First international race

April. Well what a month. Lots of racing from local races to my first women’s national and to racing in Belgium lets say it’s been crazy but also one of the best.

The first weekend saw some local regional races. One was Hog with the occasional hill which as someone who loves Hog Hill now found it extremely frustrating not to do the hill every lap. I think this showed in my performance. The next day saw me and Hannah G travel down to Betshanger, previously Fowlmeade for an afternoon racing. It was always going to be hard as we only had two riders with two other teams present as well as several lone riders. I had a good few attempts and getting a break but both times were brought back. A few other people gave it a crack but no one was successful. Bunch sprint time and I knew my job was to get Hannah to the line. It was all a bit over the place and in the last 200 meters I realised a gap had opened between me and Hannah and I just had to go. I managed to grab 6th which was quite unexpected for me.

Now this brings us to my first international race of the year in Belgium. I am going to eventually write a separate post on Belgium (stay tuned for that soon!) but I couldn’t miss it out completely. It was simply amazing. Not only did I have a good result coming 14th junior, the atmosphere of the race was just so brilliant, I mean who would not love crowds of Belgiums already drunk ready to watch the pro race come though. Learnt an awful lot from just one race and really cannot wait to go again.

Castle Combe was a massive top quality field. I knew we didn’t stand much of a chance in the final positions but in terms of team work we were all brilliant and I was really proud of how me, Rosie and Hannah G worked together. I managed to chase down a multiple British champ who the rest of the field looked prepared to let go until I decided to try and get across. I got across to her but unfortunately they all jumped on my wheel but it was still quite an achievement for me. Although we tried to form a train on the last lap it never worked but we all learnt a lot from it.

The next day I had a local race presented by my old club CCH at Velopark. Although the field was a different size to that of the day before it still had a number of very good riders. People were attacking from the start. Unfortunately when the three rider winning break went, despite getting across I just didn’t have the legs to stay with it. I then on the last lap went too early in the sprint having to settle for 9th.

After a day of resting I was back out for the final time of Easter weekend at Hog Hill. Again the whole team were riding which was nice. The first 25 minutes went and i was comfortably in the bunch unfortunately it was just me and Hannah left at this point. When the men passed us next lap I was still in the bunch and Hannah just of the back. However me and Clover Murray managed to get stuck between the men and our own bunch and unfortunately never got back on. The remainder of the 50 minutes was then spent doing two up practise.

The following weekend saw not only my first ever open road race but it was also my first women’s British national series race at the Essex Giro. To say I had dived into deep water would be an understatement. I knew the race was going to be tough but so I had no expectations at all, to the point that I decided if I survived a lap in the bunch I would consider it a miracle. To survive a quarter of the race in the bunch was very unexpected given just how fast it was. I managed to make the half way mark before being pulled out due to the time limit. For my first women’s national I was really pleased as I was nowhere near last which was pleasantly surprising! A massive thank you has to go out Neil, Harry, Andy, Jess, Sean and everyone else at CCH for making it such a great event which I really couldn’t fault. Really hope to be able to come back to it next year a year older and hopefully stronger as it was such an enjoyable race.

The following weekend was the Bedford three day. Stage one was a short prologue which really did not suit me but I was really pleased to come 48th out of 90. Stage 2 was a 45 mile road race which featured to climbs. After lap one of four, I was the only Liv AWOL girl still in the now rather small lead bunch. It was very fast and to receive the bell with one lap to go and still be the main bunch was a bit of a surprise! With less than a kilometre to go I got caught up behind a nasty crash. I managed to get round the side and despite having to take a foot out I made it back on the back of the main bunch before the line. I was so happy as I really didn’t expect to Finish in the bunch given how many top riders had been dropped. The next day saw the team time trial and although we held it together well I didn’t feel right. I have a habit of destroying team time trials by putting my foot down when I came though and I just couldn’t do anything even if I tried. After the team time trial I slept in my car before stage 4 which should have really set alarm bells off that I just wasn’t well. Due to this I ate nothing before stage 4 which was a 50 mile road race. The first 15 miles were fine and I was comfortably in the main bunch. Then my body started to gradually shut down I went from the main bunch to the second then out the back of that then to the third bunch etc etc. I can’t really remember the last lap as the hunger knock really kicked in and I had little control over my body. Every pedal stroke hurt and I was really struggling to keep the bike upright. I am so grateful to my brilliant teammates, Hannah G, Rosie and Issy who caught me up and got me to the finish. I can’t even remember where you caught me but thank you all so much for not leaving me and getting me home in one piece. It was the most scary experience I have ever had on a bike and not one that I will be repeating any time soon! Although the hunger knock was obviously a major factor the following night I woke up at three in the morning with a extremely high temperature whilst freezing cold. Stage 5 was out the window as I prepared to spend the majority of the week ahead in bed.

Luckily I am back to normal now. May unfortunately see’s the start of my GCSE’s however I am riding the North West Junior girls tour at the end of it so I at least have something to look forward to.

Till next time
Connie

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