May: 11th (No session on 25th Bank Holiday Monday)
June: 8th & 22nd
Riders wishing to be assessed to race The Welwyn Track League must make themselves known at sign on! Riders are expected first to be competent Track riders. Riders are expected to have all the basic Track skills and to be able to ride confidently on all areas of the Track, with the safety and consideration of other riders in mind. Riders will be issued with a bib for identification purposes during the Race Training Session. If successful riders will then be able to register for Track League but will still be under initial probation at the discretion of the TL Promotor and Commissars.
One of our young riders spent some of her Easter Holiday in Belgium – she has written an account of the riding she did whilst there. Well done Molly. Molly Drew’s Tour of Flanders
The Ronde Van Vlaanderen. The greatest cycling race of the year? That’s what my dad says. Unless it’s wintertime in which case he might tell you it’s the big cyclocross race at Koksijde. Either way, he likes Belgium a lot so we get to go there quite a bit.
Lots of people say Belgium is boring but I’d say they’re the boring ones. Belgium has everything: biking, racing, cobbles, hills, cycling paths. Oh, and frites. And waffles. Yum!
For our Easter holidays, we’re staying for a week, in a small village called Sint Maria Horebeke, near Oudenaarde. In the Spring, Oudenaarde is the cycling capital of the world. Everywhere you look there are posh bikes and pro bike riders. Turn one way and there’s Etixx Quick Step, look the other and there goes Team Sky. It’s amazing. The locals love cycling too and so everyone is getting excited for De Ronde. There are posters and flags everywhere and people talk about the race in all the cafes. Before the race there is a Sportive for “Tourists”. That’s me and my dad! 16,000 other people also get to ride the cobbles and hills of the race route.
On the morning of our ride, it’s pouring with rain. Urgh. My dad is riding further than me but I have to do 60km is really bad weather over slippery cobbled roads. It’s really muddy too but hey, I’m a cyclocross rider so I’m used to getting dirty!
We set off and I have to ride up the Molenberg. The Molenberg is quite pretty and has a nice windmill at the top but today I just see slippery, bumpy cobbles. Quite a few people are walking or riding really slowly. It’s very hard but I make it to the top where dad is waiting. Phew! One down. 10 minutes later and I’m bumping along the Paddestraat. And then the Haaghoek. No one mentions the FLAT cobbled roads which, in some ways, are harder than the hills. The cobbles just make me bounce up in the air and my arms are all tingly.
The rain is now pelting down. We ride some hills that have tarmac rather than cobbles – the Leberg, Berendries and Valkenberg. They’re steeper than anything where we live but they’re smooth so a bit easier. My last cobbled hill is the Eikenberg. This is actually quite close to where we’re staying so I know there isn’t far to go. There’s a tarmac gutter at the side of the road and a lot of people are riding there because it’s smoother and easier. But we didn’t go to Belgium to ride in the gutter so I go up the middle of the cobbles. We get to the top and I know it’s nearly time for a big bowl of frites so I use my last bit of energy to get home.
The Ronde race route looks like a bowl of spaghetti. It goes in all directions! For race day, we were going to chase the race on our bikes to see how many times we could see the riders. First up we saw the women and then we managed to catch up with the men five times. The chase is almost a race in itself. Cycles, scooters, walkers, motor bikes, cars, vans and buses all jostling for position. It was sometimes a bit scary but great fun racing from the Eikenberg to the Holleweg, down to the Haaghoek , back to Horebeke and then to settle on the Taaienberg to watch the race go past, eat frites and watch the final kms on a big screen. A really fun weekend! Best race in the world? I think so!
In the absence of local racing at any of the usual locations Gaia Casciello and Rebecca Maynard of the Welwyn Wheelers Academy scoured the calendar last week and found the York Cycleworks Spring Circuit Races 1 (Cat. 2/3/4) at the relatively new York Sports Village. So together with Richard Maynard they set off on Friday evening, stayed overnight at Richard Parents’ house and travelled to York well rested in the morning.
The circuit, which is next to the newly commissioned outdoor 250m velodrome, is open and exposed. Warming up on rollers in the gusty conditions proved testing, which gave a good indication of the way in which the race would unfold.
Part of the attraction of going to far flung races is the unknown field, which was the case here. The predication was that the race would fracture into small groups was confirmed early in the race with two strong riders attacking and leaving the peleton in the early stages, this left the girls, armed with their race plan, to fight it out with the rest of the field.
They maintained their position at the front of the peleton and took their turns in keeping the pace high. This resulted in them causing a group of three to break from the front of the group and the pattern of attacking the third rider as a team was set. This rider was extremely strong and to her credit attacked the two Welwyn girls herself. Rebecca was first dropped from the group and then later Gaia, meaning that both of them were left to circulate on their own.
In the final stages the now very tired Rebecca was caught and overtaken by a rider from the Boston Wheelers Cycle Club, meaning that at the finishing line Gaia was 4th and Rebecca was 6th, out of a field of 15.
Both girls had a great trip and learnt a lot from their race about tactics and when to make the maximum effort. As well as the normal local racing both of them are now looking to race in the Polypipe Pontefract Town Centre Crits as the change of location proved great fun.