By Gemma Melton
Ipswich Spring Scramble is one of the first road races of the season and is the first event on the Women’s Eastern Racing League (WERL) calendar. There’s always a good turn out and a high standard of racing.
Being just 10 miles away from home, it’s nice because the roads are familiar, I know the twists and turns and possibly even the pot holes, but, that still doesn’t make it much easier. It’s always a slog and it’s almost always windy, with exposed roads. The course also shares some of it’s roads with Ipswich Bicycle Club’s chain-gang, and so I suppose all I associate this course with is pain! As an early season opener you are never quite sure how you will feel, (despite Coach saying “the numbers are looking good!”)
For those that don’t know, it’s a rolling course through Gosbeck, Ashbocking, Helmingham, Pettaugh and Crowfield, finishing at the top of Framsden Hill.
Anyway, no excuses, it’s on my doorstep. The best thing about this being, I could mope about in my dressing gown, drink coffee and eat hot cross buns until mid-morning before having to get ready.
Once arrived, I warmed up on the course. I prefer to take to the road for the warm up – rather than rollers or a turbo trainer. It helps to calm my nerves and get a feel for what the conditions, weather and roads are like. I tend to relax when I’m messing about up the road, away from all of the pre-race hype and team tactic talks.
With a notoriously sketchy and narrow neutralised section, we hit the course fast. I was keen to stay close to the front knowing that the first stretch (assisted by a tail wind), would be quick. It’s also got some dodgy bends and I didn’t want to get stuck behind some riders over breaking.
I settled in to the race nicely and kept an eye out for any early attacks; but inevitably relying on the numerous team riders to chase them down. ‘Keep your powder dry’ as Coach Jason Battle says.
When a Sigma Sport rider went off the front, nobody seemed too bothered, it wasn’t until a Les Filles rider decided she might have a go too, that we started to chase a little. But then the headwind got too much and the group slowed right down. Those two riders were away, but with this wind we might be able to bring them back, if we all worked together.
No chance, with other riders attacking, another break went, I went with it, clinging on to the back and hoping other riders would bridge across with me and assist, but they didn’t because their team mates were in the break. The lead group signalled a hand gesture to rotate through and off, taking it in turns to keep the pace high. I fell back into the chase group.
With my boyfriend Jord cycling backwards around the course supporting me, James and Ross, driving in one of the lead cars, and my training pal Steve driving the broom-wagon, I knew they would have their own version of events seen from their cars. Hopefully I wouldn’t disappoint them. As long as I’m not in the broom-wagon I’m probably ok.
So back in the chase group and on the final lap, nothing was really happening, until a pair of riders attacked on the hills just before Swiss Farm. Feeling good, I caught them and carried on, through and off we made it past Helmingham Hall. Knowing the finish line was about 5 minutes away, I relaxed and made sure Bex (Rebecca Johnson Aprire/HSS Hire) didn’t fly off. She has a habit of doing that. (Usually when I make conversation.)
Approaching the final climb, we were all neck and neck, then Bex edged forward a little, she was now standing up in a full on sprinting position and looked to be giving it her all. I sat down, shifted up a few more gears and powered past, starting my sprint a little later. Finally all those winter hill reps were paying off!
I was past Bex. And the other two girls weren’t coming back now. If I could hold this I would be the first rider of the chase group over the finish line.
Determined not to look back, I just carried on sprinting to the line. I put one hand in the air. I know it’s not a win but it was a personal achievement and I beat off Bex, my local rival!
Thanks to the organisers and everyone who makes these events happen, also thanks to the photographers Huw, John and Simon, (click on their names to see their full galleries). ThanksYou can view the results here and read a race report in the local paper written by Ferg.
Massive Kudos to the girls in the lead group, they played it really well and are a strong bunch.
This is the third time I have raced Ipswich Spring Scramble and every year I am improving. The first year happened to also be my first ever road race and quite frankly I was just pleased to finish it. The second year I came 18th, and this year I placed 11th. Fourth year, who knows!