#blog5 Screentek International North West Junior Tour

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The Screentek International North West Junior Tour is race completed over the course of 3 days and contains 4 stages, individual TT, Road race and two criteriums on the final day.

 

Day 1 – individual TT

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On the first day in sunny Morecambe was a short prologue time trial along the promenade where, as you can see from the photo above, I decided to do my best puffer fish impression.

I was the 11th rider off which was quite near the beginning which was unfortunate for me as the wind died off as the day went on. But what can you do. I still managed to bag a top thirty which I was pleased with as im only a first year and I knew that this would be the day I would struggle with the most as I need something a bit longer than 3 minutes!

Day 2 – Road Race

 

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This was the queen stage of the race and it was the one i was looking forward to the most. 13 laps of a hilly circuit around Lancaster in the sun, whats not to love.

I was active in the front group of just over ten riders for the whole race along with a lot of my team 22 teamies. A few attacks went other than the brief gaps that appeared for the QOM points but none stayed away which meant for a hill-top bunch sprint. I was feeling really good and was in prime position the whole way up the final climb but when we finally reached the plateau and the final sprint began I got stuck in my little ring. so I finished a bitter 15th. This did mean however that i moved up to 16th place on GC. I was really disappointed with the final result but was really happy with the process of the race as I kept in with the leaders and had good positioning.

Unfortunately one of my team mates, Gaby was taken out by another rider on the road stage and had to get stitches in her leg. thankfully she is okay and on the bright side somebody got an amazing photo.

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Day 3 – Crits at Salt Ayr

 

Today was supposed to be two races however the second race had to be cancelled due to every race being an absolute crash fest as we were riding through what was basically a monsoon. One of the u14 girls even had to be taken away in an air ambulance. thankfully she is all okay now though.

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My race started off well as I managed to get some sprint points which allowed me to finish in the top ten overall in the sprints qualification. Then the crashes began, as soon as anybody touched their breaks you lost all control of your bike. I got stuck behind the first crash and had to chase back on, luckily I had some riders around me to work with.

Once I got back on I attacked and my team-mate April followed me and we got off the front for a bit. This was the most relaxed I felt in the whole race because I was out of the hectic bunch.

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I was feeling good in the final laps of the race however  I let my bunch positioning slip with 3 laps to go. So with 2 laps to go I went for a big move back up the bunch when a massive crash happened right at the front of the bunch leaving only around 10 riders left standing in the front group. Luckily I managed to avoid the tarmac and any road rash that came with it. Unfortunately I didn’t quite make it away that easily as I did manage to land in a big patch of nettles which made for a very uncomfortable drive home.

Overall an amazing weekend was had and I was happy to finish 15th overall and top 10 in the young riders and sprints classification. Another bonus was the two teams we put in for the race finishing second and fourth in the team competition.

Id like to say a bike thankyou to Colin Batchelor for being an awesome DS for the team and LM therapy for really helping our recovery in between stages with massages and of course Billy Bilsland Cycles for the flawless bike.

Also thanks to my dad for driving me down and Tony Morgan and Gary Enever for the photos.

Thanks for reading,

Ellie Park

 

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#blog4 Scottish Women’s road series Round 1 and Scottish National 10TT championships 


Unfortunately both the Sharon Argue stage race and the Scottish National 10 TT championships had to be placed on the same day which meant a very busy day for me!

Scottish National 10 TT championships 

The day started off with a five am alarm in order to make it on time for my 8:04am start time for the time trial. An expresso and some porridge and Nutella was much needed to keep me awake!

Due to some unfortunate emergency road works my start time continued to be delayed many times which caused me to carry out three warm ups on the rollers and I had gotten up at five in the morning for no reason which was gutting.

The course was in Freuchie in Fife and it was a fast one. The start was on a particularly large hill which would seem like an advantage but my junior restricted gears thought otherwise.

Considering I haven’t got much time trial experince I am happy to say I finished third behind two older girls and I got a 50second PB so I can’t complain.

It was now time to rest and refuel for the first stage of the Sharon Argue which was a Hilly TT.

Sharon Argue stage 1 TT 

It was at this point I started to doubt myself and my decision to ride all three events in one day.

My legs were feeling very bad for this TT but I got through it and I ended up finishing right in the middle of the standings, which was a lot better than I thought.

Due to my late start time so I could make it in time from the Championships that morning I only had 30min till the start of stage 2 once I’d finished my warm down.

Sharon Argue stage 2 Road Race 


Despite feeling absolutely rubbish before the start of the race I managed to ride into it and as soon as we were out of the neutral section I was back to feeling good again. I think the caffeine gel I had before that start had a great deal to do with the come back.

I was feeling good throughout the whole race and I managed to stay in the front group and be active till the final climb up to the finish where cramp got the better of me, it was 25 degrees after all and I’m Scottish…I still managed to finish 5th junior and Team 22 were second team on the day including the seniors.


but overall an amazing day was had and I really surprised myself with how well I coped with all the events and that I was feeling strong in all three


Finally I would like to say a massive thankyou to Billy Bilsland Cycles for the love of the amazing wheels for the time trial and for keeping my Ridley JaneSL road bike in check and working smoothly for the race.

Pictures from, Harry Tweed and Gary Enever

Also I’d like to thank my dad for rushing me around everywhere all day, means a lot.

And on to the North West Junior Tour,

Thanks for reading –

Ellie Park

#Blog3 Omloop Van Borsele UCI Junior Nations Cup stage race


This would be my first ever UCI race and therefore my biggest race since I started cycling.

The first stop on the journey, to Holland was to the north east of England where I would stay with one of my team mates, (who was also riding the race). Before travelling down South the following day. This is where we would meet the rest of our team mates and team manager Colin Batchilor, also Rene Groot and Steev Davison who would look after us for the weekend.

The accommodation provided for the race was surprisingly nice, we stayed in a caravan park where every team had there own static caravan. However the food was substandard. Pretty much the entire team had a bad stomach as a result of the food and to make matters worse it was the exact same dishes everyday for the whole time we were there. Eventually we gave in and went out for lunch one day which was much better.

We arrived in holland a day before the race began so we could do a course recce of the first stage wich was an 8mile TT. As you would imagine in Holland it was pan flat. Well apart from the small rises up and over bridges, but compared to the UK it was nothing.

Stage 1: Time Trial 


Surprisingly I managed to keep my nerves remarkably under control, considering this was my first UCI race.

The thrill of having a motorbike out rider and a following car was amazing. Even though my outrider nearly fell off during the race, on a straight road.

I was going really well until about 2miles to go where a huge jeep was blocking one of the corners, so I had to wait about a minute for it to get out of the way so I could get through. This was so frustrating but there was nothing I could do. On the bright side, I was still infront of over 30 people on GC so it wasn’t all bad.

Stage 2: Road race 

Today my nerves were not so calm. In order to get a good place on the gridding you have to line up in around 30-40mins before the race. As it began to get more crowded I started to notice that the majority of these girls were about twice the hight of me and there single leg circumference was two of mine put together. That was when the mild panic set in.

I managed to make my way up the the front of the peloton in order to make it through the first pinch point, without getting held up. Unfortunately one of these massive girls next to me tried to get into a none existing gap and as a result her front wheel got caught and she fell, flattening me and taking out the majority of the peloton. Luckily I was okay, but my bike was not. By the time it was fixed the bunch was long gone. I began to get some help from the neutral car in the convoy which was lots of fun, as I was beginning to see the bunch again. However the commissaries forced me to drop off the back of the car.

My team mate and I found ourselfs in a small group of people who had crashed. So to make the most of the situation we stared to do the old one two but we realised that neither of us could stay out there on our own. So we went off together to try and make it back to the main peloton. We were almost successful reducing the gap to around 1 minute but it wasn’t enough according to the police escorts and we were removed from the race along with everyone behind us.

This meant that I could not complete the final stage of the race which was really devastating for me, but there was nothing I could do as it wasnt my fault.

Besides having very bad luck this week, I cannot wait to get back out and race again in Europe. It was an amazing experience and I love the style of racing out there.


I would like to say many thanks to Colin Batchilor and Rene Groot for looking after us all weekend.

And as always a big thank you to Billy Bilsland Cycles for making sure my bikes were faultless for my trip, especially for fitting me in time on the new TT bike it was bliss
Thanks for reading,

Ellie Park


#blog2 Jack Murray/Dunfermline RR 


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

Ellie

#Blog1 Early 2017

January 2017 –

HSBCUK Senior National Track Championships in Manchester

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My first race as a junior cyclist and for my new team for 2017, Team 22.

I competed in the team pursuit competition in one of the two squads that were put in by the team. As always the first race of the season is filled with nerves and everyone is unsure of their form, luckily I had found some. Both teams made it to the ride offs, one for third and the other fifth. I was very surprised at this since it was a senior event containing professional teams such as Breast Cancer Care. I felt good during both rides and managed to put out some long turns for my team in a close race against VC Londres for fifth but unfortunately we were pipped at the line. Our team mates were against Breast Cancer Care for third and were beaten. All in all a very good first outing for the Team and I am happy with how my form is coming along.

February –

Team training camp in Calpe

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Hands down the best time I’ve had cycling abroad.

I had only ever been to Mallorca on a training holiday with my family so being away with my friends that are of similar ability to me was a totally different ball game, and I loved it. The friendly competitive nature between us all made the training harder yet more enjoyable.

We stayed in a villa courtesy of Ciclo Magic in Benissa just outside of Calpe itself.  The villa was on to of a reasonably sized hill, however nothing like climbs such as the Col des Rates which we rode a lot during the week. As much as I dreaded this hill at the end of the long rides, it was by far my favourite descent of the week. Fast, flowing and flawless. riding this for the first time in the first moments of the first ride I knew it was going to be an amazing week.

I was placed on the top floor of the villa with my room-mate Lizzie Catlow and our neighbouring room containing Rosa Martin and Flora Gilles. We had our own kitchen and sitting room to ourselves, Result. With the rest of the team staying on the ground floor.

Ciclo Magic did an amazing job of looking after us, especially having our lunch ready and waiting on the table for us when we got in from the rides. This was definitely one of the highlights of the week.

Another one of the highlights of the week was getting ride with professional women’s team Giant Sunweb on our recovery day! I’ll admit I was a little star struck. Nothing beats riding along side some of your cycling heroes such as Ellen Van Dijk!

Again my form was looking good and I was right up there in all the efforts we were doing all week. Mostly in the mountains however we did have one flat-ish day, ironically this was the hardest,team time trial efforts in strong cross winds, the dreaded hill climb back up to the villa was done in complete silence as a result of a lot of seriously tried legs. Even the most chatty girl in the team Lizzie Catlow was quiet, that’s a true sign of hard training.

To top off a truly amazing week of training in Calpe one of my supporters, Billy Bilsland cycles ,  provided me with my  new road bike for the 2017 season just in time for the camp. A custom painted Ridley Jane SL and it was sheer bliss to ride. So I would like to say a special thank you to them.

I would also like to say thank you to Ciclo Magic for having us for the week and also to Colin Batchelor, the DS ( director sportif) of Team 22 for organising this trip for us.

March –

The first win and the downhill spiral

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The Mad March hilly TT in Scotland.

As much as this was not quite the same as being on the smooth roads and in the basking sun of spain. There is nothing better than winning a bike race. Off the back of an amazing week in Calpe my form had really started to grow now and I managed to show this with a comfortable win in the Mad March time trial in the junior category which left me finishing 3rd in the women’s as well. Really excited to have my first win so early in the season.

Then it all came crashing down. Due to my excellent performance in Calpe I was selected by the DS to ride with the team at Gent Wevelgem Junior nations Cup in Belgium. However I had to pull out last-minute due to having an unfortunate accident in school which left me with torn ankle ligaments. I was devastated, this was supposed to be my first international race and all my great early season form went down the drain.

I had to have three weeks off the bike which meant I also missed the Gifford road race and crit on the campus in Scotland. Now I am starting to get back into training and racing again. Tomorrow I will be competing in the Jack Murray junior road race and then on Tuesday I will leave for Omloop Van Borsele Junior Nations Cup in Holland with the team. My next blog ,of many,  will cover both of these races.

Thank You for reading,

Ellie Park