Due to my unfortunate ankle injury, this race would be my first proper road race on the open roads. As opposed to the criteriums in the youth ranks.
My dad and I drove over to the course (10 laps of a 5mile loop) before sign on to have a look round so I knew what I was facing. Savagery came to mind.
The neutral start would end at the foot of a long climb, then at the top of it was a razor sharp hair pin into a small downhill to a small climb up and then flat till the uphill finish, after which had, finally, a long descent. However do not be fooled by the sunny picture at the top of this post, the weather was not quite so pleasant with 20mph winds. Yet still it gets worse, the head wind section was on the longest stretch of the course which was after the hair pin corner at the top of the hill, which included the finishing straight. So after a rapid tailwind up the hill, which made for very hard and fast climbing, the effort became even harder into the brutal head wind. The descent was a cross tail but this was actually pretty unfortunate for me with my junior restricted gears, this meant I got no rest bite at any point of the course. I may have jumped in to the deep end a little bit.
My nerves were through the roof before the start of the race. With it being my first junior/adult road race and being unsure of my form.
I managed to get to the front in the pretty fast neutral section to give me sliding room in the bunch on the hill. I almost made it. I began to get a little bit distance right at the top of the hill but as soon as we turned into the head wind there was no chance for me. However I was the last junior female to stay in the group so I was actually winning my race. I was out on my own battling into the brutal winds for most of the race. Other riders got dropped from the bunch after me but unfortunately abandoned the race so I was still stuck on my own. I continued to ride at sub threshold by myself, I was not giving up.
The bunch caught me again at the foot of the climb with about 3.5 laps to go, I managed to stay in comfortabley for a lap and a half until the bottom of the descent where I had to go full gas To stay in the group. But the effort up the hill was too much after the effort of the downhill. Especially now since attacks were pinging off the front from the main male contendors.
On the bright side this increased my gap to the girls behind me massively and a man got dropped from the bunch at the same time as me so I had somebody to ride with for the last couple of laps.
At the end of the day I won the junior girls category very comfortably and ended up being second woman on the road. So a good first road race and coming back from injury too. All I need to work on now is getting my strength back to stay in with the men.
I would like to say a massive thank you to Billy Bilsland Cycles for the amazing carbon mavic wheels and for keeping my bike in general in check. It’s a massive help. And of course to my dad Richard for taking me.
Now onto my first UCI race next week in Holland,
Thanks for reading