Rider Blog - Eleanor Strathdee

Monday, 30th June, 2014


to gain two seconds over MSW Composite to lead the team competition by a second. The third stage was a longer, hillier road stage, which was laps of a course which included a very fast descent, some rolling hills and a steep, long climb. Given we were in the leaders jerseys we were gridded at the front of the bunch. The race started with a downhill neutralised zone (which was still quite fast) which was very fun, because Emma and me were riding about a foot from the bumper of the lead car! The race did 5 laps of the course and I was very happy to stay in the bunch until the fourth time up the climb. Rhona kept the yellow jersey but unfortunately due to an incident in the bunch, we lost the team jersey by 19 seconds to MSW Composite.

The final stage was a kermesse around the grounds of Strathallan and the the sorounding village of Forgendenny. It featured a shortish, extemely steep climb, narrow roads, potholes and ditches lined with barbed wire, so it was going to be an interesting race to say the least.The first lap was very quick, so when an attack went on the second lap I couldn't hold the pace. Everyone was riding solo or in groups of two or three, so everyone was just trying to loose as little time as possible. As the laps ticked down I was just trying to get through the race without collapsing, so on my second last lap I was very happy to be lapped by the leaders, which meant I finished that lap. To make things even better it was Rhona and Jenny off the front with a couple of minutes lead! Jenny outsprinted Rhona to take the stage but Rhona kept the yellow jersey. In fact, the dominance of Rhona was complete as she managed to take not just the yellow, but the sprints jersey, the queen of the mountains, and the best scottish rider. To finish things off we got the 19 seconds back and put 1minute 45seconds into MSW Composite!

Overall it was an amazing experience and I learnt a lot about the pressures of being part of of a winning team.
 
Next up was the Isle of Man Youth Tour at the beginning of May. I wasn't expecting much from this one and was mainly focusing on gaining experiece of different styles of racing and having a good time. Nearly all the Scots were staying together and it was fun to be with all the girls again. The race consisted of three stages, a short 2 minute time trial to start with, a long hilly road race and a short crit to end with. The time trial didn't go too well as it was after a day of travelling, so I just wanted to get it over with and get to proper racing the next day. The road stage was brutal with a steep long climb that went on for what felt like forever and to make things worse it was cold, raining and windy. Unfortunately there was a massive crash on lap 2 which meant the race was stopped for 40 minutes whilst the ambulances took away those involved. Once the race was restarted I stayed in the bunch until I got cramp from the cold and finished on my own. The crit wasn't particularly successful, a crash 100m from the start split the bunch earlier than expected and from then on it just got more broken up. I'm glad I did the tour because it was a good experience and I can't go next year because of exams.

Finally it was the North West Youth Tour at the end of May. I was excited for this because I did well there last year and really enjoy the stages, but I was really nervous because I haven't been on the best of form and really wanted to do well. The first day was held at the UCLan Sports Centre in Preston and had 2 stages: a one lap time trial and a longer crit race. The time trial was alright although the wind on the back straight wasn't fun. The wait between was horrific though because although the weather held out for the time trials in quickly deteriorated into torential rain for the rest of the day. Crashes in most races meant that the race schedule was completely out the window. Once our race was underway, it was clear that I hadn't eaten enough throughout the day and I completely ran out of energy. Another crash meant the race was stopped and an ambulance called. When the race got underway again I stayed in a little longer and was luckily dropped before a crash on the last lap which took out half the field.

The second day was held on Blackpool Promenade and was the same set up as the previous day with a time trial and then a crit. The timetrial was average for me, except I may have overdone the climb and spent the rest of it trying to make my legs go round. Unlike the day before, the rain held off until around 4:30 and it only rained for an hour so the wait was a little more enjoyable. Once again the races were running behind so we didn't start racing until 7. I stayed in the bunch for most of the first lap and then dropped off with a few other girls who I sheltered behind for the next few laps. I then decided it would be a good idea to pick up the pace before the bunch came around again so I dropped the girls I was with and tried to prolong the inevitable catch from the bunch. When it did come round, I stayed on the back until the last lap and then sprinted to stay ahead of the girls I dropped.

The last day was at Salt Ayre Sports Centre in Lancaster and we were up first for our final crit. I was feeling pretty good and really wanted to stay in the bunch longer than I had been. The first few laps were pretty fast, but I managed to hold on and then it was time to recover and the bunch slowed to a nice gentle pace. At around 20 laps to go, the attacks started and all the sprinting to keep contact was really wearing my legs out as I'm not very good at that sort of thing. I stayed on until 10 laps to go and from there I just put my head down and timetrialled my way to the finish. I only lost around 750m over 12km so I was pretty happy, despite the fact that the effort had left me shaking and unable to walk!
These events have given me experience that has developed my awareness of what riding in a team is like, how much easier it is to keep going when you're doing well and that I love riding my bike no matter what is happening, so bring on the rest of 2014!

By Eleanor Strathdee 


At the North West Tour


The Winning Team!




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