Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Elite Women's Nocturne- London Bike Show

So I was meant to write a blog at New Year about the team, which I did, but I was too embarrassed to post it as it’s full of MBG cheesiness and how awesome I think all my teamies past and present are. So instead I’m gonna write one about my second race of 2013, the IG Markets London Nocturne at the Bike Show.

Despite it being super early in the season I think it’s fair to say that I was really looking forward to racing this event. With my love of criteriums and it being the world’s first ever fully indoor crit it was sure to be an awesome event. Plus I knew we’d end up in the pub having a good old catch up and a few too many drinks in true MBG style!

So the day before the race when a worrying email was sent round with peoples concerns about getting there with our bikes, due to the forecast snow, I got worried…I wanted to race! I decided I needed a plan; if worse came to worse and I’d ride there on my cross bike (with cross tyres) with a change of road tyres for the race. But surely there wouldn’t be that much snow?..

I woke on Friday and there was snow, lots of it, I live on a hill and looking up and down my road there was no way I was getting down it on a road bike. Worse case had arisen and I was going on my cross bike! I’d arranged ride to Sarah’s and we’d ride over together from there as she’s better at getting to places. As I headed into more central London there was barley any snow on the roads, maybe I’d been a wrong and should’ve just gone on  my road bike, oh well! After a quick cuppa at Sarah’s we set off to the ExCel, getting a bit lost we ended having to nip across some snowy pavements and bike paths, maybe I had needed the cross bike. Either way both Sarah and I made it to ExCel with a bike to race on each…Two down, three to go!

Anna was already there with her Ananichoola stand so she and both bikes she needed for her two races there safe and sound. However we had a text from V, her shed had frozen shut so she had no race bike so was riding her training bike over and would be racing on that, mudguards and all! Nat then turned up. However she’d been unable to get her bike there so after a kind offer from Hope rider and team friend, Rachael, she had a bike to race on and some shoes to borrow. Sorted, just about, it was time to race! 

As I said before I was excited for this race and when I get excited about races I want to do well, so I was rather nervous. I was even more nervous as it’s so early in the season it’s hard to judge where you’re fitness is at, would I have enough speed to race as hard as I usually like to? 

The whistle went and we were off, Clem from High Wycome went off like a bullet and opened up a gap. After just a few lap I was already struggling, my lungs and legs were burning, I was cornering so badly that at one point I managed to shoulder barge the barriers! I remember looking at the clock and seeing only three minutes of our 25 minute race had elapsed and didn’t think I was going to last. 

I managed to cling onto the chasing group of four riders and we had Clem pegged for a while, but with everyone was struggling Clem extended her lead. With the lap board popping up and signalling five to go it was obvious we weren’t going to be able catch her and thoughts turned to the sprint for second place. 

I tried to take on the sprint on with a lap to go, but my legs weren’t having any of it and Alice Barnes went flying past me in the back straight. I managed to hold on to third place and get myself onto the podium, so was pleased with my performance and hopefully it’s a sign of things to come this season!
All our team did great considering the circumstances and all the pre-race bike palava and problems we had. Surprisingly though V’s decided she may prefer racing on her training bike so if you spot a bike with mudguards at the tour series it’s probably hers haha! 

Thanks to the IG London Nocturne for putting on another great event to let us showcase Womens cycling, see you at Smithfield!

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Review of 2012 - Natalie

I’m afraid my review of 2012 has come a little late.  I will spare you the excuses but they revolve around breaking my toe and my bike and my car breaking down.  This was particularly interesting as on the morning of my first race for MuleBar Girl earlier this year, the very same car threatened to scupper my plans by stubbornly refusing to start.  Thankfully on this occasion and following a dubious drive back from Germany with a rapidly ailing car (an earlier model to this I might add), I’d bitten the bullet and paid for motor recovery.  Unfortunately that didn’t help me with writing the blog but it did give me something to preamble about and got me back on four wheels faster than I got back on two wheels or two feet.
Copyright Juan Trujillo
2012 has been a fantastic year with the MuleBar Girls.  At the end of the 2011 season I wasn’t even sure if I’d be racing again after a back injury kept me off the bike for a number of months.  However, the girls obviously saw a little glimmer of hope and I’m so glad that I took up their offer of joining such a great team even when I didn’t know if I could race or not.

Copyright Juan Trujillo
My review of the year revolves around smiles and laughter both on and off the bike, racing and training, coffee, cake and embrocation oil with a smattering of tears, pain, frustration and gritted determination.  I’ve made some amazing friends in the MuleBar Girls and we’ve won some races in the process.  I’ve seen my team mates on the podium and we’ve fought through tough times together.  I’ve experienced the inspiration of the Olympic games on my doorstep and I’ve ground out some evil turbos while the rain lashes down outside.  I’ve eaten bread and butter pudding for breakfast and I’ve been on TV. There’ve been times when I felt like there was two of me riding my bike and I know what it is like to really truly want something.  Then there are the times when my legs felt like lead or when I tried so hard and for so long to get away that they just could not push any longer do what I may, even though moments afterwards it felt like I simply capitulated.  I’ve warmed up on the rollers with the same song on repeat losing myself in the words and the beat and I’ve gone missing time and again in the moment of racing.  I’ve chased wheels uphill and down and been bashed about by the unrelenting Dutch wind.  I’ve climbed mountains in the sunshine and felt the energising heat of the sun’s rays penetrate my limbs as I rest in the square.
Copyright Huw Williams
My love affair with my bike has certainly been rekindled in 2012 and I have 5 very special people to thank for that – my team mates.  It is not an overstatement to say that they are a team of hugely fun loving and determined girls who really care about women’s cycling and who have a passion for getting more women out there on bikes.
Happy New Year to you all and see you out on the roads soon!
Natalie xx