Last time I’d raced was summer 2019 when I’d got the 40 points I needed to secure my Cat. 2 race licence, what an amazing year of racing that was! Lots more on 2019 races here.
My team mate Lucy Crookston persuaded me to enter the National Championships, it was close to home so I decided I might as well. When race day came I hadn’t done any structured training and hadn’t raced for nearly 2 years, not the perfect preparation.
I get very nervous before racing, normally more so for running races or triathlons but knowing how under prepared I was for this race I got myself in a terrible state. I spent the whole morning leading up to the race in a constant cycle of deciding to race, followed immediately by deciding not to! In the end at 2pm when it finally came to crunch time friends and family’s advice to “just go for the practice” finally got through the mental wall and I made a decision, I instantly felt better! I don’t often get in such a terrible state of indecision but I know a few friends who describe having been in almost the same situation themselves so I thought I should share it here, in case its helpful to others.
Once I decided I was going to race I went into autopilot, I had some porridge (my go to energy food for a nervous tummy), got my race kit on and started to get in the zone. I’m very fortunate to have a very supportive partner who is also a triathlete so he got the rollers and my bike in the car and off we went.
Having not raced for so long I also found myself getting on the rollers having not ridden them for around the same amount of time! After a minute or two holding onto the car I let go and was amazed how quickly I felt relaxed riding them again. I warmed up for about 20 minutes, Lucy and Chris popped over to have a chat and then I headed over to the circuit.
A benefit of racing on your home track is the experience built up over hours of training and racing there so I felt confident instantly. We had a neutralised start so rode behind the race car for 2 laps before it peeled off and the race begun. So the clipping in quickly challenge was removed from the race!!
The pace instantly picked up as the car peeled off and there were some hard attacks.
Racing tips – how to stay with the attacks.
When I first started out circuit racing I remember someone saying the intensity of the attacks can only last as long as those at the front can sustain so you just need to keep holding on a little bit longer and then it’ll ease again. Before that the voice in my head used to say “I can’t keep the pace up, those at the front are better than me” and then I’d sit up. This insight from an experienced racer really was a turning point for me, now my internal mantra is “one more pedal stroke, you can stay with them“. It really is amazing what you can do if you really believe in yourself, a strong mind can compensate for a slightly unfit body! Somehow or other even though I felt so out of shape coming into the race I managed to match all the attacks and stayed in the front group until the lap countdown to the finish started.
The pace picked up again and the pack really strung out, the front group stayed together until the last lap and then the attacks started. We came round the last hairpin shoulder to shoulder and the sprint for the line started 300m out. I got on a good wheel and was moving up the group as we approached the line. Astonishingly I came third and given another 2 metres would have been first! What a race!
Have confidence in your ability, that counts for a lot, including a slight lack of race fitness.
Go and race even though you might not feel like it, once the gun goes the nerves will go and you’ll love every moment! The race euphoria afterwards will last for days! …..and you’ll get to catch up with lots of good friends 🙂
Hoping for more racing in 2022!