Cardiff Crit – National Series

My first nation Crit of the year was at Cardiff town centre on 21st May 2016.

challenging conditionsThe surface of the town centre course was rough, and potholes were scattered everywhere and anywhere possible. To add to this rain wouldn’t stop lashing down, making the circuit slippery and easy to skid out on.

I decided to warm up on the track to get to know some of the corners and where the potholes were, so I would at least have a rough idea of the circuit itself. The ’roundabout corners’ were particularly sketchy, with lots of puddles and holes, and even a drain cover which was like riding on ice. This was made ever so slightly worse due to how tight the hairpin corners were.
So warm up was done and now to race. We were gridded so I ended up 3rd line back which wasn’t ideal but could’ve been worse.

The count down started.
5… 4…
The adrenaline was pumping around me, almost as fast as my nervous heart was beating deep within me.
3…
‘okay get ready Laura, pedals in a good place and all you have to do is push off and get well away’
2….
‘breath in’
…1!
And off I went.

My first aim was to get in the main pack, the next to try and move up then sit in until the final sprint. I got across and in the the main group within the first lap.

Goal one; tick.

close callThe first 5 laps were hell; everyone trying to ditch everyone from the start but soon it settled down and I was sitting in.
Unfortunately around on of the roundabout corners on of my fellow riders crashed, her elbow going into me causing me to unclip. I quickly clipped back in and started to work to get back to the main group who weren’t hanging about. I ended up working with two riders. We didn’t instantly get back but when we did I made sure to sit in and recover before anything else. I then conserved energy and waited as the race unfolded.

5 laps to go and I was really wishing it was over. I was drenched, my wrists ached from potholes, the rain and mud stained my face, kit and moral and I was really hating the corners now.

4 laps to go and I started to focus less on the cons and more on the pros; 4 laps that’s all it was, I just had to find a good place and get ready.

3 laps, 2laps then 1 lap to go, the bell rang the crowds roared and I was in a reasonable position. Now all I needed was to sprint….

Suddenly, as we came out of the final corner in to the finishing straight someone slid out in front of me, I had to swerve quickly to avoid crashing, and unfortunately this meant I lost my line and speed as we went in to the final 150 meters and the sprint.

mid race back in the lead bunchThere were 4 or 5 in front so I straightened up having swerved out the way and sprinted, just beating  another girl on the line.

In conclusion it was a good race: sketchy yes, rainy yes, demoralising yes, but I was pleased that I had been strong enough to cope with it, and that my bike handling had kept me upright.

I am very pleased with getting 6th place, the highest placed first year u14, and hope to carry on like this!😊

Maindy Omnium

It was time for the 2nd Ommium of the series, this one at Mandy in Cardiff. I was nervous but excited, although unfortunately was feeling under the weather but at least I was starting to get used to the early mornings -although they hadn’t yet become any more enjoyable.

Warm up went to plan and soom it was my time trail. From last year I knew that this could make a huge difference to your overall score. Time Trials still aren’t my strong suit, and it isn’t something I have ever had a chance to practice or train for. I manageda reaonable time, but it is something that I need to do alot of practice for to improve. I think I came in just about the top half after my time trail.

I needed to pull up my socks for the next race which was conveniently the one which is becoming my favourite and best; the elimination or the ‘Devil’. I had a bit of a worry before I got on the track as I remembered that last year I was awful at holding on to the the side of the track before the start because it was taller than all the others! But all was fine when I got on the circuit as I have grown since then and now can hold on the the side no problem!!
laura_race2Unfortunately I was one of the last out so only managed to grasp the place second from the back of all the riders, but I got away with the pack and did my normal thing of stay near the top and manage to get over the top just in time to not be eliminated; at the same time as fitting in to the pack for when there are less riders. This worked out nicely and I placed 4th or 5th in that race. I felt much better about myself after this race. I didn’t quite have the strength to get around the other riders so I had tried my best.

The next race was the most inactive scratch race ever. Slow and steady with no-one willing to put out effort; it was only the last lap that it all kicked off. I came 6th in this race so not as good as I was hoping and as before I felt quite down about this and knew that I should’ve tried to make that effort no one else did. Personally I think it’s due to lack of self belief, if I thought I was as good as the second years would this race have turned out differently? If I believed that I am one of the best would I have made the attack? At least next time I’ll know what to do, these questions still won’t leave me alone, almost if they’re reminding me that I need to believe.

laura_raceThe next race was the kerien my least favourite and probably my worst as again it isn’t something I have any experience of, or have ever been able to practice. I was in fear of not being in the top group because then even if I was last then I would be higher up than if I was first in the second group. I felt a wave of relief when I was in the the first group. I realised that I was short of energy during the lap the durney pulled off. My friend infront kind of blew up and dropped off meaning I had to get around her and catch the group. I did so but having made this effort I was toasted. I did my best but ended up with a tired out 5th quite a few metres off the back.

The points race was cancelled due to running out of time. This happened exactly when the Mr.whippy van left 😒😠.

All in all it was a good day if not a very tiring one with well deserved noodles for tea at the end!

Maindy Freewheel League Crit

Laura at Maindy 1It was time for another race, this time in Cardiff. I was feeling quite confident and fresh ready for the race.
I did feel a bit nervous, which is expected, mainly because the course was made up from the velodrome outer and the infield space, using cones to signal where to go.
Thankfully we were given time to ride the course, so I made sure I got to learn each part in the time I had. It was an oval shape with a dent and quite a few sharp corners.

I made sure to do my normal warm up on the rollers, in fact they called us to the gate at just the right moment as I had just finished my warm up!

Laura on the start lineSo this was it, I was on the start line ready to start and try and get away in the lead bunch.

I set off, (though for a large part of my sprint from the start line one of my feet wasn’t cliped in! ), and got in to the front group with all the stronger boys. At first I kept yo-yoing off the back but eventually I got back into it fully and took my turn on the front.

Laura leading the fieldI made my own attack off the front; we were all at the top of the banking looking at each other wondering who would make a move so I decided to! It was a good attack, and the boys worked hard to react, I managed to string it out but I decide to only make it short as I didn’t know how much time was left to race.

In the bell lap I sat in, and then had a little sprint for the line. I won the u14 girl category, and beat one of the boys from the break group in the sprint, which I’m very pleased with!

I’m looking forward to returning to the Maindy circuit at the weekend for the next round of the Regional Omnium series.

Zappi’s Crit – 5

A tough week of training ended with a trip back to Endstone today, ready to race in Zappi’s Crit #5!

I warmed up well, making sure I had plenty of time, and then rode a couple of warm up laps. I made sure I got in to a good starting space on the line, and then after briefing from the commissaire, we were set off with a toot on the whistle.

IMG_2014 (1024x683)The race started with a massive sprint, more like and under 12 race than the u14 races so far; everyone trying to break it up. I found myself in a group with the 2 other girls and a friend from Newport Velo (not teammate unfortunately!).

The race was a constant effort; partly because it was quicker, partly due to the fact I was ever so slightly tired.
Towards the end when it became more of a game of cat and mouse, (no one wants to be on the front), I started to recover.

IMG_2030 (1024x659)Soon enough the last lap came. It went the same as it normally does, everyone looking at each other and waiting.
Coming to the final straight I was second wheel, not the best place for me but definitely not the worst. The guy on the front started to put in effort but it was a headwind and he faded leaving all us girls to over take and fight for our place.
It was a very close sprint and I came 2nd out of all the girls scoring me 2 points!IMG_2031

In conclusion I think I have learnt well so far, and started to be a little less naive. I need to work on my position, making myself lower and smaller in the sprint – scrunching myself up 🙂

Overall a good successful race experience, and another happy face!

The Easter Classic – Castle Combe

So this was it. The race that always seems to signal the start of the race season; The Easter classic.

From all the training I had done in the dark up at Castle Combe I was fairly confident, but of course I was still a bit nervous; as expected!

IMG_1766 (1024x538)I made sure to warm up properly, and it was nice to be with able to do so alongside some of my team mates, with Dan the team coach there to give advice.

Soon I was on the start line in amongst a field of about 50 riders, all ready to race. The Commissaire gave the briefing, and before I could think of anything else a sharp whistle sounded and the race had started!

IMG_1787 (1024x683)The start was similar to an under 12s race, everyone trying to sprint away. I made a good strong start though and had no problem in keeping in the peloton as it formed. I knew my aim was to be on wheels of the riders i knew would be quick, and so I set away doing that.

Unlike most of my races the pack didn’t settle until the last lap, it was a constant sprint kind of thing as attacks launched and the peloton countered. I kept near the front so that I wouldn’t get caught up in it and dropped. Soon enough the last bell went and we were hammering down the hill. I was sat on my team mates wheel who was trying to catch a break.

IMG_1811 (1024x655)As we rounded the final bend in to the home straight there was a sharp scream and a big crash happened right next to me! It occurred due it it being the final sprint for the line and riders trying to get space for the sprint.

Luckily I didn’t get caught up in it, and as i composed myself everyone started sprinting for the line, so I went with the flow and put every ounce of energy I had left in to the last 300 meters.

My sprint was good, and despite distraction of the crash, it gave me a 5th place in the girls – and once more a smiling face!
I think the winter training and the learning at the Zappi paid off today as I felt well prepared.

IMG_1813 (1024x683)I’ll keep learning though, and hopefully it has me set for a good season.

Tomorrow we head to Newport in the early hours where I will be competing in the IceBreaker at the Velodrome, more on that to follow 🙂

Zappis Crit 3 – Applying the learning!

This week I remembered the lesson from last week. Instead I got away well and aimed for one of my team mates wheels, a rider I knew would be in a bunch and I had planned who to go with. I made sure to get a good steady start rather than a frantic sprint to break it all up. I got in a group with my team mate (Joe), there was also a strong girl in the bunch.

The race was fairly normal once it settled down, we got into race formation and the laps and time ticked by. One guy kept making attacks but we always brought it back together without too much trouble, and before I knew it it was the last lap.

IMG_1715 (1024x736)I made sure that when the final lap came I wasn’t going to be on the front wasting energy. No one attacked in the last lap, so we all stayed inching along in the head wind, waiting for the last straight and someone to make the first move. Eventually we were just at the corner that turned in to the home straight. I was at the front at this time and after a while of nothing I stood up and sprinted! I kept my legs going around and was just a few centimeters short of the other girl on the line, scoring me a 2nd place and a very smiley (and breathless) face!!

In conclusion, I was pleased that I applied what I had learnt from last week for this race, managing the race better, and putting myself in a better position throughout. Whilst I might not have taken the win, the learning is definitely more important – and I still bagged 2nd! 🙂

I am feeling very much ready now for the Castle Combe Easter Classic next weekend!!!

Zappis Race – an Improvement and a lesson

This week was more successful than the previous. I managed to find a wheel to sit on and a partner to ride with. I set off too quickly at the start, sprinting away to make sure I got off to a good start. I went a bit too hard and so sat up and dropped back in as my legs stang a bit.

IMG_1581 (1024x683)The race carried on, and me and another girl worked together, until the last lap where she was on the front and on the final sprint I over took and sprinted for the line.

I have learnt from this race that under 14s is massively different from last year and the under 12s. For instance, doing a huge sprint at the start of a under 14 race is not the best tactic. Not just because it is a massive expenditure of energy, but also because it meant I didn’t have that energy for getting in a front group of boys when the race did split.

All in all I finished with a smiley face though and took the win for the girls, so a bit of success and a lesson learnt.

Mini League success!

I’d had a little break from the Velodrome after the first Ice Breaker, but I got to a training session on Saturday, and then returned to take part in a mini league meet in Newport on the Tuesday.

This means I come running out of school, to be met by Dad ready to drive me to Newport. It gives me just enough time to get there, get changed and warm up before the races. As usual I used the journey time to have an early tea and make sure I was hydrated.

Before the races start there is a chance to get a bit of time out on the boards, and I combine this with a warm up on the rollers. Then it is time to head for the gate, ready to race.

The races are mixed, boys and girls, some older and some younger. As I have gained more experience my placings have been getting better, and usually I have managed to place in one or two of the events… but the results this evening were much better!

I had learned a lot recently about ways to ride the scratch race, and this time I sat in, making sure I sheltered as much as possible, but also covering any attacks that were made.  Everything went well, and towards the end someone attacked and I was on their wheel and when they ran out I was able to come over the top of them and maintain my power until the line! This resulted in a strong 2nd place, missing out on first by a bike length to a lad from Hillingdon.

Next up was the six lap dash, a short race over 1500 meters, and having put out a massive effort in the scratch I wasn’t expecting a top three result – I never really consider myself a sprinter. I kept on with the same tactic as I’d used in the scratch, sitting on people’s wheels when they attacked. I had two people in front of me on the last corner so I used this to motivate me: “over take them!” I launched my sprint and went past one but didn’t have enough time to try and overtake the other. I finished with a second place and a smiley face! 🙂

Then it was the devil (Elimination). I rode it like I normally do, making sure there was someone behind me. I really had to work hard now, my legs were feeling heavy from the previous two races. It didn’t help that I found myself up the track each lap, having to come over the top so as not to be eliminated, and with just four riders left I didn’t have enough energy to push up over the group and I got caught out and eliminated. I finished 4th and tired, not expecting to be any better in the final event, the points race.

But I was wrong! Whilst tired I still felt strong, and I got into a good position each time the bell rang, putting in a sprint to come past the bunch and pick up points each time. I came 2nd twice and 3rd twice, making me 2nd over all in the whole race! I was really please and ended the session grinning from ear to ear!

One thing I need to learn though is to power through the line, as I did tend to sit up right up before the line – I know that if I had sprinted through the line that at least one of the 2nd places would have been a first. Something I will be trying for next time.

Turbo time

Making friends with a turbo… a turbo has no friends!

The time came to start using a turbo and to say the least I dreaded it! I have had very few nice experiences with the turbo trainer (by that I mean one), and to date I have used the rollers all the time. My first attempt at a turbo session I didn’t adjust my mind and tried to treat it like the rollers – this made it too hard and it didn’t end well. So, I new I had to learn to use the turbo, and not treat it like a roller session!!
Thankfully dad stayed with me for the whole session this time around!! The warm up went well, and before I knew it it was time for a work out. A session built around riding at a cadence and in a gear that kept me in a certain heart rate zone for 5 minutes (one minute seated, the next standing, then seated, then standing etc…), then 5 mins easy recovery time – repeat 4 times. Easy right?

Wrong!

I didn’t sweat as much as a hard roller session, and it made it more fun having someone to talk to as I trained, but man it hurt my legs!!! The standing up hurt the most- especially the last one which was a gear harder than before!!!! Once I got into it it was fine and soon it was over!!

I could tell I had worked hard because as soon as I got off the bike standing up was made difficult from ‘jelly legs’, and that evening my legs wouldn’t stop twitching!!!

Me and the turbo are not good friends and far from ‘besties’, but at least we are now on reasonably good terms… for now….

Local Press interviews

It’s been great to have lots of interest from the local press recently.

My brother Morgan and myself had interviews with BBC Somerset, The Somerset Standard and the Frome Times.

I’ve collected them all together in one place.

The Standard piece is here : http://www.fromestandard.co.uk/Talented-cycle-siblings-Morgan-Laura-Curle/story-28630933-detail/story.html

The Frome Times: http://www.frometimes.co.uk/2016/02/09/siblings-shift-up-a-gear-towards-cycling-dream/

and then the BBC Somerset Interview can be listened using the player below.

bbc-somerset-280x280

 

 

 

 

 

Icebreakers 1

Last Saturday I competed in the Icebreaker track racing at Newport Velodrome.
warmupI was really nervous before racing and didn’t feel confident in myself, I felt like I was among many better and more exprienced cyclists in what was a national field of 18 riders.
Dad and Morgan gave me encouragement, and then as soon as I started the warm up  and went into the pen with all the other riders I relaxed. Dad had told me “You wouldn’t be here if you weren’t ready.”

As soon as I got on the track, ready to start the scratch race I became who I normally am. I felt part of the bike as I raced around. It was much faster and more aggressive that the u12 racing I had been used to, but I worked hard and managed to grab a 9th place on the line, finishing with the lead bunch.
The points race wasn’t as smooth though. I clashed pedals and bars with another girl, and almost got pushed into another rider. Despite this I still managed to get a point and I came off in one piece (yay!). It had been very sketchy, and at the end of the race we were called together for a chat with the commissaires who wanted to remind the bunch about good racing practices for our safety.

scratch raceThe elimination race was what really made my day, and was my best race in my opinion. I felt stronger than ever and my performance showed this! I played it well always making sure someone was behind or boxed in at the end of each elimination lap, and I survived to the final 7 which I didn’t expect at all! I only went out because I found myself boxed in with a few riderst in front and another girl managed to come from behind and get over the top.

In conclusion, it was great fun and its taught me to believe in myself and start to realise I do belong amongst the under 14s. It also made me aware how big a step it is from under 12s to under 14s. The sprints are harder, and the group rides as a bunch rather than spread out around the track.

I am happy with my result of 9th overall and am looking forward to further track racing at this level.

Sulis Scorpions Series – round 1

With winter training still ongoing, it was nice to get out and have my first circuit race of the 2016 season, and my first as an u14. The race was at the Odd Down circuit in Bath, a circuit I know well from my time with Sulis Scorpions over the last two years. I was quite excited but at the same time really nervous about how it would pan out.

It was lovely to see lots of Scoprions friends at the circuit, and once signed on I made sure to have a good warm, getting my body ready to race.

waiting to startI positioned myself on the front line at the start so that I could get away as quickly as possible. When the race started another rider zoomed off so I sprinted on to his wheel and soon enough a ‘front pack’ had formed. I decided to make a long attack to string the group out more, and to drop a few riders, this was successful and with a manageable group we settled down into a good pace.

The race featured a sprint lap, when it came a Poole Wheelers boy went of the front with me behind. I followed him across the line, and our upping of the pace had created a large gap from the front of the chasing pack, one other rider came with us and was happy to share the work. During the next few laps another rider (Of my team – BCDS) joined us. We worked well and kept the break from the main group.

Laura&Joe BCDSThe the final lap came and I decided to have a go at winning overall, knowing I would already be 1st girl. Unfortunately a boy cut me up on the second to last hairpin corner, and  after a quick trip onto the grass which meant I lost my momentum – the advantage went to the Poole Wheelers rider and he went past.

It ended the Poole Wheelers rider 1st, Me just behind in 2nd place overall, and the other BCDS rider, Joe, in 3rd.

I was 1st U14 girl which was the main thing, although it would have been nice to have had a race for the line and not get blocked off – but that’s racing.

I had a good warm down, and then a yummy hot chocolate. I was then delighted to be presented a winners medal for round 1.

Thanks to Sulis Scorpions for hosting the race, and I look forward to seeing everyone again soon…

New Kit Day at the BCDS SQT

laura-sqtToday was a long day, I was meant to wake at 5am to get ready and down to Newport Velodrome for 7:30am, but my alarm went off an hour early… Oooops!

First up was the SQT session with Dan and another coach. It was a good session with exercises in taking a lap, points racing, Russian steps and Trains and Stations – something I have done lots at the Saturday sessions.

Once we had finished on the track we got have a go on the WattBikes, it was interesting but hard work – especially as I was feeling tired from the track session.

All the Academy riders then got together to run through thoughts for the season, and to look at kit. I picked out some bib shorts and a race jersey, and I will order a skinsuit soon. I like my new kit, and I am looking forward to racing in it next weekend in the first race of the season at Odd Down.

After a long day it was good to get home, eat a good dinner and relax.

 

Strength and Conditioning

All a bit new to me really, but I am now incorporating some strength and conditioning training in to my weekly schedule.

I do this with my brother, and it is good fun. We do lots of core exercises, squats, planking and balance for stability.

I had some dumbbell weights for Christmas to use in the squats and lunges, I don’t use much weight on them, but it is good to get used to using the equipment safely.

My favourite exercises are the push ups and lunges!

Club Clusters – Night Riding at Castle Combe

Every Wednesday night I attend the Club Cluster training session held at Castle Combe. This is training at night, with lights on the bike, and it has really helped my strength and endurance to develop.

The sessions are run by Peter Georgi, Morgan’s coach at Epic Coaching, and he is really helpful but makes us work hard.

When I first attended I was quite nervous not knowing what to expect, and with it being in the dark, but now I really look forward to getting out there on a Wednesday and building for the season to come.

This week it was very cold and wet, I was pleased to get back to the van after and change into dry clothes, and we had some hot food when we got home. 🙂

Crash Bang Wallop!

on 22nd December a had my first track league  crash.

It had been a really good evening for me, i was doing really well in terms of racing, and it was in the last race of the evening. We were a few laps in, there had been one slight attack that lead to nothing and someone else was just attacking so we were at about 30mph. Someone swung down in-front of a rider at the very front. the 3rd rider tried to avoid the crash but still got caught up with the crash. We were all in a long line so there was no escape we all went down like domino’s.

Unfortunately I was the last rider so I fell on a mass of metal and people. According to one of my friends I face planted their chain ring hence the bruise and cut on my face (this later earned me a nick name scar face), I bruised my face badly, right next to my cheekbone as well so a luck escape from A&E, and I had a burn on my elbow.

The Velodrome staff were quick and efficient, and really nice. Once I had got over the shock, stopped shaking and was feeling myself my coach told me to do a few laps just to reassure myself. I am now fully recovered and looking forward to going back to compete.

U14 Club Champion – Sulis Scorpions

Tonight I was very proud to pick up the Sulis Scorpions Road Race club champion trophy in the Under 14 category.

I had been moved up to the Under 14 category, rather than my actual Under 12 group, as I had started racing Under 14 races with my British Cycling dispensation.

It was a happy and sad occasion, happy to win the trophy, but sad as it was final time I would win as a Sulis Scorpion rider, having moved to Bristol Cycling Development Squad Academy for 2016.

Many thanks go to the fantastic coaches at Sulis Scorpions who have helped me develop. Andy, Jeroen, Felix, and Eugene. I am looking forward to seeing everyone when I race at Odd Down in the 2016 season, and I shall certainly be staying in touch as I have so many great friends within Sulis Scorpions.

My brother Morgan also picked up a trophy at the awards ceremony, he was the Club Hill Climb Champion – he goes up hills very quickly 🙂

BCDS Academy Rider for 2016

I am pleased to announce that I will be racing for the Bristol Cycling Development Squad Academy in 2016.

I’m looking forward to getting my kit sorted and to racing as a first year under 14 on both road and track. It will be good to have team mates at races, especially at the Nationals and at the Youth Omnium series events.

I will remain a 2nd claim member of my home club, Velo Club Walcot, and I will still be enjoying Club rides with them at the weekends.

Exciting 🙂

 

Mini League – Newport

I was really nervous the first time I took part in the mini-league racing at Newport Velodrome – in fact I still get quite nervous when i go!

I had done well in the Youth Omnium track racing before but for this I had to start being more tactical.
With my road racing, although I was very young in the year group, I was still one of the strongest under 12 riders meaning I used my speed more than I used tactics – I guess I was tacticaly naive. So it took weeks of learning what was good and what wasn’t, very much a case of trial and error.

My results have improved as I have learnt more and more, often coming in the top 3 boys and girls when I get it right.
Im finding that I’m better at the longer races like the points race and scratch race because of all the Club rides I do which have given me good endurance.

Returning to the Velodrome

After the season of criterium racing it was nice to get back to Newport velodrome. I had started riding track before way back last winter, but I needed to re-learn track again and try overcome my fears.

Whereas mt brother Morgan was able to get straight into the top group (A group) when we first went there I worked my way into the middle of the three groups, group B. I was really happy there and was warmly welcomed.

After the 2015 road season I returned to the B group and thanks to excellent couching from Stephen and Bryan, and all the support from family (especially dad and mum) I was moved up to the top group with one of my friends. This was really daunting for me, everyone, even my friend, seemed so much stronger than me.
Soon I found that loads of my club cluster and race buddys were in the top group, and I found that I could easily talk to them. In fact after a while I felt comforatble in the group and I still am.

I found it physically challenging as well as mentally, I would just about hold on in the warm up but I would struggle to do activitys such as the train or taking laps because the others were older and stronger and would be able to go quicker. I kept going and trying to stay positive and now i can turn up and do all the things-like train and taking laps- still with effort but I don’t feel so exhausted after each task.