Joining Liv AWOL

Bank holiday Monday at Prissick circuit near Middlesbrough saw my first race for the team. Racing in new kit seemed to give me that extra bit of motivation. All riders were still together for the first half of the race, but as the pace picked up, a group of three managed to break away after a corner. The pace of the main bunch continued to stay high resulting in riders getting dropped from behind. This made me realise that I needed to be up within the first few of this bunch to avoid getting dropped. With the remaining riders in my group, we worked together very efficiently and managed to shorten the gap between us and the leaders. On the last lap the leaders were less than 100 metres in front and we were closing the gap quickly. On the finish line it came down to a bunch sprint between our group. I finished 7th overall and luckily managed to pick up a couple of BC points. I crossed the line roughly 10 seconds behind the winner.

The following weekend was a Women’s 1/2/3/4 criterium at York. This is my most local circuit. It’s always nicer to race after only a short journey. Still an hour of travelling but its shorter than most weekends! The circuit consists a hairpin and some short straights. Strong winds were present on the day which caused the majority of the riders to stay together throughout the race with it culminating in a bunch sprint on the line. I seemed to not have much left in the legs for the sprint which left me crossing the line in a reasonable 7th place again.

Next up was a local 10 mile time trial. The country road course involves various hills making it a challenging and slow course, I rode the same course in June last year where I became GHS Yorkshire Champion in a time of 28 minutes and 29 seconds. On the night, the wind was not in my favour. Once I had reached the top of Bartindale Road which is a long drag for 2.7 miles I felt capable of doing a decent ride. Looking down at your Garmin to see that a personal best is in sight always gives you that extra encouragement and I completed the time trial for a new PB of 27 minutes 13 seconds.

The next day was a local 5 mile time trial. The course is relatively slow with a few hills. My previous PB for this course was 14 minutes 13 seconds. I felt good after the first long drag which set me up well for a good time. I was hoping to get a low 13 minute time, yet ended up sprinting to get under the 13 minutes barrier. I ended up very pleased with 12 minutes 50 seconds.

On the 14th of May it was the day of the Lincoln Grand Prix. After my first national road series at the Tour of the Wolds, before I punctured, I knew I needed to get up the field to avoid being dropped too early on. The day started off with warming up in the rain, but luckily the sun came out for the race start. In the neutral zone I worked well to get into the middle of the bunch. The pace was fast but capable. Seven miles in the course took us along a long straight road where the pace started to increase. Unfortunately, everyone around me crashed and I came down going over the handle bars at 27mph. The point where my Garmin came to a standstill! I attempted to get back on my bike but struggled with the movement in my elbow. Luckily nothing was broken. Just a very swollen elbow. No skin left on my knees and a dented helmet.

After the crash, I took my training gently to make sure I was fully recovered for the North West Tour at the end of the month. Stage 1 was a prologue, which is usually my strong point however with it only being 1.5 miles I was not too sure on how I would do. The prologue was based on the seafront in Morecambe which was very windy on the day. I finished in a time of 3 minutes 42 which placed me 29th.

Liv AWOL at NW Tour prologue on Morecambe promenade
(photos: Huw Williams)

The next day was the road race with 13 laps of a closed circuit. I coped well in the first half of the race but as the race went on I seemed to fade; probably because of the lack of time on the bike in the last 2 weeks after crashing at Lincoln. I finished 39th which brought me down in the GC from yesterday.

Team mate Hannah Graveney during NW Tour road race
Team mate Hannah Graveney during NW Tour road race (photo: Huw Williams)

The final day was at Salt Ayre circuit in Lancaster. The rain was pouring down and didn’t show any signs of stopping in time for the race. Whilst warming up, the circuit was soon becoming more and more like a river due to the rain. The circuit was very flat so it was expected that everyone would stay together for the duration of the race. Six miles in everyone around me crashed which took Hannah G and I down. After having to put my chain back on, I had chased hard to catch Hannah up and then we worked together well to get back to the lead group picking riders up on the way. Once we were back in the lead group I tried to make my way up to the front of the group. On the last lap another crash happened, and once again I was caught in the middle of it! Luckily I flew off onto the grass which gave me a softer landing although it did leave me covered in nettle stings. I managed to get back on to roll across the finish line. Overall I came 38th on General Classification.

Team work climbing the hills on outskirts of Lancaster during NW Tour road race
Team work climbing the hills on outskirts of Lancaster during NW Tour road race (photo: Huw Williams)

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