«

»

Sep 03

My first LVRC racing season: Mandy Dean

Having laid all my worries, concerns and “What was I thinking?” to pen about becoming a cycle racer, (and at my age), I thought I should follow it up with how my season went, and was it really just a bit of madness, midlife crisis and all that.

I can honestly say I have questioned myself many, many times over the 6 months. I can run quite well and get prizes whilst, in cycle racing, the season has shown that finishing with the slowest group, last is possibly the best I can hope for. Can a woman really compete against men 10 years older?

Time trial standard times show men 10 years older than women are faster and the men still racing mostly seem to have a seriously strong history of racing. So, why put myself out of my comfort zone for last place when I can win running?

 

Mandy Red Wine

Most Competitive Rider Prize
Flex Tech Ettridge Road Race 30th August 2015

 

I started the season without any idea of whether I could compete or not, I hoped I could though my first race at Barton was not particularly promising and this is how my season progressed:

My second race, Alford Road Race, was my first true race as the Australian Pursuit at Deepdale was more like a Jim Training session. Now was my first time to start in a peloton. I was nervous for days ahead but it turned out fine and I handled myself well in the peloton; after a lap I got involved and took turns at the front but after 30 miles I was dropped and with a strong head wind could not get back to the group. I finished last but was happy with my performance and really pleased when an organiser gave me an unofficial prize of a jar of honey for riding well – see below my honey prize.

My third race was pretty disastrous and sent my confidence way down. Bashall Eaves, a hilly route. I was dropped shortly after the first lap. Completed the 2nd lap and packed in! I found it very difficult to be a DNF. I am not used to quitting. I was so disappointed in myself. This was the low point of my season.

Fourth race, Sheriff Hutton, I liked the course but it was too long – 58 miles of racing. This time I showed a distinct lack of experience and took my turns on the front of my group assuming the ones not taking their turn were too weak … and so, after 25 miles I was dropped and all left me including the weak ones who did not once go to the front!! I finished because I could not be a DNF again. However, I was so slow the time keepers had packed up and were heading back to HQ giving me a quizzical look as they saw me thrashing myself to the line.

This was probably the point where I was most questioning whether I should continue. But, some of the guys in my race were very encouraging and said I was ‘nearly there’. So, I thought, just one more.

And so to Tour of the Wolds at Great Limber and I enjoyed the race … yes enjoyed!!!! I ended up in the slower part of the split and finished with them. All except one passed me on the line. I had to stop straight after gasping so hard over the handlebars that when I looked up a dozen people were staring at me. They knew I tried. Despite being very pleased to finish with others I learnt I cannot sprint to save my life.

My sixth race, a flat one, how would this go? Not well. I did not enjoy this one at all. A big field and a lot of movement and risks being taken and it was fast (over 24mph). I was dropped after half of the race. Other people were dropped but when I caught them they were not interested in working together to the finish – they were DNFing! I battled on (my time trialling should be improving) as I reached the finish line I passed a massive crash. I helped out with casualties and thought maybe it was a good thing I was dropped … this was my race, I could have been amongst it. 3 men needed hospital and at least a further 4 with road rash, bruises and pulled muscles.

And so to my final race another at Great Limber on a lovely day. By now, I was getting used to the racing and was keen to enjoy this last one of the year. I was getting to know some of my fellow racers who were very supportive. The organisers were pleased to have a lady race too. The race panned out as normal i.e. I was dropped but I worked with two others for a lap, then amazingly I dropped them on the long climb. A lap and half on my own then the other two who had now joined forces with two others brought me back. We finished together with me last (of course) but I had enjoyed the race. Back at the HQ the presentation started and I was called out and presented with a bottle of wine (red, my favourite) for ‘Most Competitive Rider’ I was so pleased. I knew it was a ‘made up’ prize but it made me happy.

I had seriously considered this would be my last race but it was such a positive day and sums up the support and encouragement I have received as a lady racer. Throughout the races, marshals and spectators have given me shouts of support as I have been dropped and fought on alone. I have felt very welcome at the LVRC races.

So, although I have not really done anything worth mentioning in race achievements, I have enjoyed some of the races and would love to think I could go out next year and do better. During the races I have spent a lot of time riding alone and a fair bit of time in a small group and not enough time with the main peloton. I have learnt my weaknesses: lack of power, no sprint at all, difficulty coping with surges in pace so if I am going to do better winter is going to involve some evil turbo sessions and leg strengthening. But, I am not all bad, I found I can corner pretty well, and would frequently find myself on the front having been 3rd in line as we entered a corner and a couple of guys told me I could handle a bike which I take it as a positive. I love my new bike and kit that matches it. It would be shame not to race … and so, I think I will be probably be back next year.

Mandy Honey

Unofficial Honey Pot Prize
Alford Wheeler May 2015

 

My Races (every 3 weeks):

 

DateCircuitDistanceHeight GainAverage Pace
Race 1: AprilDeepdale28 miles970ft20.2 mph
Race 2: MayAlford42 miles1,160ft20.6 mph
Race 3: JuneBashall Eaves44 miles2,700ft18.4 mph
Race 4: JuneSheriff Hutton58 miles1,520ft19.3 mph
Race 5: JulyGreat Limber (south)40 miles1,920ft19.7 mph
Race 6: AugustSibthorpe39 miles370ft21.9 mph
Race 7: AugustGreat Limber (north)38 miles1,870ft20.2 mph