This weekend I found myself on the start line of Elsy Jacobs Festival, a three day 2.1 UCI Women’s race in Luxembourg. Looking down at my kit, the UCI Women’s Team logo staring back up at me alongside the OTE Sports logo. To my left Georgia Bronzini is adjusting her helmet, over my right shoulder Ellen Van Dijk is clipping her foot in the pedal and in my ears none other than Marianne Vos is being interviewed…How did this happen?
Three weeks ago I was handed the opportunity of a life time by Drops Cycling Team. Did I want to join the team, a team I saw as a trail blazer for British Women’s Cycling, a team the company I worked for sponsored. My original plan for Spring/Summer ’16 was a quiet one on the racing front, with eyes set firmly on the winter and cyclocross season. I was easing myself into training, no real rush to find form…or so I thought. But I have never been one to pass up on opportunities, or worry about the minor details (like lack of specific training) so after a few very exciting phone calls and quick deliberation, it was a yes, I was joining Drops Cycling UCI Womens Team.
Four days later I found myself on the startline of the Tour of Reservoir, a round of the Women’s National Series. Since 2012, I could probably count on two hands the amount of road races I have done. My bunch riding was rusty, my turn of speed was rusty, I was rusty, but my ability to suffer was thankfully still there. The first day was ok, the second day can be described as no more than a grovel, a 111km grovel. I finished broken and emotional, what had I done? Why had I agreed to this? My team mates had stormed it and I had barely contributed a thing. My lack of specific training, long rides and road racing was very apparent. Had I bitten off more than I could chew? When I had recovered and looked at things a bit more rationally, I had come 17th overall in a national level race, I had survived a race longer than any of my recent training rides, and as a line in the sand, it wasn’t really that bad.
Now was the start of project ‘Panic Training’. Which with a full time job required taking full advantage of my commute to work. Getting stuck into some ‘commuter racing’ in the morning, and an extended route with specific efforts all the way home became the norm. Yorkshire also decided to challenge me with its four-seasons-in-one-day weather, but it’s amazing what you will ride in when you are desperately seeking fitness. However I was motivated, I knew what was to come. After just two weeks of this I was meeting the team early on a Thursday morning ready to set off to my first international race. I was late (great first impression) due to the joys of the M1, flustered, apprehensive. Thankfully as the long drive went on, I felt at ease. The team’s attitude, ambition and enthusiasm was infectious and I was excited to race despite the inevitable big step up in level. Some would describe it as ‘being parachuted into a war zone’, the thing is, I wasn’t affraid to fight.
I am not a complete stranger to racing in the big UCI Women’s races, I had even been to this exact race 5 years previous, it just felt like a life time ago. The racing is closer, faster, relentless, everything you would expect from being shoulder to shoulder with the best in the world. At first it was a sensory overload but after telling myself not to overthink it, I (kind of) settled in. The team had a plan and I had my role, I gave it my all to fulfil this. I finished the three days in 69th place, 250km of racing in my legs, extremely tired but satisfied. I had come a long way in three weeks, from a 3rd cat just getting back into training to finishing my first big UCI race. I have a lot to work on and a lot of strength to find in order to become a super domestique for the Drops ladies but the ball is now rolling, so bring on the rest of the season.
I took some of the brand new OTE products to Luxembourg, I thought no better place to practice what I preach and try these products at the highest level. The new 100mg blackcurrant caffeine gels were a god send. In the closing kilometres of each stage, the hammer really did go down but by pre-empting this and having the gel at around 30km to go, it really did give me a much needed boost. I also made sure I had a sachet of our brand new Super Protein before bed each evening to aid recovery. I feel very privileged to be able to use OTE in these races, I have a lot of confidence in the products and it makes a big difference not having to worry about nutrition.
The next race for me are Lincoln GP and the opening round of the Tour Series before heading off to the south of France for my next attempt at UCI stage racing, I’ll keep you updated.
Thanks for reading
Posted in: General, OTE Fuelled Athletes