80% fitness, 20% balls

Sam Miranda, NRS Womens RR Stg 3, 23/08/20143 weeks ago I got a call from the Niche Living Hall Women’s Racing Team saying someone had pulled out of their team for the NRS Tour of King Valley and would I step in.

Happy thoughts: What an opportunity.

Terrified thoughts: 3 WEEKS! 3 WEEKS! I’ve been running and swimming this week. I’m not fit enough. I can’t race nationally. I’ve only done B Grade crits. Oooh I’ve been enjoying my sleep ins.

So after this evaluation I obviously said yes.

Strava showed that I was up to something (panicking) as I took my weekly training from 5hrs to 11hrs and started adding the familiar ‘HCT’ to my titles.

The team (Melissa Robinson, Liz Leyden, Anne Bramley, Erin Kinnealy and Manager Matt Upton) all flew out last Wednesday ready for a Friday tour start. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t sh*tting it. I had absolutely no idea what I was about to face.

Stage 1 20km TT: I’ve done a few TT in my time (usually on a TT bike) but never with a start ramp, yes this was my biggest fear. I was fine, my TT was not. But anyway. Nabi knocked the ball out of the park with this one.

Stage 2 40km Kermesse: It was pretty cool racing on an airstrip…..until 84 girls on bikes reached the hairpin bends at both ends. Being a novice I spent most of my time at the back and then accelerating to catch the bunch out of corners, by the final lap 12 I could confirm that this was not a winning tactic!

Stage 3 102km Road Race: Finally, a bit of climbing….6km of it on a dirt track….dammit. I managed to get over the climb well placed and got in a great working group to catch the front bunch. I was really excited to be here and thought that we’d make it to the finish as a lead group but everyone sat up and once again the group was 84 strong. That familiar sound of wheels, brakes and carbon on bitumen came,  sadly one involved my team mate Mel. She was cut and sore but like a trooper rode the next day.

Stage 4 87km Road Race: The bunch were a bit more lively today but with only two bumps in the road it never really broke the group up. With the little bit of energy we had left in our legs, our team decided that today was camera day and to make some attacks and get on the front. It happened. I have a photo to prove it.

I have done a bit of racing so didn’t expect to learn as much as I did over this tour….i was even dreaming about it when I got home!

1. Teamwork doesn’t just mean having a strategy. We knew we couldn’t control the race so our plan was as individuals we need to survive however, we were always looking out for each other on and off the bike. I laughed a lot.

2. 80% fitness 20% balls. Yes being fast is important so you can go with the attacks but being near the front to see the attack takes balls! Being smart with your position during a race, having the confidence to push to the front and hold there whilst being swamped by people, not wobbling when another rider touches you, staying out of the wind, all takes practice and takes courage but it will be the difference between first and last………………..for me, it’s a work in progress.

3. Yes racing is scary but the sense of pride when I finished on Sunday was quite overwhelming. Competing on a national level is not something I ever thought I would or could do.

Finally, a huge thank you for the people who helped me get there:

SPR – without whom I wouldn’t have progressed from Novice group and enjoyed every minute.

Hall Cycle Training – for giving me the opportunity. Another great network of people and educational facility.

Ryan Fynn – for keeping me calm before races and being my fan club after.

Mel, Anne, Erin, Liz – for being great company. No divas.

Matt Upton – for looking after us girls during the tour.

Aura Cylces – for my trusty steed that matched my kit beautifully.

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