Regional Road Race Championships - Sunday 20th August 2017
Hosted by CC Sudbury on the Bulmer course, this year’s womens race was a combined event for SE, Central and Eastern regions, and for juniors too.
It’s an undulating 52 miles in lovely Suffolk countryside that would be very pleasant at touring pace, but at race pace it saps every last watt out of my legs - in the nicest possible way. Bit like phoning home from Outer Mongolia – it’s easy to get carried away, but you will have to pay for it later.
The neutralised section was frantic and the race started predictably fast. It took nerves of steel and actually I was glad of the first few climbs because that extra effort took the edge off my anxiety. Gradually riders settled into the washing machine of a dance that goes on within the bunch, things became more predictable but the pace stayed high.
As we went over the top of the sharpest climb for the first time, I looked up to see a National Champions jersey in front of me! ‘Relax’ came a voice from the most optimistic corner of my brain, ‘it’s probably just a junior’. Indeed it was. Lauren Murphy, to be precise, the Junior National Road Race Champion. I was in very impressive company.
With such a range of experience and strength, the bunch broke up very early. By the final lap there was a front group of about 20, 3 chasing groups and a fair few DNFs. I was rather outclassed, but refused to give up and so, into a chasing group I went. However, I couldn’t get the group to work very effectively and eventually I just rode off the front! I’ve never done that before and was amazed to find that I could open up a gap of several minutes and sustain it.
I finally crossed the line well behind the front group, but came 9th in Eastern region and 32nd overall. Some good lessons learnt and yes, my legs had been emptied of everything.