The cold temperatures and risk of rain (or even snow) did could do nothing to prevent a fantastic turnout of spectators at this year’s SCCU Good Friday meeting at Herne Hill. The turnout from Team Performance Cycle Coaching riders was just as strong with ten riders making the trip to central London for this year’s event. For many this is the season opening track event and I was no different. Having been out of the sport for almost the entirety of 2012 with a long term injury, nerves were running high for this day to say the least. In the lead up to race day I was constantly questioning my form, if I would be competitive and how well I would have maintained my race craft. I was somewhat reassured when I arrived at the track that I was far from the only person in this situation. The only difference in my case being that it had been 14 months rather than 4 months since the last proper race.
I arrived at the track with plenty of time to spare to allow for the new warm up plan Lee had sent me last week and immediately felt the benefits. Considering the temperature barely tipped above 4 degrees all day I had no problems keeping warm and preparing for my races throughout the entire meeting. My first race did not exactly go to plan though. My lack of recent experience showed through a little as I got boxed in with 250m to go. I had no choice to drop back out of the group of 5 and try to kick and go around the outside. I managed to climb over 2 riders and get third but missed out on the top 2 qualifying places for the final. I finished the race feeling encouraged by my pace but a little disappointed in myself for placing myself out of the race. Jack Hoyle and Tom Scammell both showed strong performances to get through their heats to reach the final of the White Hope Sprint.
My second race of the day was a 500m handicap. Starts have always been my strong suit so I was looking forward to testing myself again in this event. The heat was really encouraging for me, I had a strong start, managed to reach the front of the bunch by the start of the back straight and just about managed to hang on for the win in the last 200m. The final was always going to be a tougher affair with riders like John Paul, Callum Skinner and Matt Rotherham among others starting behind me. I once again made a strong start but a slight lack of fitness showed through in the closing stages as I faded and a charging bunch came around the outside of me on the final straight. My day finished with a Keirin. I knew it would be a challenge from the start when I was drawn against Callum Skinner and Matt Rotherham and so it proved to be. I wasn’t quite geared high enough for the race and got left behind a little towards the sharp end of the race.
Despite a day of ups and downs I left the Velodrome feeling relatively encouraged by my performances. I’d answered all of my recurring questions from before the race, I’ve still got a strong start and with a little bit of work I genuinely feel as though I stand a chance of recovering my form again to make a stronger challenge later this year. I was also inspired by the team spirit throughout the day. Many of us met each other for the first time at the event or had only been in contact for a few weeks prior but you wouldn’t know from the enthusiasm and support between the riders. When talking to each other between races you could tell that each of us were drawing inspiration from the rides of our team mates, and it only bodes well for the year to come. I wish everybody on the team the best of luck in their upcoming events and I look forward to a successful year of racing for the Team.