Ipswich Spring Scramble 50 mile sporting road race. Category 2-4. First race of the Women’s Eastern Racing League, a project Francesca Rust is working on to encourage more women to race this year.
Starting from the Gosbeck village hall, Francesca Rust (27yrs) racing for Newmarket Cycling and Triathlon Club joined 39 other riders for her first road race having only been cycling for a couple of years.
This being her first competitive year, Rust had previously been to training session to learn bunch and cornering skills and this was her opportunity to put it in to practice. The race was neutralised for the first half mile and Rust quickly got herself into a decent position near the front of the pack. Once the flag had been pulled in the race truly began. Riders of varying abilities jostled for positions. Some sprinted round the outside to the front whereas Rust being in her first race, picked a couple if well known riders to follow through and react to.
Being surrounded by racers at fast pace was a thrilling experience. Elbows touching, lots of talking, brakes screeching and trying to take a drink whilst not missing an attack was a hard mental game too. Throughout the race there were several attacks which Rust was able to cope with comfortably with powerful legs and keeping an eye on the front of the bunch. But it was during the middle of the 2nd lap of the 10 mile loop that the burn began. She got dropped out of the leading bunch on one of the climbs but pushed hard and caught back up. Working hard back through the bunch was tough but Rust got herself back into a good position behind her spot riders. By this point it was about half the field in the lead bunch including some very good 2nd cat riders for Pro teams like Velosure Starley Primal, Aprire HSS and Giordana Triton.
Third lap and the climbs took their toll on the slightly heavier Rust. Whilst determination saw her through the first climb that dropped her on the previous lap, the second was too fast. Tactics at play by the bunch to strip out the weaker riders certainly worked. Rust continued pushing solo for another few miles before hearing a shout from behind. Backing off slightly to be caught up with another new rider and a more experience lady the trio worked together to finish the race positively. British Cycling commissaire advised at the start that if a gap of up to 5 min formed between the lead bunch then all behind would race to the line and be placed. With a 3 minute gap behind the lead bunch Rust knew they would be pulled at the line. With a climb to the finish she dug deep and dropped the two fellow riders to be the first one back after the lead bunch coming 23rd. Completing 37 miles of the course at an average of 21.4mph and 1,400ft of climbing. A great first attempt at Road Racing for Rust and many areas for improvement.