I have never been invited to take part in a main stream Women’s Tour. In fact other than club races 3 wheels never race with 2 wheels. We do train together but are never allowed to race in State based or elite races. However this past weekend I was happy to drive over to South Australia to take part in the Murray Bridge Women’s Tour. The Tour was organised by the Skinny Lattes Cycling Club, a women’s specific cycling club based in Adelaide, South Australia . The Skinny Lattes encourages women from all walks of life, stages, abilities and ages who love to cycle. They are a club that wants to get women back on bikes and in a non-threatening way into racing. The club had decided to open the tour up to Hand Cycles and Trikes, which was fabulous as it gave us another chance to race before our Australian ParaCycling Championships.
My Aussie mum Margo made the drive over with me and it was great to not only have the company on the long drive but to have my own pit crew. I had been offered a house free of charge (thanks Thomas) but it was in Adelaide and about an hours drive from the start of all the races so decided to stay in a motel in Tailem Bend about a 15 minute drive from Murray Bridge.
Margo and I arrived on Thursday evening so that I could have a drive around the courses on the Friday. We went to have a look at the TT and the Road Race courses and after being told that they were flat I was surprised to see that the TT was a constant climb on the way out but a great downhill on the way back. The Criterium, I was told, wouldn’t be too bad for trikes, corner wise. But after having a look at it I knew it would be tough on two of the corners as one had a drainage ditch to turn through and the other had an S bend. The Road Race course was undulating and the day we drove it was very windy, so I knew that depending on which way the wind was blowing it would be tough.
The Time Trial was 10.7km in length which is basically the distance I have done in the past but the Road Race was 44km and it was going to be the longest race I had ever done. Usually trikes race no more than 30km, but as I train much further my coach Bec and I decided that I would do the entire course. I was really looking forward to the challenge and I was hoping that even though there were Hand Cycles racing that I would be able to join the women in the Road Race.
Saturday morning dawned not too bad at all, a bit chilly but dry and not much wind to start. That is until we got to the start of the TT. I was the first off with the hand cycles going off after me and then the women in C, B and A grades. By the time I was sent off the wind had picked up and I had to change the way I was going to ride the TT. It was a pretty bad headwind on the way out on the course with a slight climb to the turn around, but when I did turn WOW I had a great tailwind on the way back. I was really happy with the outcome and ended up 9th out 24 starters on 2 wheels. We then had the crit in the afternoon and I went off with the guys on the hand cycles. I must say that they are like bullets and other than 1 rider I ended up doing most of the crit by myself. But it certainly was great training for corners and sprinting out of them, but the weather had turned and we started to have a few drops of rain.