a blur...though I do know at some point we left the velodrome and went somewhere else.

Luckily for me I wasn't feeling too rough the next morning, as I'd vommed most of the alcohol out of my system. My legs and feet how're were really feeling the effects of the previous mornings sprint. I can't really repeat what Clem said I looked like...but I was hobbling a bit as we mooched round Brugge. Then it was back home to recover from a very messy weekend."



ADEL TYSON-BLOOR



with her 4 desserts
"As my first venture out on a social with the MBG I thought I would
properly see myself off with a whole weekend of debauchery. Those who
know me, know what a lightweight I am and I have to admit to being
more than a little apprehensive as these girls have a, deserved,
reputation for their party antics. So when the opportunity to be
designated driver arose I leapt at the chance!! Little did I know that
I would have to follow a crazy Frenchy thro the streets of Ghent in an
Italian Job stylie!

Some bits that I will never forget have to include an hot dog served
with dripping blood, the menopause, croissant making, Belgium bike
racer bottoms, 4 deserts, cup jumping, the conga, aggressive
piggybacks, fussball, midnight sausage, the wrong hotel, sleeping in
the corridor, the panoramic view whilst using the facilities and my
car being stolen..... Only missing a drug dealing monkey!

Having guested for MBG at Bedford last year I can confirm that these
girls take racing seriously but if you want to see the work, life,
race balls being juggled in perfect harmony, you could do worse than
take a leaf out of these girls books! Laughter is indeed good for the
soul.

And the next time I say "it's hotter than the centre of the earth"
maybe they will take note :-)"





Monday, 25 November 2013

Mud! Glorious Mud!

Here is a quick update from the girls up norf  who are now mid way through the gruelling cross season.

Round 9 of the NDCXL was at the National Water Sports Centre - Holme Pierrepont Nottinghamshire, this is normally a muddy technical course, however this year it was a nice day making a quick fast round. Phoebe and I had a good start and followed by one of our best rides of our season. The climbs on the course really suited us both and we attacked really well throughout the whole race. There was lots of motivation at the top of the longest climb it was like Mule Bar Girl /Sigma Sport corner. My parents are notorious for being top supporters and Mr Sneddon  (phoebe's dad) was also with my parents giving us both his smile and nod of approval as we were killing some of the vet men. Phoebe’s dad is one of my biggest fans and often rides out in freezing temperatures to give us a cheer. Also our fantastic support crew - Lawrence, Gary and Chris were screaming loudly from around the pit on every lap. It was a brilliant atmosphere and the support for Mule Bar Girls is increasing every week. We were 1st and 4th overall after a crash early on put Phoebe out of the running for a top 3 - she did ride like a woman possessed.

The next day was busy, Phoebe was cooking and entertaining family so I headed off to the Linc’s league for a good second race, I came 1st. The linc’s league are always really friendly and a great race for anyone tempted to give cross ago. However the 1 hours duration are a bit of a killer the day after a hard race, but great for use as overload training.

So on Monday we ventured out for a training ride, I was feeling a bit off it, but didn’t want to disappoint snedz (as she did point out to me I always make her ride whatever she feels like). I think I’m turning her into a personal trainer this week, she has been so bloody on it, she has killed me. A Wet and windy ride round Derbyshire and not even a coffee stop it was that cold. Tuesday we did a garage turbo session where I watched Phoebe smashing out some impressive watts, while I decided I definitely had a horrible cold and would pedal along until it was time to get off for a milkshake (Phoebe makes the absolute best recovery milkshakes).

I had the rest of the week resting and getting rid for my cold, in prep for round 10 of the NDCXL. Round 10 was an excellent course, technical and muddy. I was a bit unsure how I’d ride but gave it a good shot and lead the ladies race from the start came 1st and 22nd overall the vets men even though they had a 2 mins start on us ladies. I must have been well rested. My pit crew did a fantastic job as we needed clean bikes nearly every lap. All the ladies did amazing this week with many ladies only having one bike, which made the race seriously hard, but no one gave up, they just cleared their bikes the best as they could and dug in and got on with it, Tracey Flechter came 3rd with one bike - very impressive and highlighted her exceptional skills. A BIG Shout out to Sarah Lomas (Scott epic) returning from injury and coming a strong 2nd and 1st junior, She was so excited to be back racing and back slogging through the mud it was great to see. Next week's training prep is for the National Trophy at Milton Keynes and also mastering Phoebe’s new coffee swiss roll.

A big Thank you to Wildoo for the thermal Mule Bar Tops, they’re proving very useful now we are reach minuses figures.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Your Bike will bring you on many adventures

I was meant to write a blog about my trip to Japan, this was because it was such an incredible experience I never wanna forget it. However I was too tired and now, a week later, I have pretty much forgotten it already :(

So I am going to write about my trip to Liverpool instead, because it has just happened. It's called "your bike will bring you on many adventures"

A few weeks or months ago I came across an event called a super enduro. It seemed weird and my curiosity took over. I like weird events, ever since I did the red bull minidrome a few years ago, I like the feeling of nerves that come with the unknown,  its not like "have I trained enough? Did I eat correctly?" There is no self analysis, its just pure anticipation, like a child waiting for something their parents have told them about, which they have been told will be good, but they have never done it before, so they cannot expect anything. It's weird,  but it's cool.
Whizzing around the red Bull minidrome, one of THE most fun feelings ever!

Also, being a show off, I like crowds, I buzz off the extra nerves of doing things in front of people, the Cobble Wobble in Frome for example. I never would have thought I could get pleasure riding hard up a hill!!! But bouncing off the cobbles, trying to put pressure down without wheel spinning (do u say that??) And have the street lined with people in funny outfits cheering their heads off for you, its fucking cool! It makes me buzz with adrenaline and concentrate on what I am doing. And anything that makes me concentrate is a winner in my book of personal entertainment!

Burning my legs dressed as Christmas at the Cobble Wobble


There is usually an added element of camaraderie amongst the riders. Sometimes, like at the Tyne Tunnel race by the Veloctiy crew, there is a lot of  money up for grabs, so the competition is high. But, the strength of the unknown is stronger, you have to chat to riders to find out what they know, how they anticipate it, how they think it will feel, to prepare you best you can. So you all end up clustering together, feeling slightly jittery, and all united by the feeling of "why am I doing this? Will I embarrass myself? If I do embarrass myself at least I am with these guys now and not just a lone loser..."

Hanging with the racers pre-Tyne Tunnel Sprint at Velocity Street Race


so u wanna beat them, but you wanna align yourself with them too.

So, that will explain why I wanted to find out more about this super enduro. It was in the Echo arena in Liverpool,  which is like, a big stadium, and the format was following motorbikes. I dont know anything about motorbikes, so that meant nothing to me, I just put my faith in the fact someone else obviously thought it was a good idea. Not many girls were signing up, and me and Maxine, my super cool buddy who raced the Tunnel race with me, were both game for it. We badgered a load of girls to join us and have this big old trip, race, party in liverpool.  Some girls were busy, some girls knew about super enduro motobikes and made the call that it wouldn't be possible so they'd rather sit out and see how it goes.
How it looked initially


In the end, me, Maxine and Lorena drove up and met Sandy (I have blogged about Sandy before, she is so cool it makes me wanna run around the cafe I am writing this from shouting "you should meet sandy!!!" And a couple of other girls were already signed up.

Smiles en-route to the race


From here, I don't really know how to write this to make it interesting. The event was a motocross event, and the mountain bikes were meant to be an additional show using the same track. The track was mud and went over logs (big ones) and other obstacles.

After arriving we looked at the course and thought,  what the fuck?!, that simply isnt rideable. We got our bikes out and gave it a go, the original course had been shorted, so we only had 4 obstacles to do, but the mud/clay was so sticky it was hard just to ride the flat. I attempted the thing where we rode over tractor tyres, which were bigger than me, and after 3 or 4 goes I managed to get to the top, and my heart felt like it was gonna explode!!

We had some meetings, the organisers said they'd get some ply wood to modify it and we all went off.

The Charity Ball
An interlude to all this was that a lady, Sheena, from Twitter had contacted us and we basically ended up inviting ourselves to a charity ball that night. At one point we had run to H&M to get ball gowns for under a tenner (I was in charge of choosing something for sandy) and after all the problems with the course we ended up late for dinner. We quickly changed in the car park, where I quickly realised the colourful floor length gown i had got for Sandy was in fact a Rustafarian beach dress... my sparkly shorts turned Maxines boots into a hooker outfit... and the shoes Lorena had bought still had the security tag on, so she had to remain in trainers. I am laughing writing this, we looked so ridiculous that we could barely leave the car park we were laughing so hard. We tried to sneak into this ball...2 hours late, right in the middle of the raffle and where everyone looked like super models and one table of people actually laughed at us. I have never been so embarrassed in my life!

hooker

rasta


Yup...we were all at the same party!


However, the food was stunning and the dancing was energetic and at 2.30 am after a screw up with parking,  we ended up back at Sheena's house.
luxury meal

It is also worth noting,  Maxine looked stunning...and Lorena had oil on her face.

So we got up at 7, got back to the venue for this race, and no changes had been made to the course. We rode/ran/scrambled it and ummed and arred for a bit. Then the motocross dudes went on and BOOM the track was ruined!

We called a riders meeting and made a decision that the girls, and half the guys, were not gonna race. It sucked, because Anneka who had driven from holland really wanted to ride, and if we didn't,  she couldn't.  This made the decision really hard, but after the embarrassment of the night before, I think us girls felt like we just wanted to retain some pride, for ourselves and our beloved sport. The prize money didnt change that feeling. So we declared ourselves out.

It tasted pretty bitter, and was it the right decision? I dunno, but put it this way, when the winner of the guys won his race, nobody clapped, I dont think anyone even noticed. In the middle of an arena! Six girls, crawling over tractor tyres, dragging our bikes...it makes me cringe even more than it does thinking about turning up to a charity ball dressed as a hooker!
So, imagine dragging your bike over something like this...


We stayed around and watched the motorbikes,  the best race of the day was definitely the girls. It was close, it was brutal and it had the audience stood up and screaming, which none of the boys races managed. I was proud of that, because a lot was made of the mtb girls, whether we should or even could do our race. But racing is about entertainment,  us mtbers wouldn't have been able to provide that here, but the motocross girls? Well yeah, they were slower than the guys, but holy shit, did they put on a show!!

Anyway, after a few disasters later on the journey, which I wont go into, we came to the conclusion: we try stuff, we give shit a go, and it cant work out every time, but when it does...its the freaking best decision in the whole world ever!!!


So, your bike will bring you on many adventures....even if you don't actually ride it!

Monday, 21 October 2013

Cyclocross update from Di

A few weeks have passed and the Notts & Derby Cyclocross league has been as popular as ever with the ladies, the last race I competed in was my favourite, Round 6 Alfreton. This is one of the nearest races to Phoebe and I. It is a great race with a little bit of something for everyone, wood, hills, straights and techy bits. The weather all week leading up to this race was typical Derbyshire, rainy and windy making perfect cross conditions, very wet, very  slippy and very muddy. Both Phoebe and I favour the muddy races. Phoebe had an amazing race and an excellent sprint finish taking 2 places in the last few minutes of the race. I had a really strong race and won.

After this race there was no relaxing I went straight to a swimming competition, the National Arena league,  an important club event that I could not miss despite being caked in mud. For those that don’t know, my main sport used to be swimming. I always do a lot of coaching and work with the local swimming team.  The swimming went really well. I won my first 2 races and gave some races away to another team mate, while I went and had a long shower scrubbing the mud off from the Notts and Derby league. Once clean I only had one race left and that was the main relay of the night where the Matlock girls put in quite clearly the best performance of the evening, winning by over a length. 

After a busy day like this, I went to visit my parents for rapid kit cleaning and a very large tea. The following day we attended the Lincoln cross league where we used this as a back to back race training day, I came 1st and Phoebe 4th not a bad show at all considering we had raced on the Saturday. 


This weekend was the Rapha Super Cross  Round 1 at Skipton,  it started with an early morning as we drove up north - Phoebe proving herself as an excellent navigator. We had very kindly been invited to race on the Saddleback/felt racing team, as saddleback provide the MBGs with lovely posh bont shoes. We met up with the Saddleback/ FeltRacing team.  Scot was  very welcoming and kitted us out in some very nice skinsuits. Phoebe had complained all week about being in the elite race. I don't think she really intended on racing at the weekend as she was meant to be resting her injured elbow. However never one to miss out she managed to pull herself together stating that she was rather have a go and be last than not try at all. As our start time neared everyone was seriously warming up, I was doing a few star jumps and annoying Phoebe who was blending in much better than I was as she was pretending to turbo. Generally I prefer a bit of a run as a warm up, guess that’s the triathlete in me. 

The aim of the Rapha racing for me was really just to get as high a position was possible. I never imagined I would achieve two 2nd places. The first race was thick sticky mud, off camber slippery corners and some nasty banks, the second course was also muddy and slightly more technical (in Manchester). Both courses suited me, and I had really good starts (thanks to Phoebe bullying me into practising my sprinting) and maintained 2nd for pretty much the whole of race. Annie Simpson was super strong all weekend and won both rounds for Hope. I am looking forward to Alexandra Palace next weekend for the third and final round of the Rapha Supercross where I hope to maintain or improve on my second place overall standing in the series. I have round 8 of the Notts and Derby CX league the day before and intend to use this as a warm up race for London.  

Its Phoebe's birthday this week so I think I will be taking her out for some birthday hill reps, that’s what best friends do isn’t it?

Many thanks to Scot Easter for sorting us out on the team and to Purple Harry for their fantastic cleaning products which helped me get my bikes spotless in between the two races. 



Thursday, 10 October 2013

VeloJam 2013 - The Ultimate Women's Track Racing Event

Anyone who doesn't believe that 2013 has been a fantastic year for women's cycling should have been at the Ana Nichoola Velo Jam.  Impressive in its inaugural year last June, Saturday’s event at Herne Hill was even bigger and even better.  Organised and promoted by Team MuleBar Girl - Sigma Sport the event had a huge £1000 cash prize pot thanks to the generosity of headline sponsor AnaNichoola, Cicla.co.uk and Sigma Sport - and showcased the very best racers in the country while also catering for the total novice.  A track meet that was all about inspiration; inspiration to achieve at the highest level sitting side by side with inspiration to dust off the trainers and fall in love with life on two wheels.

Velo Jam was the brainchild of Wiesia Kuczaj and Anna Glowinski, both riders for Team MuleBar Girl - Sigma Sport.  Keenly involved in cycling at Herne Hill Velodrome, barriers to women's participation were obvious to both. This track meet, being all female, gave ladies the opportunity to race against others of their own ability and experience, with five separate events each counting to an overall omnium.  At Velo Jam every girl could be competitive and stand out, not just the elite.

While the promised Indian summer sunshine didn't quite deliver the racing certainly did.  All eyes were on Hannah Barnes (MG-Maxifuel Pro Cycling) in the elite category and she quickly made her mark with victory in the opening A cat scratch race.  Accustomed to winning, Hannah hadn’t perhaps reckoned on the might of local girl Sarah Connell (Brixton Cycles) & Anna Railton (Team ASL 360) who were both willing and able to rise to the challenge of giant killer. 




It was never going to be an easy task as Anna explains;
As soon as she [Hannah] hit the front on the first race of the day and seemingly with no effort at all put a fair few extra mph into the pace I just knew this entire day was going to be a very painful experience.
As we all know pain equals gain and Anna soon established herself as contender with three second places in the first three events and a win in the Devil, her highlight of the day.  A regular at Herne Hill this summer Anna had been looking forward to the race all year and found a surprising benefit to the women’s only meet too;
I was really gobsmacked how many girls there were racing! It was awesome! It's also nice not to have to avoid sweaty boys on rollers all the time.
Even without dodging men on wheels, the final result came down to the wire with Anna and Sarah tied on 23 points after a shock early elimination from the Devil for Hannah.  However, it was Sarah who would eventually grab the top step of the podium and  a wopping £300 in prize money. Her win in the last race of the day, the individual pursuit guaranteed her the chance to spray champagne over everyone else in an end of season coup.     
In the B cats it was Alexis Barnes of Cardiff Ajax CC (Don’t worry, no relation) who stormed to victory with a win in the Points, 500m TT, Individual Pursuit and Devil.  Only Hannah Cannell was able to put the brakes on her clean sheet when she won the scratch race. 
The remaining Velo Jam podium places were hotly contested with only a point to separate in the end.  Sweeping up most of the second and third places between them and proving that consistency in an omnium is key, Amy Good (VCL) and Emma Towers (Twickenham CC) collected the silver and bronze medals.  It was Amy’s IP, almost 3 seconds faster than Emma’s that gave her the vital two points from the last round to edge ahead of her opponent.  All three now sport a shiny new Lazer Helium helmet so keep a watch out for them whipping by next year.  
Also in the B cats was Jess Morgan, winner of the MuleBar Girls Women only track sessions’ Most Improved Rider award.  Donated by Oakley and selected by Coach Sarah Brook, Jess was a wonderful example of the great things achieved by the team and their promotion of women’s cycling this year.  As Jess explains;
I'm beyond chuffed, I did my first track session at the beginning of August so to be racing in the B's and placing 9th two months later is a testament to the great coaching at the women's sessions. All the technical exercises and race training built up my confidence and taught me how to race safely. Not only that but being able to practice all the different types of race in a friendly, non-competitive environment means you can figure out your strengths and weaknesses in your own time, as well as getting really good strategy tips from the Mule Bar Girls and other coaches.
In a twist of fate, Sarah also picked up an award at the end of the night for Most Aggressive Rider, a pair of Hope Open Pro Wheels worth nearly £1000.  She had her sights set on them from the off and gave a kick start to some determined racing;
Having missed the warm up and very nearly the start of the first race I knew I was going to struggle to be in contention for the omnium but decided early on to have a crack at winning the wheels!
But for Sarah, the real reward came from watching the development of the riders she had coached every week at the track sessions;

I was super excited to see so many of the girls who have come through our track sessions be up and competitive in the B races and my favourite bit of the night was cheering them on. 
It was awesome to get such a lot of girls and to have such a good standard of riding in all categories.
Continuing the theme, the omnium was just as fiercely fought over in the Go Race category where 20 novice women took to the boards in their first track races.  It was quite something to witness the competitive spirit of these riders, many of whom were totally new to sport, and proving organiser Wiesia’s belief that you shouldn’t have to train seven days a week and hire a coach to race and enjoy the experience.    Gemma Marshall was one such rider;
I met so many other great girls who helped me through my first event, explained the racing and put me totally at ease. I'll definitely be back next year, hopefully racing in the next category up, I can safely say I'm hooked now!
Sarah Walsh was the eventual winner, capped off with an impressive ride in the 500m TT which would have placed her 3rd in the B cats. 
As the sun set on Velo Jam, the floodlights completed the spectacle for the invitational mixed Madison and a good excuse to continue the party atmosphere.  The night wasn’t just about serious racing, it was about celebrating women’s cycling.  The beer and wine flowed freely amongst the spectators who were treated to an exciting race won by young pairing Lucy Harper and George Farrell, ones to watch for the future. 
The Ana Nichoola Velo Jam will be back next year so dig out your trusty velo now.  You’ve got 12 months to get ready and we’ll see you there…
Pictures from Huw Williams - check out the rest of them http://www.flickr.com/photos/huwspics/sets/72157636244847035/
Results
Elite - Omnium
1                     Sarah Connell (Briston Cycles)                                            23
2                     Anna Railton (Team ASL 360)                                              23
3                     Hannah Barnes (MG-Maxifuel Pro Cycling)                   20
4                     Lucy Harper (Welwyn Cycles)                                             10
5                     Jayne Paine (Wildsen Cycles)                                              10
6                     Anna Marie Hughes (Prestige Velo Club)                       6
B Cat - Omnium
1                     Alexis Barnes (Cardiff Ajax CC)                                           24
2                     Amy Good (VCL)                                                                      18
3                     Emma Towers (Twickenham CC)                                       17
4                     Christine Robson                                                                      14
5                     Hannah Cannell                                                                        10
6                     Zoe Lewis (VCL)                                                                        7
Go Race - Omnium
1                     Sarah Walsh                                                                               23
2                     Tanya Griffiths                                                                          16
3                     Gemma Marshall                                                                     10
4                     Charlotte Roberge                                                                   8
5                     Katie Atherton                                                                          6

6                     Fiona Leonard                                                                           6

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Di's Cross Round Up!

Just a quick update, plenty has happened since I joined the Mule Bar Girls. Firstly V was kind enough to send me a package full of lovely Mule Bar and Wildoo gifts. I especially loved my new Lazer helmet and Oakleys, I felt very pro. 

The cross season started early in September. I race and train with Phoebe. Our local league was up and running with 30 women on the start line in Round 1 - record numbers and great to so see so many first time racers. Round 1 was a bumpy but fast dry course, so it was an excellent day for showing off my sparkly new kit, I felt strong, led from the front and managed to take the win. 

Round 2 was at Hilton fields and has a reputation for being a hard and quite technical course. I had tough competition from Adela Carter, and was very happy to take 2nd place. 

Round 3 gave me chance to christen the white mule bar kit with mud, by having a brilliant start followed quickly by a lay on the floor at the first corner, where I showed off my unique skidding ability. However once back on the bike I still managed to take the lead, which helped secure myself 1st in the league with another win. 
After round 3 my main focus was the three Peaks. I have been training for the three Peaks for a while. Phoebe convinced me in the summer it was a good idea we challenged the mountain bike skills we’d worked on over the summer into a cross race. I was quite up for it having done a lot of fell racing and I generally prefer long distance endurance races. The three Peaks morning started with a 5am wake up call. We travelled up to Yorkshire, the atmosphere was good and I was quietly looking forward to it.

So the CX three Peaks – windy that about sums up the day, beautiful sunshine but hellish winds at the top. No seriously it was a very spectacular event, amazing views, great friendly atmosphere and definitely one of the hardest bike races out there. I had no major dramas, I did not quite have the nutrition perfect and suffered a little on the last climb as I lost my bottle coming off Inglborough, but a solid well paced race never the less. I was 5th female overall and 1st first timer. Phoebe’s race wasn’t as straight forward as mine she fractured her elbow, but she’d told me she was going to finish and she did. I was very proud of her, and I would not have won a nice shiny trophy without her.

I’d like to thank all the Mule Bar Girls and our sponsors for making me feel so welcome on their team. My next goals are the Rapha Super Cross and the Midlands Cyclocross Champs.


Di x

The Tail End of The 3 Peaks - Phoebe's race

I have not blogged in a while. My summer has been filled with shifts in the hospital and snatches of sunshine on the bike whenever possible. Before I knew it summer was over and the Cyclocross season had begun. Despite work I had put in a reasonable amount of time on the bike and with our newly developed gym/garage I had started to do some strength work.

Pretty much all of this training and riding was lead by Di. Diane Lee is our newest MBG recruit. Some of you may recognise her from our trip to the Tour Ta Malta and the MBG wiggle 6 duo. Di is a superb triathlete and cyclist. I won't bore you with her list of achievements as there are far to many to mention but what I will say is that if Di puts her mind to an event she will undoubtedly podium. Over the summer Di had encouraged me to do some fell running. Depsite being spanked by runners nearly 3 times my age I thoroughly enjoyed them and Di let me take home her winnings usually in the form of wine and flowers. With all this fell running and off road riding it dawned on me - what race would Di be really bloody good at? The cyclocross 3 peaks.

The 3 Peaks is one of the toughest bike races out there. For those that haven't heard of it, it involves carrying your bike up the three highest peaks in Yorkshire and then clinging on for grim death all the way down the other side - with a bit of road riding in between. It is something I have always fancied having a go at but deep down considered myself far to weedy, weak and slow.

With Di's confidence and support we decided to enter together, with our cross bikes adapted we set off to the race. I will now explain my experience of the race as Di's was rather different.

Sick with nerves I got myself to the start. I had chosen to wear a camelback as it was quite warm and there are various items you have to carry such as a survival bag and a whistle not to mention a large amount of mule bars, gels, jelly babies and my iphone just incase I had a serious accident. I knew this race was going to take me all bloody day.

I lined up with plenty of other friendly nervous looking riders. I rather foolishly put myself near the back for the start which probably isn't the best plan. However my only aim was to finish I had tried not to worry too much about setting a good time as I really had no idea what to expect. For starters I wasn't even sure I could cycle for 5 hours without a cafe stop! The kindly organisers set us off on a rolling road section. I moved my way though the bunch trying not to let the racing excitement take over and blow my legs to pieces in the first few kilometres.

The first climb involves shouldering the bike and crawling whilst holding onto a fence up an extremely steep grassy hill side (or cliff face as it felt). I was quite enjoying this bit chatting to other riders, overtaking people and generally keeping my spirits up. I think at one point I was actually singing to myself. At the top of the hill we were met with gale force cross winds. Struggling to ride or carry the bikes I scrambled over the rocks to dib myself in. All sense of enjoyment was lost at this stage. The descent was long and grassy with lots of hidden obstacles. It was over one of the obstacles that my race took a turn for the worst. As I started to enjoy myself I let the brakes off picking up speed I hit something I have no idea what. I flew over the handlebars bashing myself hard on the head and damaging my right arm. The crash knocked the wind out of me. Rolling over I sensed my arm was badly hurt. As a doctor I tried to instil some common sense but doctors make terrible patients. After 5mins of sitting on the floor getting my breath back I got back on and carried on the bottom. My arm was bleeding a fair bit and I was briefly checked over by the marshals at the bottom. Once on the road I felt slightly better. I pushed on to the next climb. It soon became evident that I couldn't get out of the saddle as my right arm could not support my weight. Once as the top of the second climb that dreaded wind started again and I stopped to help a rider who had been blown off their bike into a stone wall. I started another long descent this time on flagstones, as I dropped off one of the steps I felt a searing pain in my right elbow. So much so that I wobbled off into the soft bog at the side. Choking back the tears I realised I was unable to hold the bars on the rocky surface let alone brake with my right hand. I was back to running again. Scrabbling/trotting as fast as I could I told myself once at the bottom I could throw in the towel.



As soon as I hit the next road section I was able to rest my arm on the tops and get my self together. I decided if I got to Pen Y Gent before the time cut off I would give it go. Just as I made it to the bottom of the third climb I saw Di coming down. Just the sight of a familiar face cheered me up no end. Knowing she was still in the race and smashing it by the looks of things spurred me on. That feeling lasted 5 minutes before the pain in my elbow built up. I had to get off and walk. Concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other I made it to the top knowing that I would have to run most of the way down made me feel physically unwell.

I had made it to the road - 4km to go to the finish - Bloody hell I was going to finish. I realised I was second from last. There was no way I was going to finish last I pushed on dropping the last man behind me. In the distance I could see a tiny figure in bright pink trainers pedalling towards me. Just as she had done as the end of the fell races - Di had come back to get me. Riding along side telling me how proud she was I was still going and how I was nearly there I made it to the finish.

Stiff and sore the next day xrays confirmed a small fracture of my right radial head - elbow basically. Not a serious injury but not something you would want to ride the three peaks with. With exercises, stretches and painkillers I should be back on the bike in no time. Despite a pretty appalling time of 6hours I finished and I have to be proud of that. Di rode an absolute stormer and finished first female first timer with a lovely trophy - I'm sure she will share her own experience.

Photos from Andy Jones and Amy O'Halloran both of whom gave me great encouragement