Ffion James, Ruby Miller and Becky Preece are our lot, young women with talent, personality and a friendly head on their shoulders, encompassing true HopeTech Women spirit. Unfortunately, Becky, who has already had more than her fair share of set-backs this season, was MIA with the flu. Ruby was there with a goal to get into the top 15 finishers “because that´s the cut off point for prize money” and FFion had a podium to fight for. These are the girls through whose eyes I would interpret the reasons, meanings and emotions underpinning the surface impression of deep mud, cold and cycling slowly.
There is a mammoth amount of prep and after-care that goes into a 40 minute race, involving attention to lots of details, reams of equipment and several extra people. Ruby and FFion had both travelled from Wales to York, having started the bag packing and bike sorting from the Thursday night. Straight from work they started the long drive Op Norf to ensure they made the most of limited daylight hours on the Saturday. It´s far from a lonely endeavour, Ruby travelled with her boyfriend and FFion with her Dad and then they met-up and made base camp in the car park around more HopeTech riders and their crew. There were loads of them...and it turns out that each person is truly needed. Every item, every person and every activity, it all goes into the outcome of the race.
Ruby was munching on some pasta and sugar “because if I get sick, I can´t taste it on it´s way back up” and Ffion was pottering away, getting her things in order. It was an atmosphere of focused, calm activity. There was no hurry, but everyone was on schedule. Things needed to be done when they were needed and item by item, every activity was ticked off, as were the hours and minutes that led up to the start time. It was friendly, too, chatty even with everyone interested in how the previous category racers had got on and how to upcoming racers were preparing.