It was the last event in my 2019 race calendar. Having suffered from a knee injury that hit me back in the Isle of Man (Sept Bank Hol) as well as spending time on our new house project I have been on and off the bike and did not do any hill climbing for ages. Having done some icing and compressing I worked out that I can put up to 20min effort before I start hurting. So I was sort of ready to give it a go ?. I thought it was the last National Clarion points race so having sniffed a chance to grab a National Clarion points trophy I simply had to do it. Encouraged by my informal manager Peter Roscoe I signed up. I love this climb and having a closed road event this year was a bonus. The field was strong with 150 races including 27 women, lots of them were testing the legs before the Nationals as the National HC was held this year on a similar profile course in Devon. The only other Clarion woman was Lindsey Clark, newly crowned world track champ (masters), so I thought I had no chance, I was going for the 2nd place and 40 clarion points.
The day was cold and very breezy with some drizzle. I instantly noticed that my asthmatic lungs didn’t like the cold damp air and I felt run down at the warm up. I didn’t realise at this point that I was coming down with a cold as well. I set off well but soon lost the mental game as I struggled to breath. You can tell from the pics that I am not showing much fatigue – not a HC race face you would expect. I finished strong pushing my heart rate to the limit when crossing the line. I rolled down pretty instantly to pick up my winter jacket I left with the marshals at the bottom of the hill… Going back up was extremely entertaining as I joined some friendly girls (participants) and we strolled back up cheering on the other racers and having a good laugh. Having reached the HQs at the top I learnt that I pipped Lindsay somehow and earnt 50 clarion points. I came 14th overall though which was below my expectations, I was hoping to finish in the top 10. I clocked 13.17 which I thought was a lot slower than last year. In fact it was only 2 secs slower so considering the circumstances it was not too bad.
I really enjoyed the event despite the fact there were no fantastic Bury race supporters this year… and I hope this event will be in the Clarion race calendar next year. As a comparison the National HC was not on a close road and there are number of complaints I picked up on social media. So well done to Beeley Moore organiser Chris Myhill for a fantastic closed road event.
I went back to the car and started feeling awful. Could not stop coughing and blowing my nose. Mark can confirm I was a right mess when I came back home and had a cold for another few days. Having celebrated what I thought was winning of the National Clarion points trophy I found out later that day that actually there is another points race happening in February and it is a track race that I am not accredited to race… It wasn’t formally published in the Clarion 2019 calendar, so we all got confused (Bury Clarion). Peter R. was more disappointed than me, believe me I was only laughing at this point how foolish I was ?. Also there will be no Clarion cx race this year to pinch a few more points so that’s it. Shows you how the racing works and that you never know where you end up! Never give up but also never celebrate too early???. I also think N.Clarions have miscalculated my overall season points (I am looking forward to their response) so maybe I will scratch a few more points but a cx race would open more possibility but never mind… I am thinking about the next season now and what I will want to focus on and sorting out all the injuries over winter…
All in all I think I have had a great season of racing, first proper one after a few “tasters” in 2018, and I am looking forward to pinning the race number yet again in spring. In brief summary: I have finished quite a few open TTs on a podium. I won National Clarion 25mile TT trophy, National Clarion Crit, National Clarion HC. I matched 1 TT course record (Hatton in Cheshire); I broke ladies club 100mile TT record. My best achievement was finishing 7th in National 12hTT among very experienced time trialist and national record holders. 232.4 miles in tough weather conditions which set a new ladies club record.