Welsh Crit Champs 2017

What does it look like from distance? 

A group of people riding round a circuit in a set time plus 5 laps. The first person to cross the line after those 5 laps wins….

Ok, so I’m not selling that one very well. Hopefully I can do better if you read on.

Welsh Crit Champs wasn’t my first ever Crit race, but I’m certainly not an expert at it. I’d done a few ‘races’ where I actually just ended up being in the men’s race and consequently riding round on my own. There was one women’s race, but the circuit felt way too small for the amount of riders on it, but Welsh Crit Champs was most certainly different to all of those.

It was a circuit around the showground in Builth Wells (so a great size for racing!) and they had a women’s race with 11 competitors. I actually had someone to race against…winner.

Granted, those competitors were much stronger than an amateur like me, but still…the best I could do was try right?

If it’s not already obvious, Welsh Crit Champs was another spur of the moment entry. It sounded good at the time and I threw an entry in before they closed. 

Turning up, Welsh Cycling branding was everywhere (as would probably be expected) and lots of ‘team’ kits. I felt a bit out of place without team kit, but I am rather fond of my ASSOS shorts and Threo jersey combo right now…

Fashion choices aside…I needed to decide whether I’d actually sign on. It really felt like I was coming down with some sort of bug. A bug that actually turned out to be nerves.

I cast aside feeling unwell and decided to just get on with it. I had dragged Ryan all this way afterall…

With a few laps round the track to warm up, I soon found myself trying to keep up with the girls in my race. I quickly decided I was out of my depth. 


But…then I did actually manage to keep up with a small group of girls. We were sort of working as a team to get round, but with my lack of road knowledge, I wasn’t entirely sure what I was doing. Basically, everyone is suppose to take a turn on the front to ride into the wind, whilst the others sit on your tail. Taking turns is suppose to be quicker and less exhausting than riding alone.

40 minutes of trying to figure out what everyone else’s tactics were, my head had turned to mush. Yet, I still had the 5 extra laps to go before the finish!

A bad move by me which meant I finished the race leading the group around for two laps also meant I didn’t finish where I wanted to. Yet I still had great fun out there. It felt good to have girls to race against and push past mental barriers I’ve not been able to push past before. 

With all of the negative press cycling seems to be getting at the minute, it was great to see so many girls enjoying the sport still. Hopefully only more will come to enjoy it as much as I do.

#PugsNotDrugs

Ryan seems to think I’m not too bad at going up hills, so a hill climb is what I ended up doing. One of those old traditions of road cycling that rears its head through September and October every year.

Apart from going up a hill as fast as you can, I didn’t really know what to expect. I was familiar with the undulating climb out of Oswestry as it was the road I’d use to get to the downhill tracks at Moelfre. As mad as it sounds, I’d always wanted to ride it on a road bike. The surface was good and it was a fairly long climb. And now I was racing up it… Naturally, I wanted to ride down it too.

We went to warm up by heading up the 1.6 mile climb and down a little lane. I was thankful for this as my legs needed waking up a bit. It did almost feel counter productive with the descent back down to the bottom, but nevermind. Finding myself close to 40mph through no effort of my own was a surprise ha!

Promptly getting to the start line, Ryan was setting off ahead of me. Shortly before he set off we were both in hysterics after he blurted out ‘#pugsnotdrugs‘. It definitely calmed my pre-race nerves when the image of ‘Bella the Pug‘ popped back ito my head. 

I soon found myself heading through what was almost like a tunnel of trees before popping out into the open again. It wasn’t a straight forward climb, more of an undulating one. There was the first kicker, a dip in the middle and a steep shoot up just to finish your legs off with the sting of riding uphill having sunk in ages ago. My head completely went. I was trying to jump up the cassette to find an easier gear whilst still in the big ring. When I finally found the easiest gear, I was going up the last steep shoot towards the end. 

Trying not to get distracted by a cute dog watching on the side, I was definitely at max effort. I crossed the finish line and darted off down a side road where I could do nothing but rest my head on my handlebars. Only for a farmer to shout out,

“A bit tough up that bank?”

Just a bit…