The 2013 National Track Championships were the first major event for me since my switch to tandem and so my approach and goals for the event were completely different to previous years. The program allowed me to compete in the tandem kilo and flying 200, before riding the kierin and sprint solo.
Due to me not being eligible until next July, the nationals were the only opportunity for me to post a time on the tandem until next Summer. This changed what would normally be a dress rehearsal event for greater things to come, into a big goal, with a full taper. I piloted Neil Fachie for the event and he too went through a small taper, to try and enable us to achieve the best time possible on the day.
For uncontrollable reasons, we has an interrupted run in to the event and so we were both a little unsure as to how we would go on the day. With it being my first kilo for 5 years, it would also be a test for my feel of the event.
The first day of competition came and we produced a time of 1.02.4, which got us a Silver medal in the mixed event. Our goal had originally been a 1.02 something, 1.02.1 would have been very good and 1.02.9 slightly disappointing. Our time left us right on the money and it was a relief to find that there is a little left after those first two laps, even if it isn’t very much. To a certain extent, it felt as though a weight had been lifted. Training times had been good but putting all of the pieces together is never quite the same. A years training had gone into this and although I was confidant, it answered plenty of questions with us not having “practised” for obvious reasons.
The kilo is the main selection event and so the flying 200 had a little more of a relaxed feel about it. Our aim was a 10.2 and we clocked 10.14 which I believe is only second to Craig and Anthony at the Paralympics. We were both delighted and this time was again worthy of Silver medals, with Helen and Sophie smashing their world record by 3 thenths!
Next up was the solo Kierin. I have felt the pressure the past few years at Nationals with selections at stake and so it was a breath of fresh air to just race for the sake of winning again. I won my first round comfortably with a strong last 200 but then some tactical mistakes left me in 9th place at the end of the competition. Jumping from tandem to solo felt ok, although I was a little shaky out of the saddle to say the least.
By the sprint competition I was feeling pretty comfortable on the bike but decided to go seated for my flying 200. I clocked a time of 10.356 which was good enough for 8th place. Despite being 8th, I was only 6 hundredths from 2nd and knew that the competition was wide open. I progressed through the first round against Matt Rotherham due to extra speed as opposed to tactics and then was beaten by Craig Maclean in the 2nd round. My feel for the track was a bit rusty with it being a year to the day since my last indoor race.
I won my rep and so met Kian Emadi in the quarter finals. I thought I had a chance against Kian, but with my goal for the day being to make the quarters, I felt relaxed on the start line. I felt strong in the racing and was able to come round Kian twice to progress to the semi finals.
Here I came up against Matt Crampton. Again I felt relaxed and was just enjoying the racing. I managed to beat Matt in straight rides which took me through to the final with Jason Kenny. I never got near Jason, with the large gap between us being made even bigger with some long hard sprints for me, so it was yet another Silver for my days work.
I was ecstatic with the day, with it massively beating my expectations. It is fascinating how by training for and on the tandem, it has taken nothing away from my solo riding, just changed my characteristics as a rider. My solo 200 time was the same as it has been for the last 4 years, but with a good days racing I was able to get what is probably my best result to date.
The 4 days were a huge success for me from every angle. With some of my riders, family and friends watching and supporting me, to deliver and enjoy the week was a massive bonus to my year.