CTC Cycling Development Officer for the South of England Anna Cipullo says goodbye to Christmas and hello to cyclo-cross and cross-country training.
Anna Cipullo at the National Cyclo-cross Champs 2013, photographed by Richard Bennett

So Christmas is over and I don’t know about you, but it’s left a stale taste of mince pies and assorted chocolates in my mouth. Race training has dipped due to lack of routine and my waist resembles the mass of turkeys I’ve been eating for the last month.

Multiple families to visit across the country meant I ate roast dinners like I was in some kind of national eating competition. Still, I should be grateful my intake of vegetables has increase, even if 60% of those were brussel sprouts. I should also be happy I managed to resist the urge to grapple at spirits like a teenager at their first house party. If you meet my mother and see that her idea of a good Christmas breakfast starts with a shot of Pernot with a Baileys chaser, you’ll understand how much strength was required to resist.  

Oh, I jest really, it’s not all bad, but now I'm back on my bike. I've dabble in some cyclo-cross [2] for Hargroves Cycles and am looking forward to a season of cross-country in the Elite category from March. Driving home from the other side of the country on 'January Sale Day' wasn’t my best idea, but the lengthy queues did get me thinking about racing again.

The lines of cars slotting together like a giant game of Tetris reminded me of those event mass starts where blocks of cyclists would squeeze into every inch of space on the start-line like their life depended on it. The riders all focusing on the middle distance like angry catalogue models, putting their best foot forward, with slight tension in their arms from fear and excitement, while at the same time trying not to think about crashing.

I know I'll start thinking things like: "She’s developed some calf muscles since the last race, has she been training more than me? That’s a new bike, is it going to slingshot her up the hills in front of me? She has nice new shoes, are they going to make her pedal faster? As you can see, I haven’t quite mastered the art of being calm at the start line, but I’m working on it.

Anyway, the real reason for this blog, and the sudden tangent from turkey to racing, is that the New Year has brought some very exciting news for the CTC, and one that I feel I have a real conection with as a female racing cyclist. CTC now have an elite female road racing team called Team CTC! [3]

Announced this week on the same day Nicole Cooke [4] (Olympic champion in Beijing) announces her retirement at a ripe age of 29 and still having been in the game for 17 years.

In her retirement speech, Cooke condemned drug cheats, adding: “Every scandal on the men's side has caused sponsors to leave on the women's side. With such thin budgets, the losses have a greater relative impact on what survives.”

This really emphasises the need to support Team CTC and watch them prove that grassroots cyclists can hold their own in National level racing.

Just listening to Nicole Cooke this week I am inspired to get back to training and do my bit to encourage other women to get cycling. I am thrilled to be able to meet Team CTC on Saturday at The Bike Show and I wish the girls all the best in the year to come.