18-year-old Flora Perkins is one of our eight journal contributors in 2022. In her second entry, the Le Col-Wahoo rider reflects on an intense period of learning from her first block of racing at the highest level.
So exams are finished. Phew! And I’m free. Free to ride my bike, to train without the added pressure of books to read, dates to memorise and essays to churn out. However, the post-exam feeling is perhaps not quite what I was expecting.
I walked out of my school gates on a random Wednesday in June and roughly ten hours later, after a somewhat gruelling car journey, pitched up at my Airbnb in Dumfries and Galloway ahead of the National Road Championships
I went straight from school into a slightly hectic week or so of racing in the UK. I walked out of my school gates on a random Wednesday in June and roughly ten hours later, after a somewhat gruelling car journey, pitched up at my Airbnb in Dumfries and Galloway ahead of the National Road Championships.
My new phase of life did not get off to the best start. The next morning I lined up for the National Time Trial Championships. I didn’t get to spend as much time as I’d hoped with my TT bike in the run-up and so already felt a bit underprepared. I was just going to go out there, give it my all, and do what I could in the circumstances I found myself in. However, a few minutes into my effort my skis started to wiggle. Bit by bit they loosened and bit by bit it became harder to control the bike. Eventually, there was nothing I could do. I had to stop riding. I rode to the finish, balancing my bars with my hands. Not ideal to say the least.
My legs felt good and, after a whirlwind race, I squeezed on to get third in the sprint to the line. I stood on my first senior national podium
The next day was the circuit race champs. A chance to redeem myself; a fresh chance to show what I could do. I was excited. I was riding alongside El King, a Le Col-Wahoo teammate and a crit queen. It went a whole lot better. My legs felt good and, after a whirlwind race, I squeezed on to get third in the sprint to the line. I stood on my first senior national podium. Definitely a different experience than the day before.
The final race was the road race. The weather was rumoured to be horrendous, and Scotland certainly delivered. The rain lashed down and the wind was unforgiving. Le Col-Wahoo had the advantage of numbers and we played our cards well. A smaller group of us got a gap over the top of the climb. From this Alice clipped off the front and was away. The rest of us controlled from behind, following moves.
The group split again later as last year’s champ, Pfieffer Georgi, put a dig up the climb. I was climbing well but wasn’t able to match the effort. My teammate Lizzie had the legs and made the split and so El King and I were able to relax in the group behind and look to others to close the gap. As it was, the gap stuck and that was the race made. Alice had a mega ride and held out to the finish, crossing the line first and crowned the new national champion. I felt really genuinely pleased for Alice but also felt a pang of disappointment about my own result, feeling that didn’t quite reflect how good I felt. But all in all, we had a really successful team performance and result, and hopefully I’ll have the legs to stay with the big hitters in years to come.
Featured photo: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com 2022 National Circuit Series – Round 2: Ilkley Cycle Races – Flora Perkins of Le Col – Wahoo in action during the Ilkley Cinema Women’s Grand Prix.
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