The Tour Series is the pinnacle of crit racing in the UK: a national series of city centre races across the country, drawing big crowds at each round and with TV coverage on ITV and Sky it’s a key target for British cycling teams.
With two UCI pro teams (Drops and WNT) and the British squad (Breeze) taking to the start line we knew the competition would be tough. For Team RGB Building Supplies it was all about getting the experience of racing in these top events and competing against the very best in the country, and having fun!
Lucy Driver, one of our riders from Bridgwater in Somerset, shared reports from each race with her home cycling club, Somerset Road Club. We hope you’ll enjoy her stories from each race and get a feel for what the Tour Series is like from a rider’s point of view.
Hello. Thought you might like a little update…
Those girls are incredible, even the neutralised lap was full on! I was off the pace pretty quick and the strong girls powered on stretching the bunch out with all the twisty corners and hills (2 slopes). I then got caught behind little crash at the turn into one of the hills which bought me to a stop and even more off the pace. But what a totally mega experience and such a privilege to race against best in the U.K and an Olympic champ!
I pulled out after 20 mins… now feeling silly (and wimpy) for doing so but I’ve 6 more races to go to, learn from and enjoy!
First race of the season.. jumping in at the deep end is an understatement! You might see me on TV.. off the back, being lapped and in the hurt locker. My face may not show it, but I promise I enjoyed it!
Extra spoon of peanut butter in my porridge before Stoke on Trent tomorrow!
Stoke on Trent
As expected, Stoke-on-Trent was also really hard! Yes I was lapped by the top girls and eventually pretty much off the back of the others, but unlike Redditch I hung in for longer and kept going until the end. Strangely I Still loved it, even with an average heart rate of 179bpm for 40 mins. It was a twisty course with a couple of really tight turns and lots of different surfaces to ride over. The course wasn’t as “hilly” as Redditch but almost half of the lap sloped upwards, made harder by a headwind. More learnt, more achieved and I definitely earned the slice of lemon drizzle cake my grandparents packed for me!
I hadn’t slept well and my legs felt super tired, so I expected another “get dropped”, “get lapped” beasting from the Northwich stage….
…WRONG! It was INCREDIBLE
Our team met in a derelict old Coop car park (along with OnePro and JLT… star struck!) and set up camp. We even acquired our very own security guard, though I’m pretty sure he was meant to be guarding the building and not our rollers!
Anyway, we warmed up, I did a small amount of pre race “faff” and then we went to the stage for team presentation.
After that we had about 20 mins to ride around the course, which is super great for sussing out the corners and noting crappy bits of road surface and drain covers.
The top teams are called to the start line first, which makes it full on from the off, trying to move up as much as possible during the neutralised lap (which is so fast!).
As expected, the top girls set the pace and a pretty decent group pulled away (with the help of a couple of corners creating bottlenecks).
I found myself in a decent sized “chase” group along with two teammates. I don’t think we were really chasing.. but still, we were motoring on.
As we settled, I realised I felt pretty good and confident enough to spend time on the front. A massive difference to the previous 2 stages where I either blew up completely, or very nearly blew up completely! This time we were only lapped by the leading group on the last lap of the race. Hurrah.
My aim for today’s race was finish with a group, rather than roll over the line solo.. and I achieved what I set out to do. I know it sounds bonkers but that race was just mega, and when I finished I was buzzing so much that I felt like I’d won!
I listened to something boring about politics on radio 4 on the drive home in an attempt to calm down!
Don’t think it worked..I got home pretty quick and I’m writing this at 01.30 unable to sleep.
Awesome day and looking forward to the next 4 races. Thank you all for being so supportive and encouraging.
It was tough and I’m sure my lungs exploded after 30 minutes.
After picking Beth up from Reading station, I navigated our way into London and with the help of google maps, managed to find the riders carpark. Mission one accomplished…didn’t get lost.
We met up with Alice, who had got the train to London and then cycled to Wembley.. what a champ. To cycle those roads must be more hectic than a tight corner, on cobbles in tour series crit..
Unlike the previous three rounds, this time there was just the three of us, with my car as the “base” and no extra pair of hands to take layers at the start or look after my car key! It was a test and we had to be organised!
Having submitting our licences and doing a bit of pre race faff, we got kitted up ready for team presentation. After deliberating about how to carry a car key inside a skin suit, we decided it would be less risky to ask Bike Channel Canyon if they could look after it! Mission 2, accomplished… car key safe and riders ready to race.
Once our team been introduced to the people of Wembley, we rode around the course to warm up and suss it out. The setting was very cool – the course ran right next to the stadium, incorporating pedestrian walk ways, a bridge and I think the entrance to a carpark. There were a few raised bits nicely placed on corners and lots of changes in the road surface to be wary of.. as well as a hill (slope) and full on hairpin bend.
I got the feeling it was going to be more of an on- off race, quite different to Northwich.
We lined up on the start line ready for what was likely to be a fast paced neutralised lap. As we’re not ranked, we started at the back, but this time all 3 of us did a great job of moving up.
I managed to get into the chasing group for a few laps before being in the wrong gear going into the hairpin bend and losing the wheel coming out into the headwind. Oops!
Nevermind.. there were riders behind me so I solo’ed for a bit waiting to be caught. It was tough on my own, especially going up the finishing straight into the headwind so was relieved once back with a group. I found one corner particularly sketchy as it was at the bottom of a descent and the surface changed from rough to smooth pedestrian paving right on the bend. During the race I also had a “wheel touch moment” when a rider swung a little wide on a corner, but no dramas, all fine. Phew.
As per usual, I was lapped by main bunch, I think once, but it’s hard to work out what’s happening as there are riders are all over the course. (maybe there’ll be another being lapped tv moment! ).
We all finished safely having worked super. (After crossing the finish and pulling up, I did feel pretty sick!)
Mission 3, accomplished… team back safe.
It was another great race but I felt a bit tired. Maybe last weeks travelling (and racing!) had caught up with me a little.. or maybe it’s because I forgot to add peanut butter to my porridge!
I checked the results last night and was surprised to find I’d crossed the line ahead of 14 riders…hurrah, must be getting stronger!
I’m not down to go to Croydon on Thursday, but really looking forward to Bath on Saturday.
We let Lucy have a well-earned rest for the Croydon round – in this round we had Alice, Sophie and guest rider Mathilde Pauls making up our squad.
The weather was pretty atrocious and we were soaked to the skin before the racing even started but luckily we soon warmed up! Mathilde had the best ride in our team and powered her way up the field to finish in the top twenties.
Firstly, a big thank you to those who came to Bath to watch the races and cheer us on, it was very much appreciated. Hearing someone shout your name really makes a difference and I reckon it helps the legs find a bit more umph!
I was looking forward to racing around Bath and super excited that were going to have a full team of 5 riders on the start line (Well, at the back of the grid!). The tour series is such a cool thing to be part of, so having more teammates to share it with makes it even better. After surgery and injury delayed the start to our season, I was super excited to be racing with Han again. We had lots of laughs racing together last season and I’m sure now that we’re both up and running, we’ll have lots more before this seasons up.
The drive to bath was wet, the motorway was minging and the wipers were on the fast setting… but the weather app said it’d be ok by 4pm..
En route, Jenny called to say she was unable to race. She had been feeling a little below par and also had a niggley calf. Turns out the niggley calf was a DVT and the below par-ness were pulmonary embolisms restricting her lung function … and she’s been racing with that for the last week! Hard as nails. Sending lots of healing vibes her way and I have no doubt she’ll be back on top form soon.
Alice, who wasn’t originally down to race, stepped up last minute to fill Jenny’s spot meaning we still had a full team.
I arrived at the HQ parking and met Han and Beth and after a small amount of faff, we loaded up our kit bags, and walked (pushing our bikes) to meet Tom and Alice who’d set up camp in the pits. Beth and I also carried our rollers, so arrived feeling like we’d already warmed up!
I spent the 2 hours leading up to the start telling everyone it would dry up in time and although it’s good to be an optimist, I was wrong. It rained. A lot.
It was super lovely to see so many familiar faces and our gazebo was a hive of activity full of riders, supporters, bikes and kit. It was ace. A few of us warmed up before the team presentation and were grateful to parents with umbrellas for keeping us dry.
After the presentation, we had about 30mins to ride around the course. It was flat ish, with a few tight turns, quite a wide hairpin and lots of drain covers, puddles and uneven surfaces. With it being such a twisty course, it was going to be tough to move up so getting into as good a position as possible during the neutralised lap would be key.
We were called to the line about 5 minutes before our race started and then it absolutely hammered it down. Proper wet rain. We were absolutely soaked, but luckily with the race minutes from starting we’d soon warm up.
Just like the other rounds, the neutralised lap was pretty fast and once the race started the top girls pulled away forming a decent sized group. (I think that’s what happened .. it’s hard to tell what’s going on most of the time!). I stayed with a group for the race and slowly made my way forwards and although it was wet, it was brill and I loved every minute. I had my best finish yet with Sophie, Alice, Beth and Han all having awesome rides too.
I think there were a few crashes, luckily nothing too nasty and all our team came back safely. Phew.
Thank you again to those who came to stand in the rain to cheer us on and to everyone else for being so encouraging.
More learnt and another top day. Next stop Motherwell!
Good luck to the guys racing the crit champs at Torbay this afternoon.
I have so much gratitude towards my “roadies” and supporters, who are either having me to stay and/or helping me get to all these races.
This leg of the tour has been the biggest mission yet – I left home yesterday morning and 4 1/2 hours later arrived at my bro and sister in law’s, who conveniently live almost half way to Motherwell. This morning we left at 9 am and Ed drove the final 3 1/2 hrs.
We had a stop at Gretna Green where they tried to marry me off…they failed… I’m Still single (though some might say I’m “attached” to my bike!)
We eventually arrived in Motherwell and met up with tom and Alice who’d set up camp in a hotel carpark alongside WNT, Morvello, Bike Channel Canyon and Raleigh. I still cant quite believe that I’m hanging out on rollers in same carpark as these guys, let alone racing in the Tour Series. Fake it till you make it..
Thank goodness I’ve mastered rollers, as falling off in front of such company wouldn’t be cool.
Today our team consisted of just myself and Alice with Jenny now being unable to race and no one else fancying a Scottish getaway.
After the podium presentation, we set off with about 25 minutes to finish warming up whilst doing some pre race recce laps. The course was practically a square with fast corners and an uphill draggy slope to the finish line. It was going to be a quick race and getting good lines into and out of corners would be important for maintaining speed.
As per usual we started at the back, but during the neutralised lap we both managed to move up a lot. Hurrah.
However.. once the race started, there was a crash on the first corner which took out a few girls and strung out the rest of the group, sending me backwards. Damn… but I stayed upright…Hooray!
I felt mega at Bath but today I had nothing. My legs felt ok but I felt useless and I got dropped, lapped and then lapped again. You might spot me on tv tomorrow in the hurt locker, and this time I was really hurting.
But, I didn’t quit and although today was definitely not my day, it was still brilliant fun and I’m looking forward to Stevenage on Monday.
Alice, on the other hand was awesome, looked super-strong and finished in the top 30, bagging more points for the team. What a champ.
Ed and jo haven’t seen me race before and so I was excited to introduce them to the crazy world of bike racing. I didn’t put on a good show for them but hope that they still had a fun trip to Scotland!
Although getting here has been a mission and I’m feeling shattered, there were bagpipes .. and someone shouted “go lassie” as I struggled up the finishing straight (slope). That alone made the trip worthwhile, oh and the fact I just ate a large portion of chips totally guilt free!
I’m writing this while Jo drives and ed navigates around a pesky road closure somewhere in Scotland. ETA 00:50
I’ll be Somerset bound tomorrow morning, but don’t think I’ll make it in time for the BOS run.
(and I promise this is my last waffle-tastic report)
I was a little sad packing the car yesterday before setting off to race the last round of the Tour Series. Having felt exhausted from the travel to Motherwell, I thought it sensible to stay closer to Stevenage, reducing drive time this morning. Alice’s parents live just over an hour north of Stevenage, so I was very grateful to have a bed for the night.. and a roast dinner on arrival!
I arrived in Stevenage at just after 12 and met up with the team. This time there were 5 of us, (Alice, Han, Jenny B, Sophie and myself) which was brill, especially as it was the last one. We also had lots of supporters so our gazebo turned into a bit of a party tent!
Before the race at 5.30, we also had a team time trial and were first off at 3pm. We got ready, warmed up and then rolled around the course for a few laps. It was a 1km loop with corners that could be ridden fairly quickly and the TTT was only 2 laps. As there wouldn’t be much time or space for us all take turns on the front, it was decided that Alice and Sophie would share the work and then we’d all sprint for the line. Everyone rode super dooper and we finished 9th. Wooohooo a top 10 finish!
There was just over 2 hrs between finishing our TTT and starting the race, so we put on warm clothes, watched the other teams and ate something before warming up again. We are called to the line about 10 minutes before the start time and at all the rounds, they’ve blasted out the same song by Faithless… literally as soon as it starts my heart rate goes up by 20 bpm. Got to love all that adrenaline!
There was a touch of wheels in the neutralised lap and a couple of girls went down in front. Luckily I was able to pedal past, but it instantly caused a gap in the group. During the race it’s really hard to know what’s going on and who’s where, especially when the circuit is so short but I found myself in group with Sophie and I think 4 riders from other teams.
The top girls eventually lapped us but we were working well as a group and keeping a decent pace. I felt pretty good today and did my share of pulls on the front, which helps to boost the confidence. I was however, a bit sneaky and saved some umph for the finish, so was able to sprint over the line first in the group.
Although it threatened to rain a few times, we finished in the dry which is always a relief. Dealing with soaking wet skin suits in a very public car park is never easy! Han had been fighting off a nasty cough, drove to Stevenage, raced and then drove home.. in the same day. What a Hero and Top team commitment.
After the race we had celebratory pizza … and then it rained. A lot. Other than Bath and Croydon, the girls have been pretty lucky with the weather. The men on the other hand, have not been so fortunate.. and have got wet (totally soaked)… at all but one round!
After three ever so hectic weeks, driving over 2000 miles to races all over the country, I can’t believe that’s it, Tour Series done.
I’ve Absolutely loved every minute.. and I’d even go as far to say that includes the hurt locker/lung explosion/max HR and sick tasting moments.
Big thanks to Tom, Alice and the sponsors for giving us this fantastic opportunity… and an extra thank you to everyone who’s supported us, either at races or via Facebook.
It’s definitely been mega.
Heres our Storify collating some of our top social media posts of our adventures through May