So I got to the Velodrome. I had my Bianchi, I had Thor on a turbo, I had a (borrowed) Cambridge CC skinsuit; I was ready to go. There was, mercifully, a 40min warm up free session on the track (once the GB Team Pursuit team had left I SAW ED CLANCY AND CHRIS HOY!!!!!!!!!) so I clipped in and threw myself at the siberian pine.
OH SHIT OH SHIT OH SHIT OH SHIT.
FUCKING HELL IT'S STEEP. The straights were OK, but the banking... well fuck. 42 degrees is quite a lot of degrees of inclination. Yeah. Welwyn is not that steep.
My survival tactic was to basically cycle as fast as possible so I didn't fall off (cuz SCIENCE). And that was how I found myself utterly belting it round the Manchester Velodrome along with about 50 other people weaving all over the place while trying to crush my fear of dying as far down into my soul as possible. (Internal monologue: Anna ANNA look people are cycling slower than you on this banking and they are not slipping off STOP BEING A FUCKING WUSS *deep breath* that's it, a bit higher on the banking... HIGHER MOTHERFUCKER WHAT ARE YOU? A COWARD??!?!?
And then the U23 Team Pursuit went past underneath me at full pelt literally inches from me and I almost shit myself.
I got off the track, HR somewhere about 300bpm (ADRENALIN - MUST NOT DIE - PUSH HARDERRRRRRRRRRRR TO NOT DIE) and got ready for my first race.
|Look at me, totally getting on my turbo (I can't use rollers SADFACE) with shoe covers on and wheel bags all around and all that shit SO PRO.|
|Such an attractive face. Also guys GUISE please note vague calf definition (that's a first). Winning.|
|This is quite a cool shot as you can see the previous person going off in the background. Also note pimped Bianchi w/ trispoke and disc and that oooooooooo.|
A nice man holds your bike so they can put it in the start gate (START GATE! Like, not a twelve year old boy on a pontoon - and actual pnumatic start gate! Such novelty.) - I'm not just being a lazy so and so at this point.
Here is a close up of me desperately trying to look pro.
Yes, I am wearing sunglasses under a visor because FUCK YOU THAT'S WHY*
*Actual mundane reason: I couldn't see otherwise because my glasses wouldn't fit :(
And it totally looks badass.
Here I am almost kicking one of the race
Totally ready to go:
COUNTDOWN (last two blips = stand the fuck up ready to throw your weight forward)
GO GO COURAGE LEGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I stamp on the pedals for 1/2 a lap, trying to get the
*Yes, I did actually write this the first time.
Last (second!) lap! KEEP GOING.
And that's it. Over.
|Successful me-at-finish shot.|
So, how did I do?
Well. Honestly, I got utterly DESTROYED. Like wiped off the face of the earth destroyed. Like arse handed to me on a plate destroyed. Came 18th out of 22 in the 500mTT and didn't even qualify with my flying 200m for the individual sprint.
I'll be honest, at the time is really fucking hurt. That kind of result just *burns*. But if I've learnt anything it's that you've got to (a) not beat yourself up over shit and (b) look at stuff with some degree of context. Yeah sure, I totally just embarrassed myself but heck, if I'd shown up at (rowing) Nat Champs in a 1x, with three months of sculling under my belt and no racing experience, well you're going to get thumped and thumped fucking hard.
Did I embarrass myself? Yes, a bit. Did I learn a lot? Yep. Will I do it again? FUCK YES. I have a sneaking suspicion that this may mark the end of my rowing career (career?) for a while and the beginning of a cycling adventure.
Because adventures are fucking fun.
The other thing I was going to write about was the Women's World Champ road race (and yes I *know* I promised to write about the Olympics and all that at some point but I haven't because I am being crap.) For those of you who don't follow women's cycling (which I'm guessing is most of you), Marianne Vos is The Complete and Utter Shit in cycling at the moment. She is basically a freight train on a bike. Here she is winning the Olympic Road Race earlier in the year:
|(Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)|
So, we skip to the last two (10 mile) laps of an eight-lap race. We have a five-woman break 30s ahead of the peloton which doesn't look very dangerous.
Stuff is getting tense. Marianne Vos does not want this to go to a sprint finish...
So BOOM the move is made. Longo Borghini is the only one capable of bridging the gap too.
At this point those left in the peloton must've got a very bad feeling...
Vos has bridged (taking some effort) and immediately comes to the front of the break and starts upping the pace. That is pretty epic in it's own right. There is another Dutchwoman in the break too so they do a little mini two-man time trial.
The others in the group at this point do precisely fuck all and just try and stay on the Dutch's wheels secretly hoping Vos will tire herself out.
(There is still 20 miles to go at this point by the way. This is some serious commitment.) The time gap to the peloton stretches out and out until it becomes clear the break will not be caught.
At some point in the last lap Becker's and Ratto's legs blow up with Vos's savage pacesetting and they drop off the back.
We are now down to five riders OOOOOOOO HOW EXCITING. Vos has a little tester sprint on the penultimate climb to test everyone's strength. Looks like American Neben and Vos's team mate Anna Van der Bruggen are dying on their arses a bit, but the Aussie Neylen and the Italian Borghini are looking good still. The question on everyone's lips is "Has Vos done too much? Is she going to blow before the finish?"
Final climb, 2.5k to go. The peloton are now 5 mins back. Everyone knows that this is where Vos's move will come and where she will try and rip everyone's legs off....
She hits the steepest bit of the ascent and courage-legs the shit out of it:
Everyone else just breaks and she puts huge distance into everyone. And keeps moving. And moving. Does this woman have an on board motor or something? At the top of the hill there is a 1.1 mile false flat to the finish. She looks behind her, sees just how much she's ripped everyone else's legs off and smiles.
The finish line approaches and she has time to pick up a Dutch flag which is pretty effortlessly cool.
At this point I think a run down of the podium 2007-12 is needed.
|2007 - Fuck.|
|2008 - Fuck.|
|2009 - ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?|
|2010 - FUCKING HELL RAGE|
|2011 - Arghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh fuckitdy fuck fuck|
|2012 - WOOOOOOOOOOOOO FUCK YES!! That is one well deserved rainbow jersey right there. (It is also nice to see the Neylen and Borghini proper full on pleased with their medals too).|
Marianne Vos = freight train. The best (most successful?) female rider ever (oh, and did I mention she's 25?!?!). Just ridiculously good.
*goes and pretends to be Marianne Vos*
P.S. Thanks to Dave Mclean and Mark Holt for the photos of Nat Champs + general mechanic/driver duty! YOU ARE AMAZING.