I am home from track nationals. Its been a while! Almost a month since i slept in my own bed. Im back heavier, a bronze and two silvers heavier. Really pleased with my third in the Under 16 Pursuit and a new PB, second in the Under 16 Points and the big surprise that was my second in the Junior (Under 18s) Points race, I think I surprised a few other people over the 100 laps (30km) too. It was fun but it hurt like mad. Thankyou to those who shouted in support! Full report soon, first, GCSE results - 11am, tomorrow morning...
Finally managed to gather myself to actually write about the racing, here goes...
The two weeks since my last post and up to the end of the National Track Championships started with the Omnium Championships, a big race in its own right, but also valuable track racing time before the National Champs the following week. The Omnium wasnt quiet as positive as I had hoped, I led after two of the five events, however started to really fade from then on and ended up fifth on the day. I think it was largely due to cumulated fatigue from a Training camp the week before and not resting up enough in the period between, however whatever the reason the last couple of events where a little bit of a knock to the confidence, not great.
I stayed in the peaks the week between the two events with my Mum and Brother, getting in a little riding on the road, but more often ending up on the rollers staring at a blank wall. A great session on the Tuesday at Manchester not only dispelled any worries in my head, but also opened up my eyes to how lucky the northern/manchester based riders are to have track time like that on offer.
To the track championships and it started with the Individual Pursuit, an event I really wanted to do well in, to start the championships on a positive note. The pursuit it pure effort, in the under sixteen event the two km (eight laps) can be over before you know it, so the most important thing is to commit and take it from there. I qualified in third, 0.2 seconds of the final which was a little disappointing, however in such a short event with so many guys up there is way always going to be close. I found the actual ride pretty hard, my first big pursuit, unlike bunch races where you have a little time to ease into it and get whatever sensations you want to feel back, its straight in the deep end. I started and felt amazingly good, but failed to capitalise on that and pushed on a little too late, it was a Personal best but only by a few hundredths of a second and I desperately wanted to go under 2.20 - my time 2.21.2 was a little off. The sensations where pretty strange, I felt really strong but as the lactic crept into the legs and my lungs started to scream I was defiantly hurting by the last laps, all about getting that every little bit out. I rode again that afternoon for the bronze medal, coming in two seconds down after the first kilometer, but pulling it back to win by over a second. It was frustrating as I came desperately close to beating both the riders in the ride off for gold, but at the end of the day I should have qualified quicker!
The next day was the scratch, the first of the bunch races. I qualified for the final pretty comfortably however rode a below par final and came into the sprint in a bad position, still havent seen the results but I think I was just outside the top ten. The next day was the Points Race, I was really up for it, hoping to make it a hard race and force people to really work. I qualified third, although left it to the last sprint, bit risky but it got the job done in the end. The final came, and it was evident everyone was pretty nervous in the bunch, riders who would normally give you and inch where all over the place, dangerous but that is racing and I am sure I shut as many gaps on riders as I was shut in. I was out of the game for the first two sprints, with Chris Lawless cleaning up the top points on both occasions, however just after the second sprint I saw Luc Hall go for it, I jumped on it and we had a gap! We worked well together, gaining half a lap pretty quickly, however we started to run out of momentum and it hovered there for a while. I won the sprint whilst we where out there, coming over the top at the last minute, feeling guilty, especially as Luc had had me to stay, but wary of the need for points in such a short race. We where eventually swept up, however I made sure I stayed near the front and picked up a few more points in the next sprints. The last lap was perfect and I started to come round Ollie Wood with around 100 meters to go, win the sprint and I would win the national title, however the Scratch champion was too fast and I came in second in the last sprint, securing a silver medal around my neck. I was really pleased but absolutely shattered.
The last race of the week was the Junior Points, at 100 laps with ten sprints it was the longest track race of my life, I was really nervous, putting pressure on myself to make sure I didnt make a fool out of myself, however at the same time not expecting much to happen. However after the half way mark I had taken a lap with the favourites and was sitting in the top six, I was suffering like a dog, all over the bike, but decided the best line of defence would be to attack, trying to get away again rather than get involved in the sprints. I came close in the closing stages to taking another lap, but just ran out of legs, however by winning the last sprint I put myself into the silver medal, to say I was surprised/amazed would be a complete underestimation!