Saturday 30 June 2012

A Levels Finished, Let the Holidays Begin....

After a busy few weeks of exams and revision, which hopefully have gone well, I am now back training seriously again! I’ve jumped straight in at the deep end by going to race in Belgium which I knew was going to hurt, and definitely did. The first race didn’t go too great, at the end of the day I just wasn’t fit enough to match the standard of the other girls. However that was no surprise to me as I had barely been on a bike in the last month. I wasn’t too disappointed though as it was just a huge relief to finish exams and be back on a bike.

After the race I visited a war museum, and because the town we were in got completely destroyed in World War I, it was quite moving to read about the lives of the soldiers and people who lived there. My mood was quickly lifted as there was a European Rally on in the town, so I got to look at lots of nice cars, and also Lamborghinis and my dream car an Audi R8.  One of the rally cars was particularly brilliant as it was my own car, a Toyota Corolla, however that one looked slightly quicker and louder than mine L.

I decided it probably wasn’t the best idea to race on the Sunday, instead I went on a ride down the Schelde Canal all the way to Oudenaarde. The weather was miserable but I managed to get some great efforts in and felt great afterwards. Hopefully more rides like this will give me a good base for some form later in the year. I am really looking forward to being able to race competitively in a few weeks
After Sunday’s riding, I came home for my prom and had a lovely time with all my friends from college. After recovering from the previous few days on the Tuesday, I was straight back on the train to London this time with my boyfriend, Alex, for another week in Belgium. We arrived late Wednesday night and woke up to lovely sunshine and temperatures well above 20 degrees. We took this opportunity to go on the ride along the canal to Oudenaarde again, this time with more efforts and sprints in, and I felt noticeably fitter than the previous ride.

That afternoon we went to a music festival, Rock Werchter, in 32 degree heat where we saw Blink 182, Netsky, Skream and Skrillex. It was amazing, the festival had such a nice atmosphere and it was warm even when we were walking back to the car at 2 in the morning.

On Saturday morning we got up early and went for a ride along a different canal with Eve who had arrived the previous night. We threw in a few sprints to spin up our legs to prepare for the next few days of racing. On the way back to the youth hostel, we had the choice to negotiate a cyclo-cross-esque climb which was very steep and made up of dried mud. I managed to ride up it second time, after having to clip out and then go back to the start for a bigger run up the second time. Eve, similarly to me, had to clip out on her first attempt. For her second attempt she went into it in a much more determined manner, which resulted in her making it half way up the hill, before slowly toppling off the side of the hill into a handily placed bed of nettles. Eve Dixon, coming soon to a cyclo-cross race near you! 

After a couple more days of training we went to the Prologue of the Tour de France. Despite riding a bike for 7 years I had never seen a stage race on this scale before. We arrived early and the barriers along the finish straight were 2 people deep at least, and the atmosphere was electric. I was suffering slightly from the previous few days efforts, which meant I spent quite a bit of time sat down, but I still saw plenty of the riders. It was great to see Bradley get second to the monster that is Cancellara.
 I’m now spending the evening relaxing, before a few races in the coming days.

Love Mel


Sunday 13 May 2012

Got a Cold!!!!!!!! Its Only Just Gone and I've Just Won a Holiday

Our Belgium trip was an epic, lots of cycling, some star gazing and a week away from revision. One unfortunate gift I got partway through the week was a cold. This was the queen of colds the sort that makes you feel rubbish and unable to get out of bed, unable to eat and unable to concentrate.

I've had it a couple of weeks and I am just about over it however almost immediately I am dropping into my final A level exams. 2 more weeks at school, exams and then a holiday.

I planned at the beginning of the season to do some cycling, stop for my exams and then continue cycling once exams complete.

There is a small amount of cycling I have been doing which have proved quite profitable this year...Roller Racing. I won the local and national rounds of the  Rollapaluza National Championships and recently I was invited to a competition they were running for Levi's new Commuter Jeans.
The challenge was to put the fastest time down for 500m on the rollers between the 19th April and 10th May in the Levi store in London.

The fastest Male and female time won a weekend trip away to the finale of the Tour De France in Paris.

Dad worked some magic with my rail tickets and managed to get me First Class (apparently it was only an extra £3!). First Class was brilliant, lots of leg room, nice food and drinks and i felt like royalty. The competition was in Selfridges and after my cold I was unsure what speed I still had in my legs.

Well I only needed to do one ride, 22.9 secs for 500m not my best but I was happy with it. A long way off the fastest chap however I was well in front of the next female. The competition didn't close for another week so I had an anxious wait to see if my time was to be bettered (lots of checking of the Levi's website).

Well I have won myself a little trip to Paris! Return trip for two on the Eurostar, 2 nights in the hotels and 250euros to spend in Levis in Paris. How ace is that!

Speak soon

Tuesday 10 April 2012

The Paris Roubaix (and a Go-Karting win)

Super day Easter Sunday...

16 mile short spin from Laarne to the town of Donk. There's not much there apart from a water feature in a pond. Eve nearly went over the handlebars trying some crazy manouvre (she thought I didn't see her....)!
We rode back to Laarne and then packed up to watch the Paris Roubaix at the Arenberg forest. On route we spied the course and also saw the Junior race - which rider from our boys team Chris Latham was riding - cross over the motorway bridge in front of us.
We parked up with the crowds and started to walk in the direction everyone else was walking. So many people had turned out to watch the pro's at Arenberg. Apparently Arenberg is an old mining area and the rumour is that a miner who rode the Tour De France found the route through the Forest that Paris Roubaix is famous for.
The cobbles are the nastiest I have ever seen, they proved difficult to walk on so riding a bike must have been horrendous.
The vehicles started to pass through and soon the helicopters following the race were almost above us signalling the bikes were nearly here. The crowd started to go mental so we knew the bikes were upon us. A group of 5 riders passed through with number 83 getting a puncture right next to us, the mechanic seemed slow to change the wheel and probably ruined the riders 5 minutes of fame.........

A gap of maybe 5 minutes and then the bunch passed through, the expressions on the riders faces a picture showing the efforts they were having to put in. 10 minutes later the riders were gone, the noise of the vehicles had cleared and it was time to go.
We walked down to the entrance to the Arenberg stage where the noise started again with many Flandrians giving it the beans for Tom Boonen who was having the race of legends. 50km to go he jumped off the head of the race completely destroying the riders behind him who had no answer to his power and strength.

Afterwards we went to the Go Kart at Koksidje, for some more racing :). The racing was over 12 minutes and despite the speeds being slow the course is really twisty and technical - pretty sure Icould get round it faster on a bike! I took 2 seconds of my lap time from last time I was here and managed a win! Eve has a special Go-karting style which isnt that quick but didn't crash once so big improvement from last time.....

Sunday 8 April 2012

National Rollapoluza Champs and day 1 in Belgium

On Good Friday we packed the car for our road trip to London (and beyond). I can’t believe we managed to fit all our stuff in the car – it was filled to bursting, although fortunately we have a Thule roof box and bike carrier!

We travelled down to London which took ages. Thankfully I got a Kindle for my birthday so I could read all the way down. We were slightly late for Hog Hill, but still got there in time to support Eve for most of the race. She’d had some bad experiences there with punctures in the past, so we were really keen for her to do well.

Eve rode brilliantly, keeping up towards the front of the bunch and looked comfortable and strong. There were a few attacks but the bunch largely stayed together. With 4 to go, a rider managed to slip off the front, quickly gaining 20 seconds whilst the bunch just looked at each other and it seemed the riders would be racing for 2nd. The bell rang for the last lap, but the lone leader was nowhere to be seen. She had a bit of bad luck and punctured.

Eve attacks at Hog Hill
Coming up the infamous hill the last time Eve positioned herself well at the front of the group and absolutely charged up to lead the riders up the hill. This caught a lot of riders by surprise and it appeared to be the first 5 riders that had a chance of the win. Eve hung on and managed to place 2nd over the line.

A fine ride and we were all so pleased for Eve!

+£50 spending money for our trip to Belgium!

Then it was time for some roller racing at the Rollapoluza National Final! Racing on rollers is something I have done for many years and is a 500m effort against a clock (and an opponent).

We met up with some friends from Eastlands Velo - Mark and Carol Barry, Matt Rotherham and his dad Jeremy, who are massive supporters of cycling and have always been interested in me and helped me out when I was younger, which is proper nice! I qualified fastest lady (and faster than most of the boys) and ended up winning – hope I made them proud!

+£200 spending money for our trip to Belgium! (Belgium socks definitely on the way…!)      

The next morning (at 7.50am – far too early for college holidays) we got the Eurotunnel to France and travelled across to Piershil in Holland for a festival of cycling. Of course Eve and I slept in the car all the way ready for our afternoon crit race!

The course was really short 1.5ish miles, flat and with lots of sharp corners. After 30 minutes of roller warm-up next to the Belgium national team (I think they were impressed with my roller skills..!), legs felt rubbish after last night’s Rollapoluza - 50mph on rollers has a cost! There were 70 on the start line and gridding meant that we didn’t start in the best place. The race shot off at the start and within the first 3 laps we were both scrapping around at the back – we were not mentally prepared for how fast this race was going to be!

After 25minutes of racing we had got used to cornering at 30mph and pushing up through the race. Half the field had already been eliminated by the broom wagon and it was close to being our turn. All of a sudden there was a crash right in front of me. Fortunately we managed to miss it, but 10 minutes later an air ambulance appeared and it was curtains for the race. It was abandoned. It was a super lesson for myself and Eve as we now need to be ready for the race going off like a train - completely different to the race yesterday at Hog Hill.

Good news the girl in the crash was ok and we got a cracking workout! Off to watch the Paris Roubaix at the Arrenberg Forest! Its dry at the moment but the forecast is rain = carnage on the cobbles.

More pictures and reports on the way...

Mel x

Saturday 31 March 2012

Europe Bound Next Week!

I have to report that I am very excited that next week I am doing a spot of bike racing in Europe.

It all starts on Friday when I travel to the Rollapoluza National Final on Good Friday after watching the mighty Eve Dixon compete at Hog Hill in the afternoon. Both me and my boyfriend Alex have qualified for the final so not only will I being trying to win the women's event I also want to put Alex to the sword!

On Saturday we go under the channel sea via tunnel to France, drive through Belgium and race in Holland in a 50km criterium race, entry looks good and Eve and I will represent Champion Systems/Maxgear in the junior race.

Sunday we both get a rest and get to watch the fellas in Paris Roubaix, planning to watch the race through the Arenberg Forest and then get to the finish in the velodrome (this may change traffic dependent).

On Monday another race in Holland, Kermesse style 11 laps for Eve and I to get our teeth into. Quite a drive to get to this one so need good tunes on the Ipod and can see my record on Temple Run getting broken.

Tuesday = Day off and a little bit of site seeing in Ghent, Oudenaarde (Flanders socks to be purchased black lion, yellow background).

Wednesday = The big race! we are in the support event in Belgium for a Spring Classic. A certain Andy Schleck is entered (no.71) in the main race and we race before the main event drops into town. Champion Systems pro team are racing, so we hope to do them proud!

Got my new wheels to test from Paul Hewitt Cycles (after the rim blew up at the Team launch) and they feel great, hand built the same as Bradley's!

Thursday = a trip to the Mira observatory to meet Phillipe again (my other passion away from cycling is Astrophysics).

Friday another day off revising for A levels and hopefully enjoying the weather.

Saturday we are entering a Belgium Sportive which last year had 5000 cyclists enter which I think will be quite exciting. Its the first one I have done and we go up the Muur which is an epic climb in Belgium.

On Sunday I will race another in Belgium (not sure how my legs will be after the week before....) Still had a few decent results in the last few weeks so hopefully I should be competitive!

My win last week at Salt Ayre, Lancaster after great help from the rest of the team

Wednesday 21 March 2012

Its Light In The Morning!

My beloved Orca is back out of winter hibernation and I'm very pleased to have some good weather to actually ride it!

First outdoor race was last weekend and I loved it! It was at Tameside near Manchester on a short circuit with laps taking just 1 minute. The loop is pan flat with 1 dead corner and another 3 which can be pedalled round! We had a full team riding which was great and it was fun warming up together behind the cars on the rollers.

2 riders slipped away early doors and schoolgirl errors by the bunch meant that they stayed away. Note to team is we watch for this next time.

Anyway the remaining bunch was whittled down through the race with about 15 contesting the bunch sprint. I timed my sprint well and managed to win the bunch kick for third.

I've been racing Friday night track league and its great to meet up with my team mates laughing about how hard we have just worked and how many times we failed to get our names on the scoreboard.

We're off to Belgium/Holland soon, doing 5 races in 9 days - very exciting. On the way I will be stopping off in London for the final of Rollapoluza! Bring it on!!

This coming weekend will be a training weekend with the girls, the weather's looking good!

On the college side of things, Maths and Further Maths continues to be a challenge but only 12 weeks left to go!

M x 

Tuesday 6 March 2012

Not A Bad Few Weeks!

Lots of nice things are happening!

1) A Levels went well, results Thursday here's hoping that they are what I spent hours and hours revising for!

2) Thrilled that I have had university offers for both Manchester and Leeds, Manchester is my preferred option however exam results need to be brilliant!

3) My Meerkat toy has finally arrived!

4) Starting to find some fitness on the bike and form returning at Manchester track league. Really like meeting up with rest of the team, having fun in the races and then doing lots of laughing in the 'D' between races. We are starting to get some good results aswell!

5) Mersey Tunnel Time trial was great fun, I loved it! Unfortunately I lost my chain on the descent into the tunnel which I think cost me 20 seconds. A great event and one for the calender next year.

6) Race wheels fixed by Paul and his team at Paul Hewitt Cycles. New rims and spokes they look brand new!

7) A National record in the Rollapaluza Manchester regional qualifier. I didn't expect that! National final on Good Friday.

8) First Belgium and Holland trip organised, its going to be an epic........

9) 18 on Wednesday...... lots of nights out!