How I got into road racing

Member Moria Goodway tells us how she got hooked

How I got into road racing.

You could say it was all Keri Williams’s fault. One morning in the Spring of 2000 we were out on the 8.30 ride when, bless his little cotton socks, he suggested that I give road racing a try. Simon Kisley piped up that there were women only circuit races at Milton Keynes on a Saturday and that would be a good place to start.

So that is what I did. The race was the second in a series of three organised by the now defunct WCRA (Women’s Cycle Racing Association). They were handicap events and we were divided into three groups roughly equivalent to elite/firsts, second/thirds and fourths/novices. Each group was given a different coloured hat to wear over the helmet. As a rank novice I had a red hat. As I was warming up I had a chance to assess the other red hats and my thought was “I’m not staying with this lot” When the race started I shot off the front together with a young American girl called Clara and another woman. The third woman couldn’t hold the pace and drifted backwards; Clara disappeared ahead of me and eventually won. I joined up with the intermediate group and got third place. Afterwards I was approached by a man who said he was starting up a women’s team and would I like to join. I agreed and that is how I was roped into the West Thames team.

My first race on the road.

The following week I went back to Milton Keynes. After my success of the week before I was put into the intermediate group so I had to perform better to get a place so this time I finished further down the field in sixth. Afterwards I was approached by John Miles who asked “did you enjoy that? I’m organising a race near Bedford in May would you like to enter that?” What John didn’t say was that it was an international. So I was up against riders from Belgium, Holland, Germany and Denmark amongst others. All I can say is I did not finish last.

My first points.

This was also my first race for West Thames and took place near Royston. We had to ride three laps of a circuit of about 15 miles which included a long “draggy” hill. A small group of strong, experienced riders escaped early on and I was with a much larger group. I noticed that, without really trying I had worked my way to the front of the bunch on the hill. The same happened on lap two so I resolved to sit in on the third lap until the hill and then try to escape. This was nearly my undoing as it had started to rain and I became seriously chilled. My plan worked, however, and I got away. At the top of the hill someone from the East Midlands team tried to sprint past me but I had enough energy to hold her off. My first minor success.

A little anger works wonders.

There is an unwritten rule that, if you are in a small group, you take turns on the front. Anyone who doesn’t is frowned upon. One rider from the Evans cycle team sat at the back in one race in the spring of the following year but then sprinted off the front to beat us all. She seemed to be employing the same tactics a few weeks later. This event in Surrey had a fairly short but steep hill close to the finish. Normally I struggle on that type of ascent but I was so incensed by this rider that I shot up it and left her for dead. Satisfaction!

My first failure.

This was 2nd September 2001 near Gloucester. I felt awful and would not have finished the race If Robert Frowen had not ridden beside me and encouraged me to keep going ( in the team series you got points for your team if you complete the race). I came last. A few weeks later I was diagnosed with Graves disease (over active thyroid) and my fledgling road racing career was over. The treatment took more than a year and it was another three years before I felt I was really fit again. By this time women’s road racing had moved on – courses were more demanding and fields were bigger. I had some success in Criterium races – a couple of thirds, a sixth and a seventh but that was it.

Road racing is very different from time trialling. You cannot afford to lose concentration. You need to be constantly aware of what is happening around you and be prepared to go out of your comfort zone if someone tries to make a break for it. It can be dangerous but it can also be great fun. After my illness I decided to try Milton Keynes again. As I was driving there I was thinking “why am I doing this? I ‘m old enough to be the mother of most of these women and the grandmother of some”. Well, I didn’t disgrace myself coming 22nd out of 53 competitors and as I was driving home I thought “I know exactly why I do this. I feel great”. There is nothing quite like the buzz you get from road racing so give it a go if you can. You might just get hooked like I did.

 

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