Last year I was racing the first spring classic of the season, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in Belgium. I’m one to wear a few layers and I thought the amount of clothing I had chosen to race in was adequate…until I looked around and saw all my team mates wearing more clothes than me. I panicked, I looked at our team leader, Swedish sensation, Emma Johansson. She was wearing a neck warmer. So I did what any logical person would do, I grabbed my neck warmer. If she is wearing a neck warmer then a neck warmer must be a good idea right?
Whilst I was waiting for the start, shivering like a leaf, I was grateful for that neck warmer. I thought to myself how much of a good idea it was. However, this calm state quickly changed. 20km into the race I was warm. I felt claustrophobic. I started pulling at the neck warmer to try to loosen it. And then proceeded to weigh up my options..
I was near the front of the peloton. It was a spring classic so there were about 200 girls in the peloton. Ok I could:
1. Go to the back of the peloton and go to the team car. Take my helmet off quickly and my neck warmer and then make my way back to the front again…..but I have to be up the front again in 15km. Is that long enough? hmmmm
2. I wonder if the neck warmer is loose enough to pull over the top of the helmet? I’m near the front, I could just roll up to the very front, get a little gap, go no hands and quickly pull the neck warmer over my helmet. And boom…problem solved.
Yes. Don’t tell me why. But I chose option 2. I rode to the front of the peloton and got a gap of about 10 metres. I went to take the neck warmer off. Eeek. It got stuck at the back of my helmet. I kept pushing. Now my helmet had slid back and was dangling at the back of my head. I decided to abort. I slid the neck warmer back down. Although now my 10 metre gap wasn’t so much of a 10 metre gap. And when I pulled the neck warmer down I had only grabbed one end. It was covering my whole face. I was trying to see through a neck warmer whilst riding no hands moving back through a peloton with a helmet dangling from my head and my first European race in Greenedge believe it or not, I didn’t crash. And I ended up surviving the rest of the race with the neck warmer. I even almost got away with no team mates seeing it until that night at dinner when the director asked what we learnt today and I was the first to put my hand up and say “don’t race with a neck warmer”. A team-mate then said “oh yea I saw your helmet dangling off your head and was wondering what you were doing”. That was when I decided this story was too funny not to share. And that was one of many moments which I now call: “Carlee Moments.”
Words: Carlee Taylor
Photo: Balint Hamvas/ Cyclephotos