Savannah Morgan and five other cyclists are keeping rider journals for The British Continental this season. The 20-year-old began her second season in Belgium this year, riding for the Isorex NoAqua team. This is Savannah’s third journal entry…
23 minutes in I was done, back at my car having a little cry while trying to get warm
In at the deep end. That’s pretty much the only way I can describe the start of my season. I mean, I could describe it in a few more words but they aren’t really appropriate for this journal. Pre-lockdown, I was settled into my new Belgian home trying to figure out where it all went wrong. I started my season off at Omloop Het Hageland, a UCI 1.1 race, followed by Le Samyn Des Dames (UCI 1.2) and then a kermesse in Outrijve, which I thought was going to be an easy day out. Turns out I was wrong.
I was left clambering over battered bodies and crying girls on the floor while watching the rest of the bunch float away in the distance
Firstly, Hageland. A race which I thought couldn’t get any worse than when I raced it in 2019 (when I only lasted 30 km in the bunch). Oh boy, I was wrong. 10 km in, only 5 km from the first cobble sector, a large crash covered the road. Along with over half the peloton, I was left clambering over battered bodies and crying girls on the floor while watching the rest of the bunch float away in the distance. We chased hard but the crosswinds gave us no room to get back, and after the cobbles, the convoy came through and in no time my group was at car 18. Game over. I got back to the team van, got warm and put on a brave face until I made it back to my car.
Next up, Le Samyn. A well-known race of absolute savagery. I raced it last year and it was just about as much of a shambles as Hageland, so I kept my expectations low. Get to the finish, that’s all I wanted. I only found out I was racing the day before after I had done a training ride to make up for the Hageland disaster, which wasn’t the ideal prep. Anyone who knows what the Samyn circuit is like will know it’s not the easiest. For the ladies, it’s basically a 30 km sprint to the first cobbles. Each lap consists of four sectors: a long one, a muddy one, two short-but-savage ones and a lot of twisty roads in between. My race included a lot of chasing, panicking, avoiding crashes and slipping on cobbles. But I finished, which after Hageland I didn’t think would be a possibility. We may have been the last group on the road but we did it!!
Next up was a kermesse, something which I always thought would have been easy. A solid get-round and a good start to the season. But boy, I was wrong. Due to the cancellation of pro races we had full CCC Liv and Sunweb Women’s WorldTour teams at our race with a lot of other UCI girls too. The race started and on the first lap, a crash split the group. After some poor positioning (my own fault) I was stuck in no man’s land. With a huge crosswind, it was almost impossible to get back. 23 minutes in I was done, back at my car having a little cry while trying to get warm, genuinely thinking ‘what am I doing here?’
You have to remember the start of the season is much different to the end
I asked myself a lot of questions after the races. I questioned my ability, skill and overall confidence. But you have to remember the start of the season is much different from the end. We are racing against riders who have been in Australia and Spain. Once the main classics races are over, the calibre in these races tends to decrease, as the bigger teams set their sights on different styles of races. It’s sometimes quite surreal. You are able to race against the best in the world, you see them in the bunch and you think you’ll be fine. You can just follow them and within a second they are gone and at the front.
Racing is bloody hard sometimes. Going into the season doing UCI races is tough and you always plan for the worst. But when they go even worse than you’d expected, it definitely isn’t great for your confidence. So now it’s time to knuckle down and start doing what I think I’m capable of.
Update. I am now writing this from the UK. After getting notification that Belgium was going into lockdown, I headed home. It’s much cheaper for me to be at home while I’m not racing. It was a hard decision but definitely was the right one. Since being home it’s been very hard to get my head around it all and I’m hoping everything gets a bit more positive sooner rather than later.
Fingers crossed this isn’t the last journal about racing for the season but if it is, apologies it wasn’t the most positive one. Time to keep healthy and ride my bike as much as possible!
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