So the second stage for me personally, should we say, was not great!
Okay, yesterday was a good start, but with very little wind it helped me massively. Imagine my joy when, walking down to breakfast this morning, I saw the trees being blown practically sideways. I think the best way to describe how I was feeling would be, I was dreading it! With my size and weight riding in crosswinds is something that, well, really does not suit me at all. So, as we set off today, the only thing I could think of was these dreaded crosswinds!
The three Dutch girls on our team, being more suited to these conditions, their mood was totally different from yesterday and they were ready to give it a bashing. I was just hoping to survive, last group would do me, as long as I did something early in the race.
Okay, I did as much as I could, but I'm not the kind of bike rider to be pleased with that. I helped my team, and the last thing our DS told us was that we are professionals and it’s all about riding for the team. If we get dropped after 1km but we got our leaders to the front, well then so be it! But this is something I'm going to have to get used to, thinking about the team and not me. There is no I in our team, we are a team of six, not just one!
Coming to Qatar has been a good experience so far. I'm learning, not just to be a better bike rider but also in terms of being a team player. This is something that I have never really learnt properly.
Coming to Qatar has also opened my eyes in terms of religion and all the things we in Europe do, but see as normal. Being a cyclist certain things have become normal: things like having a nature break behind a car or tree, not uncommon for men but something that many women would turn their noses up at, or changing in public, not completely stripping but having the aid of your towel. But here religious rules don't allow it, so us cyclists have to respect Islamic practice too.
The thing is how can you tell us we can't pee in public but not give us any toilets! In my opinion it’s no joke, if you're going to tell us not to at least put a solution in place. It’s the same for the changing - no changing in public but no alternative place to change. Myself and everyone involved with women’s cycling would abide, we are trying, if they gave us some alternatives, something which just has not happened thus far.
Don't get me wrong, today was not all bad! Loes, our team leader, had a solid ride today. When the chaos started she was in the right place and being pretty specialized in these types of races she also has the experience to get in the right moves.
When it came to the finish she was, well, pretty outnumbered by HTC and Garmin sadly, each with three girls. As well as being a solid bike rider she is also a solid leader. Not always our protected rider but a leader in calling the shots and helping riders, such as myself, to learn and develop. She has a wealth of experience, something which I am going to tap into whenever I get the opportunity.
This year for me is all about learning; riding as part of a unit but also to improve on things which are not so good, like riding at the front of bike races for longer, something which I have done this week. Having riders like Loes around is going to mean I will learn a lot and I can't wait.
Last day tomorrow, feels strange, we have only just got here!!