So it’s been a few weeks since my last race. Since the disaster that was Omloop Het Nieuwsblad I’ve been ramping up the training a bit getting in some miles behind the motorbike and doing some club crits to get some speed in the legs and get used to that change of pace that you need to race.

We also had a team training weekend in Valkenburg where we scouted the route for the Parkhotel Rooding Hills Classic in the 'Dutch Mountains' which was held this weekend. It was a brilliant weekend and a welcome break from the flatlands of Stolwijk where I’m based.

Great weather and some ‘friendly’ rivalry up and over pretty much every climb made for some great training. I also got back home for a week which was great and got in two races, the St Patrick’s Day race in Dunboyne and the Des Hanlon Memorial in Carlow.

I scored top points in Carlow for the first round of the Trek Classic League but I might have finished further up the A3 field were it not for the fact that my chain ring bolts decided to run away from home without telling me which left me on the small ring all day…

This coupled with the Het Nieuwsblad brake pad debacle has resulted in a series of nightmares where I am thwarted by countless mechanicals – hmmm.

So on to this weekend and the Parkhotel Rooding Hills Classic. I was definitely looking forward to this one. With Moving Ladies our racing programme includes, as you would expect, a lot of the flat windy races that Holland and Belgium are famous for and not a lot of hilly climbing races for the likes of little old me.

So I basically spend most of the season seeking shelter behind the biggest behind I can find in the peleton. These races are great for building on strength and speed but I like hills.

Our DS Chris had arranged for us to stay in Valkenburg the night before the race which was great as the clocks were due to go back and we were going to lose an hour of sleep – horror of horrors! The race start was for 13.00 so we left the hotel at about 12.15 and rolled down to the sign on about five minutes away.

A bit of a pedal and last run to the loo (always a nightmare) and we were lined up at the start line. Marianne Vos was being interviewed about her new world championship title while I was busy worrying about how I was going to get from the very back to the front of this bunch ASAP before that left hander under the very narrow bridge and onto the first little climb of the day. Linda spotted the AA Drink girls lining up on the right at the back and so we scooted over beside them for a free ride to the front.

So it all started off really well. I was keeping myself in the front 10-15. The race was very calm at the start with everybody waiting for the important climbs. The race starts on a loop of about 20km which we do 3 times. It takes in about three good climbs. The most significant of these is probably the Eyserbosweg which starts at about 9% and maxes at 16%. Just before it you come down a very fast descent in a town followed by two sharp right handers which bring you onto the climb.

The first time down the descent there was a lot of late braking. I grabbed my brakes and locked up the back wheel and managed to hit the wing mirror of a car as I tried to stay upright. All of this meant that I was now quite far back hitting the climb and had to really fight my way back to the front.

I was climbing pretty well though so I managed to stay in the front group. Unfortunately my wobble meant that my nerve on the descents deserted me for the rest of the day. I was wasting energy all the time because the course is pretty much down/up all day.

By the third time up the Eyserbosweg there wasn’t much of a bunch to speak of. Vos was off the front with three or four chasing her and then there was a fast depleting bunch behind.

We split again that third time up the Eyserbosweg. I did my usual thing of starting the climb near the back and I killed myself up it. The crowds were brilliant on all the climbs all day. About ten riders got over the climb first including my team mate Linda and then there was me chasing them – so, so close but in the end I died.

 We formed another group of about nine or ten behind with myself and team mate Kirsten trying to encourage a chase which didn’t happen. Next up were some recovery kilometers before we hit a climb which roughly translated means the dead man’s climb!

It’s one of those really steep ones that cruelly pretends to be over about half way up! Then we were through the finish for the first time and on to the final loop which would include two times up the Cauberg and two other climbs in the final 20 odd kilometers.

The Cauberg is a funny climb. It’s not very steep or very long but there is something about it that just hurts. At this stage we, as a group, had kind of made our peace, for the time being anyway, with where we were now and opportunities lost and as a result some dropped riders came back to us – hate that!

The last time up the Cauberg meant about five kilometers to the finish so a few of us went hard off the front and split the group again. There was some more attacking coming in the road most notably from Emma Trott who rode with us last year and is now riding for Nederland Bloeit.

I crossed the line 26th. Not bad but a bit disappointed not to have made the group with Linda as I felt I was climbing well. I need to work on my confidence when descending. Next up for Moving Ladies is the Energiewacht Tour 7th-10th of April. Things to look forward to include wind, road furniture and first race with team-mate and newly crowned team pursuit champion, Laura Trott.