Great Britain and Specialized team rider Emma Pooley charts her progress as she takes on the 2008 race season. Climbing ace Emma won the Trofeo Alfredo Binda in Italy, part of the UCI Women’s World Cup, in March.

Summer has been fast-tracked. A few weeks ago I was bundled up in thermals to train in the sleet but suddenly the spring blossoms have been and gone, and sunscreen is the thing to be wearing.

Long training rides have become much more inviting, in fact perhaps too inviting. Faced with a training session in a village a good two hour train journey away, I thought I might as well ride there.

According to Google maps it was only 55km, so it would be just as fast by bike. A couple of hours each way, plus a two hour session? no worries. However, in my haste I had neglected to check how many hills lay on the route – not something I normally complain about but when a hill appears suddenly in my way and I?m in a hurry, I don?t welcome it as much as I would in a race.

Slogging up a particularly tiresome ridge I was plagued by farmyard smells as a herd of cattle had travelled there before me, and had left the road with a generous helping of dung. I don?t know what kind of athletic cow can manage a steep 6km climb but I wished they?d done their business in the valley before setting off.

Anyway, by the end of the training session proper, my sore legs from the previous day?s sessions were complaining and I was regretting eating most of my food on the outward journey. But to sit on a train when the sun was shining seemed wrong, so I set off doggedly back towards Zürich.

Funny how your memory tricks you and what seemed like a short descent in one direction has grown substantially when tackled from the bottom? Still, at least the cowpat fragranced section passed by in a flash. At 25km from home, the lure of a village bakery proved too much for me. For a chunk of delicious rhubarb cake I was happy to endure the serving lady?s disapproval at my sweaty dusty persona tainting her shop.

Sitting on the pavement in the sun, tucking in, it almost made riding home worthwhile.


The Big Interview: Emma Pooley
Pooley wins Trofeo Alfredo Binda
Pooley: The biggest win of my career