With the season already upon us, nine members of the VC St Raphael Women’s Team got together for a training camp on the outskirts of Bristol
By Eleanor Jones
Women’s captain Maz had kindly offered her (parents) house as accommodation and organised a weekend of race planning, getting to know you’s and training rides.
Now I was looking forward to getting together with the girls – a few chance meetings at Newport meant I hadn’t really seen anyone for ages and I hadn’t met Caroline, Nicci, Jo or Ellie before. I was even looking forward to getting out on a ride with the girls (luxury!!) and Maz had even promised the first one would be flat. Ish. The 1:9 hill I drove down on the last leg to her house certainly suggested she was lying and my poor non climbers legs were going to suffer!
Marianne (well, her parents) had laid on a super lunchtime spread of jacket potatoes, salads and of course the cyclists’ favourite – pasta. After a quick snack and introductions, it was time to get changed and get out on the roads.
Unfortunately there was still loads of ice around on the roads after the winter (cold snap!) so we didn’t get out for as long as we had wanted. We rode steady for a while so we could chat and make friends. Comedy comment of the day was from veterinarian (I almost wrote vet and realised in a cycling context that could be misconstrued!!) Nicci Meadows who likened her love of animal orthopaedics to lego!
Nicci and Caroline (Harding) join us from AW Cycles after they disbanded.
The rest of the ride was largely uneventful – after jinxing herself by saying the ‘p’ word, Team Mechanic and Driver Jase quickly jumped out the car for a wheel change. Oh yeah, and then there was the sheet ice that saw half of the girls walking their bikes along the road!! The last climb (what happened to flat?!) just about finished me off so I suppose it wasn’t a bad call to go back to the farmhouse …
Shower and change before discussing the seasons plan, goals and aims and then hitting the pub for dinner. Adel (Tyson Bloor) left us after the meal (part-timer) to go home and watch the Perfs Pedals on the Sunday. I might let her have that one as it is our club promotion! I think we were all a bit tired when we got back home but we managed to stay awake long enough to see Maz’s house on Casualty (I stayed in the ‘drug’ room) and take some hot water bottles up to bed!
Luckily for us, Sunday was a bit warmer and we got out for a lovely (!) long ride around the rolling Mendips. I mentioned I wasn’t a climber, right?!
The group headed out at a steady pace, taking turns on the front. Thanks to Ellie’s dad for helping to pull us all along! The first two hours or so saw the group make our way towards Cheddar Gorge along some hilly roads (OK, they were probably just rolling but hey!). Scenery was awesome, some lovely little descents (my new definition of a hill is having to do your jersey up on the way down) and awesome banter.
We rolled into a lovely little cafe before the big C. I would love to report that we had lovely healthy food but actually the chocolate fudge cake was pretty damn nice :D Then it was straight out again into the cold and up the climb!
Jo (Tindley) – who is returning to cycling following a few years out of the sport – certainly looked as fresh as a daisy powering up some of the climbs (not jealous at all!) quickly followed by Ellie. Well I think that’s how it went but I was off the back … not my type of hill. I should add my thanks here to our only Youth rider, Angie, for snapping my photo from the warmth of the team car as I grovelled my way up the steep bit. Thanks Angie!
The pace picked up once we had regrouped and the end was in sight, we even managed a bit of through and off with a random we picked up en route! Again, that hill at the end was brutal (give me Cheddar Gorge any day of the week!!) before we made it back home, 3:45 later.
My legs definitely knew they’d been made to work but it was a lovely way to cap off the weekend. Can’t say how excited I am to meet up with the Northeners in a week or so’s time, or how excited I am to get racing. First entry is already in the post.