Quality Quality Quality

by Alice

It’s March. And I have spent the winter months procrastinating (both uni work and general life). So I am pretty unfit.

In steps the lovely Tom, who has graciously agreed to coach me ==>>I have a training plan.

March is all about race fitness and learning.

As most of my races will be criteriums we’re not worrying so much about base endurance but focusing on speed. Thus I will be enjoying* myself on the turbo very frequently this month.

*probably not

Luckily the weather has been kind and I’ve been appreciating the scenic views of my back garden each day as I crack out another session. Quality not quantity.

My mantra: quality quality quality quality quality.....

So the turbo is where I’m doing the hard work. And Tameside is for learning.

Introducing Tameside (for the non-northerners or lesser educated – choose for yourself)

Tameside is a 1km floodlit closed circuit track that is on the outskirts of Manchester, in Ashton-under-Lyne. It is looked after and run by the Tameside Cycling Development Group.

Throughout this month British Cycling are hosting Monday night training sessions for women, as an introduction to racing. This series of training evenings are backed up with three women’s starter races on Sundays starting on the 11th of March.

(Here’s a BC article about the project)

Luckily a few of the uni girls are interested in getting into racing too so we’ve been able to attend the last two sessions.

On our first visit it poured with rain for the entire time and we got absolutely soaked! However it was massively good fun and we all enjoyed it greatly (even Lucy, who was riding her boyfriends bike and thus couldn’t reach the drops or even her brakes – sketchy!).

Before it got dark and before it rained in earnest.

This Monday it was a little bit different. Unfortunately (for us) Lucy had done a five hour MTB race the day before which meant whizzing round Tameside wasn’t really on the cards for her. This meant we no longer had a people carrier for transport….thus I made the one and a half hour journey by train to Stalybridge (via Manc Piccadily) in order to be able to attend.

You could say that was rather extreme, especially seeing as it was merely a training night and not an actual race – you’d probably be right- however last week’s was SO FUN that I couldn’t bear to miss it.

However, once the transport issues had been surmounted, everything was rosy! The weather was dry, although nearing zero, and we had another great session of practicing starts, group riding and an 8 lap race to finish up with.

The sessions get a complete mixture of riders attending; from BC supported riders and trade teams through to your keen leisure cyclist. There was even a lady on a hybrid wearing trainers this week.

The track is short and has a pretty sharp hairpin at one end that can result in panicked braking from the less confident riders, but also other bigger, swoopy turns that are great fun to take.

A guy from BC takes the training sessions and rides round amongst us shouting out commands for group/individual sprints or keeping us organised in through and off practice.

It’s all well thought out, with a good half an hour of gentle warm up and practicing group techniques before anything speedy occurs. We also change direction throughout the evenings so that we practice cornering both ways (I definitely am more confident one way than the other…)

At about 2030h the session finishes and we all go back our separate ways. Luckily for me, last night, Nicky had managed to borrow her mum’s car (which is slightly bigger than Nicky’s own) and we were able to squeeze all three bikes in. This was great news for me otherwise I would have been faced with a very lengthy train journey back only arriving into Sheffield train station at 2319h – not the nicest of times.

So a nice warm car journey home over Snake’s Pass and (almost) straight to bed.

It was a *tight* fit

Quality not quantity. I’m beginning to suffer from the high intensity of my training and too much travelling/early mornings for work/excitement/over-keeness. I’m pretty knackered. This week’s training will be somewhat lighter, but if I’m on top of things by the weekend I have the green light from Tom to do the first Tameside race on Sunday! Excited much!!!

Gonna be a sprinter pigeon!
 
Disclaimer: I may not even be a good sprinter, yet to test it out in proper race circumstances, although I ‘won’ most of the mini sprints at Tameside so maybe my name is not entirely unsound.
 

After March and whatever ‘experience’ races I get done, we will be entering actual racing month. I will be riding a LWCR [edit: this is actually a team series event]  race at Hog Hill on Good Friday with the rest of the honey badger team and a race at Hillingdon a little bit later in the month.

The main aim of my training at the moment is, however, the BUCS 10 TT which is on the 21st of April.

Soon after that I will finally finish university FOR EVER and I can start real life. Because Tom and I are not yet entirely 100% certain of where we’ll be after graduation, I haven’t chosen any other races to enter yet. We’ll come to that when we get there.

EXCITING TIMES!

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