On Track

Time has past, much has happened. I’ll update as quickly and non-fluffily as possible.Firstly, I went to Majorca, which was amazing. I estimate between 400-450 miles in the six days of riding (two days cut short due to rain and wind that, along the coast, actually made me feel scared enough to find the largest male I could to provide a shield on the left hand side), with some runs thrown in and some very cold swims in the out door pool. Max speed of 47.4mph, which is a new PB for me.

All in all though – it was amazing – a wonderful time spent with wonderful people, made possible through the hard work of a few. 4 star hotel, copious amounts of buffet, great company. My favourite climb, by far, was the Sa Collobra. The day was wet, the descent was scary as a result, but by that point I seemed to have just about discovered my climbing legs.

I spent much of the week riding with my new found riding friend, Lisa. I can’t tell you what a breath of fresh air it was to ride with another woman. No offence, I promise, to the men I ride with, you’re all lovely, but it was wonderful to feel the companionship of a bit of gossip and giggle that to be honest, I think I’ve largely tuned out to over the past couple of years being one of few women in a male dominated world. It gave me hope for our Redhill Racers womens team, that it might actually materialise. It also made me work harder, being suddenly not the token female on an all male ride, I had a partner to work with on the days we were both struggling, and I had to work to maintain my ‘strong female rider’ bravado when it was only me who was feeling the burn.

There was a moment which brought reality crashing home, as we swooped into a town following an 8k climb and a longer descent. Riders slowed, cars came to a standstill, and like a procession of sullen faced funeral attendees we each passed the man on the ground. A first aider was trying to revive a man who, we suppose, had suffered a heart attack and fallen, but it didn’t look hopeful and though we heard ambulance sirens on the way to the scene, I never heard them returning him to the hospital in any hurry. That was a sombre ride home.

Since return, I’ve had a few good glimmers of hope for Summer. Firstly, I genuinely think I’m learning to like hills. It may be because I’ve lost some of the winter pounds (3.5kg of them, but still 2kg of the silly off-season-lard-based-weight to lose), but actually, I think in Majorca there was no escape from them, there was no ‘o, it’s a short, British section of hill, I’ll just grind up it then smash the flat’ – I had to push it or I’d lose the group, and I did. I’ve always said the battle between hills and myself is mental, and I think I’m starting to beat it.

I’ve now most definitely become a part of Redhill and Reigate Swim Club, and they, in turn, are now part of my routine. I’ve also started a regular Tuesday track session, first just with a friend, now with Reigate Priory Run club. Getting up at 6am to train so I can relax in the evening was ok, but I’m starting to see that maybe having a more relaxed morning and an evening session where I can socialise AND train is probably better.

First results seem reassuring. I got 2nd lady at an SCCU TT – but was more pleased with the time. My flat, mid summer PB last year (first year TTing) was 1.09 on a totally flat course, but here I got 1.08(.58!!) on a hillier, sporting course. Early in the season, when legs are still adjusting from winter hibernation, this seems good.

And after a brief spell considering dropping running and swimming altogether and just riding my bike, passion seems to be back for Tri and I got a new Banstead Park Run time of 23.36 last weekend. I’m the first to admit 23.36 is still quite poor, and no where near where I want to be, but I’m reassuring myself with the fact Banstead is a genuinely cross country, muddy, pretty (I’d say very, some may disagree..) hilly course – and yet my time is similar/the same/faster than my concrete-flat Brighton ones. Of course, this is all speculative, I hear you say, time to get on some flat courses. Regardless, it may not be a good time, but it’s better – and improvment is a gradual progress, not a sprint.

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I think what I needed was a break from routine, a break from 6am sweating on the turbo and running in the frost alone. Racing starts for real April 29, then May 5, May 19th, June-needs-dates, and July 01. Hopefully, I’m back on track. Literally(on a Tuesday evening) and figuratively.

Published by michellearthurs

I'm an NCTJ Journalist and work at Cycling Weekly. Previous to this, I was the Editor at Total Women's Cycling. I've also dabbled in marketing and copywriting - having been Marketing Coordinator and Social Media/Content Editor at Evans Cycles. My first job was working on a local newspaper.  I've written for a variety of titles on a freelance basis, too. I got into cycling when I entered my first triathlon in 2010. I now race crits, road races, time trials, and do a lot of track training for not very much track racing.

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