05:00 – wake up from the bright light, slightly panicking that I’d missed my alarm, roll over and see that it’s 5am, and head back to the land of slumber
10:15 – rudely awoken by the alarm. Slam on that snooze like a Terry’s chocolate orange. Don’t tap it, WHACK IT.
10:24 – give in to the snooze and sit up on my elbows
10:25 – realise that it’s Minet Criterium day
10:25:01 – uneasy feeling in stomach
10:25:06 – on the toilet doing a nervous poop
10:25:20 – *thinks* “Would farting make me go faster? And would it cause a wave of disgust over my competitors? So much that they back off?
Hm, shall I have beans with breakfast?” 🚴💨 🚴🚴🚴
10:27 – eat breakfast
10:45 – nervous poop #2
10:56 – leave the house, cycle to London Fields, grab a coffee from Terrone & Co – cheers Leonardo!
12:00 – meet my fellow Femme Brutale teammates at the station
12:22 – Eeva and Eleanor tell us about their photo shoot this morning for an app start-up. Yeah they featured in the Sunday Times, check out the new squad models!
12:47 – on our second train, I do nervous poop #3
13:36 – arrive at Hillingdon Cycle Circuit
13:48 – spot some elite-looking athletes and get another uneasy feeling in the stomach. A fart escapes. The westerly wind takes it off the radar of anyone’s noses. Phew.
13:52 – sign on, deliver coffee to Kevin
13:59 – take a couple of laps of the circuit – a couple of nice swooping corners on either end and a corkscrew in the middle, gentle gradient in places. Good for a first race.
14:08 – eat some food, chill out, watch our pros Bex and Eeva warm up on the rollers
15:01 – nervous poop #4
15:20 – get concerned that my left cleat is not in the right place (to be fair I got the shoes last week, and the cleats arrived 5 days before the race, and I didn’t make enough time to practice)
15:23 – talk to the girls about the cleat
15:26 – start looking at the cleat and reach for the multi-tool
15:26:04 – Jess tells me to leave it until after qualifying – true, there’s not enough time for fiddly-cleat business
15:45 – cycle round to the start line for the qualifying
15:56 – and we’re off!
16:05 – sense pain in my left knee. DAMN YOU CLEAT.
16:08 – I come off early and start to make amends
16:10 – borrow a tool from a nice dude from NLTCBMBC (thank you!)
16:11 – one of the bolts is very tightly screwed in, I struggle and the 3mm allen key is starting to wear down the bolt
16:11:05 – the guys help me out
16:11:12 – “who tightened this? This is way too tight” thank the guy in the bike shop for that
16:12 – get the lube out (for the bolt, not for us)
16:14 – all the bolts are out, I start correcting the cleat (with my whole 0 hours of experience with cleat fitting)
16:22 – a fellow cyclist helps out with tightening the bolts – cheers Daniel – and I can return to eating food
17:20 – 10 minute warning from the officials – I don’t directly hear this as I’m bobbing along to one of my race-prep playlists
17:25 – 5 minute warning from the officials – oh I hear this. My stomach rises but I’m calmer this time round – the qualifying showed me that I can keep with the peloton. I gear myself up for the race
17:30 – we line up
17:31 – 10…9…8…7..6..5..4.3-2-1!
We’re off! *CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK* everybody is clipped in and off. Oh shit my foot is on but it’s not clicking, wrong way round! Slow down the other leg, find the pedal and kick it over *CLICK* finally!
(lol yeah I’m wearing an urban commuter helmet, that is going to change)
17:31:13 – look up and the peloton had bolted round the first corner
17:31:14 – stand up and muster a gentle sprint (save the energy for the ride yo)
17:35 – over the first three laps I close the gap a fair bit until they’re about 30m in front. I tell myself to step it up a tad but not to waste valuable energy
17:35:34 – the peloton launch an attack and get away again 🚴🚴🚴💨 🚴
17:40 – (lap 5 and 6 of 14) *an array of mental barriers throw themselves at me* Ugh this is futile, I can come off on the next lap, sit down, get a beer, chill and watch the finish. Why didn’t I make more time to practice clipping in? Why didn’t I sort the cleat out last night?
17:42 – no, you are finishing this. You don’t want to be marked with a ‘DNF’. You’re stronger than that. At least do 10 laps.
17:43 – can you imagine people asking at work about the race and you said you didn’t finish. PEDAL HARDER.
17:44 – go past the home crowd, people clap and cheer, it’s heart-warming, or maybe that’s the embarrassment. I hear my name being screamed at by Eleanor and Jess and co – this gives me a kick up the backside.
18:01 – you’ve done 10 laps now, you can call it a day OR YOU CAN FINISH THE FUCKING JOB. #FEMMEBRUTALE
18:10 – I give a sprint finish and come in for a well-deserved sit down. My feet are numb but I’m over the moon.
18:10:37 – I get asked if I’m alright, yep I’m fine, but how did Bex and Eeva do?! SECOND AND THIRD, YES! BADASS.
I give everyone big hugs, I’m proud of us all for participating and being the positive, strong ladies that we are. We each had a different battle that day, but we supported each other and made it through, and that is Velociposse.
Now it was time to get home and have a beer. Or three.