From Chrissie:

This weekend wasn't the weekend to be for me

….but the other Twick Chicks had a stormer- Clarry and Heather knocking out impressive TTs, and equally impressive were Helen and Emma on the gruelling Gravesend course on Saturday

 

So Gravesend…

 

Yes, once again, on paper we were racing out of our league…this time our field not only consisted of Cat 2&3s to intimidate us, but we were also up against Cat 1 & Elites for points. I'm not sure many Cat 1's & Elites were in the field, but there were a lot of strong riders

…. including teams from Boom & Mule Bar

Gulp

And I wasn't up for fighting.

I had nothing, before I started.

My limbs were heavy (no quips, ta!), legs like led and some bug was doing a mighty fine job of making me queasy….

Not riding was tempting, but it's only an hour – right?, and it was an amazingly fresh sunny day…so, well sod it!, at worst, I'd be out riding in the sun for an hour…with that in my head, it didn't seem such a bad idea

 

 

The course was technical.

The gradient at the start continued to a sweeping lefthander into a fairly precipitous downhill….with a hairpin at the end.

Yep, full switchback at the bottom of the steepest downhill on the course.

 

On your own, you'd slow, be a bit nervy in your first few attempts, grit you teeth & take a sharp intake of breath as it was close to going very very wrong …but split seconds later, glad of your cornering prowess as you fire the momentum into a spicy uphill sprint out the hairpin.

With 30 other riders it's a very different game

 

Naturally, some riders were nervy and in fear of missing the corner, slammed on the breaks.

This made for a treacherous corner – relative carnage ensued when we weren't in the front, and a couple of times I was left chasing the leads up the sharp incline from standstill.

Luckily for me, the "chase" was to a plateau, where, with a couple of turns of the pedals I'd be back with the leaders with relatively little effort

 The course continued with more tight corners and another hairpin, causing lots of bunching, and attempts at breaks out the bends before a long drag up to the finish with a couple if bumps to make sure you felt well and truly beaten each time the finish line loomed!
From the start, Emma was strong and ended up leading the field at points. I honestly thought she was doing too much ….shows how strong she is…despite her turns at the front, and some punchy attempts at breaking, she never dropped out of the leading 10 all race
 Finishing and coming out unscathed was testimony alone in this race- a large field (about 30 girls and 40 lads) treacherous corners, and a mis-behaving breakaway from the lads, left a few casualties. And yet Helen in only her 8th month on a bike with cleats / gears (how ?!?!?!) held strong throughout.
For me it was mixed. The first 15 minutes dragged, each seemed to take hours to pass…my legs not wanting to do anything & nausea distracting me…but the plateau kept me going, a couple of little pushes and I'd be whooshing along, then distracted by avoiding crashes on the corners, before the dreaded climb to the finishing straight. At some points I was sitting at the front, this was neither deliberate nor planned (my tactic was purely to sit in the bunch and hang on if I could). But with little effort going through my legs, I was thinking no harm done. On one lap I conciously slowed before the drag to the finish, so I could jump on someone's wheel & get them to pull me up. Turns out I did it too late, and had used all my energy and couldn't catch the leading bunch. So the next lap was spent solo; at the start looking at the gap between them and me growing, it was depressing. How did that happen?! But I couldn't give up just then as I still had the plateau…& sure enough started to catch them. But I was done. seeing 3 laps to go was a relief, and I think I'd called it a day then subconsciously, and when the girls went in the last drag, I let them go

Disappointed? Of course! Maybe I should stick to wearing my favourite socks in races

 

Dead chuffed for Emma who got 6th against a very resilient field? Very vey much so!
Proud to've ridden with Helen & Emma on a tough course against  strong teams that we held at bay.

Hell yeh!
…Back for more?
….naturally!! 😉
 
 

Chrissie

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