Thursday, 29 November 2012

The bike life balance

I haven't written a blog for some time. This is perhaps because I was too busy, felt I had little on which to comment and rarely discussed racing beyond the realms of immediate family and friends. Although recently I've realised this is because I became disillusioned and stagnant with the hobby. My first season with Champion Systems/Maxgear began with excitement, hunger and a passion to race everything I could enter. At first this was fantastic. I loved racing crits in March at Tameside and Salt Ayre. I enjoyed a period of time trialling in April including Buxton Mountain TT, BUCS 3-up 50km TT and BUCS 25 mile TT. Following this came the Junior National Road Race in South Wales that I entered in support of Eve, our junior rider. It was fantastic and the first time I've ever hung on to a bunch of riders at that level. It was such a beautiful day and I truly ruined myself. Early May brought Banbury Star road race – the favourite, not because I was anywhere near where I wanted to be, but because it was simply epic. We finished covered in mud, completely empty.

Then a rather turbulent, frustrating time began. I had my final year Uni exams, worked too many days at Edinburgh Bicycle Cooperative and unknowingly became fatigued in both body and mind. I thought I'd be fine to go back to training in the aftermath of University. I was definitely not. As I commuted 1 ½ hours on the bike each way to work, most training took place alone. Suddenly most of the support I'd previously enjoyed at races was missing. Eve and Melissa were bogged down with A levels, Lauren was on placement, Hayley lived quite some distance away and Nicola needed time out herself at this stage in the season. I hadn't realised quite how important their presence had been. Sounds like a list of excuses right? That's not what I'm trying to get at. I just think, as many people do, I tried to come back too soon and made the mistake of heading down the motorway in search of races on my own. As a relative beginner, I somehow found the logistics far more stressful than actually racing, and when it came to the race – I did exactly what I'd been training to do; only kept up with myself.

This year I intend to learn from the mistakes of last. I do ride alone occasionally, because I'm perfectly happy with only myself and the Peak District for company. Some moan about the boredom of long winter miles – this I cannot fathom. Though most riding is now done with the team and any Manchester cyclists who are willing :) Or through futile attempts to remain upright on the mountain bike, with new team member Jo Blakeley and housemate Lizzie Waterhouse (BikeTreks RT). I'm really excited about next season and am focused on specific goals for both myself and the team. I feel, as many do, that other stresses disrupted last season. Of course exams came first, and I was ready to take the time off the bike. It was the mental fatigue I was unprepared for and only when September came did I feel at one with my bicycle again.

It's currently 2 degrees outside...I'm about to wrap up and step out for a short potter with 'Brian' – the bicycle who knows me best.

Good bye for now, Frankie x

Friday, 10 February 2012

Champion Systems/Maxgear/Kyklos Team Launch, hello bacon butties!

5.30am on a FREEZING February morning and I struggle to layer up under the confines of a duvet as my shield to the ice cold wind whipping through my (non-double glazed!) windows. A bowl of warm porridge, hot cross buns and ever compulsory tea later and I roll the bikes out to the car. A small fight with the boot of my car later - the lock had seized shut - and off to the motorway for the 3 hour drive to the Champion Systems / Maxgear / Kyklos team launch at Maften Hall!

On arrival I was led to table of tea and bacon sandwiches and I thought...Im going to like these people. We met the sponsors and listened to the junior and senior team's aims for the year. These, along with the shiny Kyklos bikes, instilled a buzz of inspiration! Nicola proceeded to lay out our own aims for the coming season and the reality of racing with these ladies set in :)

We then donned the new team kit for various photo shoots, which I'm not going to lie, were incredibly cold with various lean cyclists darting back into Maften Hall between shots! The process of further layering up for the ride began as the snow descended from an ever bleak sky, but I was itching to set off having been cooped up in the car! Despite the icy temperatures the ride was really enjoyable, it was great to get to know a few of the other riders...but my bike didn't appreciate the snowy conditions!

I'm very excited for racing this year. The first big race I'm currently aiming for is the Cheshire Classic on 22nd April. Although Nicola, Mel and myself have the Mersey Tunnel TT (6.4km) on 19th February and local crits throughout march to get some race practice in before then! The cold is unfortunate at the moment but I keep dragging various Manchester cyclists out!


Wednesday, 4 January 2012

My two great loves, the outdoors and food!

I started cycling in the summer of 2010 after being inspired by the Pyrenean mountains and the excitement of an old friend at what he deemed 'natural' ability.. the validity of such opinion was probably distorted by a distinct insult to his masculinity when I beat him to the summit of La Tourmalet - albeit he was carrying more than his share of camping equipment!

So that was it, I was hooked on a sport that encompassed two of my great loves: The freedom of the outdoors and large quantities of food :)

I joined the University of Manchester Cycling Club the following September. I was relatively unfit compared to most of the other members at this stage, but I continued to turn up for training rides having forgotten how painful the last one had been! Eventually I rode myself fit!

Throughout 2011 I entered a few of the CDNW races, which I enjoyed, though they were lacking in women riders. I rode the BUCS road race, 10 mile TT, 3-up TT, and hill climb for my University club, which I aim to do better in this year!

Over the winter I have been building a base for the coming season. Many long cold hours, strength training and skills sessions have improved my fitness to a level that cultivates excitement for 2012. I'm also looking forward to increasing the intensity of this training with the arrival of the New Year...

I am very excited to be competing at a range of women only events which I didn't really have the opportunity to race last year, as a new rider for Maxgear/Champion Systems team this year including local and national road races, crits and time trials. Most of these are incorporated into the Women's Team Series and National Women's Road Race Series.

Well I guess thats it for now... I'm looking forward to meeting my new team mates at the Maxgear Team launch on 21st January at Matfen Hall! Very exciting times!

Frankie x