Trying to keep up with Dame Sarah Storey
Mechanic, masseur (yeah right!) and emotional support in tow (otherwise known as the husband) I arrived at York Racecourse ready for my first ever road race- the Women's Tour de Yorkshire. In fact, not really a tour, more of a circuit race around York. But at 4 times round a 20km loop it was to be the furthest I'd ever tried to go fast on a bike for, by a considerable distance.
Luckily I spotted team mate Amy Souter almost immediately who was also just arriving, so we set up an albagirls team car base camp. Team Pearl Izumi clearly looked to us for inspiration and parked up nearby, a few more spare bikes and slightly smarter paint jobs but generally pretty similar. At sign in we found the third member of our team Suzie Richards and collected our race numbers 1, 2 and 3, good start!
Coffee, gel, warm up, clothes on, clothes off, on the start line, off we go. I managed to get a good spot on the start line, at the front. My aim for the race was to try and stay in the top 20 places at all times. I found it easier than I thought I would to get up to the front, but more difficult than I realised to stay there. I kept drifting back through the field and then moving up again (in hindsight wasting valuable energy in doing so). I made it round 1 lap yo-yoing up and down the field but early on in the second lap I struggled to move back up and eventually dropped off the back of the front pack completely.
A small chance to get back on arose when Dame Sarah Storey(!) came past, I managed to get on her wheel but couldn't hold it all the way back to the pack and so ended up forming a group with around 5 other girls. We worked together over the next 3 laps, sometimes losing people and sometimes picking others up until on the final lap there were 3 of us left trying to work together/beat each other/make it to the finish line. Just before coming into the finishing straight my little group caught Suzie’s group and a couple of girls jumped away and sprinted for the line. There was zero sprint left in my legs so I just tried to keep moving and use up every last little bit of energy. It was a great feeling to have made it all the way round and share the moment with my team mate Suzie. We also spotted Amy in the crowd who unfortunately got caught up behind a crash.
One final memorable moment was cycling back down the finishing chute to get back to race HQ. I think most people had already gone back, so Suzie and I ended up cycling down together, with Suzie egging the crowd on to give us a cheer, they waved and clapped as if we were the winners, brilliant fun.