A CX Winter

Bundling everything in the car and heading off to Shrewsbury, it looked like pre riding the National Trophy course at Shrewsbury on the 10th December could require some wet weather gear. Needless to say it didn’t disappoint. 

Arriving before 2pm, I had a walk around before they opened the course, it was damp underneath, and having kept an eye on the weather, I was sure it would cut up after a few people had been around it – especially if the forecast rain arrived.

After getting the bike out, I was one of the first on. With my relative inexperience, I took it slowly, finding ruts hidden under the slightly long grass, and very bumpy in the woods. Letting people past me as I rode slowly around, considering how to approach each section. Remembering how and when to shift my weight, and how to ride a cx bike! Several times I didn’t approach banks fast enough or with enough speed, but repeating them soon helped my early mistakes. I did sit and watch for a long time at the big bank just before the finish, watching kids and adults find their way around the corner and onto the off camber. It still held the upper line that was trampled into it at the Nationals back in January, although it was slightly overgrown but cutting in quickly the more people rode it. I rode it once, twice, dabbing each time to keep the momentum going. Chuckling when I got it wrong, as did the kids around me. Several times I had conversations about how to approach it with different teenagers and adults. Some rode the high line, some took it wide and went low. I eventually realised I’d be quicker running it. Especially with my remounting needing some (a lot) of work.

Then the rain came. I’d ridden the course a few times. Struggling with one of the off cambers from the tarmac. I still loved it! The course was much more suited to me than the big hill at Cyclopark. However I decided now was a good time to get the worst mud off my bike and pack it away. As I did this the Murray family arrived, so I headed down to see how the more experienced Keith and Sam rode the bank. Even Ellis rode it better than I did! Fair play!

Sam Murray

Ellis Murray #doitforthefamily taking the wide line

Sam and Keith riding different lines. Foot out, flat out

I knew by the time I got to the hotel that I had a cold setting in. Throughout a meal in the evening I felt progressively worse.
Sunday dawned. It’d be raining most of the night. Had I felt well, I would’ve been quite excited about riding a proper muddy course. I felt so flat that by the time the Murrays arrived, I knew I wouldn’t be riding. 

The waterproofs went on and I headed to the pits, where after two laps of the Vets race – Keith was on half laps changes as the course was wet, sticky mud. especially in the woods. 

Gary and I on pit duty for the Murrayator

Next up Sam. Riding his bike down to the pits was a lot easier than his dads! But equally the pits were getting muddier and more crowded as bike change after bike change happened. Paths were trodden between one side of the pits and the other. Everybody equally intent on their rider and shouting encouragement.

I briefly helped Bruce Dalton out, until a crash saw him DNF, and was quickly on bike change duty for both Scott Chalmers and Scot Easter, both far enough apart that I could help out one then the other before heading to the other side of the pits to do the same even half lap.

All too soon, the frantic muddy afternoon was done and I was heading home with a full blown cold.

Calais and East Kent.

I was planning on heading to the East Kent league race on Sunday 18th December, so when Keith mentioned Calais cx on the Saturday, I thought I might as well combine the two as I was staying with family in Deal on the Saturday night.

Taking the ferry to Calais was easy, and cheap. The cx course being held at the Stade du Souvenir a mere 9 minute drive from Calais port. Day was dawning, as I left Dover in thick fog and emerged into a stunning morning at sea.

Arriving at the Stade du Souvenir, I was delighted by the course laid out. And pre rode half of it in jeans and trainers. As you do. This put me in mind of enquiring about races close to Calais just for the experience!

Lots of banks to ride down and run up. Long sweeping grassy turns. It was going to be fast racing. No rain, dry and well laid out. Everyone was so welcoming, the French helping out with bike changes and so much friendliness even though I speak little French! 

Warm and dry, it was great fun helping out both Sam and Keith, and cheering Kris on. Even if mechanicals were order of the day. Snapping a chain downhill is a new one though! Problems aside, it was a great day out!

Murrayator

Low light providing some cracking shots

Kris riding the high line

All to soon I was heading back across the sea to a warm welcome in Deal.

East Kent CX at Ford Manor Farm was a far cry from the day before. Muddy, one blinking huge hill and sections so loamy and soft they were unrideable. One practice lap had me on my knees, and I was hugely glad Phil Booth also turned up – even though getting a bike built on the day is not the best idea!

I managed to get a second lap in before we lined up. Well at least I started warmed up! Three times up this hill in one lap. Thankfully the one off the start was rideable! Mucky and loamy, I had no problem with grip with Conti CycloXKings on, even approaching the long straight downhill at speed. However on the second lap I pulled a muscle in my backside, rendering the last hill walkable in mincing little steps. No thanks to the 40cm planks at the bottom too!

Alright Matt. Stop laughing when you’re taking pictures! Photo credit Matt Nunn

The tight off camber downhills got progressively slicker and I point blank refused to fall off or skid out through the tape!
However this is why I love cx….

Overdressed and too damn stubborn to give up

#keepsmiling 

Wessex CX Round 2

Whilst the hard people were heading off to the #3pcx challenge today, I was heading off to Swindon. To a golf course no less!

Before you get your hopes up that I’ve given up cycling and taken up golf, I have to tell you that the golf course is decommissioned and I went to cyclocross instead.

LCCA didn’t have a round this weekend, so I planned to combine seeing my parents, with a cx race. It’s still less than a year ago that I started racing, and I need all the experience I can get.

So, whilst I would have preferred to be in Yorkshire cheering on Keith Murray, Scott Chalmers, Scot Easter and Emma Osenton, I found myself moseying around a nicely technical grass course.

The other part of the reason I like the Wessex league, is that it so friendly. With the likes of Caroline Stewart, Chris Macleod and Graham Robins there, they make you feel more than welcome.

Caroline rode a recce lap at my pace with me, and I quickly identified one corner that I found tricky. Just one mind. Off camber, 180° right hander going downhill. Why I’m having problems with exactly the same type of bend two races in a row, I don’t know!

Very, very glad to be riding Continental CX Race tyres. With a course that had such a decent covering of grass, even when the heavens opened briefly, it didn’t properly cut up. Sure there were some damp, squidgy grass, but it was merely suicidily slippery. Not muddy as such.

It took me a while to get into the race. And looking at my lap times, my last lap was fastest again! I need the experience more than anything. Different courses, terrain, and people. I found it a huge learning curve today. Eventually winning the battle at the back with another girl.

The only problem I had was faceplanting over my bars on the second lap. Not entirely sure how I ended up on the floor – but hey ho!


I didn’t enjoy the first lap. But by the second I was back in that love/hate relationship. I love the course. I love riding cx. I dislike that I’m such a novice and so slow. I love the friendliness.

It’s not easy not having the experience or background of years in and around cycling clubs, road races and cross.

#keepsmiling

Ride London Day 1

Today I’m here at the Expo in the Excel, working for Sigma Sport on the Sigma/ Extra stand. Having been picked up at 6, it’s the lull at lunchtime  (alright ‘late’ lunchtime) that’s let me get out for food and a quick blog post. There’s a load of my favourite people here that I don’t get too see as often as I’d like. Shelley, Mark, Rob and Joe from Conti UK  (I’ll be working with some of them over the weekend), Rory from Upgrade, some of the Hot Chillee crew, my super landlord Jon from Vittoria…. and a few more.

I like working events like this despite the long days, it’s such a great chance to interact with people – not just customers, but people from all over. 

A lot of people are here to do the sportive for charity, for causes that are near and dear to them and that in itself is special. Others to do it just to say they’ve ridden the same roads as the pros on Sunday.

So. I’m here with Sigma today and tomorrow. With Continental on Saturday, and at the cattle market in Kingston with Continental for the activation zone in Sunday. Don’t be afraid to come and say hi if you are around!

Another roller session planned for this evening as I won’t be doing much for the next few days!

#keepsmiling #thankgodforfriends 

Aberystwyth

So, if you didn’t know already, I’ve been doing a lot of the social media for the 8 day long Aberystwyth Cycle Festival in mid Wales – from near the beginning of the year. I’ve taken this off as holiday from work in order to be up here for the events.
It started Monday with a mountain bike ride out at Nant Yr Arian – led by Summit Cycles 

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Griff Lewis making all the adults look slow

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Pic by Gareth Jones

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Pic by Toria Jameison

It was a beautiful evening, at a stunning location, with two different length rides. Sadly I don’t have a mtb – so waited until the return of the riders, with young Griff Lewis making it all look remarkably easy! I won’t mention how many times I got bitten by gnats… little blighters.

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Tuesday was Wattbike racing at MG’s Cafe , with two knockout rounds before a last few eliminator. I made it into the final, and wasn’t too far out! Video can be seen on the Aber Cycle Fest Facebook page. Although I will admit I got a bit of stage fright 😦 I also got to meet some of the others who work on Aber Cycle Fest; Jeff and Clint.

Wednesday was a day I had planned to drive up to Barmouth to visit my uncle, detouring via Aberdyfi and the Penmaenpool toll bridge before a quick visit for a chat and a cuppa. A drive back via Dolgellau and Machynlleth brought back tons of memories, and I was gutted that mum and dad couldn’t get away to join me. The a meeting to brief volunteers at the Academy pub in Aberystwyth – most volunteers had been doing the Cycle Fest for a least a couple of years, so I was definitely the newbie there!

Thursday was Film Night at the National Library of Wales with an evening screening of the Beryl Burton Story. A subject which I knew little about if I’m honest! A surprising message in the morning asked if I (and a few others) could take our special guest out, none other than Isla Rowntree! I said yes at once and left Toria to devise a route around her home roads. I had to drive over to do a few bits of work, so met them both at 2.30 on the seafront. Isla is lovely, and happily chatted away to Toria as we climbed Penglais and headed out toward Clarach and then Borth. Suddenly realising I was out of time – I left them to ride on and looped the long flat way back to Aber. It was a stunningly beautiful day to be out and I managed to clock a faster time on the 25% downhill in Borth!

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We met at the National Library of Wales at 6.20 – the film night a complete sell out and ended up turning a few people away in the end which was a hell of a shame. Sitting next to Isla whilst the film was on was a truly unforgettable experience – it’s someone who bridges the gap between then and now, especially as she actually knew some of them toward the end of the film. Beryl in herself was so extraordinary it was unreal. Then a fantastic Q and A session, with Shelley Childs hosting

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Ken Williams

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A much needed takeaway in Aber rounded off the calm before the storm… quite literally in this case!

I love being up early, so being there for 7 was no problem, although I did a cheeky lap of the course whilst the barrier guys were still setting up the top part of the course. I’d also resigned myself to taking part in the women’s crit – after the lovely Mark Turner put a set of edco wheels on. Running 25mm Conti 4000 IIs obviously…

A quick hello to the regular Tour Series guys, before grabbing a coffee and setting up a picture dump on the laptop. Sadly neither my new or old phone was playing ball for ages, so a wander around the course was on the cards

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With some promo to do too. I manged to nab Gaz Lewis for some ‘poster’ shots for Llanllyr Source who very kindly agreed to sponsor both marshals and riders on the Continental Welsh Wild West sportive on the Sunday.

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Well. He had to put the flags out anyway! Next up was ITV interviewing Shelley…

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Then the schools races with hundreds of children taking part – nice one Ceredigion Actif and all schools in the area as well as all the kids. The smiles on the faces were so worth it.

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Then it was time for me to get ready. Professional number pinning supplied by Michelle Wilson from Team Raleigh – you absolute legend! XX
Not much of a warm up to be honest. Before realising I was almost late – jumping on at the back for a warm up lap. Tamping down all emotions as I let detail sink in as I cycled behind the others. Watching and judging how they rode corners (some of them badly, really someone needs to teach them a racing line). Then back to the start. Focused on going when the whistle blew. Jesus they were slow clipping in. Then settling in line, annoyed they were so slow downhill – why do you need brakes in a field of 12 on that circuit?! Concentrating on their riding, how to stay on their wheels. By lap 5 I was getting dropped. I knew there were some behind me. I stayed on my own for ages. On the drops into the off camber corner, power up the hill, hearing ‘go on Elz’ from loads of people – such a buzz!!! same pace along the top, kick up over the small hill. Hard on the downhill – for at least two circuits I was nearly back on but then fitness began to tell. Vaguely hearing Toria before she came past and I had a wheel to hang on to with a bit of shelter for a while. Out the corner of my eye I had been watching a weather front coming in, marching blackly across the sea toward us, closer every circuit. Then sudden winds, snap, bang barriers going down everywhere. Between me and Toria, so I shouted the marshals to put them back up. Wind got stronger and I lost T in front of me as I shouted at all the volunteers that went past. Lost most of my energy, but carried on. It was nearly pitch black briefly as I rode up under finish line. Gritting my teeth I carried on, finding T had slowed around the corner. That’s when the last girl went past me. I had 2 circuits to go to catch her, and in the end having her in front of me give me something to aim at. That last *I will hunt you down* feeling as I crept closer to her, but in the end she finished in front of me by 50 odd meters. God that was hard. But so worth it. Completely knackered after with the main event still to go. By the time I’d got changed, it was hammering it down with rain.
I had to go out and saw everyone else getting drowned… this did mean that there was no presentation for the Tour Series, and the race was shortened due to the electrical storm we had rolling over.
It was a good race with Jon Mould taking the win… making it look a little easy!

Saturday was mental. Having to be at both the edco Hill Climb – check out the videos and pictures on the Facebook page and Conquer the Cliff downhill mtb event later in the afternoon. Both events were massive hits with competitors and spectators alike.

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Eventual winner Owen

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Rachel Atherton won the women's downhill

The downhill was sold out well in advance, and I got to meet the lovely Rachel Atherton and present her the winners trophy on the podium. Day complete!

Just the Sunday then. There at 6 in the morning having had about 2 hours sleep, I couldn’t have been the friendliest first thing. But as it got hotter and brighter, my mood began to match the weather. I did get to faff around on my bike after the last of the sportive riders had left – until I got told off bunny hopping the finish line one too many times!
A quick trip with Mark Turner to give the last feed zone extra gels was welcome relief

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All smiles at 10 miles to go!

For the last few people we seemed to wait ages. Dewi bought us ice creams as me, Sharon and Paul messed around in the sun. Until finally the last one was in and we began breakdown. Snip, snip of the cable ties being cut, the clank of  barriers being broken down and lined up, the pfffft of escaping air as the inflatable arch was let down.

Shower? Sharon you legend! Pub? Cheers guys.

What an amazing group to work with, and I must thank Shelley Childs for asking me to be part of it. It’s been long days and short nights and one hell of a team. Brilliant to meet some many people up there too, Gaz, Joe, Richie, Griff, Steffan, Jeff, Clint, Cliff, Keith, Ian, Sharon, Angharad, Sue, Dewi, Dai and the bloody brilliant MC Andy Davies.
Thanks also to Toria for letting me stay at hers.
Cheers for letting me borrow the edcos Rich, and thanks for fettling my bike Mark!

Dunkerque Roubaix With Hot Chillee

Credit Jojo Harper for all the pics, apart from my cobble and images in Ypres….

I don’t know if I was more excited or nervous, when I learnt I’d got one of two places given to Sigma Sport from Cervelo, who are one of the official ‘Teams’ of Dunkerque Roubaix as well as being one of the Hot Chillee Ride Captain sponsors.

It’s been something I’ve really wanted to do since last year, and only further enhanced by the fact that it included cobbles. Wait. Did I tell you I liked cobbles? Oh, yeah, maybe I did. Once or twice.
This is what they have to say about it:

‘This intimate 165km ride takes place two weeks after the iconic Paris-Roubaix.

The event is restricted in numbers and follows the HotChillee event format of flagged pavé race section, rolling road closures, full service corp and small seeded speed groups.

This is the closest experience amateur riders can get to a pro Spring Classic with participants riding alongside cycling legends on a route which takes in the last 40km of Paris-Roubaix.

Previous riders include Team GB rider Geraint Thomas, Tour de France winner Stephen Roche and Paris-Roubaix winner Magnus Bäckstedt.

Riders experience an iconic finish in the velodrome with use of the original pro rider showers and drinks reception in the velodrome bar.

The event is preceded by an exclusive dinner on the Saturday night with cycling legends where they share some exclusive insight into the pro peloton.’

Rereading the confirmation email, I tried rather hard not to get too excited at the prospect of riding a brand new 51cm Cervelo C5 with DI2. Why a 51cm? Looking at actual top tube length, a 54cm would be a little on the large size. Although I didn’t know it was DI2 until I got there.

I’d been checking and double checking the rather crap forecast in the preceding week, and it looked cold and rather wet. An impulse buy at the last second from work, Castelli Nanoflex Pro Bibtights would prove to be the best last minute buy ever.

As usual, I agonised over what to pack, deciding that at the last minute, taking too much was better than not taking enough. And hey, I was driving my own car, plenty of space and all that.

I had a nightmare Friday night, when it took me nearly two hours to get my pedals off. More my fault than anything! They might not look the coolest on a road bike, but I think they are perfect for CX, and happily rode Paris Roubaix in them without issue! I have both CX bikes fitted with them, and absolutely love them. Crank Brothers Eggbeater 2 in case you are wondering.

I had a late morning slot on the Eurotunnel on Saturday, and had a last mintue detour to Ypres (Ieper), which was beautiful but chilly.

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I arrived at the hotel in Dunkerque a little earlier than expected, but there was plenty of people there already, all setting up for the next day. I was quickly pointed to the Cervelo mechanic, an absoultely lovely guy, called Detlef (a Germanic mechanic, who according to Sven Thiele, famously finished first and second at the best German Mechanics awards at the Alpine Challenge). After a quick chat, he suggested I get changed and take the bike for a quick spin to check the set up. A quick check in, and a hello to Andy Hawes, Matt Stephens (sorry, Kenny!) and Sven, a change of clothes, and I made my way back out to ride the bike.
All I can say is that I did not have to change a thing, saddle height and reach were perfect. It’s only the second time I’ve ridden DI2, and it took a few minutes to get used to it again. I did debate using my Colnago saddle – but after using the Fizik Antares (I think!) – I thought it would be perfect. Perfect tyres with Continental 4 Seasons too, not a moment of doubt with grip.

A lovely evening was spent, with a rider briefing, then first of all with Kenny van Vlaminck and then with Stephen Roche. It was great to have some of the other Sigma Staff along, Will Bridgman, James Brewer and Callum Clarke, as well as both bosses, Ian Whittingham and Jason Turner.

A fairly early night was had, I’d already packed a day bag, and the musette we were given. And I knew I wanted to be up early for breakfast, which was available from 06.00. Our group was the first to leave at 07.30.

I was quite worried before the start, having never ridden the distance before, worrying as always about being too slow and getting dropped, and slightly excited about trying out a super sweet bike over some pretty rough terrain. It was raining steadily as I took my bike outside, and felt rather cold to say the least. I gave my end of day bag to Detlef, and my musette to our lead car, and was ready to roll.

Not many people in Group 3, the *social paced* group. And actually that was something to be thankful for. It was easier to remember names, and easier for the Ride Captains too. We were quickly introduced to each other, and set off.


I set off at the front, a place I quite like to be, with John who was to stay at the front of the group for the whole ride. We chatted away as the miles rolled by, sat side by side with the group in a good compact form behind us. It rained and rained, but I was doing enough to stay warm, and it was a long while before the rain started to soak through. With the rolling road closure around us, and a good tempo (well above the advertised average of 23km/h for the first 3 hours), it was easy to while away the  miles as the rain got heavier, and the wind picked up incrementally. Our out rider motos were excellent, herding us on to bike paths on the main road, and waiting at every junction, keeping safe distances as they rolled past us, and the odd thumbs up from one of them.
John mentioned we would see the first hill with the mast on top of it soon, and we did. I mentioned, as I like to do, that they would probably drop me quickly as I was no climber. I believe in being honest at the end of the day. Ironically I climbed a lot better, but it woke up my legs and lungs, and I soon called out for them to pass me out as I was holding some of them up. I think about six of them did, John took a quick loop to come back and check on me, but I was ok just blowing like a train. And we carried on up and up. Nothing too steep or long, just a bit of a shock after a fair few miles of mostly flat road. Eventually I got myself to the top where they were waiting, and only then did I realise there was a couple still behind me. More food to be had quickly, and we set off again. The next hill I climbed a hell of a lot better, pacing myself but spinning quicker, and soon caught up with the ones that had gone ahead. We spotted the one thing I wish I’d taken a picture of – a chairlift the opposite side of the road, and a few of us mused what it was for and where it had come up from.
The rain still kept coming down, but with constant grazing on food, and still on the front, I was doing fine. My legs felt good, and I felt more confident the further we went.
However the first section of cobbles came up on us quicker than expected, John and I turned on to them upsides, and I had to let him get in front. He’s faster and quicker than  me, and soon pulled away. Honestly riding with 100psi over cobbles is a pretty bad idea, but one that I knew was only going to last until lunchtime, when I planned to let a bit of air out.
However this was the first time I had ridden a carbon bike on cobbles, and it took most of the first section to adjust as the bike was bucking around so much. No chance of hitting the sweetspot when the tyres are too hard!
Soon enough we were all through, and after the 3rd/4th pee stop (I had none) – we set off again. The rain still falling, and if it wasn’t falling, it was already on the road and being picked up by us as road spray. Then we had hail. It hurt a bit. And suddenly we were at the lunch stop.
Food was excellently provided, but as I’d been grazing away, I only had a bit of cake, half an orange, and a bit of coke. Then as I was cold and soaking wet, took the opportunity to change into my Sigma Winter jacket which is pretty warm, and a proper rain cape which was another thing I’d borrowed from @cyclingfiction (Jesse you are a superstar). I left my damp baselayer on as I needed the long sleeves, but despite being damp, it did work. Soon I was freezing from stopping, and plaintively asking to get going again, just as Group 2 and Group 1 rolled in. A refill of my pockets with food, and we got our stuff to get ready to go again. Guess who forgot to refill their water bottle? Yep. Me, despite telling everyone to hurry up. (Slightly embarrassed to say the least!)
Then, the next section. It rained harder, we rode into more and more wet roads, and it hailed again (that actually stung like mad), and still I sat on the front. I tried riding in the group a couple of times, but I was at my happiest on the front with John. Coming up to the cobbles, I had dropped back and said to Dave that I’d be happier on the front going onto them, he said to make my way back up there, so I did. I started recognising places we were going through, and a church here and there that me and Phil had ridden past two weeks ago, but still the first section took us by surprise. I led onto them, with John behind me, hard on it along the crown. Assembling all the split second sights, mud, corners, narrower sections and just riding as straight and as hard as possible and then an oh fuck….. Lead car had slowed right down and the motos were flagging us to slow down. however I know cobbles and did not want to brake. Instead slowing the turning of the pedals, it still nearly caused chaos, one of the guys riding off the crown and into the mud by the side of me. Luckily we got through it ok. I was still feeling good, surprisingly, and carried on my thing of eating every 20/45 mins, and making myself drink. Especially before each section of cobbles!
Suddenly we were at the GC section, I told John to go in front of me and I tried to power away behind him. The first section was hard, and Tom over took me just after and went off just ahead with John. I buried myself trying to keep the pace high through the next section, and just before the third section I knew I was on my limit. A quick glance around showed Dave and a couple of others just behind me, and I felt a crushing sense of disappointment that I was going to get thrown out the back. Somehow I stayed in front but I felt crushed, so completely knackered. I knew if they got in front, I’d never pull them back. But I kept going somehow, barely able to breathe, or turn the pedals when I hit the tarmac the other end. Finally realising I had probably needed the sports drink I hadn’t yet touched. As I reached for it, first one then another rider came past. The crushing weight of defeat hit me hard, and I downed half the bottle in one go. Managing to then get three Shot Bloks down as well before I turned onto the Carrefore de L’arbre. Then, literally magic. I had legs again. I stormed after the two that had gone past me, passing first one, then the other. Having to dodge up on the bank, then choosing the worst place to get back onto the cobbles. I so nearly stacked it, the bike hit a massively uneven section and I nearly let the bars go. The back end went one way, the front another. But somehow I wrestled it back into control, turned the corner, and just rode straight up the middle as hard as I could for the timing section at the end. I got through, and managed to unclip and stop. And stood there trying very hard not to cry. It was unbelievable, that I’d managed to pull two fairly strong riders back, after I’d sat on the front of the group for the majority of the ride so far. The emotional shockwave hit me so hard I could barely breath. And it was a a few minutes before I could turn around to see the others.
We left the Carrefore as one huge group, all riders mixed in. I managed a quick chat with all the guys from work, Rich Earkins from edco/Continental, and a few other faces I knew before we hit the last section of cobbles at Hem. I just followed Callum to start with, then dropped onto the side behind some guy that wasn’t riding fast enough. I overtook him on the last stretch, avoiding the guy who had gone down. When we stopped for a regroup, I felt so knackered, I had a gel just to get me to the velodrome.


It was slightly surreal to make it, and ride that last lap and a half around the velodrome. By the time I’d given my bike back to Cervelo, and collected my bags, my brain had fried. Only when I got upstairs to the showers did I realise I’d forgotten my towel. One of the PMR girls lent me hers… I’d never been so glad to get washed and changed ever.
I couldn’t see the TV for the end of LBL, and was so tired, I just tried to eat a baguette. They then called the awards in the little backroom, woman’s winner, masters, grand masters. Then they called the ‘spirit’ awards. When they said my name, I just stared at them. It didn’t compute until Andy Hawes looked at me. A complete oh my god moment when presented with it from Stephen Roche, and we all stood on the podium for a picture.

But when they called Cervelo as the Team winner… my brain had enough… I made sure that we had James up there with us before they took pictures!

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Winning – the Cervelo dream team… the lads are a *lot* quicker than me! Credit: Jojo Harper

 

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What a day. I have no idea how I got through it, but it was an amazing event. So well looked after, and so well prepared. And to ride a dream bike like that was fantastic. I never thought I’d finish the route, let alone be able to sit on the front of our group the majority of the ride.
It was seriously hard work, in rather wet conditions, but I looking back on it, I loved every second of it.
Superbly well organised, the Ride Captains are brilliant, massive kudos to Dave who got so cold and wet he was shaking at one point and John who was happy to tailor his pace to stay with me at the front.
Huge thanks to Sven too – belief is a strange thing. You’ve no idea how much stronger I feel having done that.

Thanks to both bosses, Jason and Ian, for letting us have the opportunity to do this #keepsmiling