Wednesday, April 29, 2009

First Crit of the Year

A break from the big races and a chance to get some results. I as well as some of my team headed north for the first crit of the season. After another long journey we finally arrived in Zuidbroek, translated in English as South Trousers! Signing on is a breeze in this country compared to the UK and you don’t even have to pay for the race! I already knew this but still find it difficult to believe, I must pay £12 to do a similar race back home!

I did a few laps of the circuit and it looked and felt good. The corners were not too bad although some of them would have you if you took them fast! There was also a bit of a narrow road but only on one section of the course. The gridding system here really makes me laugh. They do it in number order, and surprise, surprise I was one of the last numbers so started at the back of the race. The only advantage I had was that I was able to hang onto the fence while waiting for the start. After a brief interview, which I’m sure not many people understood, the race started. I had a feeling that a crash was going to happen at some point during the race. People seemed very nervous, on the brakes and moving across onto other riders. Any time a rider went away the field would chase and then just stop. This was causing countless problems, especially for me who was trying to move through the field of 60 riders. I seemed to move fairly quickly, and had an early dig off the front. I attacked way too near a corner and very nearly took myself out! A touch of the front break was all that was needed but it was pretty scary heading towards a curb! Then disaster struck! I was in pretty good position, in the middle of the bunch near the front, a touch of wheels and someone was on the floor. When you have nowhere to go but down it’s a nightmare! Luckily I landed on a bunch of riders, I was fairly lucky as I had no cuts but my right knee took a nasty whack, I’m guessing against the top tube of my bike.

I quickly jumped up as I knew I had a lap in which to get myself sorted, and see what had happened to the bike. Luckily nothing much had happened to the bike. Back wheel had popped out, brake out of ailment, scuffed bar tape and a front mech which at the time I hadn’t a clue what had happened! It was soon in good working order and I was back on the bike, riding round with the rest of the field. The race had to be neutralised as the crash was quite serious, many people were taking to hospital, including a team mate who had to have internal and external stitches. She is now doing fine.

After the restart I think people used their heads as it was fast from the off. It was lined out and in way there was never a hairy moment after the crash. I wasn’t in a great position and was moving up slowly. I watched a break of five riders go down the road and kept thinking to myself I can get across to that but I have to go pretty soon. I knew exactly where I was going to go. I put my head down as we were going down the home straight, and went round the corner, the worst on the course, at some speed! I think this was what got me away, when I looked round the field were not on me and I was in pursuit of the breakaway! I felt as if I was never going to catch them, I thought I was either going to be out there in the middle for a long time or the peleton would catch me. Within a lap I was on the back of the lead group! I had to sit on the back for a few laps but did eventually start to help out. In the sprint I again run wide and lost the wheel so ended up sprinting to fourth place. I am still happy with the result but a podium would have been better! I do however feel a podium position is on its way!

I was due to race at Waddixeen on the Monday but had a mechanical with my brakes and was unable to start!

Report from Moving Ladies Website
Last Saturday, 11th April, the Moving Ladies team headed north to compete in the Ronde Van Zuidbroek, translated as South Trousers! This was the first criterium of the year for the team and the riders that were competing were Linda Ringlever, Emma Trott and Sarah Cramoyson.

Sarah and Emma crashed early in the race. The crash was serious, for a few riders, including Sarah, the race was stopped for ambulances. Emma however came through lightly, just needing some assistance in correcting a mechanical on her bike. Sarah however had to go to hospital with a wound that would need both inner and outer stitches! Emma rejoined the race, where 10 laps were neutralised in order for the crash victims to be treated.

After the restart the riders didn’t hesitate and a group of five quickly formed off the front of the group. Emma saw the danger and in a lap was on the back of the group. By doing this she was able to sprint to a beautiful fourth place. Linda finished with the group in a position of 16th.

I am now preparing for a few more big races. Races are coming thick and fast now. I am racing during the week and then doubling up at the weekend.

Rain, wind, rain, wind etc

Since arriving I have experienced all weather conditions. Glorious sunshine and heat of 20 degrees, then the reverse side of the weather system, rain and wind. The wind so far this week has been so strong that I have been riding at angles of about 45 degrees!

Training seems to be going well at the moment and I think I am adjusting to life as a rider who only has the wind and flat roads for company. Even though I am missing the hills, the wind is a good substitute and will probably work just as well. If only I could hold my bike in a straight line while going into a cross wind!!

Since my last report I have completed another race, although not as good as the last result. This time I was racing at the GP Dottignies, in the French speaking part of Belgium. Just going to this part of the country was new as I had never been to this part of Belgium before. We were so close to France we were picking up signs for Roubaix. Well after a long journey, 2hr 30mins, leaving at 8am for a race that started at 3pm!! I was not a happy bunny, but was just getting on with it. The legs didn’t feel great as soon as I got out the car. After a meal, which was free, we were back at the start area preparing for another big race. Having already complete every race that I have started this season I was looking forward to it, but surprisingly nervous! I started in a good position, lucky really as the race went off like a bullet. I managed to hold position until the pace eased then I found myself in the middle of the group. Not great but with the wind it was not too bad. I didn’t have good legs during the whole race, I was able to move up with the help of a team mate but just couldn’t hold position. This is something that I mastered in the Dolmons Classic. Never the less I soldiered on and the last hill before the finishing circuits I was moving up well. But, I was unaware of the wind that greeted us on the other side! It was strong and a cross wind. It destroyed the group. I worked hard to get back across to the peloton but our group were so close but just didn’t get back on. I was really annoyed with myself and a little pissed off. In fact I beat myself up for the rest of the race. I finished the race in the last group but just to finish was an achievement considering the about of DNF there were. I knew the race didn’t go too well but the long travel really didn’t help. I know I have good form so I am looking forward to the next races.

I have also completed my first club race of the season! 300 riders, men, women, juniors, U16, 1 crash, not bad!! The funny thing was the crash happened right in front of me, who incidentally was only a maximum of ten riders from the front! Everyone however managed to avoid this guy, who looked like he hit the floor very hard! Having been giving number 13, I quickly decided that I would turn the number up the other way, hey all the pros do it! When the crash happened I was thinking maybe the number was going to curse me, but luckily I was safe for the whole race. I attempted a sprint during this race but unfortunaly after getting myself in not such a fantastic positon I had to get out quickly. This part I managed, but just as I started to wind it up and was coming down the outside of the group someone decided they didn’t want to sprint anymore!! I had a choice hit the grass at speed, and probably hit the deck or put the brakes on. I decided the brakes where the best option!

Got to dash I’m off to ride another club race, 90mins of good racing, but using it as training!

Up next are two crit races. Should be good fast racing. The one on Monday has 100 girls in, so I’m guessing the best place to ride will be at the front of the group!!

For those that are interested the Dutch is slowly getting better and I can start to understand some conversations, and also getting confident in speaking a little bit as well. I did this at the GP Dottignies, I wanted to put some bottles in the car but was unsure where to put them. I mixed a little bit of English and Dutch together, the outcome was bidons in auto!! Well it gave the team a laugh but at least I attempted!! Radio conversations are fun as I always seem to be on the hill before I get the English translation!!

Tot Ziens


When you do this time trial bad weather conditions or a change of course is usually what greats you on the mroning of the time trial. Well, this year we had great weather conditions and no change of course meaning we were on the full course. Anyone that knows this course will understand just how hard it can be if the weather is bad, its bad if the weathers good!!

Having come back from Lanzarote a few days before hand I was a little stuffy nosed, from all the hard training and the travelling. Planes are not the best things to be getting on after a hard bloke of training.

As ever I had an early start which meant I was up bright and early preparing myself for the off at 8:37. On the rollers for 15 minutes getting progressivly harder and finishing off with three flat out sprints. Knowing the roads I knew what was coming and also knew just how important it was to be warmed up. The first hill of the day would come within no time at all then they just keep coming.

All in all it was a good day for me. I felt as if I rode extremely comfortably and apart from the run up to th finish I was feeling pretty good. Knowing the roads I feel gives me an advantage. Knowing the right lines to take through rough roads and when and where the hills are. If anything I actually enjoyed riding this course. I only encounted one problem throughout my ride and that was the fact that y chain managed to jump off on the penultamet climb. I dont think it had an effect on the time that I managed to achieve but it did destroy any rythum that had before this happened.

I ended up winning the womens prize by a massive 12 minutes. I was happy as it meant £50 in my back pocket, every little helps!!! I was also placed within the top half of the mens field which was also pleasing.

Next stop for me is Amsterdam on Tuesday. From there I will be going to Belguim for my first road race of the season, Het Volk. This should be another good experience. Having gained a lot of eperience from the year before I aim to build of this but it will certainly help me during this race.

Lanzarote Trip

Well what a trip this turned out to be. Sun, sea and not quite sand, more like bike. After just over a week of riding on the turbo avoiding the snow outside it was finally time to escape from the cold conditions of the UK and get some sun in Lanzarote. Not quite a holiday but all in all a very productive trip. After the snow this hard training block is just what I needed.

Some hard training miles were put in throughout the week I was there putting me in good stead for the season opener in Het Volk. The fast group was quite that, fast! Although saying that it seemed to have done me good and the form now seems to be coming along nicely. The best day has to be when we completed 170Km in 6hrs. Riding every hill (mountain!) on the island, riding to the north and then back to the south, was very satisfying when it had been completed. The return leg was not fun, solid head wind, but the thing is I enjoyed it.

The most satisfying thing about the whole trip though was seeing how much, I hope, my climbing has improved. Riding with semi-pros and being 5th overal the top of mountains was pleasing. I enjoyed the climbs, sometimes, although it did mean that I had to come down the other side of the bugger. I also was pleased with the way that the time trial meant. My legs were screaming at me stop from the second that I set of, but I was determined as ever to beat the men. This I managed to do, all but one, but he is a very good rider.

The weather was good, albeit windy but the tan lines are now as strong as ever!! The wind on the long ride was so strong it made going up the hills easy and coming back down the other side hard! People weighing more than me, which isn’t hard, were complaining about the wind. They were supposedly worried about me but that didn’t stop them abandoning me half way down the descent. No rain or snow and temperatures getting around 24c so I can’t complain.

The hardest part of the whole trip didn’t even involve me getting onto a bike. Why do airports make it so hard to check your bike onto a plane?! It’s like a merry go round starting off at the check in desk, moving onto the police security check, before I can eventually get rid of my bike at a completely different check in desk!

The flight home was good but I now seem to be suffering from the peeling affects, I feel like a human snowman!