The blog post where … I talk you through my experience of Senior Track Nationals
This past January, I competed in the Senior Track Nationals in Manchester. I’ve never ridden at that level before. I didn’t know what to expect. Other than that the pace could be faster than anything I’d raced in before. To be honest, my only ambition going into the races was to not get dropped!
On Saturday morning, I rode the Team Pursuit with the VCL women. In the afternoon I rode a 40 lap Scratch. Then on Sunday, I raced an 80 lap Points race.
I had an early-ish start. After waking up and having breakfast, my Dad and I drove 10 minutes to the Velodrome from the Holiday Inn. I signed on and got my bike checked. I warmed up along with my VCL team mates. My first race was the TP qualifiers. I wasn't too nervous for this race as we had put in practice in the run-up to the event and I didn’t feel under much pressure. Not a feeling I often have before a race. We worked hard as a team and gave it a shot but just missed out on qualifying. I then turned my focus to the Scratch race. I had heard earlier that day that the Scratch qualifications had been cancelled and so it would be a straight final. Great! I then had a long time until my race in the evening. A long time to build up the nerves. By the time the race came around and I was all warmed up, the track had really filled up with spectators. There was a great atmosphere and I enjoyed racing in front of a crowd, not something I’d done much before. The race itself, however, wasn't overly exciting. A few moves were made but nothing lasted and it came down to a bunch sprint. I positioned myself poorly in the laps running up to the finish and I squeezed into 10th.
My day started similarly to Saturday. I had breakfast, packed the car and drove to the track. However, there was then a level of uncertainty for the next hour as the commissaires figured out whether to run qualifiers or do a straight final in the afternoon. As my calculated start time drew closer I began to worry about when to get on the rollers, not wanting to warm up too late but also not wanting to waste energy warming up for no race. With the lack of a decision I wandered too and fro from the sign on to my seat. Potentially not the best preparation. In the end the qualifiers were once again cancelled. This made me partly happy, as I had “qualified” for the finals, but also partly disappointed, as I was looking forward to a full weekend of racing and instead got only three rides. I spent the rest of the day watching the other races and trying to suppress my nerves. The Points race final ended up being a brilliant race, a lot more exciting than the Scratch. The racing was very dynamic and many attacking moves went and were brought back, amidst the points sprint every ten laps. The winning move came from a Team Breeze girl, Anna Shackley, who cleverly attacked just as everyone else sat up. We all looked around at each other, hoping someone else would chase this time. Big mistake! She got away and swept up the rest of the points, winning overall. I finished the race absolutely exhausted and slightly starry eyed. I only got one point but I had a really great race and learnt some more from such an exciting experience.