In other news I’ve started track racing and have had my legs blown to pieces by 15 years olds, which is quite depressing, although full admiration to these youngsters who have so much talent – they are tiny! How do they produce so much power? Anyway its very early days, so lets’ get some winter training miles in and see what I can do. Coach Todd has told me I have another week or so of ‘chilling’ and then we will get things rolling, which means I will have to do the dreaded 20 min + 5 min FTP test. Arghh….
Chilling and not winning with my photography skills…half a face is better than no face?
The 2017 road season is finished – just like that, and it’s all over and much to my frustration I am 3 points short of my cat one licence…sigh. A suggestion was made to enter the crit nationals and soft pedal around for a top 30 finish. Soft pedal at a crit, is this even possible? I think I am going to save my energy and try some Track racing instead. I’ve absolutely loved the track league events , just the two that I did, but it was a lot of fun, so let’s see if I can get those three points I need..
I was also surprised and happy to win the Scottish Women’s National Road Series again this year. I was not targeting the races, so this really was a huge bonus. There is A LOT of competition coming through, Jess Mitchell, Joanne Thom, Ellen McDermott to name a few – we need this, it’s good for the sport – so why not bring it on. Not to forget the junior talent aswell, such as Rhona Callendar and Georgia Mansfield.
And I got to finish on a high in Belgium too, riding into a top 40 finish on the last stage of the Lotto Belgium tour after they sent us up the Mur twice?! Yes twice in dismal conditions, heavy rain, slippery cobbles and grey skies. This picture sums it up, eat the pain I say:
I’ve been off the bike for a week now, apart from the rickshaw shift on Saturday night – which was interesting because I took the garmin out, which recorded just 2hours of riding over an actual 8 hour shift, so it’s sometimes hard to figure out why I am so tired the next day, but night shifts throw the body out a lot and sleeping at funny hours is also a factor, but it was great to catch up with the gang again.
So here’s to some down time, riding without structure and hopefully a lot more yoga at Meadowlark
The beautiful colours of Edinburgh from our rickshaw lockup.
Last year I had the privilege of racing on the RedChilli FR1 which is the perfect bike for flat snappy courses and this year I’ve branched out to the FR2. This bike is the perfect all round racing machine as well as being pretty hand on the hills. It’s light, responsive and has a very unique frame design – I love this bike
I got to do a little photoshoot with Jarlath Flynn to show off the new bike – Jarlath was so easy to work with, so down to earth and has the ability to make one laugh a lot. Who would of thought that wearing lycra while not racing could be so much fun? Although I don’t think i’ll be sporting this look in the office on Monday…
If anyone out there is looking for a wedding photography get in touch with this man.
I’ve had a few weeks down time after a crazy block of racing all through May, June and July and now it’s time to refill the tank and get reeved up for the second half of the season – Coach Todd wants to hit the nail on the head in September and so why not.
After the National Champs, Isle of Man, I slumped back to work feeling pretty disappointed. The Nationals hadn’t gone great (mechanicals – worst timing ever) , but as they say, you are only as good as your last race, so I was eager to rectify things at the tour of the Res in Newcastle the following weekend.
This tour is a hard mans/womens tour. Climb, climb, climb – and then some more. This year they ramped it up considerably sending the women’s race over the same course as the mens for the second day which involved a 15 minute climb into what I can only describe as moorlands – open, exposed and enough wind to send you flying.
Its not ideal entering these races as an individual, as the level has become so high now, that many strong professional women’s teams show up, but I was lucky to have Keith McRae supporting me, which included driving me down, booking accommodation, cleaning my bike and also yelling at me in the race to ride like ‘I stole it’ when I managed to make the break and then blow in the last lap – looking back it feels like a miracle that I didn’t get swallowed up by the 25 women stampede coming behind me. Overall the tour went really well. I was happy to finish 8th on GC – we had 80 or so riders on the start line – this is a hard tour!
Stage one was quite intense! I made the break going up the main climb on lap 3 of 5. It was an impressively strong group from GB reps through to former/current National Champions, with Hayley Simmonds driving the pace. The group burst from 8 to none…Simmonds and Lowther off the front, a chasing group of 5 and me the lone rider, with 20km’s still to go. Thanks to Keith yelling at me to ‘get a move on’ I crossed the finish line on my own in 8th place. I must of burnt some bridges however because my already massive appetite became overwhelming, eating every hour from 1pm till midnight – I can not afford this appetite…
Adding to the excitement from the tour, our group got a little bit of TV coverage as well – it’s great to see women in sport being profiled more, we need more of this.
Climb, climb, we climb..Thanks for the photo Huw Williams
Happy after the tour..
Next stop was the BeNe ladies tour in Belgium/Holland
This was unbelievably hard this year. It’s usually categorised as a 2.2, but this year they recatogorised it to 2.1 meaning that the level of competition went through the roof. Marianne Vos was looking incredibly strong – she was like a feather on the cobbles, floating off them, while the rest of us grovelled. It’s no surprise she won, however not without some impressive challenges from Team GB, including Alice Barnes taking the win in stage 1 and Elinor Barker winning stage 2. I suffered through the whole tour – at times it felt like a threshold interval for 2 or so hours, but was happy to see some big gains from last year and ride into the top 50 in stage 2 amongst a relatively dangerous and scary finish with 100 or so women jostling for position.
This may not sound great, but when you consider this is a completely pan flat tour with around 2 metres of climbing per stage and almost on pa with World Championship level – I am not going to complain. It’s amazing to think I finished 8 mins behind Vos over 4 days and that put me at 76th on GC, verses finishing 8.5 mins down overall at Tour of the Res finishing 8th overall on GC.
Random fact of the week – they sent us throw a tunnel in stage 1 for 6.5km’s – it was terrifying and I hope this is never repeated. While it was a novelty and some what thrilling, I could barely see a thing and firmly back Marianne Vos words, ‘that a tunnel is no place for a women’s professional bike race’, especially when you enter the tunnel on a decent, followed by a climb out the other side.
RedChilli loving Belgium/Holland – Thanks to Jean Knop and Peter Geelan for the photos
Looking way to excited for the last stage.
Huge thanks to Team Isorex for their support for the week, RedChilli and to Meadowlark Yoga helping me keep my race brain game on..
Happy cycling to everyone out there – be that warm or cold weather – get on your bike
I am starting to feel a little blown mentally. I haven’t raced this intensively for around 6 years and I am starting to fantasise about sleep a lot.
I only have 2 races to go and then I get a week off, so I know I can do this! But I am tired…racing like a professional but going back to the office in between takes it’s toll – thank goodness for Yoga, meditation, reiki and mindfulness to keep me under control (thanks Anne for the recent mindfulness session).
So I’ve been in Belgium, Canada, back to Belgium, Scotland, Isle of Man and it’s down to Newcastle this weekend. How I am doing this around my job? Well I have an incredibly supported boss and I have annual leave, so this is how my ‘holiday’s look – bike racing..
This year has been all about raising my game – trying to hit top 20’s in UCI 1.1 races and taking things to another level. We are getting there thanks to the help of my faithful coach Todd Scheske, the hot new Redchilli FR2 bike and a lot Meadowlark yoga, but it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster. The results have gone – 44th, 34th, 29th, 35th….I feel like we are knocking on the door, but I need to bring this baby home! And then over the course of last week I raced the British National Road Championships and had nothing short of disappointing results. In the tt, I wasn’t able to use a tt bike due to various complications, so i rode it on a road bike (not such a great idea). In the road race i burnt several bridges getting over the 12km ‘Mountain’ in the top 20 only to puncture right on the summit. It’s just bike racing, but the timing was bad.
Anyway onwards and upwards. I’ve meet some amazing people, been inspired by several new faces and at the end of the day it’s all about GRATITUDE – the universe always manifests more for us when we are in this zone, so go out there and get appreciative people, it’s the way forward.
I’ve taken a slightly different approach to racing for 2017, choosing to start the main racing block a bit later, ie: May. My coach and I have done this to simply give me a bigger winter training block and get me better prepared for the big ones. So it’s all go for May:
Week 1 – Scottish Nat 10 mile tt champs and then drive like furry to Round 1 Scottish National Road Series, Round 1, Sharon Argue Memorial Race
Week 2- Fly to Belgium for UCI 1.1 Westhoek
Week 3 – Fly to Canada for UCI 1.1 Gatineau road race/tt
Week 4 – Fly back to Belgium, drop bike with team, fly back to Edinburgh, go to work and then fly back to Belgium for race 4, UCI Gooik 1.1
It’s a crazy month! But sometimes you just have to go BIG – I’ve never believed in doing things by halves..
And to keep the stress levels at bay I am doing a lot of yoga with my favourite studio, Meadowlark in the Meadows. I got to write on their blog recently, here is why cyclists should get involved with YOGA
I arrived back in Edinburgh 1.5 weeks ago and it was straight back into the swing of things – so good to be back and to catch up with everyone.
This was me at the start of my rickshaw shift last night…I can assure you that smile didn’t last. At 4am I was well and truly OVER IT..
People often ask me what sort of training I am getting out of rickshawing and I like to think of it as one massive strength session, kind of like going to the gym, but trying to squat 300kgs…by the time you put 3 people in the rickshaw on top of the weight of the rickshaw which is around 100kgs, you have some serious weight to haul the cobbles and it’s hard! But also really really good for building power and stamina. I love doing it, but I am absolutely floored on a Sunday and often dazed at the office job on Monday. It has also funded all my racing endeavours, so I really do have a lot to thank the rickshaw community for.
And it does feel a bit chilly back in Scotland – only my face has felt the sea breeze directly while riding and any sign of a tan is surely soon to be gone…
As much as i’d love to say that everyday in NZ this summer has been like this pic – i can’t. The truth is, NZ is having a rubbish summer and weather like this, has been rare. This is a pic of me enjoying a coastal spin around Wellington, and yes it looks amazing, but i can assure you most of the time i am riding/training directly into a head wind.
So i’ve been in NZ for close to 3 months and i know some of my Uk friends are wondering what’s going on, and why i am not in Scotland. My family has experienced an unexpected illness, and i’ve been doing all i can to support them, which has been a very rollercoaster ride for over 6 months now – but it has given me time with my parents, time that i have not had over the last 10 years and although i’d rather not be in NZ under such circumstances, there really is nothing quite like family.
So, my advice to all cycling buddies for 2017 is to connect with the one’s you love – be that near or far and to really live in the moment and make the most of what you have. It’s a funny old planet we live on and you just have to roll with the punches sometimes.
Training is going well – never have i been so rested and been able to average 15 hours a week. Gone are the days of working 40 hours and then rickshawing weekends and attempting to race around it – i feel like i am finally preparing properly for a season.
So the race calendar is getting finalised and I am getting ready for a European/North american racing season – here’s to a unique 2017.
I’ve been in NZ since late October due to unforeseen family circumstances and have been getting in some good solid ‘winter’ miles – well summer miles in NZ. Its been amazing having so much needed time with my family, but I sure am missing the UK and bonny wee Scotland. This is the first off season in which I have had the opportunity to put in such quality training, including proper gym sessions and finally learning how to squat and deadlift properly.
This pic was taken on a local loop around my father’s place about 20km’s south of a small rural town called Apiti. It included around 1400 metres of climbing over 130km’s, but thanks to the young talents in the Manawatu bike club we got around in a steady time of 4.5 hours.
So it will be a summer xmas this year, but wishing all my cycling buddies and friends in the UK and around the globe a merry xmas – cu all back there in 2017
Looking forward to some local laps of ‘Arthur’ on my return…
About a month ago I had the privilege of giving Steve Wright from BBC Radio 2 and comedian Arthur Smith a rickshaw ride through the streets of Edinburgh. They were uber fun to hang out with, my only disappointment was not having the leg strength to get them up Victoria street..I blame the tough racing schedule for this! You can hear it here: