I had recently decided that I wanted to try entering some cycling road races, and had been giving it some thought for some time now. I guess its a little to do with the coaching sessions I have recently attended, but at the same time I was thinking that I wasn’t quite ready yet, that I wasn’t strong enough. Several weeks prior also I had turned up to an event held locally to me, again giving it some thought about trying and then decided against it on the day. I turned up and felt intimidated by the event which resulted in me being quite annoyed with myself, well more genuinely gutted that I hadn’t even tried. It takes courage to try something new and to push yourself out of your comfort zone, and I admire anyone who just has a go. I then saw a saying recently ‘if we wait until we’re ready, then we will be waiting for the rest of our lives’ and with the mentality of ‘why wait’, i went ahead and gave it a go. Well that was one of the reasons anyway.
I see so many women’s event organisers pleading for entries. It saddens me a little that they a struggle almost to put these events on, and I feel a responsibility myself to try and support them. I want to have the chance to be able to race next year, following a hopefully successful winter training session. I don’t want to loose these events. A local club was organising an event, and the usual the announcements going out that they were short on entries. I have seen this so much throughout the summer.
Well I was dropped very early on but totally glad I tried. It felt better than the time when I didn’t try! I was dropped due to my own mistake more than anything else and then not yet being strong enough to get back on when the pace was high. Road racing is a tactical game as much as it is about strength and fitness. Everyone has to start somewhere though, and that’s not the end for me. I felt that possibly the field was largely dominated by some impressively strong cat 2 riders, a level well above me. I get the impression many of these girls have been racing for quite a long time, having come through as juniors and it just makes me ask the question about entry into racing for a female novice like myself.
Racing categories work so that everyone starts as a cat 4 rider. You work your way up based on points won up, and if successful for those athletes all the way up to elite status. You can read more about the points on the British cycling website.
To me it’s a ‘chicken and egg’ situation in that there aren’t a whole load of cat 3/4 events around, but equally there doesn’t seem to be the entrant numbers either. One has to come first. If there aren’t enough entrants then they won’t offer the events, and yet everyone entering a race wants to have a race and not be totally out classed. However I do feel that female riders have a responsibility to support the events too. What actually is there to lose with just having a go? You never know until you try, and you ride with stronger riders and it only makes you stronger too. I just feel that to get better and to move forward you have to push yourself a little out of your comfort zone. If more riders tried, then there would be a more evenly matched fields.
So whats next? Keep trying! I have found a cat 3/4 race coming up next month which I plan to give my best shot, other than that keep up the training into next years season.
Thanks to my sister Katie who came along to support us on the day and take some brilliant photos. Some of these are shown in this post, and the full gallery can be seen on our gallery page.