I am now at the point where I want to soak up as much information, knowledge and practical training as I can in a desperate bid to be, well maybe not a racing snake, but certainly a far less slow, overweight, middle-aged cyclist. In furtherance of this, I have started some sessions with the Scott Contessa Road Racing Academy.
Now that all sounds mighty grand and gives me an air of being a right up there with the Pendletons, Cookes etc. In fact it is aimed at near beginner level and is intended as a way of getting more Scottish women cyclists involved in road racing. Several Scottish regions are holding regular training sessions leading up to a big event at the end of March. The west region is now in its third week of Saturday morning sessions and so far we have concentrated on basic skills – balance, basic group riding technique etc. The group is fairly mixed in ability and experience so we are working up gradually to faster speeds. In a couple of weeks we will be venturing out of the training track and on to the roads to consolidate what we have learned so far before we go back to the circuit for more skills development. As I know the area, I have been given the task of working out the routes for the two on-road sessions we will have. Since the group is so disparate in ability, the first route will probably be a simple 20miles on fairly flat roads to allow those who have not ridden in groups to gain confidence and skill without the added complication of hills. The second route will factor hills in and will let the group experiment with tactics for how to get the weaker hill climbers up in a group. I’ll be listening closely during the pre-sessions for that skill given that my climbing ability falls into the category of “determined but dreadful”. Ah well; at least I’ll have insider knowledge of the routes. And I may very well cheat like hell and use the Genius for some pre-session training rides.
All in all it is a marvellous opportunity for women in Scotland to develop skills and hats off to Scott for sponsoring the academies. No doubt Scott Contessa Epic have one eye on the proceedings to see where their next team members may be coming from, but hey, it benefits us all. I’ve no doubt the majority of the ladies on the course with me will never compete at a high level. But here’s the thing: I did two races last year in which I was in the very small slow group. if even a quarter of the academy ladies come and join me, then this year the slow group will be significantly augmented and we will gain confidence through having a number of competitors all working at the same level. And maybe next year we will have developed to be the next group up, while at the same time the new “slow group” will be stepping up to the starting line. If the academy offers that sort of continuity then we are in a very healthy place. That’s gotta be good for Scottish cycling. Now could somebody do something about this darn weather as I can’t cycle fast with all these clothes on.