2017 has been jam packed already! One of the first big events was the Tour of Ayrshire, a UCI Gran Fondo World Championship qualifier. So we packed the car and headed to the M6 North. It was an area I knew well from my horse riding days, we used to event up there during the summer months. The forecast had given strong winds and with a tough course ahead of us, it was a quiet journey up.
The start was a shock to the system, the organisers had us in the pens for more than an hour, other girls were visibly shaking with cold. It was a shock to the system when the race set off full gas from the outset. I knew the wind was going to create big splits in the group, and this was exacerbated by catching the 70+ men age category, which made for a messy peleton. A split in this group caught me out and the group I should have been in went sailing down the long straight road, suddenly I was on my own, in the wind. Great. I chased so hard to no avail. The strong headwind made it impossible to reel them in.
At this point my head did drop a bit, I was so disappointed. Luckily two Dutch women who I’d been chatting to on the start came past, and we started working together. I was so relieved, we organised ourselves into an echelon and off we went, working together and chatting when we weren’t working at our max! They really made my race for me, it was great to ride with such strong women and support each other.
I did make some big mistakes on this race, mainly with my eating and drinking. Over winter I’d got into the bad habit of only getting through one bidon even for long ride. So duly only put one bidon on my bike, mistake. The race was so tough I was at my max pretty much throughout, I was out of water before halfway. I’ve also been dieting like a demon since Christmas to get down to my race weight, and as a result hadn’t been eating at all on the bike, even tough hilly rides had become a competition with myself about how little food I could eat whilst I was out. In hindsight I realise how stupid this was, but food and the want to be thin does silly things to my brain. On a side note, I thought once I reached my ‘dream weight’ all my eating issues would be resolved and I would find it easy. Not so. It’s still a daily challenge. But really that’s a story for another time.
So with not enough food and drink on board, surprise surprise I cramped up. Now I know this happens to a lot of people, but it’s never happened to me ever. Luckily my husband saved the day and I spotted his yellow socks up the road, he gave me all his remaining food and water plus gave me and my Dutch friends a good 20km tow down the road. Forever thankful! My second wind kicked in and we were on our way home after some tough climbs made worse by the ever present headwind.
On the last leg there were guys all over the place walking up the short sharp climbs, it was a reminder of how tough the event was. My little group finished together and enjoyed a beer whilst the results were published, and I squeaked a qualification to the World Championships! A brilliant end to a difficult day and something else in the diary for the summer!