Grass Track with Medway VC

A lot of firsts for today. Except me being first. Rob Kennison had suggested I had a go at grass track racing, with my second claim club Medway Velo whilst I was working the (weekend only) Women’s Tour last weekend. (Pretty cool to be UCI chaperone for Marianne Vos!)

Usual protests from me:
‘I haven’t got a bike’ The club has one you can borrow,
‘I haven’t got any suitable tyres’ We have some spare ones (this was on Friday lunchtime when I panicked that Sigma had nothing suitable!)
I’ll lend you a jersey.

Ok. Just under 2 hour drive to Colchester grass track meet, and I was a bit wary when I got there. Mostly of the whole ‘how on earth do you stop on a track bike?!’

Yep. That’s right. I’ve never ridden a fixed wheel track bike. Or raced at a grass track programme.

Rob bought the majority of a bike with him, frame, wheels, needed tyres; but Phil just bought his whole Fuji grass track bike, and lent me that!

I was chickening out of setting off for a ride (in trainers) down to the loo’s. Phil ended up holding me up and running with me until I got going. Then I had to stop. Not very elegantly, to get under the barrier tape. Getting going again was… interesting. But I managed. Just.

It managed to rain, but didn’t put a dampner on our groups odd sense of humour. Phil had valiently put up a gazebo, and strung it with flags, whilst I sheltered in the boot of my car waiting for the rain to pass.

All too soon Sally was telling me we had to go over for the first race (yes I had ridden some warm up laps beforehand!)

A three lap race left me blowing like a train, although I had beaten one lady! Then a break, then another race… and so on. It was fairly hot in the sun when it managed to shine for a few minutes, and dried the ground out after a couple of races. I was struggling in the devil takes the hindmost, and was the 2nd person out. In the 800m heats, I finished last out of three by quite a way in  my first heat, and hung on for 2nd in the minor heats.

Grass track is so much harder than anything I’ve done so far on a bike. It makes Paris Roubaix, and Dunkerque Roubaix feel easy by comparison

My legs were totally empty, but I tried my hardest. Having a gel before the 10 lap race did help. Me and another lady slowly dropped away from the main group after 4/5 laps, and I managed to hold her off until the last half a lap, but didn’t have the legs to chase her. Every lap got harder and harder to churn those pedals round, to keep going and not give up. The cheers from Steve, Alex, Rob and Phil really helped. #moveup. I nearly forgot how to stop, and was very close to falling off.

The last race was the 8km. It wasn’t counted as part of the omnium, and I will put my hands up. I didn’t even attempt to ride it, instead I got myself a cuppa and a cake. Actually deserved for once.

Great to watch Sally bossing it, she finished 2nd overall and showed me how slow I was! Rob was on fine form, finishing 4th/3rd overall? Steve and Alex both looked strong early on, and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole atmosphere. Steve’s daughter Safiya should also get a well deserved mention as she tried really hard in the kids race 🙂

The guys got plenty of abuse cheers from us as they raced.

I can’t thank these guys enough. It makes me proud to put a club jersey on and race with you. Thank you all for looking after me, especially being so clueless about everything, from track bikes to what was which race! Doing this today has helped chase away the dark shadows of the past few weeks. It was stupidly hard but amazingly good fun. Next week? We’ll see…



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