On Saturday morning, I lined up for the final round of the London Women’s Racing Summer League.
The league’s organisers decided to end the season with a bang and the Brands Hatch Women’s Omnium was selected as the conclusive ‘race’. I use inverted commas because this was not just one race, but three: a 2 mile time trial, 30 minute crit and 2 hour ‘road race’ (still on a circuit) – rolled into a day-long sufferfest masquerading as a social occasion.
- London Women’s Racing League:
- Nominated as a finalist in the 2016 TWC Awards for ‘Best Initiative’
- Aim: increasing participation at women’s races in the South.
- Headed up by one of TWC’s regular writers, Beth Hodge, the league has created a suggested calendar of events for local women to target
- Basically 30 women at one race as opposed to ten women at three races.
The Omnium was one of a wide range of events taking place on the same day: Revolve24 at Brands Hatch also hosted solo 24 hour races for crazy individuals who wanted to tackle the hilly course for a full day and night, as well as those who wanted to complete the effort in a team, or over a shorter duration such as the ‘walk in the park’ option of 12 hours [note: not really a walk in the park].
I started this season as a Category 4 racer (eg: doing my first races) – and the event leaves me just a couple of points shy of a Cat 2 license. The season’s crit racing and track training have taught me more than I feel I’ve learned in the past few years cycling solo. And the inimitable efforts of bunch racing have meant I’ve gained more speed and strength than I ever managed on my own over years of time trialling and solo sweating on the turbo trainer. That’s not to blow my own horn and say I’ve become mega strong: more that my efforts to improve alone clearly weren’t working. The carrot on a stick of racing others has proved to be significantly more successful.
The inimitable efforts of bunch racing have meant I’ve gained more speed and strength than I ever managed on my own
The Brands Hatch event was by far the biggest day of racing I’ve completed so far. The field was pretty strong and even the BIKE channel were there (#pressure) – so it goes without saying it was a learning curve. But we all know that learning curves always take you upwards in your journey on the bike.
Here are just a few lessons from my fullest-on day of racing, thus far…