Red Hook Crit London and the King of FOMOs

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Sam Dunn

(Photo Sam Dunn)

Red Hook Crit happened. On the day of what later became known as Wet Foot Crit I was secretly happy it was raining. I saw it as my only advantage. I’ve lived in London for over five years and by now I manage to stay upright on the streets that frequently turn into lakes. Working out mostly on my balcony also means that I’m really good at doing a 20-minute warm up on slippery, wet rollers.

The rain-positivity didn’t last long. After getting absolutely soaked on the ride to Greenwich Peninsula I was mostly grumpy. It got worse after I found out that the ‘rider’s area’ of this supposedly elite fixed gear race was a car park. Literally. I’d always dreamt of racing a Red Hook Crit but thought it was way too exclusive for someone like me. The reality: you have change your soaking wet self into a skinsuit in a portaloo.

Well, not that the fancy riders in fancy teams had to. They had tents and canopies to protect them from the rain. But the two-woman-race-team repping Velociposse had no infrastructure and so I had to leave my bag unattended in the rain and hope no-one would steal my sacred belongings (pesto pasta, a beer-bottle-opener-cum-15-mm-spanner I won at Minet Crit. My wallet, my phone). I headed to the rollers, warmed up (well, tried to as the sky was pouring liquid coldness onto me) and raced in the second qualifying heat. I came sixth.

Being in the top ten of my heat meant getting through to the super pole. That individual time trial-y thing luckily got cancelled due to the appalling weather. I fully embraced the good news. I hadn’t been able to change into dry clothes until 40 minutes after the qualifier which meant my legs were feeling sore and I thought I’d catch tuberculosis. It was that bad. When I say bad, I mean I had to wrap myself in 10 layers of clothing. I stole all of Velociposse support team’s collective spare clothing to warm back up again. And my skinsuit was so thoroughly soaked that even 20 minutes of blow-drying it in the O2 arena’s toilet didn’t help much.

Because the super pole had been cancelled, I started with a grid position 11 and my aim was to finish in top 10 (although I thought it was totally unrealistic). Racing felt like what it always feels like: for the first 10 minutes, I just wanted to quit. It was not fun – the pace was hard and we were whizzing through ponds of water that made me half blind. My rear wheel was taking off the ground as we rode up and down the uneven circuit. In fact, parts of the circuit looked more like a construction site than racing surface. My only aim was to keep close to Jasmine Dotti because she was the only person in the top 5 I could recognize.  

(Photo: Jess Morgan/NLTCBMBC)

Not that it got any more fun after the first minutes. I just tried to keep up. Each lap did make me slightly happier because it meant one lap less of torture, one lap closer to the finishing sprint and few less minutes away from a post-race beer. My endurance-mindedness was occasionally interrupted, either by someone trying to knock me off my bike with their handlebars or by a sudden mega-fast sprint. Phew. Finally, it was the last lap and I moved up in the group. I was sitting comfortably seventh as we were coming to the home straight.

Just before the last turn I remember thinking: Yay! Soon I can sprint! I love sprinting! Then all this is over! But as I took the turn I saw that two people had crashed right in front of me and that I had nowhere to go.

After that split second I too crashed into the banking, bounced back and hit the tarmac. I smashed the back of my head and my tailbone to the ground. I then got straight back up. Instead of reaching for my bike and riding the last few meters to the finish (like a race cyclist would do) I went to check up on the badly hurt Tania lying on the ground. As a former girl scout my instinct was to react to an emergency and to help. I couldn’t just leave her alone, especially because she was trying to get up despite a broken jaw.

(Photo: Jess Morgan/NLTCBMBC)

After the first aiders arrived to take care of us, I walked off the circuit and rode home. I didn’t get to watch the men’s race because of my aching head. I had to go rest. I didn’t even go to the after party to have a well-earned hangout with lycra hunks! However, there is something even worse than hunk party FOMO. Namely, Dani King FOMO. 

As I was trying to reconstruct my patchy memory of the crash and figure out whether to go to the hospital or not, I watched a video of the last moments of the women’s final. On the video, the front four riders start sprinting. You can then see three people all crash at the back. It’s me third. However, note what happens next. Dani King comes out the last turn and beautifully dodges the crash.

 

 

Errr let’s stop here for a moment. DANI KING. Wearing green. Riding behind me. Behind me. Triple world champion, Olympic gold medalist and the person who lapped all other riders in last year’s London RHC was behind me at that point. I would’ve sprinted with her, letting my lovely 50-15 gearing shine. I would’ve been 7th most likely and had Velociposse name in the top 10 of RHC for the first time. If only had the people not crashed in front of me!

Either way, I did enjoy the experience. I am still limping but at least I’ve now got a red-hook-stickered bike to lean on. I even got remotely famous in the Finnish fixed cycling scene after someone found out I was doing the notorious race. I didn’t even get a ‘DNF’ as the result despite not actually finishing: on paper, I was 24th. So I should probably just retire, go back to Finland and become the local pub lady who endlessly recounts how she almost beat a world champion in a cool cycling race.

Or I could just accept things. I did kind of sign up for all this: riding brakeless bikes in a bunch at a 42km/h average* is bad enough, let alone turning tight corners on an uneven surface in torrential rain. I knew I could crash. And I did. Now it’s simply time to continue and heal my aching tailbone. As for Red Hooks, there will be more. Hopefully I get to finish one soon.

*See the stats, 26.28 mph was my best average lap speed 

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10 Things I Learnt At Red Hook Crit London No.3 (AKA Wet Foot Crit)

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  1. You can never have too many spare pairs of socks

  2. Mini GPS devices do not survive crashes. Nor do knees.

  3. Team vans are cool. Maybe we should get a team van. Maybe we should raise funds to buy a team van. Bake sale anyone?

  4. The fixed gear community are way more approachable than they appear to be (everybody looks so hardcore with their battlewounds and edgy haircuts/colours and tattoos). Thank you to anyone who helped us out including Stanridge Cycles, NLTCBMBC, Fixed Beers, and RHC event staff!

  5. Five Guys makes for good carbo-loading and kit-drying in between races

    (Eeva keeping dry in Five Guys)

  6. You can keep going after crashing

  7. There should be beer at the finish line

  8. I want to learn how to track stand to this level…


    (photo credits: LW Event Consulting)

  9. This event is probably the hardest fixed gear criterium series on the planet. With elite athletes. Including world champ track champ and Olympic gold medallist Dani King. Probably not suited for someone who started racing 3 weeks ago

  10. BUT GOSH IT WAS SO MUCH FUN. Bring on the next one!

(photo credits: Memrides)

ASSOS Women’s League Round 4

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On Saturday 15th July we headed down to Herne Hill Velodrome for Round 4 of the ASSOS Women’s League! Even with 2/3 of the riders feeling icky, we each scooped up points. Here’s a quick round-up of the evening:

Riders:
B-category: Eeva
C-category: Yewande, Hayley

Velociposse Spectators:
– Feeney
– Bunch of Yewande’s friends

League Round 4 Layout:

  1. Warm-up scratch race (5 laps neutral, 5 laps scratch)
  2. Reverse Win-out (12 laps total – 1 lap neutral, 1 lap race for 6th place, 1 lap neutral, 1 lap race for 5th, and so on)
  3. Keirin Major and Minor Finals (3 laps, standing start, 2 laps behind derny then all-out final lap)
  4. Unknown Distance (we ride around in many, many circles with a couple of primes until the last lap is announced)

Results:
B-cat
Eeva scooped up 1st in scratch, 4th in reverse win-out, 1st in keirin major, and 4th in unknown distance + winner of prime
(Can anything or anyone stop this femme brutale?!)

C-cat
Yewande picked up 5th in scratch and 4th in unknown distance
Hayley picked up 2nd in reverse win-out and 6th in keirin minor

The Dun Run: A hazy tale of beer fear, and a cheeky 200km overnighter in flip-flops.

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What exactly is the ‘spirit of Dunwich’? A quick Google search tells me it’s a gin. Another article says it’s a ride with mileage measured by the setting and rising sun, rather than Strava. (It also harps on about the etiquette of using a sound system.) Whatever it is, I believe I was true to it. I’ve done rides of this length and longer so my lack of concern about the distance led to a overly blasé attitude in the day’s preparation (let this be a lesson to all.)

What with Pride and the Dynamo coinciding, my day was a bit of a saga. I had been up and working since 5:30am, followed by brunch with 15 queer boozehounds (a shower of glitter and countless bottles of prosecco and Aperol). By the afternoon, I decided I could ride and catch the tail-end of the parade ‘just for one beer,’ before heading home to prepare for the night.

Four more beers, a G&T, and some face paint later, I made a hasty getaway towards Regents Park where I collided with a railing and may have got mild whiplash. My head and jaw still hurt, and I have a neat covering of bruises. No matter. I continued to weave home, jostling through London Fields where hundreds of departing cyclists indicated I was running behind schedule. I threw off my glittery daywear and simultaneously attached my bike bags, charged my phone, and kneaded some dates into some (surprisingly tasty) energy balls. Pegged it back to London Fields with the only challenge I set myself: is it possible to ride 200km in flip flops? Spoiler alert: yes it is. To Eeva’s utter bemusement I had packed SPDs ‘just in case’ but she clearly isn’t au fait with the sheer joy and freedom flip-flop riding can bring.

Me, Elly and Eeva set off sometime between 8:30 and 9pm. Cyclists of all varieties filled the roads as far as you could see and, through the trees, the fullish moon was rising big and beautiful with the setting sun and it was simply glorious. After what felt like 15 hours we reached the first pub stop (only 40km.) With hundreds of bikes and people filling the streets, it was the first time I realised I was part of something totally brilliant. It was also the first time I felt a little regret for getting so wasted and being arrogant enough to think that 200km in the dead of night was a small task. It was here that our three became five, having found Eleanor and her brother. We chowed down everything. Eeva had a sizeable saddle bag entirely full of carbohydrates, putting my 12 balls and mouldy peanut butter sandwich to shame. After setting off again, I began to feel a little nauseous and thought maybe the sandwich hadn’t been such a great idea.

Horrifying drunk face pout thing at 40km. Elly has no excuse.[Horrifying drunk face pout thing at 40km. Elly has no excuse.]

Now the roads were full of red and white lights. Lights of every colour, in fact. Dunwich is all about kitting your bike out with the most ridiculous lighting imaginable. We’re talking whole bike frames in strobing multi-coloured LEDs, people with crowns of light, or those who had adorned themselves all over in fairy lights. In fact, none of us had route planners – we just followed the stream of lights through the night. This was the time I realised I had totally copped out on my gorgeous 20-speed steel steed. We passed a guy on an elliptical. AN ELLIPTICAL. And I can confirm HE MADE IT. TO DUNWICH. ON AN ELLIPTICAL. There was a Boris Bike. There were people riding fixed gear (I believe this is what the actual spirit is meant to be). There were tandems, recumbents, and recumbent tandems. There were people significantly older than myself cruising along, and at least one child.

The route is fairly flat. Well, undulating enough to keep things interesting when there’s no scenery, so literally anyone can complete the Dynamo. It’s not a race. And there’s no start time so it’s impossible to compare yourself with others. And it’s completely socially acceptable to talk to strangers. Eeva kept heckling a woman she thought to be Laila, and I think that may have crossed the line but we’ll never know. What did we chat about for so long, in the dead of night? A great many things. Most of which have been lost to the beer. Elly almost certainly invented and described at length a pair of crotchless bib shorts (with dark netting over the crotch as she has some dignity).

My only milestone was the fire station at 100km. Because there was a barbecue. We arrived. You could SMELL IT. After a very, very long time in the queue I was told they had run out of food. RUN OUT! Crushed. Elly sneered at the guy carrying two hotdogs. To their surprise we bought plain buns. Eeva asked if I was okay because my eyes were bloodshot. I was not okay. My headache indicated I was hungover, had mild concussion from the incident with the railings, was dehydrated, or over-tired (I only slept 2.5 hours on Friday night.) I believe all to be true. This was my wall and it was a really hard one. However, three buns filled with only condiments later and we set off for the next part of the ride, with only two hours until sunrise.

barbe-queue

[Barbe-queue]

Eeva got into the slipstream of Brixton Cycles and was lost to the sea of red flashes. We regrouped at some public toilets around 4am and everyone was in high spirits! Dawn does that to you, I think, and we could tell the sunrise was going to be beautiful. As we rode along, un-hardy lycra-clad Rapha men  lined us on all sides taking naps. Not like us Femme Brutales. We were bombing it. Eeva and I must have been doing around 30kmph for the last 30 mile stretch, passing pelotons of bedraggled men surprised to see our sprightliness (now the hangover had been and gone). We often found ourselves at the front of groups, having to wait for some of the more organised riders to indicate which way to turn. Elly though it would be a huge LOL to lead a group up and down a huge hill, only to be told they should have gone the other way.

just bloody look at that sunrise!!!!

[Just bloody look at that sunrise!!] 

The sunrise was incredible – a pure orange ball across the mist-lined fields of wheat (we did not run through them, that’s not in the spirit of the event) and made absolutely everything worth it. It really is an amazing thing to watch the sun setting, and then rising fully into the next day, without your eyes leaving the sky for a minute.

The mist meant the temperature had dropped and I lost feeling in my toes for a good hour and a half (still no regrets) but we arrived in Dunwich around 6:15am. To mark the event Eeva was able to sample the delights of fried bread for the first time. “A real treat to take back to Finland,” she said. And I realised that Quorn chicken nuggets were the essential missing ingredient to my breakfast routine.

Would have eaten anything at this point

[Bizarrest breakfast. Would have eaten anything at this point]

We joined the mob on the beach. Eeva then cracked out her silver swimsuit and got involved in the sea. I went for a sneaky pint with a mate. Feeney had a nap. Eleanor and Felix joined the longest queue in the world for coaches. And that was the end. My flip-flops lived to tell the tale, we all live to tell the tale (well, I live to tell as much of the tale as I remember), and now I fully realise why so many people do it every year. Frankly, if I made it in that state, so can anyone. Full ‘posse out next year, there and back!

she got the spirit of dunwich

[She got the spirit of Dunwich]

Stay tuned for Eeva’s slightly more professional take on how they Dynamo has ignited her interest in ultra-endurance cycling.

 

Why there’s no need to be afraid of lifting weights* and you should embrace it instead 

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*Unless you’re doing snatches, because even I have to admit it’s a little scary

Don’t know your cleans from your snatches? Squats from deadlifts? Pulls from press? That was me about six years ago just after I started rowing. Like most of my sporting career, I started weights because I was told to, no questions asked (except ‘how on earth do you do that lift?’) but here I am now loving every minute of it.

What’s so great about lifting?

You look badass, end of. 

 

I think first and foremost, if you’re just starting out, it adds some variety to your training – back at uni when I was training ten times a week, I was grateful for the two sessions where I didn’t have to think about rowing and could do something different (and listen to some banging tunes).

Then there’s obviously the strength aspect and building muscle. No you won’t end up looking like a bodybuilder (unless you want to, but you’d need to do some other things too). Being toned is great but there are so many other benefits. Building muscular strength is great for many sports, plus stronger bones, increased metabolism after training and I’ve found that it helps with core and stability too. Unfortunately it hasn’t helped with my spatial awareness as I still trip up over things (quite often weights) and catching isn’t a forte either (but you don’t have to do that in rowing so what do you expect?).

Why do I love lifting? Because when I was rowing I was probably better at the weights aspect than the actual rowing and even though that was slightly frustrating, it was nice to know I had my own “strengths”. When doing something complex like a power clean (the bar moves from the ground to your shoulders), you can’t really think about anything other than nailing the lift (so it was great when I needed a distraction). And when you do, it’s the best feeling, especially when you’ve just got a new PB. Also, people may think that because I’m female there’s no way I can lift that heavy box over there, when in reality I could probably lift them.

So why should you do it and what can you expect? If you want to be more aware of how your body moves, get stronger and try something new then I would get stuck in. It’s so easy to measure your progress from session to session – it takes time to build up load but having the right form is so much more important and that’s the best place to start.

I realise I haven’t covered how to do any actual lifts but that’s why you need to try it out for yourself! I’m glad I started because it’s probably when I enjoy training the most and I’m now at the stage where I can lift more than some guys and do things like this:

 

And I hope you will be too!

MINET CRIT II: Breakdown

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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.

Minet Crit 2

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I’m going to preface this blog post with the disclaimer that I am someone who likes to throw myself in at the deep end and work out the details later. I joined Velociposse while in the final weeks of my training for London Marathon. I promptly signed myself up for the next upcoming event in the team calendar two weeks after the big day. My next challenge after the marathon would be…. The Thundercrit. After seeing the horrified look on people’s faces when I said I was entering without training, I decided that I would postpone my racing debut.

Eight weeks, one triathlon, plenty of long rides in the countryside and absolutely no road circuit training later, I found myself on the start line at the Minet Crit feeling under prepared and under the weather. I would like to add having only returned from Glastonbury five days prior to my list of excuses, but Bex was in the same boat and… *SPOILER ALERT* it didn’t seem to do her race any harm. 

One thing that I was grateful for at that moment was having chosen Minet Crit to be my first race. I had loved the vibe trackside at Thundercrit and Minet was similar but massively scaled down. There were still speakers pumping out tunes and opportunities for perving on the sexy bikes and lycra clad riders, but far fewer people which I was glad of. I couldn’t make it to the Nocturne and having read Jess’s blogpost about her experience that day I’m not sure my nerves could have handled it. After riding the mile long Minet course for the first time that morning I had felt reassured – no horrible hairpin turns and only a few gentle hills. Also no barriers, should I freak out and fly off the course the worst that should happen to me is that I land in some brambles. The biggest positive to Minet was the squad, me, fellow racing newbie Hayley, Bex, Eeva, and Jess Geen. With five VP girls on the start line we made up nearly half the race. 🙂

Anyway. So. Bike ready, team ready, course spec’d out, the only component that didn’t feel like it was going to slot into place was me, and unfortunately my concerns were realised. It didn’t come together for me that day. 

When the race began for the eight qualifying laps, first timer Hayley and I were both kicking down at our pedals struggling to clip in. CLICK Hayley was off, an excruciating five seconds later and so was I, but I was a solid 10m behind the pack and I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. What to do in this situation had never crossed my mind. Was I to dig deep, go all out, try and catch the others and knacker myself seconds after the race has begun? Or should I try and gain on them slowly? With all this going through my head I found myself drifting further and further from them. Oh god. And at that moment I knew – this is over for me but its good experience, lets just try and do as best I can on my own and see what happens.

I gunned it round the track on my own, feeling a sense of embarrassment as I passed the supporters alone. This vanished instantly as the small crowd cheered me on, hey – its the taking part that counts right? My lungs were burning and my legs were sore but I was having fun as I finished my 6th lap and then felt the pack approaching me from behind. I was about to get lapped. The others blasted past me and so I left the course. I hadn’t finished the qualifying laps. The embarrassment was back. But then as I watched the others pace it round and finish. Bex and Eeva fist bumping as they crossed the finish line I thought: So I didn’t qualify. Yes they lapped me out after 6 laps, but at least it wasn’t 5. Next time I race I would really like to make it to the final but there is no shame at being knocked out by some of the baddest bitches in the game. My dream was dead but Team Velociposse is looking strong. Time to cheer the fuck up and get ready for some serious cheering in the final. 

When the time came for the Final Race the start gun went off and as the others sped ahead I saw the same thing happen again to fellow newbie Hayley. Kick kick, no joy. Eventually she clipped in but as had happened to me in the Qualifiers the others had sped off and left her behind, my heart sank for her. For the first couple of laps it looked as though she might catch them but as the speed at the front increased and increased the chance of her getting back in the pack was becoming slimmer. 

Eventually the pace increased so much that Jess got dropped. I could see her legs whirring furiously but they’d lost her. As Hayley caught Jess up the frustration of being dropped got the better of Jess and she stopped the race. As spectators frantically asked Jess what the matter was she irritably answered that yes she was fine. She just wanted to stop. As she caught her breath and we talked through what had gone wrong for her the pack whizzed past again. “…I suppose you’re not allowed to pull out of the race, have a little chat and then join back in again?” she said with a wry smile. I felt sad for her, the frustration of being dropped had lead to her pulling out of the race and now she just wanted to be back doing what she loved whizzing around. But oh well, she had the smile back on her face and cheer squad had just grown by one.

We cheered for the home team every time the pack screeched past and again for Hayley as she went by, consistently passing half a lap behind them. I was so impressed, when I had been dropped the physical struggle of riding into the wind alone compounded with the mental struggle of knowing I could never catch them had meant I was lapped 6 laps in. Hayley was out there on her own, no idea where the others were or if they would catch her up, bossing it at the same speed as front riders. So Femme Brutale

The race was 14 laps long and as the front riders whizzed past for the 13th time with Bex and Eeva towards the back of the pack I asked Jess if she thought they could still win – “I’ve seen them do this before”. We moved into pole position to see the riders coming down the final straight. I took a video of the sprint finish which I ruined by effing and jeffing with excitement as I saw two pink skinsuits hurtling towards me crossing the line in second and third place. Eeva third, Bex second, and another girl in white and red (who I now know to be the bad-ass Virginia Cancellieri) taking first place. Hayley crossing the line minutes later on her own and taking 9th. My heart was bursting with VP pride.

People have asked me if I’m pissed off about how the race went, but had they seen me dancing in the champagne sprayed on me by Bex and Eeva from the podium they would know that no part of me was feeling pissed off. Yes I could definitely have prepared better, and yes things could have gone more my way, but I had an epic day. I will be entering another crit race and who knows… next time I might even make it past the qualifying laps. 😉

 

Podium Shoe Time

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The past two weekends I achieved one of my true goals in life – being able to legitimately call my sliders podium shoes. I miraculously came third at the Rapha Nocturne (my first fixed crit ever) and won the SERRL cat 3/4 race in Gravesend the weekend after (my third crit race ever and first win ever)

.

The night before Rapha Nocturne I went to the pre-party at Spitalfields. I knew I’d arrived at the right location when I spotted the flock of cool kids sitting outside the shop next to a selection of premium bike porn. Everyone had ridden there with their brakeless custom fixies, obviously. I was quickly reminded of how I’d felt every single time I’d rocked up in any respectable underground biking event in my life. Despite having worked as a messenger I’d always felt like an outsider and eventually stopped going to alleycats and other biking events. Before Deliveroo happened, being a messenger was like being the son of God in the fixed gear scene. Nevertheless, I always felt like I didn’t belong to the flock of cool kids and that no-one took me seriously. I assume it had to do with never having enough pouches attached to my bag and zero cog ring tattoos on my calves.

Accordingly, I’d never known how to start racing proper fixed races. I only knew Red Hook and that I wanted to do it someday, but it seemed way out of my league. I even went to a Red Hook crit pre-party once, only to feel like totally out of place again. Being female doesn’t help either because you’re alone amongst the masses of kamikaze skidders. That’s why for years I simply had no clue how to enter races or even train on a bike. I became a solo cyclotourist instead and found my community in grazing sheep.

However, as I was entering Rapha I was no longer one of the mortal cyclists. I, too, had arrived on my slick custom brakeless track bike, my dearest Aventon Diamond. I had become RAD enough to feel like I could fit in.

I entered the shop and went like “Yoooo I’m racing tomorrow can I have a drink pleeease.” I was given refreshments. It was all great until I was told it was a very bad idea to start my fixed gear racing career with the Rapha Nocturne. Apparently, the field was going to be super strong and it was a bit too optimistic to enter such a race with any previous experience. The guy namedropped all the strongest riders who have proper teams to make sure I understood who I was up against.

I thought WHATEVER I DON’T CARE I’M GONNA RACE NO MATTER HOW BAD IT GOES.  Despite the slowly increasing fear I could feel in my stomach, I knew I could ride a bike in circles no matter what this man was telling me. Thanks to Velociposse, I’d been riding smashy laps at the Lee Valley circuit and practicing my bike handling skills. I’d also ridden brakeless for years so it wasn’t even going to be as scary for me as my teammates: neither Yewande, Jess nor Rosi had ridden fixed in their pre-Velociposse lives.

I want to highlight the friendly piece of advice I got because it nicely illustrates a generic condition. Women are hardly ever encouraged to do scary stuff. It was true Nocturne was definitely not the best race to start racing with. Riding brakeless fixed in a pack of pros is mental. But the fact is that there are only four fixed circuit races per season in London, so one must start somewhere. It’s very difficult and scary to enter races like the Nocturne, but that doesn’t mean one should not do it.

I would never ever have done any of the cool bike stuff I’m currently up to had I not joined Velociposse. I’ve received so much encouragement from the team. Thus, all you girls out there who want to race remember that A. You can do it B. Start somewhere, like by joining Velociposse or by entering a race C. It’s FUN to ride fast which is why you should race D. (most important) races mean you get to meet mega rad women and men.

As for the race, it was horrible and scary, as usual. I had started preparing well with an afternoon pre-race nap to alleviate the paralysing feeling of panic. I had also arrived earlyish to watch the men’s support race (won by Rosi’s boyfriend Tim!!!), which should’ve left me enough time to warm up. But things went wrong, I faffed around with rollers and eventually my warm up lasted only 5 minutes. Not cool.

I felt so anxious and unprepared when waiting for the race to start that my resting heart rate was 120. I checked. Standing in amongst the superawesomepro-looking women was intimidating as we waited for the race to start.

120 bpm is indeed high for standing still, but low compared to my race heart rate average. After the first neutralised lap the pace got really fast and I was dying.

There was none of that “I’ll just sit at the back and coast until the race is over” like what you can do with a road bike. I had stupidly positioned myself approximately tenth, like what I’d do in a normal circuit race. Riding fixed was so different – on every straight we’d sprint as a bunch, only to squeeze into a double line in the corners. Accordingly, I wasted a lot of energy pushing against my pedals to not hit the people in front of me in the corners and then, even more, energy trying to keep up on the straights.

It was crazy. Well, I recall being remotely aware that it felt crazy. I was aware that if I’d make the smallest of mistakes, I’d crash straight into a banking, the audience or the tarmac. Luckily I seem to not feel fear whilst riding – I only panic about the race as an event.

Photographer // Sam Dunn

Then was a bad crash and the race was stopped. When we were allowed to continue, there was time for only five more laps. This time I had learned my lesson and tried to stay more at the front to avoid unnecessary slowing down.

As usual in races, I was very non-alert and it took me about 20 seconds of listening to the bell ringing to realise we were on the last lap. It got very tense and fast. I thought I should try to attack because I had been told that’s what you’re supposed to do in races. But I didn’t and turning into the finish line I realised it was too late. Coming out the last bend, Jasmine was flying at the front for victory, followed by Brooke who looked like a human torpedo. I sprinted, managed to overtake one person and came third.

Riding in the Eurosportesque setting with a roaring crowd was cool. Then the next cool thing was that I got to splash champagne around with Brooke and Jasmine (who btw was racing the elite crit straight afterward because Italians do it better). But the COOLEST thing ever was to pour champagne all over my podium shoes and offer the remaining sips to the Velociposse crew.

The week following Rapha Nocturne was, in contrast, totally not cool. It was sweaty as I spent the whole week in bed with the flu but at least I got to rest my injured Achilles tendon. The only time I went out during the week was to pick up my first ever road bike that I’d bought second hand.

On Saturday, I went to see Matt to cough at him until he would understand I was too ill to race the next day. It didn’t work. Instead, my semi-okay bike was totally upgraded and transformed into a real road bike. It was all very annoying because I didn’t want to ride it. I felt horrible and grumpy on the day of the race, but couldn’t bail out on my team members.

We got to Gravesend and me, Jess and Rosi raced in the inhumanely hot sun. I wore a long-sleeved skinsuit, which didn’t help in the heat. There was a brief, cooling moment but I realised it was caused by a pack of strawberry-flavoured gel leaking out of my back pocket. Anyway, riding was horrible and after the first 15 minutes of riding, I wanted to give up. I didn’t and after 1h 15 minutes of riding it was luckily all over and I had managed to win.

Winning happened like this: I’m very heavy so on the last lap I just rolled downhill past people, stayed at the front until we got to the home straight and then sneakily rested at Angela’s wheel. I thought I’d save my energies and do a golden sprint for victory when we were close enough to the finish line. Bah. The plan was great but I had forgotten about the climb. Sprinting UPHILL equals no golden sprints. Alas, I didn’t exactly fly past Angela and it was only by a very narrow 10 centimetres that I came first. I did manage to achieve a new personal best heart rate of 205 and enough points to get me to third cat. As we were riding back to London I munched on Yewande’s home-made cakes and was happy Matt had forced me to race.

This past fortnight’s conclusion: don’t listen to yourself. Thinking of doing scary things makes you find excuses to avoid doing them. Also, don’t listen to people who tell you not to do things because it doesn’t make sense. It’s better to just try and see where it goes. You should only listen to people like Matt, our one-man-support-team, who will first coach you to have skills and gain confidence and then lure you into racing no matter how crap you’re feeling.

White City’s Minet crit is in two weeks and there’s going to be a strong Velociposse presence of amateurs and scared first-timers. Enter now, see you there and we all can panic together.

-Eeva

Rapha Nocturne 2017

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A multi-part post from our racers at the Rapha Nocturne on the 10th of June 2017
Check www.samdunnsnaps.com and Honor Elliott for some great photos of the day.

Jess

I admit I almost lost my shit when I discovered the Rapha coffee van in the rider village was out of milk. The noise, the crowds, the queues… I was not up for this. After quitting smoking six weeks ago, and training for just a fortnight, it’s not like I was going to be truly ready for a fixed crit. But I said I would, because bike gang loyalty.

Waiting to enter the course, it was just me, Rosi, Yewande and Eeva repping Velociposse, with not a bit of fixed crit experience between us. It was unlikely that any of us would die, but we couldn’t be sure. Rolling around to the start line, I couldn’t actually get my left foot clipped in. Fine. Not a problem. Do not panic. The usual safety briefing – the only bit I remember is being asked if we had any questions and Rosi’s hand shot up. Nope, she was “just waving at someone”. I snort-laughed, as is right and proper in these circumstances, and felt relaxed for about a minute, until the crowd began to bang on the barriers. It was all getting a bit Gladiator (which definitely had some death in it).

And then there was some racing. Did I really participate? It’s arguable. The bunch shot off into the distance, with just a few stragglers in front of and behind me. Long story short I smashed around on my own for a while, genuinely having a nice time and doing my very best #critlean for any lingering cameras, without having to worry about riders around me. (Is there a theme here? Do I just hate people? Should I get into time trials? They sound lame though.)

Then I got a bit tired. Coming up Cheapside alone, almost blinded by the low sun and totally overwhelmed by the crowd who were clearly feeling sorry for the little’un, I thought maybe it was time to call it a day before I got lapped. Go find a tasty beer, watch our supergirl Eeva smash it on the big screen. I sucked, but I had a great time. And I too feel I look bangin’ in Velociposse lycra, so I’m cultivating my thunder thighs in earnest. See you soon, Minet Crit…

Photographer // Sam Dunn

Rosi

Listening to the commissaire on the start line, a few things go through my brain. One: besides a velodrome, prior to this race, I have ridden a fixed gear bike a grand total of five times. Ever. Two: OK I think these girls really know what they’re doing. This is not going to be your normal bike race. Three: I’m so happy my teammates Jess, Yewande and Eeva are with me. I wouldn’t be here at all without them. Four: OMG the crowd! Let’s have some fun, whatever happens…

Two minutes later and those five times on a fixie feel like five times not enough. The pace is fast, the course is twisty, I’m off the back, my quads burn and I’m breathing HARD. But this atmosphere is unreal! Through the blur of the pain cave I can hear people cheering for me and it makes my heart want to burst with joy. I see Jess and another rider in the distance and the more I ride, the more my confidence builds and I can see I’m catching them up, lap after lap. I’m alongside Jess, then all of a sudden I see black flags, a rider on the floor, the race is stopped. Damn.

We roll round to the start and it feels like forever before the race begins again. I look at Eeva and she’s totally calm and cool. Go Eeva! We’re racing – It’s now a five lap race, once again the peloton leaves me for dust, but this time Yewande is with me and we try to stick together. We chase the group, I see Yewande take the fast corner past the Guildhall… and crash straight into the barrier! Her bike flies up, gets some serious air and flips over the barrier. WTAF?! By some sort of miracle she’s OK (and carries on – Yewande, you are made of steel!), but I’ve had enough. I leave the track, tired but happy, and head to the finish. Three laps, two laps, one lap…final sprint…and Eeva gets third! Absolutely amazing super strong effort! So proud of everyone who raced – Velociposse history makers <3

Photographer // Sam Dunn

Yewande

How did I end up on the start line at Rapha Nocturne?
Short answer: Matt made me.
Longer answer: Matt asked, I was curious and also I’ve been saying yes to everything to gain lots of experience.
I had no idea what to expect…first fixed gear crit, what on earth was I doing?We started off with one neutralised lap and as we came around onto the home straight along Cheapside, the race was on. No amount of smashy laps with Jess and Eeva could prepare me for what was to come. Cornering is not my strong point; every skills session I’m told by Matt “Look where you want to go”. By the second corner I didn’t think I was going to make it through the first lap, having gone round at speed and in a bunch. I started taking them more slowly, meaning the bunch quickly moved away. There were still a few riders around me which meant I could still try out different tactics – sitting on someone’s wheel so I could have a bit of a rest, then putting in an attack along the home straight to go it alone. With every lap I was feeling more comfortable.Then the flags came out: first yellow to indicate an incident, then black to indicate the race was stopped. My thoughts go out to those involved and I wish them speedy recoveries. Back to the start line. A tight schedule meant we would only race five more laps. “Race safely. If we have to stop the race again we won’t restart it.”Off we were again. In my desperate attempt to catch up to riders I knew I had been faster than, I took the second corner pretty badly. So badly that I thought I was going to take out Rosi. Thankfully I didn’t and we made it on to the back straight. Which is when I decided to go for it. The penultimate corner of the circuit was fast approaching. I hadn’t eased off. I wasn’t looking where I wanted to go. I crashed.

As I headed towards the orange crash mats (that thankfully did their job) I thought: “I’m so screwed”, then “I’m such an idiot, they’re going to stop the race and it’s my fault”. I got up quickly and somehow I was okay. But I couldn’t find my bike. It had ended up on the other side of the barriers but still intact. The only casualties were my new cycling shoes. All I could think was “get up and race”, which I did, only to find that Rosi had stopped racing and come off the course to check on me. I am so grateful for her stopping her race to make sure that I was still in once piece. My race ended a couple of laps later with the wave of a blue flag but it didn’t matter (because I at least fulfilled one of my aims by technically not getting lapped!).

I’m so thankful to have such supportive teammates and even though only one of us made it to the finish, I couldn’t be prouder. I wish those racing at Minet Crit the best of luck, I think I’ll be sitting that one out.

Photographer // Hono Elliott

MAMIL Crisis

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At 4.05 pm on Saturday the 27th of May I became a MAMIL. For some reason, or rather because of a series of unexpected events, I found myself at the start line of the CC Hackney Primavera crit at the Lee Valley VeloPark. There I was, waiting for my first ever road race to begin. It was probably good that I had not anticipated I’d be racing, as the week before I’d spent way too many days stressing over my first ever track race. Nevertheless, I really didn’t want to be there at that moment. It was bad enough that I’d never ridden Yewande’s old road bike I was borrowing before. Being there at the start, surrounded by 27 other women without knowing what I was supposed to do made it all a lot worse.

I stared at the backs of the bunch of men who were racing at the same time as us. I was very confused why the men were there too. I was told that women usually never get a slot of their own on the circuit because there aren’t enough of them to financially justify it. The 28 women did outnumber the 23 men in the 1/2/3 cat race, but supposedly it wasn’t enough.

Anyway, soon the men were off and us women were given three seconds worth of racing advice. Any questions? I wanted to ask if it was still possible to go warm up quickly, as I’d turned up late and spent the past hour faffing around trying to take out cash to pay my day race licence. There was no time for questions or warm-ups however, since the race suddenly started and everyone was moving. I thought I’d better clip in and follow the mass of lycra.

Alas, we were off and riding fast. I tried to keep up with the group whilst simultaneously figuring out how Yewande’s bike worked. By this time I’d forgotten the mantra in my head on how to change Campagnolo gears. As a full-time Dura Ace babe, I’d never even heard of Campags before. I kept on confusing which way to push the shifters. Bad. Eventually I stopped bothering with trying to change the gears and hoped the chain would endure my stupidity.

Everything was going relatively well until suddenly the men’s front riders swooshed past us on the left. Few more male riders followed and there were a great deal of VERY LOUD shouts. LEFT LEFT LEFT LEFT!!!!! Those soon turned into COMING PAST ON YOUR FUCKING LEFT! FUCKING MOVE! On my side another small group of men formed into a chorus of swearing and condescending comments. I won’t go into the details.

The men were supposed to pass us on our right, not left. Accordingly, our women’s group lead riders had interpreted the LEFT LEFT LEFT shouts as ‘move left’ rather than ‘coming past on your left’, obeying the race rules. However, at the time I didn’t know what was going on and I concluded that we’d made a mistake. I felt bad. It was clear that the men were REALLY SERIOUS about their race whereas all I wanted was to go home and sleep. I hadn’t felt shit like that in a while, probably ever since my Stage 3 accreditation session at the velodrome which coincidentally had been the last time I’d ridden with a bunch of men who become rowdy and loud when they can’t ride as instructed.

Anyway, my negative feelings transformed into being incredibly lucky I was for being part of the most amazing, inspiring and rad cycling club. My team has only supportive members and no-one is ever making me feel crap. After all, I’d spent the whole morning riding in circles at the Team WaG x Velociposse track session, feeling proud of all of us (including myself) because we’d tried riding on rollers for the first time ever.

I was awakened from my slumber when I noticed there were only 5 more laps to go. The pace got harder and I started to panic for real. I tried to become tactical and concentrate on riding smoothly in the bunch, obviously managing to hit the curve on the outside every single time. I was also starting to feel increasingly stupid and insecure about probably being in people’s way.

It was that or something equally menial that kept my brain occupied until I heard the bell ringing. I gathered it must mean the last lap had begun. Swoosh! Everyone went past me and suddenly the individual riders had merged into a single flying machine of lycra-generated carbon that I was trying to keep up with.

As we rode up the last climb I heard the riders around me breath very heavily. I’d obviously sat at the back for the whole race thinking about who knows what and trying to shift my gears. It was only in the last half lap that I finally woke up and realised I needed to start pedalling. FAST. There’d already been an attack, which I hadn’t noticed and I tried to follow. It was too late, which realised as I hit the home straight and rode solo for about 2 meters against the crazy strong head wind. My chase was pathetic, but I did take the fourth place in a bunch of 28 E/1/2/3/4 riders.

My former messenger cool kid self was deeply traumatised by this turn of events. I’d ridden a road bike (a bike with brakes AND gears), wearing both lycra (not just lycra, but a skinsuit) and borrowed aero sunglasses. Ugh. I started to fear I’d soon start working in finance to complete the transformation into a roadie. On the ride back home I was just about to vomit at my new self until I came to a red light. I stopped with the two bikes (the road bike I was riding and the track bike I was shadow-riding) whilst clip
ped in. I thought I might as well learn how to track stand with the two bikes, which I did. BOOM. I’m still way cooler than the average road bike dude.

I also figured that maybe road racing wasn’t that bad after all. Thus, today (a week later from the first race) I rode my second circuit race at the Redbridge Cycling Centre. The day was a farce: I managed to drop my chain off not only once but twice, having to stop twice. After the second time I wasn’t able to chase the lead group, so I came sixth I think.

The conclusions from my first two races:
(1) learn how to change gears
(2) get fast enough to win
(3) learn how to wheelie over the finish line

Now all I need is my own, preferably carbon road bike, preferably not with Campags. Road bike donations anyone?



-Eeva

Taking Part in HHV Sprinters League: A Guide

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1.  Decide to put your entry in three days before the event with no idea as to what the races actually are
2.  On the morning of the event, take part in a track session at LVVP, ignore the fact that the track geometry is different.

  • It’s a good idea to take part in a scratch race and try and put yourself in the top five – this should sufficiently warm up the legs
  • One can also keep the legs spinning on some rollers and try out some skills such as taking both hands off or unclipping one foot

3.  Arrive at Herne Hill Velodrome with one set of wheels, one gearing and no rollers
4.  Don’t acknowledge the fact that there will be lots of waiting and leave your sleeping bag at home stuffed in a cupboard
5.  RACE! Or don’t race…still not sure about that bit


After attending a Velociposse/LBKWAG Track Morning at Lee Valley VeloPark, Ellie and I decided it would be a good idea to take part in Round 2 of the Sprinters League at Herne Hill Velodrome. Sprinting means go fast the whole time, right? Wrong.

The meet consisted of a flying 200, match sprints and a 450m TT to end. Heading up to the fence for the flying 200, we were lucky enough to be placed at the back of the women’s field so we could see what was going on. TOP TIP 1: Don’t drop down for your effort after the finish line, it’s not an indoor track (apparently this happened last time).

The results were used to split us into two heats for the match sprint – effectively a game of cat and mouse until the sprint is initiated. Suitable preparation involves taking part in a skills session on road bikes and watching the Track World Championships. Drawing cards at the start to decide who would lead out was like starting a card game without being told whether aces were high or low in the deck. When it was confirmed that the ace I drew was indeed high, I realised I would be leading out the sprint TOP TIP 2: Even if you don’t know what you’re doing, it is possible to intimidate your opponent by going very slowly around the top of the track if they are unable to track stand (although I did discover that if an official starts walking around the track and you’re going slower than them, you’ll be disqualified).

Having both lost our heats, Ellie and I ended up in the rep with a third woman, the fastest two making it through to the semis (we had a grand total of five women). Deciding to save her legs for the WOmnium the next day, Ellie took one for the team (or so she thought).

The semi went much the same way as the first round, as did the minor final I ended up in after, except for the fact that I managed not to draw an ace for the fourth time and started off the sprint behind.

The day wasn’t quite over yet, with a 450 TT to end, priority going to those who had only raced twice which meant Ellie was up again. I joined her, eager for a sprint that actually meant going fast the whole time. No tactics. I actually have no idea how we did, as we both left straight after without returning our numbers and then having the sign on person chase us down to get them back.

After all that would I do it again? Yes, maybe minus the track morning but definitely yes. Every time I race I learn new things about the sport and myself and I quite enjoyed not having to worry about not being taken out in a bunch!

A massive thanks to SES Racing for organising the event and being super friendly.

-Yewande Adesida

BEAT ME HARDER NEXT TIME

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The past week has been a series of misinformed decisions. Wednesday I raced Full Gas at LVVP (dropped after 20 minutes, asked to leave the track after 40); Saturday Yewande and I took one for the team and entered the monthly sprint league at HHV to help make up numbers for the women’s races (unfortunately I didn’t get the memo that you had to be a literal bodybuilder); today I competed in the National Women’s Omnium and Dernyfest at HHV.

Last year’s National Women’s Omnium and Dernyfest was actually my first experience watching track cycling and where I decided I would look banging in a skinsuit so I figured racing in this year’s would bear some sort of significance. Now that the races are over and I am home in my jammies having a rollie, I can’t really say that it did, but maybe it will evoke emotions for someone else. Maybe it will make someone realise that you can achieve your dreams if you procrastinate about it for long enough then just fucking go for it despite not being anywhere near physically ready. That is the essence of the femme brutale, or at least this one.

I turned up 10 minutes before the first race having left my race license at last night’s sprint league, still managed to sign on, painted my nails, eyed up the competition, eyed up the bikes, eyed up the chocolate muffins in my bag, and came last in the 500m time trial. One-point-something seconds would have scored me second to last place however unfortunately I had 25c tyres rather than 23c, a marginal loss, so really the odds were stacked against me from the get-go.
By race number 2 my rhubarb and custard energy gel had kicked in, it was a 16 lap scratch in which I recovered from being dropped a grand total of 6 TIMES. For those of you who have never raced (or who were just born fast and have never been dropped) nothing will prepare you for the feeling of betrayal when you realise that the rest of the group wasn’t yet at full speed and for no reason at all they all sprint off together (like how did they coordinate that so well?). I came in second to last and I’m still feeling pretty smug about overtaking one other woman.
Race number 3 was a 4 lap individual pursuit, it was hell and I don’t want to talk about it.
The big finale was a 20 lap points race. AWESOME. My legs stopped co-operating at 14 laps to go and at 10 laps to go they were so tired I actually tried to coast and almost threw myself off. At 5 laps to go the entire field lapped me. After this the lap board confused me a bit because I wasn’t sure whether it was accounting for me being a lap behind so I did one more lap for luck and came in to a feeble applause from an elderly couple by the pavilion.

In reality, the races didn’t turn out to be the embarrassing vomiting shitstorm I envisioned, and if nothing else I consider myself a martyr for having given another woman the chance to say “well at least I wasn’t as slow as her”. So I encourage you to grab life by the handleballs as just by entering and turning up to a race you will be doing your bit to push for more spaces for women in the cycling world. You might even have fun and make a new friend. Personally I have found motivation to get my legs up to A cat men’s sprint league standard, so I’m looking into buying some rollers and a butt-tonne of baked beans.
Watch this thigh-gap.


-Ellie Feeney