My road racing season has finally ended. I wasn't actually sure when it would finish. A stuttering start in March, and a long time spent gearing up and warming up meant it was only June when I got into a near regular rythmn of racing. At one point, with my run of jitters, near panic attacks and a general lack of confidence I almost gave up on the idea of road racing altogether ! When I eventually found my mojo I took to racing in earnest, knowing that I would need to continue to the end of October if I wanted to move up a category.
Anyway, six months and 43 points later I've made it through - and even with a month to spare ! I am now a 2nd category rider. So this may still be a universe away from Nicole Cooke, but I feel like I've won my own little World Cup challenge. It's not always that easy to get the points in women's races - not least because all categories race together. So racing has always been a big challenge. From the start, a 4th category rider can easily find herself racing against an elite category rider. A tough task to finish in the points.
The up side of it though, is that you have a constant vision of what to aim for. Moving up a category will obviously mean needing to raise your game even more, but having raced against the cream of the crop regularly means that it's not as big a shock to the system when taking part in National Series races. For the men, it's a different story. Moving up from 3rd to 2nd category can be a bit of a poisoned chalice. It's a good cachet to say you're now 2nd category - a category that shows you're taking your racing seriously. But those first few races of getting dropped from a bunch containing the likes of Malcolm Elliot, Warwick Spence and a whole raft of other Elite and 1st category riders can be enough to make anyone hang up their road racing bikes - and many people do.
No, I won't have that problem next year. 2nd category gives me a feeling of confidence about my racing, which is always good. It will also make me more focused in my racing. I'm already thinking about what I will need to do to get the 160 points needed for 1st category ! Or maybe, for now I should stop thinking and just get on with celebrating the end of the road season !