Thursday 6th September 2018

Winning a Stripy Jersey!

Mary Wilkinson

National Champion. It’s quite a nice ring to it doesn’t it?!

Never would I have imagined when I rode my first road race back in March that less than 4 months later I’d be standing atop a National Championship podium pulling on a rather nice stripy British Cycling Champions Jersey. OK, so to clarify it’s a National Masters Champion’s Jersey, but a National Title is a National Title!

Coincidentally the Championship race took place on the same course that I made my road racing debut on back in March; the tough Oakenclough circuit on the edge of the Forest of Bowland and organised brilliantly by Cold Dark North Events. It’s about as local a race as I get and it’s also right on the doorstep of my brilliant Beacon BF100 Bikes home, the Fell Bike & Triathlon Store in Clitheroe so there was added incentive to do well aboard a local bike brand.

After weeks and weeks of virtually wall to wall sunshine race day dawned with torrential rain and blustery winds that made the already demanding race circuit even more challenging, never mind confusing my choice of bike set up and kit. My panic over controlling my deeper section wheels in the wind and braking on carbon rims in the wet were brought under control on Saturday thanks to Ed at the Fell fixing my aluminum rims at late notice…thank you!

Despite the weather a full field of 60 of the top female cyclists in the UK lined up to compete to be crowned British Cycling National Champion in their respective age groups ranging from 30 to 60+. The Oakenclough circuit, is what I’d call a hard riders course with a long drag, kicking steeply to the summit of each lap followed by a fast, technical descent, made even more precarious by the wet conditions. This was to be repeated 5 times before crossing the finish line at the top of the ascent…a tough and attritional course…I loved it.

After a relatively steady opening few miles, the first ascent saw the initial attacks start and although early attempts to break away didn’t stick, I made sure I was covering them because in the March race an early breakaway stayed away to the finish and I wasn’t going to let that happen again. Approaching the third lap I decided to have a dig on the climb and managed to drag several strong riders away over the top to form a 10 women group that worked well together, and we gradually built a gap that grew throughout the final two laps. Approaching the final climb to the finish line, working together was put to one side and it was everyone for themselves. With just the short, steep climb remaining I punched hard a pulled clear of the group to cross the line to claim overall victory and with it the British Cycling National Champions Jersey. Nice!

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by Mary Wilkinson

photo credit Ellen [email protected] Racing Scene

July 2018

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