If I’m honest I was rather apprehensive about the first of the British National Women’s road series – the Women’s Tour of Alexandria. Billed as the “toughest course in Europe” I was concerned about how my injuries would cope and expected to be grovelling at the back in pain on the climbs.
Much to my surprise my legs had been feeling really good in the run up to the race. Maybe its the switch to training to power or maybe its the fresh batch of Osmo that’s arrived so I can now use it for every training session… I was surprised because I had PMT and my legs usually feel awful – sore and like I’ve got no power on the bike. It was perfect timing to use Osmo Pre-Load the night before and morning before to see if it would help counter act that. A pre-race spin on my rollers in Hexham high street amused the locals who wandered past. I had a lovely chilled out session – my legs felt amazing, light, fresh and effortless. I was lost in the music on my ipod and the rhythm of my pedalling as dusk approached, looking at the daffidols in the park.
Sarah arrived and joined me outside for a while on her turbo. I’ve obviously done my job as brand ambassador for Osmo well enough as Sarah was trying Osmo for the first time, so our night was spent drinking Pre-Load, using the foam roller and (for me) what seems to have become the norm to help my injuries – a cold salt bath.
An early start was in order on Saturday, and we both drank more Pre-Load on the way there with our warm up starting at 8.15am.
I’d got to the assembly point early, only to then find myself right at the back by the time briefing had started. So as soon as we’d set off I set about moving up on the first climb which was a massive shock to the system as by this point I was stone cold.
The first 20mins of the race were one of the sketchiest 20mins of any race I’ve ever been in. I was mindful to keep moving up where I could as the bunch kept getting strung out and I expected a split at any point.
There was some nervous inexperienced riders in the bunch and I tried my best to stay away from them but unfortunately one of them fell off going uphill(!!), knocking another rider, Karen from GB Cycles off and into me. I was lucky in that I stayed upright, managing to unclip and get a foot down, leaving my bike to take the impact. And take the impact it did; the damage list is broken spokes in my deep section wheel, possible damage to the carbon and it looks buckled. The mech hanger was ripped off, leaving a bent screw stuck in the frame and my drop out is bent. There’s not a mark on me.
That’s my first crash since I started road racing (this is the start of my third season) and an expensive race to boot – I work full time to fund my love of road racing and there’s little room in the budget for unseen expenses such as this. It was such a stupid crash too and I hope the rider who caused the crashes takes some time to learn to ride in a bunch uphill. Skill is something that a lot of riders neglect over time on the turbo for example, but is something that has been drilled into me since I started racing. Its just as important as being fit and strong. As I stood at the side of the road knowing my race was over after a mere 20mins, neutral service rolled up and then tried to work out what to do with me to get me back to HQ. At that point, Team 22 sponsor Ian from Padon Contracts turned the corner in his van. My saviour – so I was able to get safely back to race HQ and find my car key on route.
And back to Osmo my legs felt great in the brief time I was racing and not how they would normally feel with PMT at all – thank you! I think in hindsight the course might have actually suited me better than my pre-race worries but I’ll find out next year. Thanks to the organiser and helpers for putting on a women only race on closed roads.
I hit the road for home and went straight to Alpine Bikes to get my bike looked at. Big thumbs up to Alpine for helping out and sending my bike of to the Trek hospital where I hope they can fix it. Meanwhile I headed home to take out my frustration at a rubbish day on my winter bike only to find it had been stripped down and not rebuilt…it seemed something out there didn’t want me to ride my bike. Thankfully my other half built it back up the next day so at least I’ve a training bike in the short term even if it is a harsh ride and a tank at that. I have had to make the hard decision to pull out of races in the short term until my bike situation is sorted but on the positive, I’ll get in a decent block of training even if its on my winter bike as everyone is switching to summer bikes, ouch!
Photo credit Padon Contracts