Johnson’s Health Tech Series: Colchester 07 June 2012

By Helen

First of all, huge thanks to Johnson’s Health Tech series organisers and sponsors (these are the women’s races that run alongside the Halfords Tour Series). Holding town centre crits is a brilliant way of showcasing cycling which is itself an underrated sport in the UK, and letting people see the nano-minority sport that is women’s cycle racing. There is no way we can inspire more women to take up the sport if they have no idea it exists.

Secondly, huge thanks to ITV4 for filming and showing highlights of the races. Again it shows what we do to a wider audience and in that audience there may be someone who thinks ‘well goodness I could do that’. Brilliant. Hooray ITV4!

"JHT"

It was wet at the front and the back of the race. Wet.

From a personal perspective, as I yet to be at the sharp end of the action, it is good to see  the girls at the front battling it out (girls, you are amazing!)

Had I heard the commentators saying how ‘greasy’ and dangerous the course was because of the rain, and known about the crashes to come, I’d have never started! Sometimes not knowing is a blessing.

"Johnsons Health Tech" "women's GP series"

It was grim and Pan shows grim determination. This was no picnic. In the home town of Boudica, everyone gritted their teeth and went into battle.

As it turned out, I started off soggy and unhappy, but the crowds’ enthusiasm and later on my team mate’s shouts (Jo punctured so became team screamer) kept me going. By the time the bell went for the last lap, I didn’t want to stop. Some of the girls from other teams who had punctured/pulled out/came off also cheered me on (thanks ladies). It was amazing. I loved it. For me it wasn’t about placings it was about doing what I love: riding my bike as fast as I can.

"Jo McRae" "Johnson's Health Tech" "Colchester"

Even Jo looks like this is not have favourite ride ever, and Jo loves racing in the ice – brrrrr.

As I pulled over after, some of the spectators congratulated me on my ride. I don’t know if they knew I was nearer the back than the front. I don’t know that they cared. My panted greeting to them was ‘Oh I feel sick’ but they looked beyond that. My eyes searched for a bin. I genuinely think they were just pleased to see women racing. To see us exerting ourselves and showing that we are willing to race to our limits whatever they may be that day (we all have good and bad days/seasons).

"Colchester" "wet race"

As the laps went by I enjoyed it more and more – no joke!

Thank you everyone who was there in Colchester, for standing out in the rain for us. You gave the race that ‘ole Johnson’s Health Tech magic. Fantastic!

I was moved and flattered to be asked about my riding and about the team. As far as I’m concerned I’m a nobody. But for the 11 year old girl watching in the rain who wants to be an Olympic cyclist I was somebody because I was racing. Perhaps I am just hormonal now but that is making me tearful.

Our race meant something to that young lady. I hope she follows her dreams and I hope that in 10 years’ time that there will be the support there to help her develop.

Stef Wyman recently wrote an interesting piece about the difficulties facing top national riders hoping to develop on the international scene. The interviews with the girls before the race highlighted some of difficulties we all face. Women’s cycling locally, nationally and internationally is worlds’ apart from men’s. There is much to be done at all levels, local to world champion. We will get there!

"GP series" "Colchester"

Girls on the start line. The only photos I could find of Lydia were on the start (2nd row and Jo is doing some weird warm up moves. Best not ask). Lydia must have been going too fast for the camera!

(Thanks to Velo UK for photos. Photographers have a soggy job sometimes, but it is great to see the faces we pull – thx.)

Overall Team Standings, post-Round Three
1)    Matrix Fitness – Prendas, 108pts
2)    Node4 – Giordana Racing, 108pts
3)    VC St Raphael, 58pts
4)    Mule Bar Girls, 50pts
5)    Look Mum No Hands!, 45pts
6)    WyndyMilla UK Youth, 6pts

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