Riding with the MuleBar Girls has been a bit of a shift for me this year, I’ve evolved the types of riding that I race at and my work life changed it’s pattern too. So where I’d normally see the girls at Herne Hill track and taking the to the Tour Series, I was mostly off doing downhill racing or something adrenaline based. My track bike hasn’t been ridden this year once, but it was swapped for a BMX and jump bike.
Time with the girls has been spent on Rebecca’s sofa, in the pub or at bike industry events, at which we’d be catching up and swapping stories about what we’d been up to.
I spent a month in Scotland riding, during which I felt terribly homesick, and had missed the team loads, barely even able to keep track of their impressive road and track results on the internet even. So I made up for lost time when we threw ourselves into organising Velo Jam, a women’s only open track meet. That was an event I was so proud to be part of, it was a huge success with 50 racers across 3 categories.
Another highlight was the first minidrome of the year in, where V and Rebecca came to support me and I was the fastest girl.
The other stand out moment of mine with the team was in fact a road ride we did together!! It was a wet morning and they’d totally hoodwinked me into thinking it was some promo ride thing in a town, not a 60 miler through the Surrey Hills. However it was so much fun chatting and riding we decided to make sure we do that together at least once a month.
2013 is looking bright and exciting, just more of the same good times
Love Anna xxx
If I’m honest I haven’t really done much winter training this year! Last year when I was still a layabout 3rd year art student I was training for hours every day but this year I’m an impoverished graduate and just started a new job (alongside my old job) so cycling has taken a bit of a back seat for the moment – aside from a few seriously painful group turbo sessions courtesy of Elite Cycling.
What I have been doing a lot of is coaching, with the last day (I hope) of my level 2 coaching exam coming up soon I have been cramming in the coursework and hours to get it finished in time, and to that end, ran a basic cyclocross skills session at Herne Hill this weekend.
While I’m used to coaching on the track, cyclocross is very new to me, and not my strong suit, but armed with British Cycling’s ‘Go-Ride’ session guides, a few months practice and one race under my belt (and a bag full of biscuits and a pair of wellies and a whistle) I gave it a go! We were blessed with the mildest day in weeks, but this hadn’t made much impact on the mud, the girls ploughed through it (literally) in great spirit and all made fantastic progress, impressing everyone by all managing to touch a bottle on the floor while riding in boggy mud and not fall off, as well as all of them tackling the infield obstacles left behind from muddy hell, which over the last months have only become muddier and more difficult, and despite more than a few tumbles and several kilos of mud per bike, they kept at it and all made it round the course.
I’m really looking forward to starting again where we left off with track sessions next year and taking the skills the girls have learnt, and getting even more of them racing.
2012 has been a year of sport – especially cycling – and I feel satisfied that we have played our part in inspiring ladies to jump on a bike and give cycling a go.
Soppy as it is, I am proud of what we have done as a team. The success of our weekly track sessions is testament to the effort we put into pushing the women’s side of the sport forward, and it is thanks to our girls (as well as Tony and Joseph) – who have selflessly given up many their Sunday’s – that we have been able to run these sessions no matter how many girls turn up.
At the start of the year I was told, ‘what’s the point in putting a women’s only track event on, as there are not enough girls to race.’ How wrong that person! Velo Jam inspired another wave of track riders to dip their feet in the water and give racing a go. At the last track session, one of the girls said that racing in Velo Jam was one of the best days of her life. What more inspiration do you need!
Velo Jam 2012 – GoRace Girls photo credit: AE Photos
Velo Jam 2012 – A Cats photo credit: AE Photos
Velo Jam – B Cats – photo credit: AE Photos
I find the women’s race scene can at times be an arrogant place. If you don’t have the legs to keep up with the 1st/2nd cats it can feel like you are being looked down on. This attitude frustrates me as I feel you should be able to enjoy sport at a competitive level whatever your ability. Hopefully through our track sessions and events, we are changing things.
Racing wise I have sucked this year, with plenty of weddings to go to, a new Olympic gold medallist in our family and plenty of other work and personal engagements that I had to attend, I just didn’t have the time to put the hours in on the bike. I took to commuting in the big gear to work and spin classes – lots and lots of spin classes. I could say that I will put a big winters training in and be back stronger and fitter next year, but we are already nearly at the end of December and I have been hitting the party seen hard over the festive season – for networking purposes obviously!
I have come to accept that I can only dedicate a certain amount of time in my life for training. I need a healthy balance between training, socialising and working to be happy. If I cut out the socialising and train like a madman for three weeks, I tend to spend the following three weeks partying even harder. I think the enthusiasm for partying always seems to win. Maybe this is because I feel I have been there and done it. From the age of 5 through to 17/18 I trained, trained and trained some more. My sport was gymnastics and we used to train 18 hrs per week and this would be upped to 6 hrs per day in the summer holidays. Even when I wasn’t at gym, I would manage to squeeze in swim squad or hockey training. I guess I feel I have done my training and cycling is a lifestyle not just a sport.
For 2013 I plan to train smarter, as I am a competitive bugger so even though I dont like training, I also dont like being useless on a bike. I plan to allocate a certain amount of time to training that is realistic and plan what races I do around my fitness. I am lucky enough to be heading home to Ireland for Xmas with my bike, so will be able to get at least a weeks worth of riding on nice quiet country roads to kick start the endurance side of things.
Other than that I am really excited to work with the other girls to continue to grow the team, we are lucky enough to be working with some amazing sponsors such as Oakley, Wildoo, Batiste, I love Girl Riders, MuleBar, AnaNichoola, knog and Hope who all help us in our quest to keep pushing women’s cycling in the right direction.
I had to check out by Facebook to work out what on earth I had done this year, and the following images made me smile.
Anna G and myself on our way up Mount Teide, Tenerife
Rebecca and myself networking
Thank you to everyone who has made 2012 such a cool year and bring on 2013!
Well it has been quite a year!
2012 started with me lining up for the cyclocross national champs. My first big race in Mule Bar kit and my first big race at that level full stop. I absolutely loved it, it was the fastest I have ever ridden my cx bike and I was thankful not to be lapped by helen wyman. I entered to have a go and to survive and I didn’t embarrass myself to badly. Anna was in the pits as was her mum, Lou was out on the course, it was a great feeling to be part of the team. The mule bar girls have been fantastic at supporting me and developing my riding.
My cx season finished and the road season started. I was pretty clueless about road racing so the girls decided a good way for me to find my feet was with a 4 day stage race in Malta! talk about in at the deep end. I took my hugely talented friend Di along hoping that she could perform where I could not. Di did not disappoint she cracked out a stage win on the second stage and did well overall. As did my team mate Sarah meaning we had two MBG up near the top on GC. I cant say I played much of a part in getting them there but I did try to provide plenty of morale and medical advice when required. (much more my area of expertise). It was a fantastic trip and it firmly cemented in my mind how much I enjoy being a MBG. The girls were not only great on the road but they were hugely supportive at easing my nerves and never let me feel useless or slow.
Work has been mental this year. I am a junior doctor and I have moved up a grade. My first job as an FY2 doctor was in A&E, this has required long hours and working pretty much every week. Racking up 70hours a week in the emergency department all on my feet and usually at night left little time for training and racing. Despite this I have worked hard to increase my power and strength on the bike all be it lacking rather a lot of base miles. The MBG have been a great distraction from the stresses of work. I took a weekend off to help out at Velojam their hugely successful women’s track racing event. It was lovely to see all their hard work at the weekly track coaching pay off. One of the reasons I was so keen to join the team was because of how much they give back to the sport. I am already looking forward to the next event. I also joined the girls to watch the women’s olympic road race.
Over the winter I have tried to fit in some cross races, usually after working all night in A&E. I have raced having been awake for approx 30 hours straight (I was a bit wobbly and crashed a fair bit). I love cross and I hope next season I will be working less hours I can put more time and effort into it.
Looking forward to 2013 I have various things planned. In august I will finish my formal rotations as a doctor and I will be working when it suits me. I am taking august off and plan to head out to Morzine for some mountain biking.
Although I have had no dazzling results this year I have had a great time riding my bike and thankfully that is what the mule bar girls value.
This winter has been the first time I’ve been anywhere near fit enough to go training with the girls having been out of action for quite a while with some set backs of which I won’t bore you with the long backstory.
What’s happened since I’ve been away from racing is that the women’s scene has developed almost beyond recognition. I’ve had a shock to the system trying to turn up and race having had some much time apart from my racing legs, and unlike in the past it’s not so easy to dip in and out without full dedication. I think this is a really good thing for the top end of the sport and I hope to see more numbers and more separately categorised races to feed all levels for 2013. The amount of female talent in this country is so exciting and as we go into the new year I have confidence that voices are gradually starting to be heard and the sport will continue to move forward.
All the girls have been amazing in encouragement coming back from injury but I have to personally mention team-mate Louise Mahe who has dragged me out of the front door on the days I wanted to sell my bike, feeling I’d gone so far backwards it was hopeless. She has been there the whole way this year and seen me start putting some focus back into riding again, giving me so much motivation, even though she must have been back-pedalling throughout most of it!
Being so far behind where I need to race in the current and progressive competitive climate I’ve taken on a bit of a natural role in background team management. It’s given me a chance to go along to races with the girls allowing me to really appreciate the diversity within MBG. From hill climbs, road, cyclo-cross and BMX to keeping an eye on the jaeger bomb count on a night out I’ve really enjoyed being part of the team and seeing it continue to grow, along with its initiatives such as VeloJam.
I look forward to next season and continuing our work in making sure the voices of women’s cycling are heard.
Happy New Year!
I’m afraid my review of 2012 has come a little late. I will spare you the excuses but they revolve around breaking my toe and my bike and my car breaking down. This was particularly interesting as on the morning of my first race for MuleBar Girl earlier this year, the very same car threatened to scupper my plans by stubbornly refusing to start. Thankfully on this occasion and following a dubious drive back from Germany with a rapidly ailing car (an earlier model to this I might add), I’d bitten the bullet and paid for motor recovery. Unfortunately that didn’t help me with writing the blog but it did give me something to preamble about and got me back on four wheels faster than I got back on two wheels or two feet.
Copyright: Juan Trujillo
2012 has been a fantastic year with the MuleBar Girls. At the end of the 2011 season I wasn’t even sure if I’d be racing again after a back injury kept me off the bike for a number of months. However, the girls obviously saw a little glimmer of hope and I’m so glad that I took up their offer of joining such a great team even when I didn’t know if I could race or not.
Copyright: Juan Trujillo
My review of the year revolves around smiles and laughter both on and off the bike, racing and training, coffee, cake and embrocation oil with a smattering of tears, pain, frustration and gritted determination. I’ve made some amazing friends in the MuleBar Girls and we’ve won some races in the process. I’ve seen my team mates on the podium and we’ve fought through tough times together. I’ve experienced the inspiration of the Olympic games on my doorstep and I’ve ground out some evil turbos while the rain lashes down outside. I’ve eaten bread and butter pudding for breakfast and I’ve been on TV. There’ve been times when I felt like there was two of me riding my bike and I know what it is like to really truly want something. Then there are the times when my legs felt like lead or when I tried so hard and for so long to get away that they just could not push any longer do what I may, even though moments afterwards it felt like I simply capitulated. I’ve warmed up on the rollers with the same song on repeat losing myself in the words and the beat and I’ve gone missing time and again in the moment of racing. I’ve chased wheels uphill and down and been bashed about by the unrelenting Dutch wind. I’ve climbed mountains in the sunshine and felt the energising heat of the sun’s rays penetrate my limbs as I rest in the square.
Copyright: Huw Williams
My love affair with my bike has certainly been rekindled in 2012 and I have 5 very special people to thank for that – my team mates. It is not an overstatement to say that they are a team of hugely fun loving and determined girls who really care about women’s cycling and who have a passion for getting more women out there on bikes.
Happy New Year to you all and see you out on the roads soon!
You can follow the Team Mule Bar Girls on their team blog, twitter and facebook page.