Imperial Winter Series Women’s Go-Race (4ths and Novice)
After writing my last post on being brave there wasn’t really any way of sneakily backing out of this was there?
What I could do however was promptly forget all about it, until meeting pals for a Boxing Day ride and asking Gem what she was up to at the weekend, “nervous about Saturday but you know about that”.
I think how I was feeling before the race can pretty much be summed up by this text I sent, whilst sitting with my sisters and my Dad attempting to pin my number on both sideways and round the back (see page 2 of the race code for example of this, Rosie did it for me in the end). Also note on page 1, ‘You may get a showering of bodily fluids – that’s racing; so hold your line!’
I think we can safely assume I did not look like a big threat and also that the tea room would be the worst place to be sick.
The series takes place on the Hillingdon circuit, a 1 mile closed loop with a couple of very small hills, a short twisty technical section and a longish straight with the start/finish line about halfway down. We spent 10 minutes warming up on the course, 5 of which I spent putting on my gilet re-attaching my number before deciding to take it off again.
The Cat 4 men were setting off a minute in front of us and before the start we were briefed on the race format, 30 minutes of racing before we would see a man holding up a sign with a 5 (signalling 5 laps to go). On the final lap they ring the bell and you get ready to cycle your little lady legs as fast as possible in the sprint.
The whole experience was surreal, after being so worried about it I couldn’t believe it was actually happening. Though we were riding close together I never once felt afraid, intimidated or like anyone was out to cause trouble in the bunch. In fact I loved it. Everyone was working together and we were going fast.
- Being absolutely over the moon that I was managing to stay in the bunch and keep pace with these girls who were flying around the course
- When the Cat 4 men’s race came past us almost shoulder to shoulder, and one bloke shouted at our group (we were doing nothing wrong) the girl from Twickenham CC yelled ‘DON’T TELL US OFF’ at him – Yeah! how’d you like them apples Mr Cat4
- Being so caught up in the action that I completely missed the 5 laps to go sign, finally seeing the three laps to go sign and feeling a bit sad that we were close to the end.
- Waving to my Dad and sisters at the top of the straight (whilst holding my line), and my sister Grace shouting “STOP WAVING POLLY”
Last but most definitely not least,
- Gem coming SECOND, like a total pro. Check out this amazing photo Dave Hayward got of her crossing the line below. You can also see the awesome Twickenham CC girl on the left, and ME just behind the girl with the blue arm warmers, I came 6th! Not bad for a total noob.
After the race all the girls congratulated each other and we got to re-visit the tea room for super cheap coffee’s and rolls. I wish I had a photo of all the stuff I got for £1.90, it was incredible.
If you ever thought that bike racing looked like fun/terrifying/awesome but didn’t feel confident enough to go try it out, I would thoroughly recommend entering the next Women’s Go-race on January 11th. The turquoise ladies racing team (Gem and I) will be back in force and entry is only £7.50!