It’s Race Season! – Connie’s Column

Welcome back. This week I am going to be telling you all about my first proper race week of 2020 and a little bit of back story. So sit back and enjoy…

First week in March means one thing, race season! However, this very nearly wasn’t the case for me. Although my cross season had gone really well there were gaps in my winter training from illness.

Despite not living on campus at university I kept having the classic student cold, preventing me from training. Reflecting on the situation, this was 100% the right call as the few times I did try to ride, it only made it worse.

Going to an academically focused university I was unable to make time for a warm training camp as I had lectures and tests to attend, leading me to be in a state of panic as I realised I had failed to prepare myself for the year as well as I had hoped, and as such, had to keep reminding myself that my degree comes before cycling as it holds greater long-term significance to me. Riding back into form after a few local crits, I had my eyes set on the start of my season in Belgium, however, an illness hampered me yet again.

A weekend in bed was the only option on the menu. Determined to be to race-ready, and although not quite 100%, I took the risk to go to Belgium after a positive turbo session on Monday morning.

Les Samyn Des Dames is the most similar women’s race to Paris Roubaix and I can confirm the cobbles did not disappoint! Riding the race, I was unlucky as I got caught behind a crash around the halfway point and never made it back to the group. Alongside this, I had a slight gear failure due to my hanger somehow coming loose so I was stuck with only 14-11 on the back which was rather interesting on the cobbled climbs. However, I knew the legs were there and this definitely boosted my morale.

Back to London and back to training before a double race weekend. First up was the first round of the MK bowl spring series. Traditionally I get round in the bunch here but never get in the top 10 and when I have almost made it, I have done some stupid cornering leading to a nice puncture… I expected the race to end in the standard MK sprint finish but it didn’t. Littering the race were plenty of attacks, I was left with the options of attacking, counter-attacking or chasing every attempted break but one… in all honesty, I wasn’t sure it was going to stick so I stayed poised to attack when the two riders were brought back. Half a lap later it became apparent the break wasn’t coming back so I jumped up the outside and went on my own. I was now in no man’s land, out of reach of the break, left riding alone.

A few laps later two more strong riders joined me and the gap started closing. The three of us worked like crazy but never quite made the catch despite getting the gap down to 10 seconds, leaving us sprinting for third. Leading the sprint left me in a weak position, seeing me finish fifth which wasn’t disappointing, as the 3 of us had worked so hard we didn’t mind what the final order was.

Sunday saw the Hainault hilly on my local Essex climbs, hills I know well due to the amount of pain they inflict onto me on a regular basis. Riding my brand new time-trial bike for the first time, I got a chance to appreciate quite how nice it is. Sitting on the rollers warming up, I was laughing at how dead my legs felt. However, I managed to perform and win the women’s and get 22nd overall as well as breaking the course record contrary to my prior expectations. Hopefully, I’ll be doing more TT’s this year as I do really enjoy them (weird I know!)

So that’s the first week of my race season complete, so the fun and games start now I guess. Stay tuned for the rest of my adventures this coming season.

Till next time


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