Thoughts from Becky:
I bought my first race licence in July but I had yet to conjure up the courage to actually get out and race. So I pre-entered myself into CC London’s Hog on the Occasional Hill Cat 4 Race on the 4th of August and I told plenty of people so I couldn’t back out of it! With some pre-race training supplied by CC London beforehand I felt pretty happy going into the race, the nervous butterflies I had been having, flew away and the 12 of us set off.
I played it safe, sitting 3rd or 4th person back following the lead of the other riders who had raced before. First time up the hill I was second over the top, I had settled into a nice rhythm. I decided to take my turn at the front, just as I made my way they rung the bell to let us know the next lap we were going up the hill again… rookie mistake! I tried to ease up hoping someone would go round me, but they didn’t. I fell back through the ranks as we went up the hill and had to chase back on for the next couple of laps.
Once I caught up I stayed with the leading riders for the rest of the race. I didn’t quite see the move by the sprinters in time and my reaction just wasn’t quite quick enough to jump on the back of the sprint train so I ended up finishing in no mans land alone in 4th place picking up 6 points! I was so happy to finish and place in my first race!
I had caught the bug so I entered the Full Gas Women’s 3/4 cat race at Lea Valley Velopark. There was a huge field for a women’s race, I’m not sure of the exact number but I think there was about 30-40 riders.
It made for an interesting race, and it felt much different to Saturdays race. A lot of the women were riding as if they were the only person on the track, which made for some sketchy moments! I was much more familiar with this course having done the majority of the Tuesday Tens and I felt much more comfortable cornering and riding in the bunch this time around because of it.
40 minutes went by and the signs came out and we had 5 laps left, so I slowly started moving closer to the front. 4 laps to go, 3 laps to go, 2 laps to go, 1 lap to go… I was near the front only behind a couple of other riders having just dipped down the hill the speed was faster than it had been all evening. People were vying for prime position, and that’s when I crashed. The women in front of me clipped the wheel in front of her and fell off. I was too close to be able to brake or dodge it so I also ended up on the floor as well having gone over my handlebars.
I helped the other woman up who had definitely come off worse and took her and the bikes off the track just in time as the rest of the bunch were still racing and had just crossed the finish line.
Currently I only have a 50% completion rate when I race which isn’t great, but on the flip side I have managed to place in 50% of my races as well! The way I look at it is you win some, you lose some (or come 4th!) So I am looking forward to racing again and building up my knowledge of racing tactics, but first things first, I need to learn to pick a better wheel!
If you’ve been thinking about racing, just do it! It’s so much fun, and not as scary or dangerous as I’ve made out above! If you want a familiar introduction into racing then enter the LVCC Len Cooper Crit Race is on the 23rd of September. Being a club members only event it is a great way to experience your first race and get some experience under your belts with people you know and ride with normally!
If you have any questions or are interested in racing in the future, get in touch or chat to me on a club run.