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Diary of a teenage (female) bike racer

Diary of a teenage (female) bike racer

My first season of racing has seen its highs and lows. One of my major achievements was being selected to represent the region (Central) at the 2014 Prudential RideLondon youth race. Only one word can sum up my experience of racing here - Amazing!!

The evening started well - after walking into the 'pass only' riders area we immediately bumped into the Wiggle Honda team on their way to sign on, with the soon to be women’s winner Giorgia Bronzini within metres of me!

We kept walking until we found our regional tent amongst the ten other regional teams that were competing. Each team had 4 male and 4 female riders. The youth riders space was next to the Women’s so we could easily spot all of our great cycling idols, Lizzie Armistead, Laura Trot, Marianne Vos and Giorgia among them.

My teammates and I walked around and while waiting for a teammate to visit the loo we spotted two wiggle Honda riders in the queue, one of whom was Giorgia. Turns out she’s an easy going and pretty funny character to talk to - just a little language barrier but that wasn't going to stop us!

After the women finished racing it was our turn and while eagerly waiting to get on to the 1.3 mile central London criterium circuit (which included going past the Queens front door and down the Mall no less) we watched as the last finishing women rode off or hung around for their prizes if they were good enough.

Finally, it was our turn!

We all rode out onto the track riding a lap to familiarise ourselves with the course. The excitement and tension were building up and the moment was immense as the crowd roared us round - we hadn’t even begun our race and already it was the greatest experience ever! Something hard to describe unless you’ve felt it. (Ed - don't rub it in Tasha. We were jealous enough just watching!)

Waiting at the start line was tense, waiting for the word to go, clip in and move off!

Annoyingly the two girls in front of me were slow to get going, but I quickly found a good place to sit in the peloton. There was only one really tricky corner on the course and this provided a few difficulties when passing through as a group as I found out after being forced into jumping a kerb on a traffic island not to crash (Ed - Tasha vs Sagan anyone?). Another unlucky event for me was being stuck behind the only crash of the race (that I am aware of). After having to stop and go around I was one of the lucky few who managed to chase back on to the peloton.

The race went well other than those few blips. I managed to get in every attack but like the women’s race, nothing would stick meaning it came down to a bunch sprint. Unfortunately I chose to sit on the wrong wheel to lead me out so only managed to finish in the middle of the bunch - 23rd - which wasn’t what I was hoping for. A little disappointing after a great race, however our central team managed to get 5th overall in the team event putting us in place for some prize money. This was largely down to Emily's (Wadsworth. MTB nationol champ and talent team member) amazing 4th place.

 

We were told that our lap times were similar to the women’s and the experiences I have gained from this race are going to stay with me for ever. I have taken and learnt so much from this and I will build on this to improve my performance for next time. Thanks to everyone who came out and cheered us all on it made the race that bit more special!

Central Girl's Team Ride London Grand Prix 2014 - Elizabeth Shirley,Alderney Baker, Natasha Reddy,Emily Wadsworth

 

Editor's Hoof note. Tasha's point about the lap times is spot on. We clocked the women's first lap at 2:51 and missed the lead girls as they thundered past at 3:04. Quite incredible and retirement inducing for us older types! Prudential and the Ride London team did a brilliant job, not only for the adjoining festival (60,000 people riding the 10km traffic free route to St Pauls and back during the day is something we will be part of next year) but for the approach they took with the Youths. Basically they got treated same as the Pro's - Same pits, same loos as you've heard above, same interminable wait to get started, same inane music blaring out, TV cameras, commentators,post race interviews and podium. Nice touch with the team kit too which is a great memento that only 4 girls in the world will ever have. Hope they like grey! Not sure about the other 3 girls but Tasha was still wearing hers 5 hours after the event as she propped a proud dad up at the bar of his Standlake local !!