After a couple of years on the elite road circuit with Node4-Giordana, and a handful of junior national titles, Sarah King turned her sights to a chemistry degree. Her days look a bit different from her time racing, but she still fits in a full schedule of riding around lab work and lectures. Fresh from a year working for a pharmaceutical company in north-west England, she’s back in the Midlands for her final year of university, exploring the country lanes and making plans for a return to racing.
The summer felt really long – which isn’t a complaint at all but you can’t keep riding hard indefinitely. I rode Rapha’s Manchester to London in September, then spent a couple of weeks staying with friends in the Peak District, enjoying the climbs and the views. Now I’m back to deadline and coursework and getting things done, which is as good a reason as any to take a couple of easier weeks.
Riding out into Warwickshire’s lanes and country roads is an absolute pleasure – I have the countryside to myself most of the time, and at this time of year it’s as if the world around you changes every day. The weather is unpredictable, so I layer up. Winter collars, hats and leg warmers can be rolled up and stuffed into a jersey pocket when it warms up, or you ride that little bit harder, and pairing the Souplesse Jacket with a merino base layer is about as comfortable combination as you can get. Cold winds can cut through a jersey, but the windproof front panelling of the Souplesse Jacket keeps the cold air out.
As much as I love exploring on my own, I’m looking forward to reconnecting with old riding buddies and trying to tear each other’s legs off. The best group ride around here is called The Bash – 25 riders meet up on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and go out full gas for a couple of hours. Most of the time I’m just holding onto the bike, muttering prayers about not getting dropped, but it’s pretty much the most amount of fun you can have.
I’ve got lots planned, all motivated by the thought of racing for fun for the first time in years. I look at my calendar and cross out the days of exams or big deadlines, then say to myself, I could try some cyclocross here, or do this time trial, or get back into crits. I want to qualify for the national time trial and the British university championships – but for the next couple of weeks you’ll just find me out in the lanes.