15 Oct

As the 2019 season draws to a close it is time to reflect upon the events of the season and formulate a new plan moving forward into 2020 and beyond.

2019, the season that could have been.

Around October time last year I became a Great British Cycling team apprentice on the road and track endurance program. This meant that I received my first GB jersey and hopefully not my last. Following the first camp in Manchester at the end of October, apprentice days followed every other week predominantly at London Velodrome but with a couple at Newport and Calshot velodrome. A lot was learned at these days, everything was discussed from nutrition to sleep to training planing and a huge aray of race strategies and tactics.

Then it was time for the first Icebreaker of the season. It was time to put what I had learned over the winter into practice. The racing went well and I finished comfortably inside the top 10. 1 month later it was time for the second icebreaker. This one didn’t go quite so well. Getting caught in a crash in the elimination race and having someone ride into my head at 55kph took me out of the rest of the race meet. Left the velodrome feeling ok but disappointed at what could have been. Woke up the day after (Sunday) feeling awful. Monday at school was a disaster only managing one lesson with reading impossible. Went to the doctors on Tuesday and was diagnosed with bad concussion. As is GB protocol I had to have 2 weeks off the bike and then a gradual return to training. After a week of proper training I went to the 3rd icebreaker where symptoms returned so another period of time off the bike was required followed by another even more gradual return to training. symptoms returned for a 3rd time after this period of time but they were far less severe so no time off the bike was required just no efforts. A period of around 10 weeks had passed since the crash with no real training being done. To make matters worse I couldn’t function well enough to be in school so in total around 4 weeks of school was missed which was not ideal in the run up to GCSE’s. 1 more week of training under the belt then it was off to Scotland for the YTOS with Central Region. Unsurprisingly it was not a particularly successful race. 1 week on and it was the first round of the group 6 omnium series at the Mountbatten centre. Some hints of form were beginning to return to the legs, picking up a 3rd place. 4 weeks on and 4 weeks of training it was time for the next round of the series at Preston park. With some real strength beginning to return to the legs I took the win. The first win of the season. 1 week later the Poole Wheelers omnium took place at Bournemouth velodrome, the final round. Another win, securing 1st place in the overall and my place at the national omnium finals in July.

The next weekend the next race, this time my first round of the Youth National Circuit Series for 2019 (having been off the bike for the first 2) at Hog Hill. It was a hard race but bad luck in the sprint up the hill at the end denied me a good result. I wasn’t too disappointed as I had raced the rest of the race well. 1 week on and the Hillingdon round of the national circuit was upon us. Traditionally the easiest and least exciting round of the series the organisers were keen for this not to be the case on 2019. They ran the races in the other direction to normal as well as having primes every 20ish mins. It worked, it was a very exciting race with almost constant attacks, a breakaway top 4 and a reduced field in the final sprint. I picked up 6th overall, a result that I was happy with as it was my best ever result in a national.

Next weekend and the next race of the season. The race in question Winchester Criterium, my favourite race of the year. I dominated the race wining it by around a min and 20, lapped the whole field apart from second place and lapped most of the field at least once. I attacked on the 3rd lap, around 5 mins into the 45ish min long race and didn’t look back. Definitely my best performance of the season and the win I am most proud of to date. The next weekend was Bristol criterium, another win. This time even getting a feature of the BC Instagram story. My confidence was super high going into my big goal of the season. Minehead national, a criterium. A race that since I heard about it I knew was my best shot of winning a national circuit race. It did not go to plan. 20 mins into the race I suffered a mechanical. Hopes of a national win went out of the window almost as quickly as my saddle pointed at the floor.

The week following the race was supposed to be an easy week. It ended up being a total disaster. I had a bad crash when out training. My hands slipped off the bars on a decent as I hit a bump in the road. I then when over the bars and skidded down the road on my face destroying my second helmet of 2019 and about every other part of my body in the process. 3 hours of being put back together in A and E and 33 X-rays later I was on my way home. With omnium nationals only 3 weeks away a fast recovery was paramount. Unfortunately I didn't recover fast enough and the damage sustained too my upper right leg/hip area was too great so my trip to Manchester was un-successful, only managing the kilo and a few laps of the elimination before handing my number back and going home. Due to the damage I was unable to compete at track nationals.

Having had a few weeks of no racing and no pain from my leg I went up to Lancaster for the north west tour with hopes of a result to turn my season around. I managed 2.8K of the 3.5K prologue before any healing that had occurred was destroyed. It popped and clicked and ground until I finished. The next day the long drive home commenced leaving behind any hope of gaining any positives from the season. I decided that ibuprofen was the answer to getting through the remaining races of the season. Starting with track interregionals on my birthday. The ibuprofen got me round, no results to speak off but I got round so was happy. The next weekend wand my final race of the season, road interregionals at castle Coombe with central region. Within the team there was a drive to right the wrongs of Scotland where bad luck and a lack of form plagued the team. We delivered on this goal. I came 3rd in the road race and as a team we got 3rd overall. A good way to finish what was overall a season of missed opportunity. 

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