“Figuring out the Point” by Ellen Mc Dermott
Cycling can be a royal pain in the ass sometimes, and not just literally. I had a race last Saturday in the only place in Holland which has hills. A furiously popular destination for races and last weekend it was the run of the Volta Limburg Classic. The organisers have a logistical challenge on their hands while they provide races for the men and the women at the same time. Now I did this race last year, as an individual, and it was actually my first race in Holland that year. So I had NO IDEA what to expect, I barely looked at the route. That was super idiotic and needless to say I was positioned poorly and was out the back almost immediately. I was in a group with about 10 other girls and we were pulled out of the race 70km later. This was understandable because there are only so many ambulances to go around and the main peloton is the priority.
So this year comes around, I’m riding full time, I have a mega new bike, I’ve leaned up, I’m training like a hooligan and I was joined on the start line by a full squad of Team Nord Holland lassies! And best of all I now knew the route, so I knew where to be and when. The difference this time was that there were squads of UCI teams on the start line; Sunweb, Boels and Park Hotel Valkenburg (last year’s winners) I still wasn’t deterred, it was all about positioning. So I was at the front on the first ascent, which cruely comes after 6km, and it’s followed by a further 15km of crazy up and down, and because the aforementioned rode like maniacs over this terrain the bunch was split to pieces after 20km. The break was gone and the peloton was split into two bunches. Big bunches, like 40–50 in each. After about 60km there were a measly 3 minutes separating the two groups and lo and behold alongside us comes a race commissaire and tells us our race is over, pull out. I couldn’t believe it, despite every ounce of sweat and tears (actually let’s throw in blood there too) I’m still a DNF at the Volta Limburg Classic with only 70km of the 114km completed.
What the hell is the point!??! Well, I’ll tell ya, because the next day, I donned the spots of Boompods and rocked up with my new friend Tessa at the Wielerronde van Oploo and was totally switched on and was ready to but the past in my behind! (Thanks Pumbaa)
It’s a pretty easy circuit, but makes for a really fast race! I tried an attack after a few laps coming out of a corner and got a gap but was quickly reeled back in. A rider from Loving Potatoes got a good gap from us and she was gone for half the race. It settled behind for a time and then the team of Mexx-Watersly threw all their firepower at the front and sent off attack after attack. I went with one and coming out of a corner looked back and realised I was on my own again. Sod it, I thought, just put the head down and ride. Then joy of joys I was joined then by 7 other girls, 3 of which were Mexx. We worked well and caught up with the lone escapee. And then it got a bit hard. There were attacks left right and centre and I realised one of the Mexx lasses was being saved till the end so I thought well let’s just sit here and see what happens. The last lap, her teammate gets to the front and smashes the pace to lead her out, holy God how I tried to hold that wheel in front! Into the last corner and said wheel accelerates and dive-bombs the lead-out. Well, I wasn’t expecting that but I was still second out of the corner and managed to stay in that position across the line.
So that’s why I do it I guess. It was cool being in the break all race and to finish it off with a podium. I have so much to thank the guys at Big Bear for setting me up with the new bike. Between the new position, the aero frame and it being so responsive, I have no worries about it being able to cope being flung into corners, tossed over cobbles and generally being FAST!!!