Minet Crit hosted by White City Track

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Hey, it’s me again and I’m back after crashing out at the London Nocturne. After what seemed like forever, but in fact was only three painful weeks of no cycling or walking properly, I was finally back on the bike and ready to race again. I guess you just have to bounce back and get into the groove of things. Only this time I had two awesome teammates Jess and Imogen, and another support crew member Tara at the Hillingdon Cycling Centre for support and teamwork. 

Sadly, there were only eight girls at the start line (story of our lives – or more aptly, the story of women’s cycling) with some strong contenders and some fairly new faces to racing. Myself, Imo and Jess were somewhere in between. All of us had come back after a period of not racing and training, so it was going to be a tough race. The women had to do one qualifier that determined start positions which didn’t really matter much in the field of eight people. Funnily, all three of us were in the same line and in perfect number positions (see photo). I also had to change my gear as in the qualifier I was way too spinny and couldn’t sprint properly.

As we stood at the start line for the final, the clouds became dark and we could feel the first rain drops on our faces. I’ve never raced a crit in the rain, so I was a little anxious after having come off the bike in my last race. As soon as we started, the pace picked up a little and we dropped a few girls with Keira, Jess Morgan, Corinne, myself and Imogen staying together in the pack. This wasn’t for long as the girls then dropped me and Imo soon after and we left chasing them for the rest of the race. I struggled a bit at the beginning as I wasn’t used to the intensity anymore, but midway through it, I found my legs/lungs again and we worked hard with Imo to finish it in style. We ended up picking our team captain Jess on the penultimate lap, so that definitely cheered us up as we were in a perfect VP train!

On the last lap, I went harder into the little hill and was finally feeling good picking up speed a little with Imogen just behind me. With the podium finish out of reach (I couldn’t see the break on the bends), the 4th and 5th places were down to me and Imo. I gave another push and pulled away to finish in the 4th place. Definitely not a perfect result, but I was more than happy to work with my team in a small race like this and get back to the racing business. Did I say the sun came out again and it was a beautiful end to our race?

After finishing, we kicked back and sat down to watch the men’s final, which was pretty eventful with a bigger crash midway through the race, which unfortunately took out some good contenders. It was exciting to see a three-man breakaway with Dimi, Andrea and Alessandro Mariani (IRD Carrera rider) going strong and gaining a bigger gap every time they passed the start line. In the end, we saw both Italians battle it out for the 1st place with Alessandro taking the win with a bit of a wheelie – another class finish there. Our friend Dimi ended up coming 3rd, which was an awesome result.

Big up all the ladies that took part and congrats to the winner Keira, who later was smashing the men’s race too till the unfortunate crash happened and she had to avoid it by coming off the course only to get back in seconds later! What a boss. Huge thanks to Kevin from White City Track for organising and putting a great day of racing for us. Good to see David Trimble show up too – we are now excitedly waiting for the Red Hook Crit to come to town this Saturday! See you all there.

Lina

Adidas StellaSport: ON – AND OFF – TRACK WITH CYCLING’S COOLEST GIRL GANG

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Velociposse is the all-girl riding team that’s putting freedom, community and loving your body at the centre of the sport. 

You’d be forgiven for assuming that the woman who’s single-handedly spearheading a female cycling revolution in London must have grown up living and breathing bikes. But for 25-year-old Jess Hayes, the brains and energy behind east London’s cycling girl gang, Velociposse, that’s certainly not the case. Her gang—born from an online shout out to other women who wanted to race—has become somewhat notorious in the cycling community. They provide a click-and-you’re-in support network that gets female riders of any age or level in gear.
Something you definitely shouldn’t expect from Velociposse is bunch of earnest athletes leaping about in dodgy lycra and preaching about electrolytes. The majority of members hold down full-time jobs and jump on their bikes for fun whenever they get the chance. The vibe is more party than protein shake – and there’s not an off-track ego in sight.

“I literally only started cycling properly last year,” laughs Jess. “I was commuting to work on this really crappy single speed I bought online and basically just fell in love with riding.” That growing interest inspired her to take on the Festive 500 challenge, a 76k-a-day daily distance challenge, and before long her enjoyment tuned into something of an obsession. It was as she was flying around an east London velodrome that she realized cycling was starting to feel like more than just a hobby. Keen to cut her teeth riding competitively Jess started signing up to more races but it quickly became evident that there was something wrong… Where were the other women?

“There were a few times I would turn up and there weren’t enough women there to race,” she explains. “I realised that if I didn’t start encouraging other women to come and join in then I wouldn’t be able to either.” Taking in her options, Jess wanted to find a club that had a sense of community and somewhere for the relatively novice rider. But nothing felt right. Taking matters firmly into her own hands, she posted a roll call on her blog and Instagram, resulting in an almost “overwhelming” response.

Encouraging more women to get on their bikes proved easier than she expected. Velociposse are vocal about how quickly women will drop their prized school sports once they hit their early-twenties, but instead of just talking about it, Jess wanted to create a reason for girls to pick them back up.
Velociposse is a cycling team that not only wants to be your motivator but also wants to hang out and be your friend. To quote their mission statement; “We ride hard, have fun, and we’re always up for a post-race beer.” So in 2015, just like magic (if by magic you mean an awful lot of hard work) Velociposse was born.

Now heading up her ever expanding cycling girl gang and juggling a full time job, Jess has a lot to feel proud of. “For us it’s about racing together, getting to know each other and having fun,” she says. While there’s certainly no stigma over a bit of competition, at the heart of Veliciposse is a desire to encourage and engage women who might otherwise feel uncomfortable or unsure of how to get involved. For Karla, a young chef from south London who’s also relatively new to fixed gear riding, it was that sense of inclusivity and openness that drew her in. “A lot of sports are male dominated so it’s nice to have an all-female team,” she says. 
Commuting 15 miles a day from Forest Hill to Richmond makes Karla a pretty hardcore rider – and she’s looking to expand into track racing too. Being part of a movement which is so keen to encourage more female cyclists must be galvanizing. “There’s a massive sense of community and everyone helps each other out,” she nods, citing Instagram as another source of daily inspiration. 

​What I take from cycling is freedom, community and loving your body,” she says. “I wanted to make a space where we could share that.
– Jess, Captain of Velociposse
Like all good girl gangs theirs has a baby and at just 16, Isla is one of the youngest and most fiercely outspoken riders I talk to all day. “I think a lot of women feel really intimidated to start cycling,” she tells me. “A lot of the big group rides are predominantly male and that can put women off or make them feel isolated.” Initially encouraged by the support of her athletic father, Isla found a second family in the Velociposse community and it’s clear the connection goes beyond bikes.
She cites Jess as a role model in the industry thanks to her determination and initiative, adding “it’s really important that teams like Velociposse run, simply because they encourage women to feel more confident.” Now living in Norfolk, Isla travels into the city to ride track and race; “cycling was really pushed post-Olympics and there’s definitely a great movement happening in London where women are coming together to ride, it feels like a community.” 

As the sun glints over the bikes balanced opposite our table, you can’t miss the Velociposse stickers with their slogans like “Girls Just Wanna Have Thun-Der Thighs” and “Femme Brutale”. While its conception may have been partly practical, the feeling of solidarity among the women riding together is fierce and inspiring. But like any good leader, Jess is happiest jumping on her bike and not over-thinking anything. “What I take from cycling is freedom, community and loving your body,” she says. “I wanted to make a space where we could share that.”

Though it sounds pretty simple, cycling certainly still has its problems. It’s still a male-dominated sport, but there are women changing that. Victoria Pendleton and Laura Trott are two female track queens who put women cyclists at the centre of the 2012 Olympics. Still, there’s certainly room for improvement, and it’s precisely that fight which feeds a hunger for Velociposse to rise up and “take their space.” Jess has consistently found that her and her team members are making progress with leaps and bounds – supported by their male peers every pedal of the way. Not that it would matter too much if they weren’t.
“I think we’re all pretty tough.” She smiles. “There’s no sense of being victims in this, we’re owning the situation.” And with that, I leave them to leap on their bikes and disappear into the early afternoon sunshine.

London Nocturne 

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47:4 

That’s not my race gear ratio of course, but rather the proportion of men to women at last Saturday’s London Nocturne’s fixed gear criterium supported by Mango Bikes. As my painful crash wounds are starting to heal, I’ve got a bit of spare time to put my perspective on the racing that took part on a new circuit in Cheapside. 

I’m not going to get into the finer details of the preparation or the race itself, but more so the weird situation we, women racers, tend to get into when attending some fixed gear races here in the UK. 

Why were there only 4 women racing and how come the organisers didn’t put on a separate women’s race? Those are some pretty obvious questions everyone would ask. Considering the massively growing interest in fixed gear racing and events like RHC, recent new addition of Thundercrit and other smaller crits popping up everywhere, you’d think that organisers would give us a fair opportunity to race and not overlook perhaps a smaller, but consistently increasing field. 

We could have easily had 20+ women ready to smash it around the same technical course, which I now had to share predominantly with men.  One of them ended up overtaking me and seconds after crashing into a corner consequently taking me down. Of course crashes happen at every level of racing and in women’s races too, but there are significant differences between men’s and women’s racing styles and abilities. 

It’s quite unfortunate the organisers did not promote the event to women, nor did they tried to make it any fairer in the actual race. There was only one prize for the winner, and so myself and the other 3 girls had zero chance of coming anywhere close. I’m not saying we race for prizes or money, there’s very little of that in the amateur racing anyway, but this kind of race wasn’t ever going to give us the same experience as to men. Paying the same amount of money for a race entry and not being able to have an equally good racing experience is like going to a car dealer to buy a Lexus and getting a Fiat for the same price instead. 

I really hope next year London Nocturne will feature a women’s fixed gear crit, but one could only hope. With the help of David Trimble, it could be just as successful as RHC and attract a lot of great talent from all over Europe. If you’re a race organiser reading this, please don’t overlook us – we’re here ready to race, just give us a fair chance and we will show you how exciting women’s racing can be! If you’re a fellow male racer, please support us where you can and speak up of course where inequality arises. If you’re a female racer, come race and let’s kick some ass in a true femme brutale kind of way! 

Photos by Sam Dunn. You can check the full set here – http://www.samdunnsnaps.com/MR-PORTER-LONDON-NOCTURNE

Lina 

MAY SKILL SESSION AT NETIL MARKET

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SKILLZZZZZ

Last night we had the first of our Fixed Gear Skills Sessions, Steph and Lucy took our fantastic group through track stands and skidding. It was amazing to see how quickly people can learn from each other, and people going from novice to DOING IT almost instantly. Goes to show how great it is too have a collection of minds and learn from each other. Our own Tara managed to get to a no hands track stand by the end of the evening… the wheely is coming next… next time we hope to have guests teaching the basics but also some more advanced moves, I know ‘going backwards’ is looking popular.
It was great to see friends who we knew but also to meet some of our followers! Thanks so much for coming guys.
We ran the session in Netil Market and had the support of Market Peddler who were on hand to do some mechanical work. Thanks gang!
This was a great success for us as it’s’ the first of our sessions which we hope will bring people together, have loads of fun, learn some stuff and ride bikes.
Lucy and Steph are going to continue holding the sessions at Netil Market monthly. There is a bar and food available so even if you don’t feel like joining in immediately, feel free to come down and see what it’s all about and hang out with a drink or vegan curry. We’ll post the date in a few days.
Coming up we plan on having rides… Long and short, day and night. Keep an eye out for the events calendar. A few ideas include a ride to a swimming hole, night time city crawl, longer rides to Oxford and Cambridge, a picnic and swim at Hampstead Heath, BMX SKILLS SESSION and women’s track intro session at Herne Hill Velodrome. All our events are open to men and women apart from the track events which due to HHV logistics are women only. We want to bring as many people together, regardless of what bike your ride and how advanced you are… NO EXCUSES
We would be nothing if it wasn’t for the great feedback from our supporters SO THANK YOU and we hope to see you soon!
Love VP xxx

thundercrit!!!!

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Thundercrit race report – Shoulda Coulda Woulda 

Where do I even begin? When we found out about Thundercrit, excitement levels in our team were high and soon enough nearly all of us signed up to do it. Woooo! My race result expectations weren’t particularly high as I had a slow winter, not feeling my best and even having to miss the first leg of the Red Hook Crit in Brooklyn. My energy was low and the legs were slow. So with this slump, I was going to just test my stamina and rusty cornering skills. 

The week before the race we found out that some of our members were unable to do it, with myself and my usual race comrade Marigold as the 2 definite YESES. Our newest recruit Karla was also keen on trying it out even though she didn’t have a suitable race bike. As a team we ruffled a plan and got Karla onto Tara’s Cinelli. Racing on a completely new bike and an unfamiliar set up is something else – I must say she is one brave woman and we are extremely proud of her. 

Our qualifier was up first around midday and I was happy to see many familiar faces like our friends from Thundercats, 5th floor girls and some new faces too. We soon got used to the course, nice bendy corners and of course the wind. My aim was to score top 5 for the grid and save the energy for later. It wasn’t too challenging to stay with the front group and in the final sprint I comfortably came 3rd. 

After this, we stayed to watch the second women’s group and Why Be Normal? dominating the qualifier and scoring all top places. The final was shaping up to be a little predictable, but also interesting at the same time. Will someone challenge those 4 strong riders? 

With excitement we settled on the grass near the emergency tent and worked on our tans while watching the men’s qualifiers. It was fast, lightning fast in some of the groups. We cheered on all our friends from Eastlondonfixed, Full Denim Jacket, NLTCBMBC, 5th Floor and others, screaming all kinds of encouragement words at the top of our lungs. 

Our final race was up next – we were off to the start line where Rob greeted us again with a megaphone and John Mack fired his little gun after the first neutral lap. The start wasn’t particularly fast, but soon after the front group, including 3 WBN girls went off with the most of us left in the chasing pack. Our group did not work particularly well and we struggled to catch them as most of us didn’t fancy doing all the work on the front, where it was pretty windy. 

I remember seeing the board with 2 laps to go, so I just focused on not expending too much energy and the next thing I know was the final sprint. Fuck , how the hell did I miss that?? I either didn’t hear the bell ring or was in my own little world. My legs and lungs felt great, but I’ve literally missed the sprint and got boxed in-between Leanna and Kris going for the line. This could have been an interesting final, but oh well! I wasn’t particularly fussed with the end result as I had some nice wins at the women’s track league the previous day and still kicked some ass in the Thundercrit final. After all, the most important thing is to have fun while riding bikes and supporting each other.

Im not gonna tell you to ‘watch this space’ because all kinds of things happen in bike racing, but one thing I do know for sure is that I’m going to have a hell of a good time racing with my posse and friends this season. After all, no one is going to remember your placing in a particular race, more the experiences that come with it! 

On behalf of the whole Velociposse crew I would like to say massive thanks to Rob, Thundercats and volunteers for organising and helping with the logistics of the race, spectators for cheering and racers for making it a fun and challenging event. We will always support the groups, individuals and races that promote equal prizes to men and women so big kudos to Rob again for making it all happen. 

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Lucy –

With Velociposse’s staunch support of beer, bikes and the DIY ethos, it was inevitable that we’d end up giving Incredibly Cross a go.

Capturing the alleycat vibe and hurling it into the woods with only a megaphone, a couple of clipboards and a few metres of tape strung jauntily between trees to keep people on track, Incredibly Cross has quickly gained a strong following. By their own admission utterly unsanctioned and only slightly disorganised, the first couple of rounds had looked like extraordinarily good fun and by far the most welcoming race series we’ve seen. I mean, with an entry requirement of “a couple of quid or a four pack of beer please”, what would you expect?!

None of the Veloci team has any decent cyclocross experience (well, apart from Jess who’s out of the country) but some of us have been itching to give it a go. With backgrounds in BMX, offroading and MTBing, we knew we wouldn’t absolutely suck at it and could have yet more fun on bikes – especially as the Incredibly Cross organisers encourage costumes, inappropriate bikes, beer and lots of noise. Having raced the previous round, Lina got me and Imo aboard (riding gears, singlespeed and BMX respectively) with Marigold doing the all-important job of cracking the whip and yelling at us to go faster.

The evening arrived – riders descended on Camberwell’s Cycle PS to sign on, collect numbers and chortle at each others’ costumes. After a swift pint we travelled en masse to Burgess Park and had a quick lap of the course. I thought I’d been well-prepared with my 3 front lights for the night but this quickly dissipated when I realised on the very first bend that the camber of the hill and the lovely squelchy mud was too much for my wobbly start and terrible choice of tyres (marathon plus from my touring bike as I’d been to lazy to find any knobblies – more fool me) and down I went, apologizing profusely to the poor people behind me. Nobody minded and I was quickly back up again, making sure on subsequent laps to take the corner better and better. Embarrassing, but I couldn’t have asked for a better learning opportunity or more friendly race environment! I went down a couple of times on corners and saw many people do the same – it was brilliant.

The race format put everyone on the same page: everyone racing at the same time, le Mans-style start (this time up a massive bloody hill – cheers guys) where the organisers also sneakily moved some of our bikes around, and 30 minutes of racing as fast as you can to decide a mens and womens winner.

At the end of Incredibly Cross I felt how I want to feel about life in general: I’ve absolutely no idea how I did but I had a brilliant time.

Big thank you to the organisers for doing something incredible, fun, and social – I can’t wait for the next one!

Highlight: getting lapped by a very polite Christmas Pudding

Not-so-highlight: concentrating so hard on cycling and missing out on beer – must learn to multitask better

Because I’m a glutton for punishment, I also signed up to do a 40k mostly-offroad the day after Incredibly Cross for Rapha’s annual women’s ride Braver Than The Elements. Being more than a little hungover I rolled up to Victoria Park to meet the others only to find cancellations meant that there were only 4 of us (plus Neil who kindly led the ride).

My psychosomatic headache worsened somewhat when I realised I was the only one riding a singlespeed cross bike. The six mile ride from my house had been fine alone, but… those fifty gear inches weren’t going to be much help keeping up with the others with their multitude of gearing options on the roads and canal paths up to Epping. I had another coffee and tried not to worry. At least I could get some decent spinning practice out of this, right?

After a nice social canal-side route, we hit our first big hill. RAD. I’m not ashamed to say that by the time it got to 11% incline I had got off and was slogging it, true cyclocross style, up the hill with the bike on my shoulder. This exciting burst of enthusiasm was short-lived, however, and I spent the rest of the say trailing fairly miserably behind the other 4, which dwindled to 3 as one lady hit her knee, then 2 as one left to head home.

It was so muddy that at one point I fell off and felt the disturbing sensation of being completely suction-stuck. After a quick bit of flailing (my senses heightened, despite not having eaten anything for hours, by the image of being encased in mud like Han Solo in carbonite for the remaining winter months) I was up and back on the bike. I love mud, but I’d rather not spend the whole ride in it.

I must have made about a million excuses in my head to myself as I battled hard to keep up (and, well, stay upright) as to why I was finding it so difficult. It really sucked. Thankfully the others didn’t mind waiting and my mind kept flashing back to Spoking Fun’s “WE ALL SUFFER. KEEP GOING.” patch.

We finished at Rapha Spitalfields with a coffee and me shedding mud everywhere. Classy.

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Michael captures Lucy in her element post-race.

​Imogen –

A ridiculous review of a hilarious bike race.

Had you wandered into Burgess park late on Friday night you may have been forgiven for thinking you had stepped into a surreal, contemporary rendition of the nativity. In a dark corner, well known (and lesser known) characters, such as Virgin Mary, christmas tree, ginger biscuit, christmas pudding and someone who I can only assume was the holy spirit, repeatedly wound their way across a stage of hill climbs, a large puddle (possibly the sea of Galilee), rose bushes and mud slides. Clearly stage direction was lacking as all frantically pedalled back and forth in confusion, with no agreement as to exactly which of the many bright lights was indeed the guiding star. This may have been due to the fact that the tree wise men seem to have been cut from the production.

It attracted a significant turnout but the crowd, penned in the centre of the stage and kept at bay by the clipboard wielding shepherds, were clearly unimpressed. Many heckled the actors and some even foisted cans of special brew upon those who had become overwhelmed by the situation.

The son of God also made his debut appearance, strung to the side of Mary’s bike in some sort of desperate bid for salvation. Dave from Save the Children commented: ‘While this performance may break new boundaries in contemporary theatre, it raises serious questions over how we represent responsible childcare. The lack of care that Mary showed for her son Jesus was atrocious’. However, directors evidently chose a present day portrayal of Joseph as an absentee father leaving Mary to struggle through.

Speaking to one of the main protagonists after the show he had this to say: ‘I was doing really well until the finale when I was eclipsed by fucking ginger biscuit and christmas tree’. Like a high school talent show, an unusual competitive atmosphere descended upon the cast as they fought for a share of the gold, frankincense and myrrh which was finally delivered to Mary and her dishevelled son in the form of .… Sadly this was only given to her on account of her being so well dressed which I personally found shamefully objectifying.

Such an rendition of this Christmas favourite was an ambitious endeavour. While the actors had undoubtedly spent no time rehearsing what so ever, the effort they put into making this a success was astounding. We highly anticipate the announcement of their next adventure.

Cross is Definitely Boss

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14th/15th November 2015, Rapha SuperCross + Incredibly Cross
Words and Photos by Lina.

​The whole weekend was meant to be a lot of CX fun with Rapha event on Saturday and Incredibly Cross the next day. So a lot of us were going to watch, support and race on at least one of the days and were pretty excited about the whole thing! 
 
On Saturday me, Marigold and Imogen were working at Rapha Supercross event in Granary Square Kings Cross from 9am and scouted the best spots to marshal which were obviously inside St. Martins college by the awesome pink ramp (which was still being built by the students that morning). Weather was looking pretty terrible with non stop rain, so our spots were just perfect. Anticipation soon started growing as it seemed that the organisers were having some difficulties in making the races safe and everything was running late. A couple of hours later first races for under 8s, 10s and 12 year olds started and there were quite a few crashes on hard surfaces outside and inside the building. I hate to admit it, but some kids looked more confident on a bike than most of us adults ?. After all of the kids races finished, there were youths and women’s up next. 
 
Unfortunately the women’s race got stopped after a couple of laps with a big bike pile up on one of the obstacles outside, which was pretty slippery in the pouring rain. Around 4pm it was announced that the organisers decided to stop the racing altogether as it was just not safe enough, so we went straight in for the free bar. Shame it ended so quickly as we were really looking forward to cheering on our friends Owen, Dimi and Full Denim Jacket crew, who were meant to be racing later as well as seeing elites show us how it’s done. Oh well, things do go wrong sometimes and we are looking for the next cool Rapha event now! 
 
After a not so successful day at Rapha Supercross, I decided I might want to give proper cyclocross a go. Whilst I am completely new to this and only just learned how to use gears and brakes on my fresh Focus Mares CX bike, Incredibly Cross looked like the perfect race to start with. It was their 2nd round and was taking place all the way south in Mitcham Common, which seemed like a long trip for us in north east. 
 
Me and my partner Kamal from Full Denim Jacket met up with the rest of the boys from his crew and headed to the common. Once we got to the place, it looked like the turnout was going to be great and quite a few people coming on unusual bikes (there was a Barclay bike, a couple of fixed gears with no brakes too). We did a couple of practise runs and found the course to be really fun, with a grassy bit, muddy trails, a few tiny hills and downhills and 2 obstacles with logs.  
 
The race started just after 1pm with a Le Mans type of standing start – we had to run across the field to find our bikes (which to my surprise were moved to a different spot) and get on with the race. It was 40mins to get in as many laps as you physically could, so it was a constant flow of people with some speedy cx pros lapping you soon enough. I was going for at least half the time as I was pretty exhausted that day, but somehow my legs carried me through and I even managed to learn how to dismount on the last few laps. Hurray! Remounting was something else – it doesn’t come to me that easily just yet. On the last lap I had a couple of minor crashes, the energy has left me by then and my bike handling skills went somewhere lol. Overall it was a such fun race, I will definitely do anything that these guys organise again. 
 
I completely forgot to mention the hecklers, who were giving out opened beer cans just before the finish line on every lap. I was too busy concentrating on finishing the race, so left the beers for the after race rehydration. Once everyone had sorted themselves out and cracked perhaps a second can, the winners were announced with Matt Noble taking the men’s and Adeline O’Moreau winning the women’s. There were also prizes for the best dressed and the most inappropriate bike, which went to a fella riding a Barclay bike in a Boris costume. His words were ‘I regretted this decision 3 laps in’, but I’m sure he was just joking and had heaps of fun doing it. 
 
If you like the sound of this and want to have an awesome time, I suggest you come down to the next Incredibly Cross round. Follow the guys on Instagram @incredibly_cross for more updates. 
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Sunday 8th November, Lee Valley VeloPark
Words by Gina, Photos by Jim Sullivan

Last Sunday I had a chance to get a taste of derny racing for the first time at the Olympic Velodrome. Having never tried any type of motor-paced riding before, let alone racing, it’s safe to say I was bricking it.

When I arrived at the velodrome to get myself ready and warmed up, I had a chance to chat to a few other ladies who would be racing. I soon discovered I was the least experienced rider in the race and expected to see some very fast women racing. What was great though was having a chance to talk with more experienced riders about how to approach the race in terms of tactics, skills and gearing (I’m always impressed by how supportive the cycling community is). Through chatting to others I promptly discovered I was severely under-geared for the event, and thanks to the kindness of strangers was able to borrow a sprocket to up my ratio a whole 17 inches(!!).

Without a proper chance to try out the new gear ratio I found myself on the start line for the heats. With a good push off the start, I started following behind Matt on the derny. Although the rest of the riders quickly pulled away from Matt and I, it’s safe to say it was probably the fastest (and most thrilling) 10k of my life.

What I quickly learned from my chance to try derny racing was that it’s incredibly technical, both in terms of holding the wheel properly and also communicating well with your pacer. Though lack of experience (and fitness) meant I got lapped early, I loved the fast and strong pace of the race. You’ve got to be able to continuously push hard the whole time to do well. Judging that type of effort can be hard and certainly takes practice to perfect. I can’t wait to get stronger and have another go.

Derny racing was an entirely different style of track racing for me, one which I loved and really hope to do more of in the future. As Muscles and Motors was put together as a chance for some of the best riders in the country to get some practice in before the derny nationals at the end of this month, the event was also a great opportunity to watch and chat to some of the most experienced and strongest women on the scene. As someone new to racing, their advice and encouragement was immensely appreciated and makes me excited to level up my training!

Big thanks to Graham Bristow for organising Muscles & Motors and for giving me a chance to get started in the wonderful world of derny racing! And many more thanks to Matt for suggesting I give the race ago and for very kindly pacing me on the night (and rocking the VP kit!).

Full Gas Winter Track League Round 1

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Thursday 29th November, Lee Valley VeloPark
Full Gas Cycling Winter Track League
Words by Lina. All photos by Sam Dunn of LittleWheels
We got a pretty good taster of what an indoor velodrome racing is all about. For the first time some of the Velociposse ladies had a chance to race at Lee Valley Velodrome at a winter track league women’s event and it was super exciting. With 4 different events lined up for the night and over 25 girls of various racing experience and categories, it was going to be challenging and we were up for it! Jess, Gina and myself were the only ones racing this time as other girls are still due to finish their accreditations to ride the velodrome, but they turned up for much needed support. Huge thanks to Marigold, Tara, Katie and Celeste for screaming our names when we were flying by. We couldn’t really do it without you and you know it.

We started the racing with a warm up, closely followed by elimination, 10k points and 5k scratch events and boy it wasn’t easy. You could tell that everyone was in a great shape and with some well known clubs, such as Dulwich Paragon and VCL bringing their strongest riders, we expected the pace to crank up a notch! At one point I got lapped almost 3 times by the main group in a 40 lap points race, but the main reason I raced was not about winning (not quite there yet), but to gain much needed track experience and give myself a goal over winter. Train hard, get fit, kick some ass, inspire others to race track and most importantly have fun with my posse.

The next event is on Thursday, the 26th of November, so we will be getting ready for it with plenty of training already booked in our diaries. Watt bike sessions, spin classes, turbo trainers and of course pizza eating will be commencing over the next few weeks in preparation for it. If you have any special training tips and tricks, let us know otherwise, we will see you on track!

​​Lina & Velociposse crew