Friday was the practice day; I woke that morning with a pounding headache and a bad cold, and I wasn't the only one. It seems that 3 of 4 members of my Junior A TTT team also shared the sickness. We coughed and spluttered during our ride on the course, and spent the rest of the day wrapped up in bed.
Saturday the Team Time Trial day; the butterflies in my stomach grew as the time to race came closer. We watched each Baradene team set off, and came back from the 16km race, now it was our turn. Warm up flew past in a heartbeat, I felt nervous, excited, and a little sad as it was our last race together as the Junior A four, but I slid on my aero helmet and immediately forgot about anything but the race which loomed ahead. We rolled out to the start line as one unit, leaving a trail of the minty smell of vick's vaporub.
It was time, I mounted my bike shaking, but the reassuring words of my team members reminded me I had a job to do! 3, 2, 1, and we were off! We swiftly rode into our 'snake-like' formation and started to battle the hard headwind. The race went perfectly, on the day I don't think we could have gone any harder or faster, we won 2nd place and were extremely pleased and proud!
Sunday the Individual Road Race day; 'it's now or never' I told myself as the hill became steeper. I started to up the pace, a bit at a time until there was only two of us, the wind swirled and it started to rain, we needed each other if we wanted to stay out the front. The road race was 16km, starting with a long hill, I raced in the U14 girls grade along with 50 others. A gap was made after the first hill between two of us and the bunch, working together we maintained a small lead until around 5km through the race where I became the 'lone rider'out the front. For the next 3km I just put my head down and worked hard, battling the worsening rain and swirling wind, I was too scared to look back and see where the others were so I just kept riding. I came to the halfway point, and turned into a tail wind, I ventured a look behind me and the bunch was no-where to be seen. I kept my pace up for the remaining 8km and rolled over the finish line with a big smile and over a minute in front of the next rider. I put absolutely everything into that race and I'm so happy that I got a really good result!
Monday the Criterium; the morning was chilly, swirling wind and rain battered on the car as we headed for the Manfield Park Racecourse. The final day contained the last event of the competition, a criterium, the winner is the rider who wins the most points from sprints during the race. The Manfield Park Racecourse is a car racing circuit which the event organizers hire out for the day, each lap is around 3km, filled with technical corners and long straights, a very interesting course. During the fourth and second final lap in the race I had secured the position of first equal, with a total of 8 points, to win, I must cross the line anywhere in-front of the other competitor on 8 points. The pace of the bunch continued to rise as everyone apprehended the final sprint, as we approached the final bend I start to go around the bunch, halfway through the corner I already have 20m on the bunch with my main competitors even further back. But the road was just too slippery, I was going too fast for the amount I was leaning, and the rubber wheels slipped from between my weight. I bought down around 8 others with me but only a couple with more serious injuries. As soon as my body would let me I lept back up from the ground, I had never not completed a race before and I just felt really inspired to keep going. I had around 200m to ride to the finish line, once I straightened my bike up and started riding. It felt like it took ages and my body hurt but I was proud I finished. To my complete surprise I had earned enough points to win second place! After prizegiving we headed straight off the local A & E. After hours getting cleaned up and bandaged we headed back to watch Baradene getting crowned the best cycling girls school in the country for the second year in a row and recieve the AJ Drake cup.
Despite the sicknesses, and crashes it was a rather successful weekend of racing, definitely one to remember, with tonnes of fun, friends, riding and some wins too!