15 hours of travel and waiting at the venue for 3 races. Sometimes you wonder why you bother. My heart wasn’t 100% in it on Saturday, combined with the heat, a grumpy Mr Legs, and just feeling flat and tired (which is probably why my heart wasn’t in it. I lose it mentally when I am tired).
First race was a 1000m wheelrace heat. 4 laps flat out. Caroline Page and I were off limit, and I found myself “stuck”, not able to get around Caroline. Each time I came off her wheel, I’d get halfway and then not be able to go any further. If I’d laid off her to gain some running space, I could have wound the gear up and hit her at speed, rather than trying to accelerate beside her. It was never going to happen, so I resigned myself (frustratedly!) to sitting on her wheel for the whole race. The only satisfying thing about that race was it being the fastest of the heats.
The second race was the heat for the big one. 2000m and with some fast girls behind, I had two options: ride it like a pursuit and hope I had enough speed at the end to make it through with the top 8 into the final, or go like a cut cat from the start and see how long I could hang on for, while putting some hurt early into the others. I opted for the second, particularly as I was off limit again with Caroline and didn’t trust myself to not get bogged down trying to pass her again. Once I was up to speed, the next 2 laps felt fantastic – smooth and fast, like I was literally flying, airborne. After that it was a matter of trying to hold it together until fatigue ground me down. It worked until the final 2 laps, where I began to really lose momentum. Lap 7 I was sitting in 8th spot, but unfortunately didn’t realise it, and I let the lactate take over and was passed in the final lap. I am not sure I could have held off, but I would have given it a bit more in that final lap had I realised I was sitting 8th. So my goal of making it to the final will have to wait another year. The only consolation is that a number of girls commented on my initial launch, and how tough the race was, so it seems that goal was achieved.
The final race was a scratch race, and it was great to see we were able to have 3 grades. Half of my field had raced the final of the Ladies Diamond a few races earlier, so I expected some fatigued women and a slower, or less aggressive race. I was wrong on that count, with Leah Patterson attacking early on. We caught her up fairly quickly, then Melzy Felmingham and Emma Waldron went to work. As I pulled off the front after a turn, there was a small gap behind those 2 who were sitting behind me. I slotted in and thought if I could hang in here, we’d be set. But it was not to be and the race got pretty scrappy after that. I really struggled with the corrugated surface, which bounced the bike all over the place. I fought the bike, the track, the other girls and just became more and more frustrated with the whole thing. Lap 8 I again swung off the front, and mistimed my re-entry onto the back and missed the group. Going into the bell lap, just off the back, deciding how much effort to put into getting back on, a single thought ran through my head: I am too old for this shit. I sat up on the back straight and let them go. Some days you should just stay home.