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Finding my feet
Posted on 6/5/2011 3:11:15 PM

The long, hard road back to the top

It's been a few months since my last update. I've got a really bad habit of procrastinating. I write lists of things I need to do, and without fail, they never get done. Well never get done in the time scale I want them to be done...But I'm here now and I won't leave my laptop until I am finished.

My season so far has been a turbulent one. Not quite how I planned it to go. I got back from Australia all pumped and fueled with motivation for a good and successful season. The team training camp in Italy was a great chance to bond with the team and do some wicked training in the mountains. I got back from Italy absolutely exhausted and dead legs for days. I think jet lag finally caught up with me during those miserable days. Before I had really time to settle back into life back in Lancashire, it was off to Bedford 2 Day. My first womens road race since the same event last year...I went in with high expectations of myself. I was feeling fit, I was happy and just so ready to get racing. Unfortunately I was struck with some stress related asthma which really messed my time up. In retrospect, I put too much pressure on myself. Having a year out of racing has affected me in ways I hadn't realised. For me, cycling has always been about my mental state. I can be the fittest person out there, but if my head is in the wrong place, there's no point me being there. Knowing I was fit going into Bedford and wanting to do well for so many reasons, the shock I got when I started freaking out and struggling with my breath really knocked me. And so the vicious circle began...

I went home from that weekend pretty unhappy. It did however bring to light, how my mental state had to change. It's my first year full time, I'm 19 years old and have the best job in the world. My results after Bedford weren't anything special, but I was enjoying myself. One weekend I went to Doncaster for Rudy Project Time Trial. I've done a few good tt's in the past and find myself enjoying them, but I am still relatively new to the world of testing...Whilst over in Doncaster, I stayed with my team mate Penny Rowson and had a good night involving a shoddy film and pizza.

Next it was off to Hillingdon (and back in one day) for a women's series race. The team got in after an active race from all competitors. It's amazing how many more strong riders there are this year in the UK peloton. Obviously it makes it harder to win, but the satisfaction when you do win is much greater knowing you actual had some decent competition. Let's hope the standard continues to rise.

The National 10 was an event I had been leading up to. Learning from my previous mistake, I went into the race holding no expectations of myself. I'd done about five 10's in my whole life. The course was boring and it could've been fast if it wasn't for the utterly disgusting headwind on the way out. It was one of those that not only blew consistently, it blew occasional gusts sideways, nearly knocking you off. Not my favourite experience on a bike to say the least. I finished 15th, with a time that is too bad to repeat. It was windy alright...I wasn't over the moon, but I wasn't disheartened. I was more annoyed at the fact that I couldn't get a PB.

A day later, I drove to Belgium; which is where I am right now...Sitting on the deck, in the sun. I'm actually suffering really badly from hayfever today. Making what I am typing harder to read. Apologies for all the spelling mistakes!

This year I have Dave Rayner funding, which allows me to be based in Europe for six months. This is the first time I've been out here off my own back. All travel arrangements, all accommodation, all racing. I was damn nervous before coming out here. I've always been with either the GB squad or family when racing in Europe. I wasn't too sure what it would be like. I'd survived in Australia and New Zealand so how hard could Belgium be?!

I'm currently living in a place called Zichem, east of Brussels. It's beautiful really. I'm living here with Lucy Martin mainly; but our friends Emma Grant and Katie Colclough have been lodging with us for the past couple of weeks. It's hard to explain our accommodation situation without it sounding bizarre. We basically live with a 29 year ex-pro Belgian cyclist. In his big house and huge garden. It's like one big, happy family...With one man and four 19-21 year olds. It's amazing how it has all worked out though. I guess you could call it serendipity?

I've spent the odd week or two living with these girls, but never full-time. But it works! We all pull our weight, we all help each other out, and to date, we've had zero arguments. Unless it counts when I tell people off for leaving lights on, or laptop chargers left in the wall...

As for bike riding, the weather has been fab allowing us to train in the dry for 99% of the time. Good weather increases serotonin right? Because I'm feeling pretty happy! On a quick unhappy note, I got hit off my bike last week by a car. Just pulled out of a drive onto the bike path and before I knew it I was James Bond style rolling over the bonnet. Fortunately, I came away without being seriously injured. My bike too, was in one piece (with the exception of torn bar tape and a broken pedal). The shock of the accident really tensed my body up, and dis-aligned (is that even a word?!) my back. I attempted to race last Sunday, but nope, not great. This week I've had a massage in which the masseuse pummeled my ass for at least 30 minutes. Fingers crossed it does the job! Next race is soon. I'm gonna write off my first attempt, so this is going to be my first ever Elite women's kermesse. Wish me luck? It's pretty scorchio here today. Gonna be fun!

Apart from all the cycling shiz in my life, I am also starting a silversmith jewellry apprenticeship. My biggest challenge so far has been mastering the spelling of 'jewellery'. This is something I am pretty excited about. Maybe I can be known at the travelling silversmith cyclist? For those of you who don't know me, I have a passion for cycling and travelling. I even have a bike and suitcase tattooed on my ankles...

My attempt to learn shorthand to aid my wishful journalism side project was short lived. Un-aided by my accidental leaving of my textbook back in the UK. I also aimed to be fluent in Flemish/Dutch by the time I returned home. This too is looking doubtful. The CD's are still in the car, and I have listened to approximately 30 minutes of tuition. I will finish these projects. When? I wouldn't like to say. I seem to have inherited my dad's habit of starting projects and finishing them somewhat late.

The next few weeks for me are busy. I head back to the UK next week for some crit's with the team. I have missed not having them out here! Going to be sweet to have a gossip and catch up. Always some good gossip in Horizon Fitness!

My first UCI race for 18 months will be Rabo Stueuw (an example of my amazing linguistic skills right there) mid June. Then it's my road Nationals back home.

I will try make my next post a bit more interesting as I realise this is literally a run down on the past few months for me. i hope it's not too painfully boring?

I'm off now to eat avocado and Marmite on pitta bread. It's the new Sushi.

Thanks for reading,

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