Friday early afternoon and I walked out of school to two weeks of Easter holiday, the sun was beaming down and I couldn't wait to get in some riding, racing and the other most dreaded ’r’ ‐ revision.
Saturday morning was a leisurely seven o’clock start, heading over to Euston Station with two bikes and a massive bag on my way to the National Cycling Centre in Manchester. By Twelve I was barreling around the Siberian Pine of the Manchester Velodrome with my Olympic Talent Programme team mates and soon feeling at home again on the boards, having not ridden them for a couple of weeks. The only major issue of the day was some discomfort in my left knee, just under the patella, a result of my crash just before the Bristol National series. It slowly started to feel better as the camp progressed and I am confident it will fully recover before my next big race, this Sunday, the Rutland CiCLE Classic youth race, a selection race for the European Youth Olympics.
Sunday saw a split day with some Madison and motor paced work in the morning, followed by the ’Manchester Youth Cup’, a showcase event held as part of the Manchester Senior World Cup a few months earlier. We where scheduled to ride a three man Madison so put in some practice before the race situation. A two man Madison is pretty complicated as it is, although the three up meant more changes and different tactics, resulting in some great training. For those of you who haven't witnessed the Madison discipline before, a two man Madison can be seen here, then just imagine an extra person on each team!
My highlight of the cup was a second in the Elimination race behind Talent Team teammate Jake Ragan, however I was plagued with problems in my knee and never really felt I had full strength. The idea of the cup was eight teams consisting of half experienced riders, with the other half younger riders new to the sport, racing in their own timed events. It was great helping them to get to grips with some of the more complicated races and even simpler things like helping to pin numbers on.
Monday saw a two and a half hour ride ride from our base in a youth hostel in Castleton to the Velodrome, taking in a few really nice climbs and one in particular ’Mam Tor’. It was a pretty breathtaking climb is most senses of the word, huge in comparison to anything around my training lanes and great fun to climb. Our afternoon track session consisted of a warm up whilst on the track with some current and future Olympic Sprint champions which was pretty cool. We then went on to do some track standing and two up sprint practice, even getting some advice and coaching from the Great Britain Sprint coach Jan Van Eijden, the coach of Sir Chris Hoy, which was pretty special! I also did a video interview with SportsAid in the track center, an organisation that does a huge job in financially aiding young athletes. Finding out I would be supported by them this year was brilliant and hopefully I might be able to get hold of the interview at some point. They also attached some small cameras to our handlebars and seat posts which was pretty cool and should make for some good footage! Its hard doing an interview like that as you always think it is going well and then afterwards remember one more thing you could of said, however It something I hope to improve on. And I guess I have to remember you cant always say everything all at once! Anyway, I must say a huge thank you to SportsAid and all their supporters.
Tuesday was the last day of camp and again we rode from the Youth Hostel to Manchester, stopping on the outskirts of the city for a session on the closed road Thameside circuit. Jake Ragan and I again battled on the Mam Tor climb, this time he took a jump on me around halfway up the climb, however I rode myself back up to within meters of his wheel by the top. I cant wait until we can race on roads like that. By Thamside everyone was suitably knackered, some training races with a real high tempo and some strong wind ensured everyone's legs took a real battering. After about an hour and a half, with some very high tempo riding, we rolled out of the circuit as a squad, riding for about half an hour back to the Manchester Velodrome for a shower and some lunch!
Its pretty special being in the Manchester Velodrome on a week day, whether it be sitting in the Canteen eating lunch next to Shanaze Reade, multiple Womens BMX world champion, or sneaking a glance into one of the Workshops or Gyms of the Great Britain Track squad. Its amazing to see some of the inner workings of the team and hopefully I will be lucky enough to become more used to the surroundings in the future. Only time will tell. One thing to be sure of, I will give it my best shot.
P.s. checkout my brother, Bede, racing at Hog Hill this weekend on his Condor Italia. Looking fast.