After the success of last year’s inaugural Cycling Development North West women’s road race league, I was approached by Carley Brierley, a female coach in Blackpool, to assist her with developing some women’s race training sessions for women in the New Year, which Huw Williams has instigated.
After an overwhelming response, and all three sessions being oversubscribed within a week of going live, I decided that it would be a good idea to try and ease the move into road racing for women by including a novice league within the women’s league, especially given that there seems to be less early season circuit races (in the North West at least) this year.
Last year, a guy called Sean Jackson, of Cucina Cycles in the North East, provided some sponsorship money which I used for the Most Improved Rider Award and the Most Tenacious Rider Award. This year, we will be scrapping these awards and, instead, the money will be used to provide for the leaders in the Novice League.
You might think that I have gone off on a tangent with this concept, however the women who took part in the CDNW women’s league last year really improved as road racers as the season progressed. The races were aimed at developing confidence whilst being encouraging, with 100% (yes, that’s right 100%) of the women who completed my end of survey said that they would definitely recommend the races to a friend, and with this in mind, some novice women racers might be put off about joining the league thinking they don’t have a chance. But by holding a separate “mini-league” I hope to reach out to those women so that they will have an opportunity for a race within a race. Ultimately, there aren’t enough women to hold two separate races, but I know from experience that racing with second and third category women is much better than racing with fourth category men!
So ladies, if you want to get into racing, here is your chance! You will need a full racing licence (as you are racing on the open road) however if you are thinking of racing anyway, a day licence costs at least £10, so if you plan on doing more than three races, you will save money by purchasing a full licence. For the record, I am not a sales person for British Cycling, I am just someone trying to persuade more women to have a go at the sport I enjoy.
If you haven’t bought BC membership yet, you can find more about it here: http://www.britishcycling.org.uk/membership
If you like the thought of giving racing a go and would like to register for the league, as a woman you don’t need to be a member of an affiliated club – it costs £5 to register for the league and you have to agree to marshal a race (it can be one you are riding if you can find somebody to do the marshalling for you): https://www.britishcycling.org.uk/club/subscriptions?&club_id=6406
Women’s Guide to Racing – Part 2
What do I enter?
So, hopefully you’ve read my first part of my guide to racing and, hopefully, it has helped unravel the category and points system that British Cycling currently use. In addition, I gave a brief synopsis of the different types of race that you can take part in as a rider. Which leads to the inevitable question, “which races should I enter?”
1) What do you want to achieve?
Well, let’s start at the beginning. First of all, you need to decide what your goals are going to be, especially if this is your first season. Goals should always be “SMART” – which stands for:
S – Specific – choose a specific goal – e.g. I want to ride a 10 mile time trial in under 30 minutes or I want to gain enough points to obtain my 3rd category licence (the latter will require a number of additional goals in order to achieve this).
M – Measurable – it is difficult to look at progress unless you pick goals that are measurable – e.g. by time or distance for a time trial, or staying with the bunch for the whole race (easier said than done, sometimes).
A – Adjustable – be flexible – if you find that your goal is easier than you thought (for example, you manage to do 28 minutes for your first 10 mile time trial when you wanted to do 30 minutes), adjust your goal to 27:30, maybe, or in the case of a road or circuit race, if there are only 15 people in the race, you might adjust your goal for the race to be in the top ten.
R – Realistic – the goals you set yourself need to be challenging but achievable – there is no point setting yourself a goal that is too difficult to achieve because you will become disillusioned, disappointed and give up but on the other hand, you don’t want goals that are too easy, as you won’t feel a sense of achievement upon reaching your target which again leads to disappointment. However, how challenging your goals are also depends on how confident you are – there is no reason why your first goals can’t be easier to help you grow your confidence, with your goals becoming more challenging as your confidence develops.
T – Time-based – have a long-term goal in mind but have short-term goals to help you reach it – there’s no point having a goal of riding a 10 mile time trial in 25 minutes in 5 years’ time, or winning a National Series Road Race by 2016, if you have no short-term goals to get you there. Having a long-term objective is good, it helps you to remember what you want out of the sport, but 5 years is a long time – it’s much better to have goals that you can see coming up in your calendar in one or two month’s time, as it keeps you focused, enthusiastic and keen.
2) I have my goals – what should I look for in a race?
Well, firstly, even if you’ve had a go at racing before, you never know what you’re going to like until you’ve done a few different types of races. At the beginning, you want to look at races that are maybe near to you, that aren’t too long and aren’t too technically demanding.
This is an important point to make – some of the newer closed circuits are narrow and have tight bends, with a lot of corners, which means that if you aren’t used to racing elbow to elbow with fellow cyclists, they can be a bit intimidating. In addition, smaller circuits can mean more corners, which can mean you end up sprinting out of every corner – and when they come every 20 metres, it gets tiring very quickly, which means that you can lose concentration if you’re not used to it. That can then lead to stupid mistakes, which can lead to pointless crashes – I have witnessed that.
Grand Prix des Dames (Blackpool) ©Chris Maher – www.ChrisMaher.co.uk
Having said that, you should also look at the category of riders that can ride in the race. For example, a race specifically open to 3rd and 4th category female riders may be slightly less physically demanding than a race open to all category women (including elites), as 3rd category riders do not as a whole tend to be as fast as elites and first category riders. That’s not to say that third category riders don’t know what they’re talking about – you may learn a lot from them, if you are a fourth category rider, and you should never write anybody off on paper.
The positive thing about circuit races is that they are usually on purpose built circuits, closed to traffic, so you don’t have to worry about oncoming traffic in the race. Having said that, as I’ve said above, some circuits can be quite narrow, and you may not be too keen at sprinting out of corners for 40 or 50 minutes. In which case, you might like to try road racing, which are held on circuits on the open roads, which also mean that they are open to oncoming traffic.
But that isn’t something to necessarily be afraid of – when you go out on your bike with your mates, you ride on the open road, right? The only thing that you need to remember is that your safety is paramount, which means that your concentration is extremely important.
For your first road race, if possible, pick a race that isn’t too long in distance. There’s a big jump between riding a race around a closed circuit for between 40 and 50 minutes and riding a 45 or 50 mile road race, which could last as long as 3 hours. The CDNW women’s road race league events have been chosen as they are a good distance between the circuit race events and the Team Series events and National Road Race Series events, with the shortest event being 32 miles and the longest about 40 miles (see later). Also, if possible, try and pick an event that is open to lower category riders, as the speed will not be as high as an event open to elites and first category riders; however, this is not always possible, but remember that any race is not only a learning curve, it is also training (remember my point about setting goals).
The final point about road races is that there will be marshals on the circuit, usually positioned at junctions and “pinch points” for traffic. A marshal’s job is to warn traffic of the race that is approaching, not to tell you which way to go – it is your job as a rider to know the course. The marshal cannot stop traffic either, however some road races have the addition of motorbike marshals, called the National Escort Group (“NEG”), who help with the control of traffic (and do a marvellous job too!)
3) So what events can I enter?
Remember that you can enter any event open to your category – so, if you are a fourth category female rider, you can enter any events with a “W4” category, which unfortunately means that you can’t enter any National Series Road Races, but again I revert you to my point about goals above. As a third category female rider (“W3”), you can enter any events with a “W3” category, and so on, and so on.
There are a number of events for 3rd and 4th category ladies only being held at the Cyclopark in Kent, under the “Winter in the Park Series”. These events are 32 miles long and you set off with the female elites, first and second category riders (possibly a few seconds after them) BUT it will be a separate race. If you’re based down South, that’s definitely one I would check out. There are events being held at the new Odd Down Circuit in Bath and there have also been a series at Preston Park in Brighton.
Further north, in the Midlands, there are quite a few circuits, including Shrewsbury Sports Village, Stourport and Tudor Grange in Solihull. Over the hill into Derbyshire and there are a number of races that are being held for women at the Darley Moor Circuit near Ashbourne.
In North Wales, there will be a variety of events at Marsh Tracks, Rhyl, which is a great circuit for developing confidence.
Over in Yorkshire, there are loads of events being held at the new York Sport circuit (yes, you’ve guessed it) in York, with a few also at Richard Dunne, Bradford and possibly some at Dishforth in North Yorkshire.
In the North West, there are races planned for Salt Ayre, Lancaster as well as Palatine, Blackpool and some evening events at Tameside, Ashton-under-Lyne.
All of these events also have races for the men, so your other half/club mates/etc can also race which makes it a fun day out. As I have mentioned, this is not an exhaustive list, just some races that caught my eye.
My choice for road races would be the Cycling Development North West (“CDNW”) Women’s Road Race League. This is a league of seven events which were piloted in the North West last year, as stepping stone events between circuit races and the longer road races that you get with National Series Road Races (such as the Cheshire Classic) and Team Series events (such as the Bedford 3 Day). The first event is on 1 March 2014, at 12:00pm at Pimbo Industrial Estate, Skelmersdale, over 32 miles. This circuit is about 2 miles long, is one way (so no oncoming traffic), has wide sweeping bends and has wide roads. A perfect circuit for your first road race, in my opinion. It is also only open to 2nd, 3rd and 4th category women riders, making it top of my list of races for first time road racers. See www.cdnw.org for further information and how to enter. In addition, British Cycling’s Yorkshire Region have also joined the #partyontheroad and have launched the first Yorkshire Women’s Road Race Series, targeted at the same level of rider for 2014. The first event is the Sheffrec CC Spring Road Race on 13 April 2014.
These events are supported by the motorbike NEG marshals, for extra protection.
If you find that you like road racing, you might like to try a stage race. Stage races can last anything from two stages (for example a circuit race followed by a road race), to a number of days – for domestic riders, the Irish Ras na mBan is probably one of the longest stage races that women can ride, with six stages over the course of five days.
A good event to try would be the stage race being promoted by David Williams of Holme Valley Wheelers on 6 & 7 June 2013 – it’s run in conjunction with a men’s two day stage race, both of which start on the Friday evening.
These events are slightly different from road races – British Cycling events usually have a closing date of 21 days, although this has reduced for some events where you can enter online – in addition you can enter “on the line” at some British Cycling events, which means that you can just turn up and enter on the day. However, with time trials, the system is slightly different – there is a good guide on the Cycling Time Trials website – http://www.cyclingtimetrials.org.uk/Beginners/EnteringTimeTrials/tabid/635/Default.aspx You will also need to be a member of an affiliated club, which the above link should also take you to.
So, hopefully this section of my Women’s Guide to Racing has shown you that you should have an idea in mind before entering anything about what you want to achieve, which shouldn’t be too challenging to start off with. Many women have been put off by the concept that they think they aren’t good enough, when in actual fact they are fit or fast enough, but they just don’t have the confidence in themselves to take that step into the unknown. Women’s cycling is growing at the moment – you will find that there are plenty of people to provide encouragement. There are no “standards” to find out whether you are fast enough – the only way to find that out is to have a go. There are plenty of different types of races to have a go at – some people might be better suited to circuit races, whereas others might prefer to go it alone against the clock in a time trial, and other people might prefer longer road races.
I guess that there are a few things to take from this article: set realistic goals, you can enter whatever race you like (category dependent) and you may be better suited to some events than others, but if you don’t try you will never know. Have the confidence to give it a go and you never know, you might find that it’s really enjoyable!
You’ve decided on what events you are going to enter and now need to know what type of training to do. I’ll have some tips to try as well as a brief synopsis of current thinking, to help you be prepared for your race.
In the meantime, enjoy riding your bikes and stay safe!
Click below to read:
Part One – Where Do I Start?
Part Three – What training should I do?
Part Four – Practice! Practice! Practice!
Part Five – Are You Ready To Race?
Part Six – Race Day
Part Seven – Circuit Racing
With the recent announcements that Maxgear RT’s women’s squad (the Maxgearettes) have made recently, I thought it would be a good idea to catch up with the girls to find out what has been happening in their world. The riders for next season are Nicola Soden, Melissa Bury, Lauryn Therin, Frankie White, Eve Dixon and Jo Blakeley, together with the Team Manager, Ian Bury
The Maxgearettes line up has changed slightly ready for next season. Have you changed your targets as a team for next season?
N (@nicolasoden) – As a team, the targets will be broadly similar to last year – National Road Race Series, Team Series, Tour Series and Track Nationals although the way in which they are targeted will change. The team will use a planned approach to each race based on differing courses and rider strengths. Each rider also has personal objectives within each race. There are a couple of stage races some of us would like to ride in Ireland and Jersey (Lauryn’s home turf) and we plan to make a few trips over to Belgium again.
M (@smelissabury) – This year we are aiming to have more of a presence as a team at the national series and team series races. This will hopefully enable us to get to know each other well and get to know each others riding styles so we can work to every ones strengths.
L (@lauryntherin) – From our initial team meetings we have all agreed that our targets for the coming season are to be process focused not outcome focused. A strong team ethic and developing as a group of riders who support one another is an integral part of this process. From this, we see our team developing significantly and it’s something we are all very much looking forward to.
J (@jo_blakeley) – This season we have both team and individual targets which will no doubt develop over the winter and racing season as we learn what each others strengths are and how we can work together. I think its important to allow both focuses to maximise the team potential.
You’ve brought some new riders into the fold, how do you think they will fit within the team’s dynamic?
I (@rugbyleague1) – We are delighted to have both Jo and Lauryn on board, they both bubble enthusiasm and bring new things to the team. Lauryn has an extremely exciting sporting background including world class Bobsleigh and has proved in the National Track Champs this year that she is a particularly good sprinter! Jo is very strong at Time Trial, so both riders will add new strengths to the team which should allow us to target more race types. The new team mates also means that five of our six riders are now based in Manchester within 5miles of each other, which should allow us to socialise and train better as a team, rather than just meeting up at races.
F (@frankiewhite7) – They are fitting in perfectly already! I went out with Jo on the MTB last weekend and we had great fun!
E (@eve_dixon) – We all get on really well and enjoy cycling together rather than cycling as individuals, I also think it is the strongest line up we’ve had in Maxgear in the three years I’ve been on the team!
M – After a couple of team meetings I am very excited about the new riders for next year. It will bring and open up new and different opportunities for races, as each of our riders have different strengths.
L – Being one of the new riders myself, I can see already that each individual brings something exciting to the dynamic of the team. And the best bit is, we haven’t even been out on our bikes yet!
J – I’d like to think I fit quite well into the team dynamic!! We all get on well and work/study in a variety of different areas so we all bring something a little different to the table. We also all want to
ride as a team – which I believe is one of the most important things.
Have you seen any increased level of interest since the Olympics/Paralympics, with people approaching your team for help?
E – no but there has been a rise in interest to join the team
M – We have seen an increased level of interest this year, however many seemed to be seasoned riders, so I am not sure if it was the Olympic/Paralympics that triggered this.
L – From discussions with Ian, I am aware that a number of girls contacted him displaying their interest and this was certainly more than previous years. For this reason, it is all the more important that I work hard to prove to the squad I was the right rider to choose.
How do you expect the season to unfold next year? There are new races on the calendar in the North West, how do you expect this to impact on your team?
N – It is great to see the development of a new women’s league as part of the CDNW series limited to 2/3/4 category women. It is a brilliant step forward in womens cycling in the UK as there is currently only racing available at National Level, sometimes against some of the countries or even worlds best riders. The alternative are short criteriums on closed circuits and not much in between. This new series fills this gap, offering road racing more in line with the mens split E/1/2, 3/4 system. The series will be extremely beneficial to our team as it will allow our riders to practice team tactics, build confidence and try things they may not get chance to in a National level race.
E – All new races are good for the whole of the country I think there will be women prepared to travel if they are well run events rather than just cyclists in the North West.
F – We’re really excited about the CDNW 2W/3W/4W series mainly because it should give us an opportunity to be able to dominate races as a team but also because they are local it means our family and friends can come watch.
M – I am very pleased that there are more races being put on in the North West, as I am at Manchester University so it makes getting to races a lot easier! Also a lot of the team have work commitments, so being able to get to and from a race in a day is a massive help both financially and time wise.
L – As a team we have already planned an idea of what we would like our season to look like. The North West based races is something we will target and we are confident about our team working hard for one another.
J – It’s great there’s some events close by. It’s the nature of women’s racing at the moment that races are few and far apart. To have a set of races that are close to home is great news. I’m looking
forward to them.
How would you like domestic women’s cycling to evolve?
F – Personally I would like to see even greater advancements on those made with the entry level CDNW 2W/3W/4W series this year. When I first had a go at racing 18 months ago there didn’t seem to be a great deal out there for those unable to keep with an elite women’s bunch. Jenny Gretton has done a brilliant job with season starter crits at Tameside and Palatine Circuit, but these don’t last the whole season. Things are obviously changing, though until a hoard more ladies turn up, beginners will only continue to try and hang on to the super speedy for much of the season.
E – I would like it to become more feasible for the women to be the best they can and get a wider range of cycling in Britain rather than just an elitist sport with very few individuals getting the support.
M – As I race in Belgium a lot, I would love to see closed roads in Women’s racing. This seems to increase the quality of racing as the riders don’t have to worry about cars, and closed roads just seem to make the event more impressive.
J – I’d like to see more women taking cycling further and more publicity for womens’ cycling. This has definitely grown recently with the Olympics but there’s still a lot of people who don’t realise about the cycling groups/activities that are available around the corner. I didn’t know until just after I started cycling that there was a grass track at the park which we often went to – there’s so many different types of cycling and not enough people who know about them.
There are a number of new networks that have popped up on facebook for of regional groups for women’s cycling, so this should help massively.
LWCR 2012 Presentation Image © Josephine Hartfiel
It’s been another great, year for the LWCR league, sponsored by Rapha and Motion Junkies in 2012.
Rapha hosted the League Awards party last Friday at their new Rapha Cycle Club in Soho, with lots of pink, and black goodies handed out.
Lydia Boylan from Look Mum No Hands! RT finished first individual for the second year running, having maintained her position at the head of the league from start to finish. Second and third places went to Emily Bagnall of WyndyMilla UK Youth and Astrid Wingler of London Phoenix, who both put up a good fight throughout the season. The team prize was won by Look Mum No Hands! RT for the second year in a row, with WyndyMilla UK Youth and Pearson CC in second and third, respectively.
Other 2012 awards:
Most Improved Rider — Alexie Shaw, Dulwich Paragon
Best New Rider — Jasmijn Muller, Kingston Wheelers
Rapha Award: Most Tenacious Rider of the Season — Charlie Easton, Look Mum No Hands! RT
Best 3rd cat – Helen Ralson, Pearson CC
Lanterne Rouge (lowest placed rider who is present on the night) – Sarah Strong, Dulwich Paragon
Lydia commented, “I honestly didn’t think I’d win the league again this year. The talent in ladies racing in London is growing year on year. I knew this year the competition would be tough and that’s exactly how it was. The girls are really showing more tactical knowledge and racing as a team which is giving really exciting racing that always gives a deserving
LWCR 2012 Toast – Image © Josephine Hartfiel
winner at the end. It ended up being a really close match between me and Emily which meant every race in the league mattered to improve on overall points. I’m really looking forward to another exciting league next year.”
Sarah Cary of Corvida Allpress, a novice racer in 2012, said “I really enjoyed learning how to race this year. After many years of club riding, sportives and a trial circuit or two last summer, this year was a fun challenge. The start line and the first 10 minutes are always nerve-racking, but the as the season went on I got better at reading the race and started feeling confident enough to join in breaks and enjoy the competition. Everyone’s been friendly and supportive.”
The 2012 league consisted of 11 race and time trial events in London and the South East between April and August, with prizes up for grabs for both individuals and teams. With over 75 riders competing from 18 teams in 11 races from March to September, there was a big field to learn from and make friends with. The league is open to everyone, from novices to elites.
For more information visit: www.londonwomenscycleracing.com
Rank Rider Club
Lydia Boylan – Look Mum No Hands! RT – 220
Emily Bagnall – Wyndymilla UK Youth – 212
Astrid Wingler – London Phoenix – 170
Anna Grundy – Look Mum No Hands! RT – 166
Elise Sherwell – Look Mum No Hands! RT – 162
6 Karla Boddy
- High Wycombe CC – 160
– Corvida Allpress – 126
Helen McKay –
Look Mum No Hands! RT – 124
– Pearson CC – 114
– Look Mum No Hands! RT – 108
- Pearson CC – 108
- Wyndymilla UK Youth – 108
– Dulwich Paragon – 97
– Wyndymilla UK Youth –
– Pearson CC – 95
Natalie Creswick – Mulebar Girls –
– Kingston Wheelers – 89
- Kingston Wheelers – 82
Vikki Filsell –
Pearson CC – 79
- Look Mum No Hands! RT – 78