Emma reports from her first race of the year...
(Final version of photo to follow.)
2012, a new race season & for me this also meant new coaches & new team. I was thrilled to be welcomed with open arms into the Cotic/AQR Holidays Race Team/family (that's what it feels like), having previously stated to many people that "all I want to do is ride my Soda"; riding for Cotic/AQR makes perfect sense then :)
I turned up to an exceptionally cold & murky Checkendon having stepped off a plane from the AQR Portugal coaching week less than 12hrs earlier; the temperature drop was at least 15degs if not more!
Out on the practice lap I found things rather slimy at points with some off camber & rooty sections. The tyres were clogging here & grip was an issue but I felt that everyone would be in the same boat. Having practised riding sections of limited grip in Portugal (all be it dry there) I did find applying the same technique worked a treat. Apart from that there was plenty of twisty singletrack to get stuck into which was really lovely.
New again for 2012 was all the women starting together. This was brilliant & provided a great atmosphere. There were six women in the elite category with people wanting to test themselves before the first national race the following week.
I got a good start but couldn't sustain it for that long and soon found myself playing catch up. Not to worry as I was doing four laps. I eventually caught up to Iwona Szmyd & then we both caught Natasha Barry. There then commenced a three way battle & it remained this way for two laps. Half way into the race the open men started & in their first lap adrenaline rush they ended up allowing Iwona to get a larger gap & also caused me to have to dig deep to catch up again after one crashed in front of me. I caught Natasha again & we were together until a badly timed chain dropping incident. After that, whilst I tried as hard as I could I was never able to reign Natasha back in & finished 6th.
This had been a training session for me. I'd been instructed to go as hard as I could & I did, although my legs were complaining on the uphill sections & in the really sticky sections. However, I was really pleased with my performance. I was riding technically well (with Ian's words from the Portugal coaching week echoing in my head!) & my pace was pretty good for someone who has struggled through winter. For the first time in over a year I felt like a racer again & not just a rider making up the numbers.
For all their work so far I have to say a huge thank you to Kate, Ian & Anne. I know this is only the beginning for me & there are plenty of developments to come. Let the adventures continue!