A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions
Thanks to a tip off from Nikki at Senova Cycles, last weekend I dipped my toes into race training, with Womens Eastern Racing League at Redbridge Cycling Centre. With a typical reaction to a new experience, I arrived full of self doubt, anxious and clumsy. What was I thinking that I could get into road racing when I could stick to Triathlon, Time Trials, solo efforts and limited cornering!
All this quickly faded away as we got stuck in with such a motivated, game bunch of women. Ably led by British Cycling's Huw Williams, we were gently nudged through warm up, simple drills, chain gang, and before we realised moving through a bunch of 30 other cyclists. After 3 hours on track we were straight into mock races - with no room for nerves the group pulled off some impressive breaks and bunch sprints. Result - a massive rush.
We also gained a insight into principles of conditioning for racing, licences and what to expect. More on recovery later - but turns out napping is not a session!
I had expected the quality coaching, but I was quite disarmed by the passion and dedication of the whole team. Here was a group (coach, expert riders, photographers..) efficiently and selflessly putting the stepping stones in place to dramatically increase both the no. and standard of women racing. Tanya Griff looked rightfully proud, and it clearly rubbed off on the participants. The camaraderie continues with a good proportion now signed up to race this coming weekend, including, incredibly myself at my first Cat 4 - Crit race.
More sessions will be released, and you can get involved in the league via http://www.womenseasternracingleague.co.uk
I know I will be calling on this experience in seasons to come, but for now first objective - finish race, stay upright!
Photo Credit: Neutral Service/John Orbea