Because Why Not? Don’t Give Up!

National Trophy? Really? Why? 
Because why not. The women’s race is sadly nowhere near full. It’s a chance to line up with people who I’d never get to race with. A chance to ride better courses, and experience the huge range of conditions and competition out there. even though nearly ever race I’ve done can be hashtagged #whereisthemud? 

To be honest, I didn’t even know I could enter it, but as I was heading up to it, why not?

I will fully admit, after doing two warm up laps, crashing into the tape through the side of the ‘bombhole’ or pit or what ever it was actually called, I went back to my car and very nearly gave up. 

Once again, super coach Caroline Stewart was on hand to respond to my despondent texts. She’s very very good at understanding the complete out of my depth panic I had. Because lets face it, I was totally out of my depth! However, I went and signed on and found the lovely Alison Kinloch. She also bolstered my courage and convinced me to go ahead. 

A fast, dry, mostly grass course with quite a few twists and turns, a pit/bombhole, some rollercoaster ‘lumps,’ a brief sand pit, some very low planks and an in and out through a barn with vendors arrayed around the inside.

I arrived at the start pretty anxious, and was soon joined by Jo Newstead (XRT-Elmy) who chatted away and made me feel more at ease. 

Some of the women and girls lining up had been with me at Cyclopark for the skills day with Huw Williams and Caroline Stewart the day before, and all were super friendly and nice despite getting their race heads on.

Unsurprisingly it was full on from the off, and I hung in grimly at the rear until we got to the planks, where (as Huw had explained the day before) my shoody remounting had me miles out the back of the field in seconds. It was hard, and showed how unfit I was so quickly. But once I’m out there, I can tune it all out, and focus on keeping the strongest pace I can without burning our too quickly. Massive thanks to Nick Craig for reminding me that it was so easy to go into the red so quickly!

Image courtesy of John Orbea

Also being on my own gave me a chance to ride the pit in my own time and power through the rollercoaster sections before the sandpit. Unfortunately it means there is no one to shelter behind, and on the finish I was unable to get out of the saddle and sprint – and just finished in a grim silence.

Lots and lots of thanks to everyone up there; Nick and Sarah Craig, Keith Murray (champion number pinner and chief ‘unit’ grass crit racer), Alison Kinloch, Jo Newstead, Isla Rowntree, Annie Simpson, Charlotte Hayward Mahe.

This leads onto the South East and Eastern Regional champs. A stunningly chilly day with a course that hadn’t seen rain for at least a couple of weeks. Another fast, dry, slightly hillier race. Another race which I was fairly out of my depth. Lining up with the likes of Helen Pattinson, Jo Smith (I know how to beat her in longest lap now), Louise Mahe… the list goes on. Thankfully I had a lot of people I’d class as friends here, all of them I’ve met through cx. 

I was gridded midfield, but from the start my legs felt leaden, and very tired. I couldn’t even sprint with rest like I usually can. I struggled most of the race, apart from the big off camber downhill and the twisty tech section. I couldn’t even run up the hill like I’d half done last weekend at the skills day. 

This time, I had a blow in the ribs from a Vet just before the finish, and having been struggling to breathe anyway – tipped me over the edge again. Hanging over the bars, gasping for breath with tears streaming isn’t the best look in the world.

But. I loved it. I loved every off camber trch section. The feeling of being nearly on my knees and trying my utmost. This is why I do cx.

However the best bunch of women on the start line! 48 of us made for a decent sized field – great to see Helen Pattinson fresh from her 2nd place in the World Masters at Mol racing, along with Jo Newstead who was sporting some seriously impressive bruises. Good racing by all – except that Vet!

Hazel managed to dismount her bike, stand on the wheel and buckle the disc. Impressive even by my standards.

Thank you to everyone, especially Huw Williams and John Mullineaux for such a cracking event!

The friendship, the help, the giggles, the good natured heckling, the attitude of ‘why not?’ The off camber, hammering heart, reckless throwing the bike down hill. The quick chats with all sorts of people with one thing in common. The variety. The travelling. The slow riders and the fast riders. The mud lovers and the cold haters. The inclusiveness. You can be anyone or anything in cx. This is ‘cross


The *Real McCoy*

I’ll put my hands up. I never finished the Paris Roubaix photo post. And due to data limitations, I doubt I will!

Most, if not all, photos are on under my username of elzrocks.

Right, so, the *Real McCoy* well I’m obviously not AP McCoy  (the world famous NH (National Hunt) jockey who lived next to the parents for a while.

I mean me. After being politely questioned by a twitter friend (James Ward I’m looking at you!!) something actually made me wonder. Who do you see me as? What do I do? What do you think I do?

My *day* job is looking after/ working with racehorses. You might see a little bit about it on fb/twitter – but not a lot. I start work at 5.45 and finish at 12.30ish. This includes the delightful aspect of ‘mucking out’ – and the more normal aspect of riding out. We usually ride 3 or 4 different horses a morning. Back at work at 15.15 and finish roughly at 17.20.

Sometimes I get to go racing – usually with the horses I look after. That’s also why I tend to know the roads quite well! 

I work 12.5 days out of 14 – the half a day off being a Saturday, and the whole day being the Sunday directly after. We don’t have Bank Holidays off either. And you thought you worked hard?!! 😉

This year I’ve kinda started everything again. Gave up smoking last year, put on a bit of weight (obviously not ideal in my job where every other person weighs 9 stone max wet through!!) and have been trying to do something about it.
I took up spinning 3 times a week to start with. With the intention of leaving when the evenings got light enough. I dropped the Thursday class in favour of Konga (part of the jungle body routine – Google it before you laugh too much).

Now it’s light enough, I’ve been getting out as much as possible. I’ve dragged myself out of half the mess I was in last year kicking and screaming. Ironically despite changing most of my lifestyle – including healtier eating – I haven’t lost much weight.
Having put the seat post up 3 inches on my bike – I’m a lot more comfortable. And finally for the 3rd time got myself back on Strava.

It’s hard to change everything, and I’m pretty impatient sometimes. But I’m feeling a lot fitter and proved a point to myself when I ran from Nottingham centre to the Station Car Park (most of the way) and back (most of the way!) Without winding myself or giving myself sore shins! Pat on the back and all that.

Also, you’ve probably seen me at a cycle race somewhere. Tour Series is great fun, and haring off to the Isle of Wight at the last second was brilliant. I love watching it – I mean who am I kidding, you think I’d ever race a bike?! – and it’s great to be asked to be involved.
GP Wiltshire was great – awesome to run into Lili McClean and Mitch Webber again.
Then a jaunt to Redditch for the Tour Series round 2. Where I got involved again. Lovely to meet Claire Rutherford at last!
Really should give a shout out to the behind-the-scenes lot – Paul Baillie  #legend and Andy Hawes who I never ever run into!
The weekend just gone was equally as busy. Shot off straight to Chesterfield as soon as I’d finished work. Had a bloody hard ride with Louise Wainwright  (I loved every second of it!) and a few drinks after.
Sunday was the Milk Race. Great race to watch though I better say nothing about Showsec!! A lovely day out with lovely people!

I enjoy watching the cycling – although I’m not usually the most vocal. And I like getting involved. I’m more than happy to help out.

The last few years haven’t been easy. So I’m hugely grateful to the people who put up with my still daft questions (Stuart Clapp!) and those who’ve been there along the way.


It’s almost autumn

It’s been a while – after having so little internet etc. Just to say – Paris was a lot better this year apart from the heat!

Never managed to watch any of la vuelta – we’ve been flat to the boards since I came back from France. But I did manage to keep vaguely up to date with what was going on through twitter.

Unfortunately I have to leave my job down here in snobby surrey – so looks like I’ll be at home for a while around Christmas time.

Tour of Britain – well some interesting weather! Would have loved to be up at Honister Pass – or on anywhere in the Welsh stage, but I had to make do with Guildford and getting myself and Jen Hine roped into helping out at the finish of Stage 7 🙂
I’d volunteered for the London stage on Sunday with my friend Rhys. Great to see four of the Shutt Velo girls riding the womens race (Jen, Tracey, Sian and Saskia) and of course one of my lovely friends Lili who rides for Andover Wheelers. And yes I did stand in as Lili’s soigneur (although I also had a go on her bike – my god that girl has long legs!!).
Met up with Holly B and watched the Gentlemans TT from the inside corner of Westminster Bridge – before having a wander with the master baker @melaniebbikes 🙂
Watched Stage 8 from the outside corner of Westminster Bridge – and think I have been fairly instrumental in getting the crowd going (amazing what happens when you shout ‘come on London make some noise!!) 😉
Then a hair raising 5 minutes with a whistle, trying to get some of the public out of the road to let the riders through. Who had the bright idea to let me have a whistle??!!?? Good job I have a sense of humour!
Then finally drinks… where we met the now very famous Kenny v V at St. Stephens.

Yes I did manage to catch my train home 🙂