It’s been a muddy month. Mum and the washing machine have been doing overtime to make sure my new santini kit is always clean. Were contemplating asking vanish for some sponsorship, we go through so much.
To start the month off I went to Elveden estate in Suffolk and entered a women’s race. The race was a very wet and cold one which was a huge shame because it would have been a lovely race with some lovely scenery. I was pleased with how the race went and to get my first win for the team.
The 12th march was the day of the MG Maxifuel team launch! It was going to be a jam packed day with a lot of standing around in the freezing cold for photos.I really enjoyed meeting all the sponsors that were on board for the year and all the team meeting up again after our training camp in Spain. The best part of the day though had to be the lunch buffet which was amazing!
After getting my new Windy Milla Bog warrior mountain bike on the Thursday i entered a Gorrick which is a local mountain bike series just so I could get the feel for it in a racing environment. I really loved the bike and the way if handled. I could really feel a massive improvement from my last bike i owned. There is an article on bike radar that went out last week which gave the team and the bike a lot of exposure.
The first round of the NPS was in Sherwood pines on the 24th March. I was really nervous about this race because I was going into the complete unknown. I had no idea how I would do and where I would come. After being grided right at the back of 30 riders I had my work cut out due to the course going straight into a section of single track. I managed to get a really good start and made it to 3rd wheel by the time we got to the second section of single track. The weather had been really bad the last couple of days which meant there was a couple of inches of snow on the course which made it very difficult to ride on. I had to really think about my tyre pressures so I had the right amount of grip for the adverse weather conditions. I was really pleased with 2nd place behind the South African who has been u23 world champion. I hope to keep my form for the next round in Cornwall and get another good result. I am looking into doing a few world cup rounds and to carry on mountain biking at this higher level.
Good Friday was the first round of the women’s team series and we made our way to east London to the the Redbrige circuit or Hog Hill as it is known. The course is really hard with quite a considerable climb in it and after a lot of laps it gets harder and harder and always in the back of your mind is the finish is at the top of it. At the beginning of the race I always get a bit carried away and with the field being 90+ riders of all abilities I was keen to make it hard from the gun. This makes the race safer as the less able riders are spat out the back almost immediately. The plan was to make sure mg-maxifuel were always represented in all brakes that went away. With 2 laps to go the bunch slowed down considerably which meant that everyone was preparing for the finish. I was pleased it was coming down to a sprint and just needed to spend the last couple of laps recovering in th bunch. I made sure I had the inside line and made sure I left it as late as possible. I was really pleased to get the win and pleased that I have some early season form.
After all the bad weather we had in January, I just wanted to get away, there were a group of guys looking for some good weather to train in, going to Majorca. They had a spare room in an apartment so I jumped at the chance and booked the flights straight away. We were pretty lucky, a lot of days were shorts and jersey weather which is very rare at this time of the year. Not knowing, when I booked it but while I was there, the Challenge Majorca races were taking place. This meant all the major world tour teams were there and occasionally, we would come across them while we were out on our bikes. I rode back to my hotel one afternoon with Van Summeran. After 10 days in Majorca it was time to go home, back to the snow and life on the turbo and my mountain bike. This was a lot more bearable knowing that I was jetting off to Spain in 2 weeks time.
On the 16th Feb my sister , brother and I went to London to have a heart scan. I didn’t quite know what to expect from the scan and what the procedure was. Walking into the waiting room I was shocked and pleased with the number of people there. This has become an issue since Mwamba suffered a cardiac arrest on the football pitch. Oddly enough I think because it happened to such a fit healthy athlete people have taken the precaution and had the scan. We all passed with flying colours. The day we went to the hospital the BBC cameras were there. They were shooting a programme called “bang goes the theory” and they asked if Alice and I would feature in it. We were up for this as we had a good story to tell. We mentioned we were cyclists and the charity “CRY” (cardiac risk in the young) which is what happened to Alices friend Lewis Barry and I was able to mention that I was being sponsored by the Lewis Balyckyi fund. I hope they put us in and we don’t end up on the cutting room floor.
This year I have made the bold move and decided to go back to my roots and do the mountain bike season as well as all the road and time trials. I have started doing a few local races and have been successful in them and I am pleased with how I have done. I can’t wait for the season to start and with the team supplying me with a mountain bike I am determined to do well.
This month I have had a lot of sponsor’s events to go to. Santini issued the team kit and some of the bikes have SRAM group sets on. These are all part of Fishers that is a large distributor in U.K. They had a charity ride on Sunday 17th Feb that I had to quickly rush to from a mountain bike race in Surrey in the morning to Essex by 1am. Luckily enough the ride wasn’t very fast and we stopped off at a pub half way round which was good because I had seriously gone into the red during the mountain bike race. On Monday I went on a ride with Magnus Backstedt, not many people can say they went for a ride with a Paris Roubaix winner it was very special. In the evening there was an auction dinner and because MG-Maxifuel is being sponsored by Fishers they wanted a few of the riders to be present. It was a very good evening and I enjoyed getting to know all my sponsors personally.
I was super excited about getting my new road bike hand made in Italy for Windy Milla and couldn’t wait to get out to Spain and ride it. Riding around Spain with all the team, on the same bikes and all wearing the same kit made me feel really proud and made me feel part of a very professional looking team. With Magnus being on the team he suggested we went to Benidorm because that is where he went with Liquigas and he said it was very good. The first few days the weather was good and we got some good training rides in. After being in Majorca a couple of weeks before I was hoping for some good form so was pleased when I was going up the climbs comfortably with the men and could see a noticeable improvement in my climbing. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t typical Spanish weather and took a turn for the worse after day 3. This hampered out plans and we had to train around the weather, which isn’t ideal. We still got some good training in, you just had to man up and deal with the rain and wind. As most training rides go a café stop half way round is a must. I am not a fan of coffee which no one could understand, a cyclist that doesn’t drink coffee…..crazy. I pretty much drank Benidorm out of Lemon Fanta, and always got a laugh when ordering one in my Spanish accent “Fanta Limon” the trip was really good and I enjoyed getting to know all my team mates and everyone is really looking forward to the racing season. It was typical that the day we travelled home the weather was the best it had been all week but that’s life and I was pleased to be going home confident with my form and getting stuck into racing.