My ToB part 3

I’ve had to edit this slightly as it’s refused to upload! Sorry about the delay – our wifi is rather slow, and data connection is worse!!

Me and Verity caught the train last night to Brighton, getting to the hotel at roughly 22.30.
We met Rhys at 9.30ish at a little cafe on the seafront by the pier. Then it’s off to find out exactly where we are meant to meet up. Funnily enough we walk straight past it, as I’m too busy talking and looking at how they are setting up the finish. Team parking is easy to find as it’s straight after the finish. We walk into Dr.Paul Baillie – who knows us from the last few ToBs. The meeting point is back behind us, near the tradestands. We’ve checked out one of the most important things – where the toilets are ;)
After a while, Paul, Chris and Liz arrive with boxes of yellow vests, whistles, info forms etc. They give us the usual briefing, and we start sidling toward one side, as to be quite honest, I don’t want to be stuck on a crossing point, or anywhere near dope control!
Obviously we’ve done team parking every time. It’s hectic, but good fun. Paul and Chris get about 12 of us and we head off as soon as the briefing is finished.
I wander around, running into Nathan – he’s done the whole week of the tour. We don’t have much to do until the first team buses/cars/campervans arrive.

Sky, thankfully drive right down near the finish. Garmin are the opposite end, wanting to be quickly away. I end up with Madison Genesis and BMC behind me, and NFTO in front of me. From the layout of the road – the bit past Sky will turn out to be a pinch point. Purely because most of the public descend on their bus.
Thankfully it’s hot and sunny, and I borrow suncream off Chris a couple of times.
Eventually the cars/campervans arrive from the feedzone – although nearly straightaway we realise there are a few missing. Giant Shimano, team GB and one other. They do arrive later on however!

Huge thanks to El from NFTO Apparel who bought us Calypso’s!!

And massive thanks to NFTO who let me watch the race through the window of their bus!

Then, we sort of see Tao crash, and within a few minutes it’s the usual chaos. Cyclists ever where, cars coming in, the public walking into everything (including myself).

Constant whistle blowing, we wait for Rhys to shout/whistle up, then it’s our turn, then onto Victoria and Sue. I drift away from Madison Genesis as I can hear them laughing at me.

This does go on for a fair while, but you have to have a laugh with it, although you don’t half feel an idiot sometimes!
The guys from BMC were nice, they at least thanked me.
I managed to catch up with Michelle (with Raleigh) well before the race came in :)

Then the teams start drifting away, one by one they are off to Heathrow, this causes more chaos as there’s a lot of people around OPQS to see Cav. Movistar  and BMC were very very quiet. But I know tomorrow will be worse!

There’s only Sky left when we start making our way back. We leave them to get on with it.

We catch up with my friend Kara, and see Kristian House on the beach, as well as Rob Hayles and Ned Boulting near the tv stuff.



Then it’s off to the pub for a well earned pint and food!

I know Vélo: Spin up in the City is on, and 4 of us make our way up there to have a look. It’s great to see @dizzymabil and @ClaudAndI there, and once again Verity has a go at roller racing!


I also recognise Matt. No idea where from tho


Its a cracking end to the day, and we are back at the hotel before 11.

We’re in Victoria in London by 9. Time to grab a quick coffee, then off to the briefing again. The guys that have been doing this all week look shattered. We ask for team parking again, get our ToB vests and listen to what’s said.
We organise ourselves and make our way up to Westminster Bridge.
The teams are already there, and we station ourselves at the entrance/exit where we’ll make the most use of ourselves.
Then the fun begins.

Rider and car (and sometimes a soigneur) out, stop next rider/car from going across as we wait for whichever one is doing the ITT (Individual Time Trial) to go through. Let rider across, team car in from the deviation, let rider back across after the race.

And keep the public safe.

We’re shouting and blowing whistles from the word go. We set some tape up so we have a semi ‘sterile’ area. But people lean on it, and it gets broken and retied. Eventually we get metal barriers up, which leaves a good sized area free. It’s exhilarating in its own way. And I quite enjoy it. We have short breaks when we can, but it is chaotic.

It’s not long for the ITT to finish, and a bit of time before the main race. I take a wander along Westminster Bridge and stop to speak to El. Then onto Raleigh, where I get to sit in the boot of one of their cars and relax for a few minutes whilst chatting to Michelle.

I check the other marshals are ok and have had a break, then it’s back to the team entrance/exit onto the course. I have a bit of a chat with the lovely @Joolzephoto too.

Very quickly riders and team cars make their way out and round to the start, and the race is off. 8 laps. Cars in, drop passengers, cars out, cyclists past. I get a shout from the other marshals, who have a guest but no idea where to send him. I walk up and am told Andrew Mcquaid is going to pick him up in one of the red Skoda’s shortly. I advise him to try ringing him, then after a couple of laps take him down the deviation, where he does eventually get picked up. We have a bit of banter with various team members as we wait for the race to finish. Garmin and Madison Genesis are as friendly as usual, as are the Novo guys.
Suddenly it’s over and riders are coming back in. Matt Rabin (Garmin) confirms they’ve kept the yellow jersey.
Then it’s back to getting the riders in safely, waiting for them to cool down, and the teams to leave.
I walk over the bridge to see how bad it is around Sky and OPQS, and although it’s a pinch point, the marshals are doing a great job.

We get a lot of thanks as the teams make their way out, especially from Garmin and Saxo. Some don’t even acknowledge us, but again it’s been a great day. It’s fun to be part of it, and to meet new people and old friends.

Well. Hope you’ve enjoyed reading this! Not long til next year now. Come and say hi if you have a chance…


Me above having a laugh with @Joolzephoto. Pic from Kara Thomas


My Tour of Britain part 2

I drove back home on the Tuesday night, a lovely traffic free run on the M4, arriving back around 20.30. Decided to leave my bike in the car – as I’d already made my mind up to go to Wyche Cutting for the first KoM the next day.

Getting up at 6am never bothers me as most days of the week I’m up at 5am at the very latest. It was thick fog and quite chilly as I left – so deciding to wear jogging bottoms over my bibs was a great idea. This time I had to rely on my Sat Nav as although I know the way to Cheltenham and Worcester like the back of my hand, I’ve never been to Great Malvern. Not sure what time I did arrive in the town, but I found a great parking spot (after asking a few mums doing the school run) on the side of the road in a really quiet part.
I got out, sorted myself, the bike and a backpack out, then I looked up.
The sun had started clearing the fog and I could see the top of the hills. Ouch. Going to be some pull up there! I checked Google Maps then started off… ever upward…
Although nowhere near the Tumble – it made me blow – but I did it in one go. Not realising I’d got to the top until I saw the Yodel van the other side as I started dropping down. Sounds a bit silly, I know!

I stopped and chatted to them and they asked if I wanted to give them a hand – not a bother as I’ve done plenty of marshalling at cycle events before. They told me I could chuck my bike in the back of the van after they had set the barriers and KoM signs out. So I cycled back up and over – and turned by the pub as it was already getting busy!

There was about 10 of us up there and hundreds of people, a load of cycle clubs and a few that had ridden some of the route early on. It was blazing hot up there, and I ended up giving out flags, ‘Tour de Worcester’ posters, flags, more flags, stickers and more flags.
Had a great laugh with a couple of lads and the other volunteers – whilst keeping up to date with the race via Twitter.
Wasn’t long before the breakaway arrived



Adam Blythe and his shiny shoes

And as always they were up and over in seconds.

And then everyone departs. I grabbed my bike (and a goody bag) and headed back down, intent on seeing the race finish at home.

Ironically I didn’t check the race route – only realising I was back in front of them en route as I started back up the A417 toward Swindon. I quickly pulled in to what we know as the Birdlip turn, and parked up with the 30 or so other cars on a side road.
Ha. Great. Get to see them again!
Didn’t have to wait to long either



Then we waited ages for the peloton



Then a quick drive home to watch the race! Except I fell asleep after 20 mins, waking up to see the peloton cross the line.

It was great to see it, and ride out to it on my own. I’ll definitely be doing that again!

I’d arranged with @Jenlovescycling and her hubby Pasty, and @v_girlracer to go off to the feedzone. Pasty kindly picked us up and we rode out from near Great Shefford. My legs were a little tired and a short ride did them good!
Eventually we found it, leaving our bikes up against a wall, and I shared my Haribo with Saxo Tinkoff, although they wouldn’t share their coffee!
Some, but not all teams had their cars there, and Giordana arrived just after we did. Then a fair while later Raleigh arrived. Immediately I recognise Michelle getting out of the car and wandered down to say hi (I’d met her at the Milk Race earlier in the year).
Had a chat, and guarded the car while the both nipped of to the loo, then let them get set up. I stayed on the same side as the swannys but back a bit from them so I wouldn’t get in the way. No Internet connection – so listened to some very crackly race radio from AN Post whose car was right behind me.

Then the police, police bikes, NEG’s, and the breakaway finally came past. I’d heard Alex Dowsett was in it…


And we kept hearing the time gap growing and growing…




In the middle of this, I got hit by an NFTO full water bottle (accompanied by a smirk) ;-)

Then everyone was leaving. Scribbled my number for Michelle as Raleigh were driving off… and then they were gone…

Again, a quick ride to the car, home then watch the race. Crikey, some time gap!

This time I had to pack a rucksack for the Brighton and London stages, couldn’t take much as we’d have nowhere to leave it on the Sunday. It’s a funny feeling, I was knackered but exhilarated. Legs were tired. Brain was full of clouds, but I was immensely enjoying myself. Especially with my friends.

Thanks for taking the time to read this, I’ll continue part 3 over the next couple of days!

Keep smiling

:-) :-) :-)

My Tour of Britain

I booked the whole week and a day off for the ToB this year. I’d planned ish to volunteer for the finish in Brighton and to do the whole day in London.

What hit me on the Sunday it started (I was at work at the time) was that I had the whole week to do basically nothing. Yeah I could go out and twaddle about on my good ol Trek… or… hmm. I really had nothing concrete to do. I will admit that during Sunday afternoon (before I started back at work at 15.10) I rolled the idea of camping around and around in my brain. Problem was my tent is a 3 person tent and requires 2 people to assemble. I could probably just about do it, though it was unlikely. A quick look at revealed one single room in Abergavenny. Hmm.

I rushed work as quickly as I could, then came back home to see if Verity wanted to go camping, but she’d arranged other things to do. I felt a bit deflated – but had an “oh, sod it” moment and booked a room at The Swan Hotel in Abergavenny. That was Monday night sorted, but I couldn’t find anything in affordability range for Tuesday.
A quick phonecall/text? to Rhys and I’d half decided to take my bike. He was marshalling the finish up the Tumble and was vaguely in the vicinity. Then a phone call to Ron, who was already planning to bring his bike down on the train and see the ToB somewhere.
Funnily enough I was getting a bit (excited is the wrong word!) buzzy. I love the ToB – and it was possible to do more than 1 stage for once!!

I ummed and ahhhed about taking the bike, but decided to take it on Monday morning, along with the tent and a sleeping bag and far too many clothes. Thought I’d need my bib tights, only chucked my shorts in at the last minute, along with enough food to sink the Titanic!
So geared up and ready to go I set off at 11.40 – which means I missed Mondays stage as well – arriving at the hotel at 13.30ish.
Good timing though, as Rhys rang me to say he was outside on his bike! I quickly checked in (also notifying them the ToB was on as they had no idea), got changed and went to get my ass kicked along the side of the valley. This is bearing in mind I’ve done so little on the bike, and Rhys has done a lot! Off up to the info center, then a quick coffee stop, then off up into the valleys on a gorgeously hot day (thankfully I bought my bib shorts and lightweight jersey!). It’s nice to ride along having a chat, even if it’s ever so slightly up and up and up and up.
We stopped at the bottom of the Tumble


but didn’t head up there, instead sticking roughly to Route 46 (Rhys had come over the Tumble earlier).

We ended up getting the map out a couple of times, but I really enjoyed getting out and having a natter on lovely paths/roads. Even if I was dying the whole of the way up there!

I did want to go around and ride up the back of the Tumble, but eventually we decided it wasn’t a great idea LOL.


Rhys on the bridge

So I rode back to Abergavenny –


Ever downward on those lovely bike paths! Felt pretty much high as a kite going back, until I realised I couldn’t see the highlights of the days race!

Didn’t sleep great, but woke up early as usual. Impatiently waited for breakfast to open – and finally did get toast and coffee! And lots and lots of orange juice. Had a wander around the town – and the market, seeing the history of the coal mines always saddens me, and I couldn’t remember which mine my Dad’s family had worked in. Bought a Welsh tie ;-). Then it was time to get ready to ride up to the station and meet Ron off the train. My mad plan was to watch the race in Abergavenny then rush up the Tumble. So so glad we didn’t do both!
We went straight from the station up to the Tumble (Ron in a tshirt and jeans). Saw a bloke on a new Penny Farthing at Llanfoist. Then the Tumble.

I told/shouted Ron to go ahead as I made my very slow painful way up there. Puff pant gargle etc. So so so happy I had trainers on or I wouldn’t have gone a yard being clipped in!
I stopped. I started. I went 50 yards. I stopped. I started. I did another 50 yards. (I may have stopped at the porta loos too). I tried again. My legs didn’t hurt. I just am nowhere near fit enough.
Btw. I got to 4.5k to go before I stopped the first time.
I carried on. I tried again. I started thinking the peloton might catch me up and I’d be kicked off (wild bollocksy tired fantasy?!?!)
I went again. Oh hello cattle grid! I stopped. I breathed (and sweated. A lot).
Oh hi Ron!
Lol, thanks for coming back!!
I walked a little and took a picture or two. Then I got back on and very slowly made my way up (with Ron laughing at me and me trying not to laugh because I *might* just fall off if I laughed!).
Great to have encouragement tho – from Ron and the other guys who passed me. You all made me keep going. Well until we got told to stop. By Rhys.

I did it. I’m bloody proud of myself. I don’t care what anyone else thought. It was hard. My legs never did hurt – just got tired and sullen. I had a cracking day up there in beautiful sunny weather. And I even wore my tie around my head.

Right, I’ll leave it at that. I must sleep, so I’ll regale you all with the rest of my week tomorrow.

Most of my pic’s are on Facebook.

BTW I kept smiling – make sure you all do too!!

Trying to find cycling clothing as a curvy girl

Originally posted on Unofficial Unsanctioned Women's UCI Cycling Blog:

I’m already thinking about “gift ideas” posts for this winter, and it’s giving me a real dilemma – one that touches on some real insecurities for me as a woman and as a cyclist – should I promote companies that make clothes I can’t buy?

Just typing this makes me simultaneously ashamed, and angry at myself for being ashamed, and worry you’ll think less of me, and hate myself for worrying about being judged by a bunch of strangers on the internet – but I’m a UK size 16 (US size 10, Continental 44) and in some lines 18, especially in jackets and coats (I have broad shoulders and big boobs, and even at my fittest and skinniest, I’ve always been curvy).   I don’t know if you’d think I was fat if you met me in real life, but I feel fat, all the time.  I’m in my…

View original 1,146 more words

Introducing Lily Mclean, Andover Wheelers Girl Racer. Guest Blog.

I am a 2nd category junior women and would say I am a very keen cyclist. I ride for my local club Andover Wheelers. Throughout the summer I will race around 3 or 4 times a week at local circuit races such as Ludgershall and Thruxton and our club’s TT’s. There are few junior girls around my area therefore the majority of my training is with men, as well as local races, which usually results in entering the men’s 3rd cat races. This year I have started larger women’s races, this has definitely been an eye-opener! I have raced a couple National Women Team Series races; these contain some of the UK’s best teams such as Matrix Fitness and MG Maxi Fuel, they are also notorious for large crashes!! Women’s cycling has improved majorly over the past few years, this year I have had the opportunity to race the RideLondon criterium, rubbing shoulders with Olympians Laura Trott, Danni King and Joanna Rowsell (I can’t say I did particularly well in this race!). The race I enjoyed most this year is the 3 day stage race in Jersey, I certainly recommend anyone going to watch it!

My last race of the year was the Westminster Criterium. This was an amazing opportunity to race in the streets of London to mark the end of the Tour of Britain. I wasn’t particularly nervous until a crash on the warm up lap reminded what women’s racing is like! I started at the very back of the start line which once the race went like a rocket left me straggling of the back of the bunch, nonetheless Elz (and Rhys!) relentless cheering kept me going!
Next year I hope to try track racing, however travelling to either Calshot or Newport is going to be difficult, if not, I’m sure some cyclocross will be good training!

Lili Mclean

(I met Lili through my last job, and she kindly offered to stand in for me at work so I could do the Garmin Ride Out last year. Probably one of the nicest people I know! Keep an eye out for her in the future! And follow her on twitter @lilimayemclean :-) hope you enjoyed this – Elz)

Anthony Mccrossan – Commentating on the Worlds. Guest Blog.

I was asked if I would write a blog about commentating on the world championships to give you all a bit of an insight into what it is us commentators do all day, so here we go….

The World Championships for me is one of the biggest weeks of the year.  Its one of those weeks that starts high and ends normally higher.  The racing is competitive, the crowds get bigger as the week goes on and strangely the commentary box gets busier and busier!

So, I arrived in Firenze (Florence to us Brits) late on Saturday night, the day before the team time trials.  I was picked up at the airport by one of the guys who works on the caravan at the Giro where I am the speaker so I immediately felt at home.  Arrived at the hotel, met a good friend of mine Seb who does radio tour on the Tour De France and of course ended up having a glass of wine and dinner.  Its great to catch up on news and exchange views on the season so far and what might happen.

The next morning I headed to the race finish area to find my home for the week.  This championships I was on the upper deck of the big grey commentary boxes you see on the finish line of the worlds, in between Norwegian and Dutch tv, along from Italian and French tv.  So, this is where I would live for a week!  Watch the racing, commentate on the action, welcome my guest commentators, watch the victory ceremonies and be part of the incredible event that is the World Championships.

Each day is much the same.  Arrive in the morning at the finish area.  Go to the press centre to check any news, have a coffee, check the set up in the commentary box.  Read everything you can about news overnight, talk to other commentators and get their thoughts on the race, have more coffee, commentate, go to the press conference of the winner, back to the hotel, eat, chat more and sleep!

It would take a long time to go through day by day what happened at this years Worlds so here are some high points and some amazing things that happened.  My role at the worlds is commentator on the host broadcast feed, so my commentary is taken by a number of broadcasters across the world.  This time to places like SBS in Australia and also on the new live streaming to the Youtube UCI channel.  The audience is diverse, worldwide and as a result my commentary is generic, not related to any specific country and that means you have to know a lot about every rider.  It’s fun, challenging and an absolute honour to do what I do.

This year for the first time I had guest commentators on some days.  On the womens ITT day it was great to commentate with Team Manager of Wiggle Honda – Rochelle Gilmore.  She is working hard to change womens cycling and had some great insights during the race.  She also isn’t afraid to correct you or say what she thinks.  One moment of commentary was “I noticed you tripped over Elisa Longo Borghinis name Anthony – thats ok – we just call her Lamborghini!”

On Saturday I was joined by silver medalist in 2012, Rachel Neylan.  It was a tough day for Rachel as she has been injured a lot of 2013 and to watch a race she wanted to be riding in was an impressive thing to do.  She brought the race to life, giving stories about the riders, recalling her race with Vos in 2012 and for her first time in the commentary box, she was excellent.

Florence was a wonderful place for a world championships.  On the day between the time trials and road races, the circuit is closed for training.  The riders who are taking part in junior, U23, womens and mens races all go out.  This year I went round the circuit in a car as I unfortunately didnt have my bike.  I was joined by Jerome Pineau who was working with French tv.  He was great to listen to, giving us insights on who he thought would win, what the race would be like, showing us photos of him racing this year- its all helps with the homework for the racing!  

It’s a fans dream to be there on that day and I would recommend it to anyone.  You see all the stars, Mark Cavendish, Vicenzo Nibali, Alberto Contador, Evelyn Stevens, Marianne Vos, Lizzie Armitstead, Peter Sagan etc etc all out training.  Its amazing.

On Sunday, the weather turned and we had the most extreme Worlds for a long time!  What a day for the riders.  I dont know how they competed in those conditions.  Thunder, lightning, a deluge of rain.  It was incredible.  I was joined by young British rider Adam Blythe for the race.  I have known Adam for a while and its always struck me that he would be good in media.  At the worlds our ‘shift’ in the commentary box is 7 hours + so you live the entire race!   I think he was surprised at how tiring it was, but he was excellent.  Not sure what his colleagues will think of him willing it to rain harder though!  His rider identification was incredible, even down to spotting shoes and legs!  

So what were the highs and lows?  For me the most exciting race was close run between the womens road race, the mens TTT and the mens ITT.  I thought Brads ride in the ITT was testament to how classy he really is.  The way the Americans rode for Evie Stevens in the womens road race was exciting, but Vos was in a different league.  And Orica Green Edge and OPQS finishing less than a second apart was stunning.

There aren’t many lows at a Worlds to be fair.  Katie Colclough retiring was a shame.  She isn’t mentioned much, but is a world TTT champion.  Having the only taxi driver in Italy to observe the speed limit on the motorway as I tried to get a flight home on Sunday night was probably a disappointment, you don’t get that too often!

Thanks for reading, the next races for me are Lombardia and then China for Tour of Beijing.

Anthony Mccrossan.

(A massive thank you to Anthony for taking the time to type this out! Hope you all enjoy this as much as I did, as always feel free to comment, Elz)

The non cycling marlarkey

Having been asked by my non cycling friends more and more about the ToB, I’m in the process of requesting some people to guest blog. If I have asked you its because you have a sense of humour! And are involved or have been involved in some way. The first to step up and say yes is my friend Lily who rode the womens GP on Sunday…

So come on people – give it you’re best shot. All will be in your own words so you’d better provided a bit of background! Or I’ll ask your friends for a funnier bit of background ;-) as I too have a sense of humour

Keep smiling!!