Women’s Racing: Triathlove speaks to Lucy Burgess who went from a beginner Category 4 racer to Category 2 in just one year.
Lucy Burgess lives in Bristol and is now a Category 2 rider with Radeon-Bike Science RTracing team. Through sheer determination and a natural enjoyment for cycling, she worked her way up through the ranks and took on an astonishing number of races to go from a 4th to 2nd in just one year.
‘My first race was in December 2014 at a closed circuit in Bath, I was ill, got dropped early on and came last that day. It wasn’t exactly a promising start,’ says Lucy.
‘But I loved that first race! I realized then that it wasn’t going to happen overnight, but that didn’t mean it was impossible either. The next few races was simply focusing on not getting dropped.
‘Improving meant training hard; I was often on my turbo during the week and out clocking up miles on long rides at the weekend, it wasn’t unusual for me to be spending upwards of 10 hours in the saddle over a week.
‘I’m incredibly driven, so I suppose that’s a good foundation for women’s cycle racing, but training hard and attending cycling races is extremely challenging when work is demanding. I worked in London and lived in Bristol when I started racing, so hiring a coach really helped and was an essential part of success, I needed a plan to follow.’
‘There’s a craft to racing and you just have to learn it.’
Lucy came fifth out of 10 women in her second circuit race and collected her first points. ‘That felt good – but I did terribly in my first road race around that same time, I was learning what not to do, fast! As a beginner, I’d nail myself on the front of the group in my bid not to get dropped, but in doing so I’d just exhaust myself and leave nothing for the sprint at the end. It wasn’t tactical, but the front of the peloton was also a safe place to be.’
Just five months into racing, Lucy placed third and achieved a Category 3 status, going up yet again to Category 2 just two months later, where she is today.
‘Towards the end of the last season, I had done so much racing. I needed a break, I was all raced out, so I just spent some time out and enjoyed being on my bike again, away from following plan,’ Lucy says.
‘There’s a craft to racing and you just have to learn it. I’ve competed in around fifty races so far, and each time I learn something new either about racing or myself, it’s never the same.
‘This season I wanted to focus on some national races, I even ended up driving 600 miles round trip to race in one of the hardest national events – the Tour of the Reservoir – there was snow and over 100 entrants!
‘If you can manage the incredible amount of pressure that comes with training and racing, you can handle just about anything that life has to throw at you.’
‘I wanted to get my Cat 1 this year, but along the way, I got injured and that’s been incredibly hard. But cycling and racing in itself teaches you to deal with the hard stuff in life. If you can manage the incredible amount of pressure that comes with training and racing, you can handle just about anything that life has to throw at you. And when you’re feeling strong, like you can fly – that’s an amazing feeling.’
Lucy’s five top tips on getting into racing.
- Find a local race, circuits are good start, there are some cat 4 only races now, and quite a bit of training out there for women.
- Learn how to race in a bunch by riding in club or with friends, watch the more experienced riders and see how they move around the bunch.
- If you get dropped, keep going and never give up. Learn to really dig in, because sometimes that little dig will mean it’s easier in the long run as you’ll be in the protection of the bunch for the rest of the race.
- Don’t focus on results, instead go into races with an aim and work on that.
- Take time out when you need it, listen to your body. Rest is good!