NS makes no excuses for how much coverage Connie Hayes gets on this website: she’s one of those riders who very clearly loves her bike, loves riding it and – most of all – loves riding it fast in a race. You can follow her progress, and read the blogs she and her team mates write, on the Liv-AWOL website.
I started off the month at Milton Keynes Bowl with my team mate Hannah Graveney. I had no idea how I was going to fare in a bunch of mostly juniors and under 23s – very good juniors and under 23s. It was going well and I was at the front of the bunch assuming that Hannah was behind me in the group. However when I dropped back at around the half way mark to check were she was I found out she wasn’t in the group due to suffering a puncture and BC removing the laps out rule. I was now back at the front realising the fact that I was now the lone LIV AWOL rider. luckily being at the front I avoided both the crashes. Lots of riders tried to from breaks but all were unsuccessful. The bell rang for the last lap and I was pushed back to the middle of the bunch. At this point I knew I would have to pull off a miracle to get any points so I just settled for getting home safely in the bunch.
The following Saturday I arguably stupidly decided to ride at milton keynes bowl again. I was quite comfortably staying in but I constantly had the next days Team Series race on my mind. A late reaction out of one of the bends resulted me getting dropped. Last few laps I didn’t exactly try very hard as I just wanted to finnish without destroying myself for the next day.
Team Series. In lots of ways it felt like a youth national series, the best in the country battling it out. however it also felt like a plunge into deeper waters. I think the fact that I hadn’t done a race on a hilly course since the youth national championships back in July last year, made me extremely nervous. I historically have had problems with Hog Hill so we had no idea how I was going to fare but knowing that I was quicker, stronger, lighter and faster was helping the nerve levels ever so slightly. Due to a calendar clash I was the only LIV AWOL girl racing which in some ways made it feel easier as I knew i didn’t really have much to play for. I came to the start line and I felt sick with nerves. It started fast but I was in an okay position. As the laps went on I tried to move up as best as possible as riders were getting dropped. Every lap I was surprised I was still in the bunch.Not long past the half way mark there was an attack at the front of the bunch and I couldn’t quite handle the pace on restricted gears going down the hill. I was dropped in a second bunch with about 15 other riders. For the first time ever I felt strong up the hill and was actually enjoying. I couldn’t stop smiling the whole race! It finally felt as if everything was paying off. I finished 30th out of 70 starters something I didn’t think was going to be possible prior to the start.
The following weekend saw me ride at Milton Keynes again. Having come 4th the national indoor rowing championships* the day before to say my legs were dead was an understatement! I managed to hang in the group for about 45 minutes before my legs could not match the speed resulting in me getting dropped which I knew was highly likely to occur. I made the decision that evening not to start the Ipswich road race the followin day as a tired body is not a happy one.
The final round of the Milton Keynes crits was definitely interesting. It was very fast but I felt like I was coping fine. However at around the 40 minutes in mark there was an attack at the front and I just wasn’t focused resulted in myself getting dropped with a few others. To my horror these other riders refused to do much work so had to tow them all round for 20 minutes. It was just one of those unlucky rides but they happen to everyone from time to time.
April is going to action packed lot of exciting races with it so I cannot wait. Till then,
*Connie also takes part in equestrian competition and cross-country running, incidentally. She’s one of those people who is good at most things.