Thursday, 19 September 2013

Sarah's Update from the Track

Track season is now in full swing with lots of great events recently and lots more coming up soon.

Aug 10th was the last of the womens omnium series which took place at Reading. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the event, it comprises a 500m TT, Points race, sprint, IP and Scratch, each round of the series takes place on the same day as a dernyfest event. The dernyfest is my favourite thing ever, but so is the omnium, so this year (and as I haven’t been road racing I deserve a good workout now and again) I have been doing both. The double day of omnium and two derny races is pretty solid and doesn’t leave much time for chatting between races (my favourite thing about track) but has been fun, and I have generally managed to finish around the halfway mark in the omnium despite the fatigue – which I am pretty pleased with! Every round people ask how/why I can do it; the thing is I just love both races and couldn’t bear to part with either – even though it is tiring, I’m like a kid in a sweet shop getting to do both in one day! Even better - while I was racing at Reading, my boyfriend was busy back in London shifting all our boxes into our new house, so I got to turn up after the race to a new house with all my stuff already in it!

There aren’t many women only derny races around but the big one is derny nationals, which was supposed to take place on Aug 17th in Bournemouth, which is my favourite outdoor track. I felt prepared and was looking forward to it and we got as far as drawing cards for the first heat before it started raining – so we will have to wait a while for that one to be rescheduled!

Still to come there is ‘Keirin 2013’, the Dave Creasy 6 and VeloJam at Herne Hill, which should all be excellent events, and in preparation for VeloJam (II) we have been busy at the track running our Sunday sessions, with each one between now and October having a theme relating to a race at the event. Every week the girls have blown us away by being talented and hard working and we can’t wait to see them race! I am especially looking forward to our special Madison session on September 1st, when we will have a special guest coach in to pass on all his expertise!

I’m really looking forward to getting to race VeloJam this year as last year I was stuck at work, if you are thinking about entering, definitely do it, there’s lots of exciting stuff going on behind the scenes and it should be even better than last year!


Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Light at the end of the Tunnel

With her first race back from injury under her belt - Anna continues her search for race legs. Here is her latest update.

This weekend was Off-The-Scale.

The thing is, if i want to do something, I do it. I don't think about the implictions or the logistics. I just go.

This weekend i was invited to race in a Tunnel by Velocity Street Racing. it sounded the nuts!! 400 metre head-to-head sprints, slip streaming an Aston Martin in a road tunnel under the Tyne River in Newcastle. I was proper up for it!

I just needed a bike. And to get there.

My lovely buddies over at CSG sent me a lush little Cannondale for the occasion (spoilt much? AHEM) I picked it up on Friday morning, put it together and rode to the van hire place. 2 minutes down the road, less than that maybe, I forgot about how skinny my tyres were, got caught in the tram lines and went down hard. In front of all the traffic! it was the first of many disasters!

I picked up the van and picked up my Soigneur for the day, Harpz, and off we went. A little swing by a lovely boutique bike shop in Solihull (always working, me) and then picked up Maxine. Maxine is cool, I raced with her last weekend and roped her into joining me again.

So, door to door it took 9 and a half hours to get to this race. There was so much traffic too. It was pretty stressful as we thought we weren't gonna make it! I mean, traffic sucks, but if you're with your mates, drinking copious amounts of tea and listening to music, it's not the worst way to spend a day!

We had no idea what to expect. We got there just in time for the briefing (but missing out on the last of the glow bulbs that went on your wheel valve, boo) and it all sounded very complicated, so everyone took the decision to just wait and see what happened. We were waiting outside the Tyne Tunnel, riding around for a few hours, chatting to all the girls, keeping warm, The boys were sent into the tunnel in groups and we would accost them when they got back trying to find out what it was like.

At 1am we were told to line up behind the Aston Martin and follow it into the Tunnel. It was the weirdest, coolest feeling. Riding down into the tunnel behind the road of the car, it was fast, the girls were whooping, tears were streaming down my face and I was just thinking "what the fuck?!"

We lined up on the start line, nerves were pretty high as there was a Grand up for grabs for the winner!! In the first head to head I got an explosive start and almost immediately was several bike lengths ahead of everyone, and then, after about 200m, reality kicked in, and OMG I died! Maxine flew past me like I was stood still and I dug as deep as I could not to lose out on qualifying (the top 2 went through). I was a painful 200 metres. But at the end I was grinning, I knew I was through to the next round, and I knew Maxine had a high chance of winning.

We talked some tactics, I knew my explosive start could potentially help her, I could lead her out and she could take the win. But in the next round, we hadn't accounted for Brit! As soon as the flag dropped I saw Brit kick out of the corner of my eye, Maxine who had a slower start was just behind me but I had nothing to give and all tactics went out of the window. I looked back and screamed my head off "GO Maxine, goooooo!!!!!" She closed the gap, but it wasn't enough and Brit took the win to go through to the final.

It was an exciting female final and we stayed to watch it all play out, with Brit becoming the eventual overall winner and taking home the money!

By this time it was about 2.30am and we were wired. High from caffiene and antibiotics and totally wired from the high-energy event we drove around for a few hours to find a 24 hr Tesco and get some wine. A midnight feast ensused at the B+B, until at about 5am we fell asleep, still slightly trembling.

In the morning we drove back, dropping Maxine in Knutsford and stopping by another little bike shop (see, I said I was always working!) I dropped Harpz back in Croydon and was home by 9pm still with a load of shit to sort out.

A bike shop 9I'm not gonna name names) had promised for 3 weeks to fix my cranks on my Slayton, but they still hadn't arrived. So I had to do to my brothers, borrow cranks off him, go to Deke's and ask him to fit them, which he did, but it meant I only had one front chainring.

I crashed out to bed for an early rise to pick up Deke and drive to Aston Hill for the Enduro 1 race.

It's a cool format in that they don't let people do sightings, which I think is fair. Because sightings count for so much, and there are some people (me) who don't have a lot of time spare to put 2 or 3 days for one race and really scope it out.

However, I hadn't read the rules (you must cycle at least twice a week....erm...) (you must wear eye protection....oops....) and finally that your start times were available for each stage. I hadn't seen this and spent the first round of 3 stages having no fucking clue what was going on. I felt like I was flying on my DH runs...until I crashed on the super slippy roots...It was caught on camera, so I chatted to the photographer (Giles Wiehahn) and he showed it to me on his screen. That little interlude cost me my start time and from there I never caught up. Then cycling back up the hill for lunch after the last round I got to the top and a lady said "aww, you just missed it." and I was like "Missed what? What the hell is going on?!?!"

I was pretty pissed off at myself for not learning the format beforehand, but, well, everything is just so hectic, and, well, I didn't.

But after lunch I repeated the round of 4 stages feeling much happier. I knew what was going on and I was racing the clock. The timings were super tight and most times I only got there with a couple of seconds to spare, not even having time to stop and get a breather! The final stage was a climb and it seriously killed me, I spend it all out of the saddle, grovelling.BUT! It felt so good to be pushing my body again, feeling the burn, digging deep and not giving up. It felt like racing and it felt really good.

I don't know how I did, there were some people with stop watches and I don't really know what happens next. Maybe I will remember to check on the website in a few days. But in a few days, the race that I gave so much to, that seemed so important at the time, will be forgotten and I will be thinking about the next big event instead.

It's all been a crazy blur and Maxine's spare antibiotics have run out (throat infection) and I am now sat in the office feeling pretty damn shit, with bags of stuff everywhere needing to be sorted out. And I don't regret a moment of it!

Racing, the journey, the random once-in-a-lifetime experiences that go with it. It's the best.

Anna's first race back after breaking her arm!

It was my first race back since breaking my arm and my third race of the season. I broke my arm ages ago so I don't really know what my excuse is, other than that work took over.

I run my own business and was working for The Cycle Show (they were the bastards that broke my arm in the first place! Ha!) and somehow I forgot to fit racing in. And after my little 4-day riding holiday the other weekend I realised how much I missed it. How happy riding my bike makes me.

I have been brought up racing bikes. I realise I am out of touch, not "in the zone" and of course, super unfit. But the MuleBarGirl in me won't let that get in the way of racing. In fact, my view of racing is somewhat skewed. I won't train to get fit enough to race, I will race to get fit.
There's nothing like dumping yourself in the deep end and just suffering, until you suffer a bit less and a bit less.

So I have book in 3 races for 3 weekends in a row. I will update on how a get on.

Last weekend was great fun, at the final round of the UK Gravity Enduro series. It was a nightmare to get to and I was on a borrowed bike, in the usual Anna-Chaos. I was on the tube in London with a huge kit bag, a bike, helmets clipped to myself with my Oyster card in my mouth on  a Friday night. It's possibly one of the shittest ways to spend what should be a party night.

But it was worth the effort. I got to my friend Maxine's house and from that moment on it was a wicked-girls-riding weekend!

We got lucky with the weather, like, super lucky. Sunshine all round whilst the neighbouring areas had rain (sun shines on the reverent and all that) Yeah Boiii.

Practice was fun but I quickly realised how weak I was and gave up my ambition of winning.

On race day, I had tried to prepare, as Maxine had filmed our runs on the go-pro so we could look at them again after. But the thing is, as I watched them I'd realise that by the end of it I was thinking about all sorts of things, nothing to do with racing and hadn't taken anything in. So I won't try that technique again.

Run 1 was the same as the seeding run and I felt a lot faster than I had in seeding, and I didn't crash. And the day went on. But the thing is, I missed one of my starts. I just couldn't get up the hill fast enough. My legs were screaming. So I got a 1 minute time penalty. I definitely could say goodbye to the win!!

When the times were posted at the end I was actually pretty pleased and surprised to still end up in 4th place, with a few of my runs being the fastest. I still have it. Just need to get fit innit.

Bring on next week!

Friday, 6 September 2013

Wiesia - Crash, Bang, Knackered Shoulder

For me this season had a very exciting start with the team finishing so well at the Tour Series. I came out of the series feeling super motivated and couldn't wait to get back to my favouite discipline, the track. Having Rebecca back racing at Herne Hill was a huge bonus and it felt like the good old times. Unfortunately my season did not really progress from there, a crash at Wednesday night track league took me down as well as 15 other riders  and left me with a busted shoulder and still off the bike as I write this post.

I remember the whole crash clearly, it was the A & B 20k scratch race, the pace had started to pick up and I was at the back of a huge field. I remember cursing at myself for being at the back of the bunch as I knew it was only a matter of time before the likes of Symon Lewis and Iain Cook would attack to break the field up, so I moved up to about half way up the pack and then CARNAGE! It felt like I was in a game of lemmings, there were riders going down and everywhere and I was trying to pick a safe line, I thought I was clear and then someone came down just in front of me and I hit the deck – boo hoo! This is actually my first big crash since I have been racing, so more recently the thought had started to creep in my head that it was only a matter of time, I do feel lucky to have managed to go five years with no serious crashes.

The Outcome of crash was a grade IV  acromioclavicular joint separation, according to the docs I met – I did a very good job at separating my collar bone from my shoulder. Normally you can just rest and the shoulder will come back together, but as I had done such a good job I needed surgery to put it back. Good old waiting list on the NHS meant a 10 day wait before the operation, which was interesting as being a freelancer I had to attempted to go straight back to work, which wasn't my brightest idea! The operation went very well and I was home the next day.

V rocking her sling at the RideLondon GP

For the first time in a long time it has made me stop and reflect. I have had the chance to read tons of books as now I am faced with an hour commute on the train to work rather than a 45 min bike ride and it has given me time to catch up with mates and generally get back on top of everything not cycling related. 

All clouds have a silver lining they say.

Unfortunately recovery from this injury is slow going and I have prob another month before I can be back riding again, but I am out of the sling and my mobility is starting to come back. I have been able to keep my legs turning by doing the occasional Sufferfest and I can still just about fit in my jeans, so to be honest it is not all that bad!