And that's a wrap!
It’s all over and I don’t know what to be thinking. I’m officially top 10 in the world and I feel….. almost disappointed. Well, that’s not totally true but the mind-set I’ve had over the last 6 months is perfection. In training I’ve been striving to be the best, that’s a really strong motivator and anything less is a disappointment. For the best part of the winter I’ve shared a room with Felix English, shared track time with Sarah Hammer and been hit with a mental stick from Andy Sparks. Most of the time spent training with these people I’ve seen myself as the weak link, the average Joe if you like. Felix has bags of talent and has achieved a lot for his age, Sarah Hammer is Sarah Hammer, world record holder and multiple world champion and Andy has a brilliant track record for developing good athletes. All three of these people made me try that little bit harder, dig that little bit deeper and that’s why I’m not ecstatic about being top 10 in the world. This is the point where I slap myself and catch myself on! I’m top 10 in the world, 8 months ago I didn’t even know what an Omnium was and had never ridden in a bunch on the track! This is when top 10 sounds great and probably the best thing I’ve learnt over the track season is that I am capable of standing on the podium in 12 month’s time!
My World championships has been one of the biggest roller coaster of the season and here’s how it all happen,
I arrived in Holland on the 21st on March which gave me 3 days to recover and taper in search of my best form. On Tuesday and Wednesday I had light sessions on track in the morning and easy roller spins in the afternoon, even these light sessions seem a lot for me as I’d clocked up over 30 hours in 7 days training in Majorca and I needed a rest. I have complete faith in Andy though and I just focused on doing what I was told and doing all the small things right; nutrition, hydration and rest! On Thursday I headed to the lunchtime track session and this was the last pressure free session of the week. All Andy wanted me to do for this session was a perfect lead up for the flying lap and 20 minutes cruising in the group. Anyone who knows my riding style knows I’m not fast, when I say fast I meant having the ability to accelerate quickly. This is the event that I’ve done a lot of training for and I think I’ve become pretty good at it. With that session being pretty successful I packed up and headed to the hotel with a skip in my step, I’d felt fluid and fast on the bike so things looked up for the race.
Finally it was here, race day was upon me and I have no excuses! After an easy morning and a light lunch I left for the track at 1pm, my race started at 3pm so this gave me loads of time to get ready, warm up and switch on. At 2pm I started my warm up which Andy gave me, it’s a staged warm up and by the time I’m finished I’ve worked my way through all of my heart rate zones and I’m raring to go. As usual it’s the quickest hour of my life and before I know it I’m sitting on the track with Andy running through my perfect race in my head. After a good shove from Andy I was off and running, three and a half laps to put all the practice into play. My lead up was good but I had a massive wobble as I stood up and kicked for the bell lap, then I got another monster wobble in the last turn as I gave every lap push for the line. My time was 13.6 seconds which was half a second of the winner and a tenth of my PB, this was enough for 7th place. With the first race under my belt I warmed down for 20 minutes or so then I got ready for the point’s race. This is another race that I have practised A LOT for and I’ve had a bad habit of finishing 19th and 20th in it so it’s let me down a lot over the winter. My plan and Andy’s was to do as little as possible for the first 30 laps, it’s 120 laps and history has shown that I’ve done way to much racing to early in the race. I sat close to the wheel in front of me, stayed loose and focused on saving as much energy as is possible when you are doing over 50kph! At the half way point I looked to follow groups that were trying to get away and in the process I picked up points. The race turned out to be brutal and towards the end I was lapping riders and good ones at that. I finished 11th which isn’t brilliant but it’s a big improvement for me and it left me 6th overall. When the point’s race was said and done I headed back to the hotel for a shower and some dinner. The hotel is only 10 minutes away so it’s worth heading back for a distraction from the racing and the pressure cooker environment of the track. The last race of the day and one that I almost hate is the elimination race, it kicked off at 9.45pm so I got there at 8pm with loads of time to get ready and visual the perfect race. My race was far from perfect as I tried something different that didn’t really work. As soon as the race was on I got to the front as quick as possible and rode at a steady tempo. This is something I haven’t done before but in theory it should suit my riding style. It worked for 6 or 7 eliminations then it all went wrong! My legs began to tie up and before I knew it I was out! It literally took 15 seconds to go from the front to the back, race over! For people who watch the race and see guys staying in after they are eliminated and think ‘what is that wally doing,’ I tell you now the last thing you are doing is looking at your handlebar stem for a flashing light. Your legs are full of lactic acid, lungs are on fire and you are focusing on not crashing! Anyway, my race ended pretty quickly and with thoughts of ‘how the hell did that happen!’ I finished in 14th place and severely dented my Omnium ranking. It dropped me to 11th overall and left me with a lot to do to get the top 8 goal that I’d set myself after the points race. By the time the race was over, I cooled down and left the track it was the wrong side of 11pm.
Thanks to Chris and Richard from S.I.N.I I got back to the hotel before the rest of the guys from the team and Chris set about twisting me back into shape. Chris spent 40 minutes or so working on me then I got to bed as quick as I could, I was up at 8am so I needed every bit of sleep that I could get.
My 8am alarm soon dragged me away from my dreams and I didn’t have a lot of time to hang around, I was heading for the track at 8.40am. My pursuit started at 11am roughly so getting to the track at 9am gave me loads of time to do the usual race routine of getting in the zone but as always it’s the quickest time of your life and I find myself sitting at the steps of the track with a couple of minutes to go. There’s not much to say about the pursuit but my expectations were right, it hurt a lot! It hurt more so than usual as the track was running slower than normal but suffering is what I do and my time was good for 8th place. My placing didn’t have the desired affect and after the pursuit I was still 11th overall, not good with 2 races to go. The Scratch was next up and it turned out to be the race that I won’t forget for certain reasons. I rode in a similar way to the point’s race with the goal of doing as little as possible early on. I did this and felt reasonable good towards the end. With 3 laps to go I made an effort to get over the top of the group but as I got to the front I hesitated thinking that it was too soon to get to the very front, I stayed high on the bank and turned out I stayed where I was and finished 14th. With 8 guys a lap up me being at the front of that group would have been good for 9th or 10th, that doesn’t sound great but it turns out it would have put me in 9th place overall. Trying to shove the scratch race to the back of my mind I got ready for the last 4 laps of my World Championship, the most painful self-inflicted laps of the Omnium! The kilo needed to be a good one to secure me my top 10 finish. It went as well as it could with me getting a good start and getting every last bit out of myself, I finished 7th in the kilo and 10th overall.
That’s a quick run through of how my world championships went, I know I’ve left out loads of stuff but you get the gist of my race and please excuse my writing, I’m no shakespeare!
I'd like to thank everyone who helped me over the winter, SINI, Irish Sports Council, Sport NI. Also thanks to Grace for putting up with me blowing in and blowing out and giving me a kick when I needed it. I know there is more people that have helped me so forgive if I've forgot to mention ya, just give me a shout.
I’m not too sure what my plans are for the rest of the session but from now onwards my main motivation will be being fitter and faster for the next track session.
Watch this space,