What a crazy few months it has been for me. Non stop. At the start of the year I set out my goals. Each year I understand myself more and more as a rider and I know that I tend to be on form mid season rather than at the beginning. I like to use the races to bring out my form so the races in June-August suit me best. In this case one of my main aims of the year was to put in a good performance at the national road race championships. One reason for this is that all the top British pro riders come home from where ever they are in the world to compete for the stripes. This allows me to race against them and see how I compare. We are very lucky to have such talented riders come from the UK, with the likes of Lizzie Armitstead, Emma Pooley, Sarah Storey, Laura Trott, Dani King to just name a few, so I knew it was going to be a tough race. To top this off, humour had it that the course was brutal. I liked the sound of that!!
The race split to pieces with Lizzie Armitstead setting the pace on the front up the second climb. I hung in, staring at the wheel in front, hoping for the top to appear. As soon as we reached the top, Lizzie pulled off and headed to the back to see who had made the split. I looked round and realised I was last rider with no one in sight. When Lizzie reached the back she glanced at me and smiled, as well as giving me a little encouragement; “Well done Jessie, good effort”. That gave me such a buzz. I made the break with all the hitters. Go me!!!
The group of about 15 started working together, riding through and off to keep the pace high. I was so pleased to make the split with all the pros as it showed how much I have stepped up from last year. Just as we settled into a rhythm Lizzie attacked again. I had nothing left to react so couldn’t hold on to the increased pace. I drifted off the back with Nikki Juniper. We worked together and gradually caught single riders ahead. Hannah Barnes being the first one. By the time we got to the finishing circuits we had a group of 5 riders.
My aim was to get on the U23 podium but I knew with such a classy field that would be a big ask. I realised that I was now going for 4th U23 in the group I was in and had to battle with Hannah Barnes and Anna Christian for that spot. From my experience with racing with the both of them I knew it was going to be really tough to beat Hannah going into a sprint so I decided I needed to go before. Having done many laps of the circuit I sussed out the finish. There was a little drag up about 500m to go so that was where I would go. I fully committed, I could see the finish line ahead and no one had passed me yet. Then just before the line Hannah came past followed by Nikki Juniper. I was really pleased with my performance, I gave it everything I had and I came away with a lot of positives.
This year has opened my eyes to another world of cycling. Racing with the best in the world is such an incredible feeling and is very addictive. Now the season is nearly over I can only hope that I get the opportunity to race at the top level even more next year.