So this is my first post and what a way to start it … Pontevedra World Championships!!!
Once I heard that I qualified for Pontevedra I was immediately excited and couldn’t stop thinking about what an incredible opportunity it is and how good it’ll be. Not long after, I started thinking about the practicality of it all, as you do of course. After all, I only had a few weeks until the race, no bike to race on and no way to take one across, shoes (both bike and trainers) and helmet needing a definite upgrade, accommodation, travel, insurance etc. to sort out and I was recovering from a knee injury from the term before, which therefore saw most of my Easter training scrapped too, along with the fact that I had my first exam on the 3rd June with 6 others in quick succession all meant that I didn’t know if my knee would hold, whether I’d have the equipment, if I’d be back in time and whether we could even plan everything in that time without it affecting my results that I’d been studying for. After all, I did go to uni to study.
With a bit of research and help from mummy, we found out that we could fly to Porto, hire a car, drive up for the race and then fly back to catch the 6am Monday morning flight. Arriving back at uni for around 2pm giving me the chance to sleep etc. ready for the exam in the morning. All a bit rushed and maybe a bit crazy but how could I miss this?? So that was it, I was going. We booked the flights and the countdown was on…4 WEEKS TO GO!!! I didn’t know how we’d do it but I knew we would. THE RACE WAS ON!!!
With fantastic support from mummy and both of my sponsor’s, Apex Bike Performance and daysout.co.uk, the list of things to do was slowly getting shorter. Day in Wales with Elo, Nick and Charlotte at Apex getting my bike measurements…CHECK, bike…CHECK, shoes and helmet…CHECK, bike box…CHECK (thanks Alison), accommodation, insurance and travel etc…CHECK. Logos on kit…CHECK (thanks iprintstuff.co.uk). It was all coming together. Thanks you so much guys. Definitely couldn’t have sorted it all out without you (or funded it J). Revision was also going well!
6:00am Thursday we left and started our journey to Pontevedra. We went to Porto and then drove up as planned, registering before arriving at our hotel. It was amazing!!! It had a pool, an amazing panoramic view, BBQ area, tennis courts and 400m to the beach not sure how much of it I’d use but still. Having seen the Australian, French, Brazilian, Spanish and USA team cycle in different directions as we travelled around the place I found myself enjoying every minute and I was just so excited to get out on the roads myself.
After familiarising myself with the course, having been on the GB rides and runs, race day had finally come. 7am, it was time to head down to transition to make sure everything was set and sorted…just the long wait to go. I watched the Sprint athletes that started at 8:30 before trying out a little powernap in the back of the car (so glad we went for an estate). Now feeling refreshed, I headed to the start…1 HOUR LEFT and what an amazing time I’ve had already.
At just past 12, “ON YOUR MARKS” was called, we moved forward to the line and with anxious people either side of me with their clocks at the ready, something was shouted or fired, all I just knew was that WE WERE OFF!!! As the 60 or so of us left the stadium we were faced with amazing support, flag waving and cheering from the crowds that stood either side of the route, along with Jez, the GB team manager, advising us to take it easy and work into it, which was exactly what I decided to do as I didn’t want to get carried away and burn myself out, especially with the atmosphere being as it was. The scorching heat and the sight of the first steep hill, saw people grabbing water only 400m after the start line. Four laps of the 2.5km loop to go. As the laps went by, the run got tougher and I got hotter. I found myself taking water at both of the water stations but with the last lap in sight and the bike split coming up. I started picking it up a bit more and overtook a couple of guys before coming into the transition area. Shoes off, helmet on, I ran with the bike, got to the line and successfully mounted without a problem, the new shoes and new technique I had to adapt to and the practice I did at the hotel seemed to have paid off and worked smoothly.
Now on the bike, I was looking forward to coming down the hill, as the practice ride had filled me with confidence and excitement as I reached 65kmph with traffic, not on the bars and with the breaks applied (bit worrying as it didn’t feel like I was slowing but I always feel safer not using the brakes so should be ok). But first I had to push myself up to the 10km point before turning around and powering it down. I was reclaiming positions and obviously picking up a lot of speed. It felt so good.
The nice wide, smooth, pothole and drain free roads with nice long wide bends meant that it became one of my favourite bike courses and I was thoroughly enjoying the race at this point. I do wish that I had a Garmin though. Coming down to the bottom of the hill I had caught a couple of people and after a small loop I got to do it all again, as I was now on the second loop…AMAZING…twice in one go!!! After another accent and exhilarating decent I came back into transition feeling strong.
After a successful dismount I ran into transition, bike racked, helmet off, shoes on, I was on the last 5km run…only two laps to go. After going up that hill for the 5th time and with the heat picking up even more, I started to suffer and my legs felt they were going to collapse bellow me. Playing mind games with myself along with people shouting my name and for GB, I pushed myself and once I came over that hill for the 6th time I knew that was it…one lap to go…no more nasty surprises and no more hills.
Having no idea what position I was in, as there were people from all age categories now, all on different laps with people still coming off the bike I decided to start picking up the pace, just to make sure I wasn’t picked at the post. Coming down the straight into the stadium with an Australian to my left, I was handed a flag and went for the final push as I ran down the blue mat to the finish line. Crossing the line and coming 19th overall. It was a tough race, but of course it was…its Worlds…duh!!!
I really enjoyed the race, even if the run was a bit disappointing. It was just such an amazing opportunity to be racing against such top athletes from across 40 nations and across an age span of 70 years. I had an absolutely amazing time. So thank you once again to everyone that made it possible. At least I now have some experience and I can’t wait until Europeans next year and hopefully I’ll go to the Worlds again. I’ll only come back stronger and I’ve got a year till I do it again. CAN’T WAIT!!!
The day wasn’t over yet though!!! We still had the closing ceremony… a completely over the top and extreme party and performance…I’ll give a brief summary as a list just to add to the weirdness of it all. It had singers, dancers, musicians, gymnasts, impersonators, balloons, drummers coming down from the ceiling, people moving on platforms over the top of us, tiered stage, grand piano, acrobatics, zorbe (for wrecking ball), bongo’s, donkey costumes, sparklers, Kongo’s, The Ketchup Song, Macarena, robots, there was just so much going on…It was just crazy but remarkable and so enjoyable!!!
After a two hours drive to Porto, we managed to squeeze in a three-hour sleep before leaving at 6am for the flight back. Arriving back at uni at 4pm, I unpacked and went straight to bed, ready for my exam the next day, which thankfully went well due to the revision I’d done before. Definitely one of my most enjoyable events/time away/holiday/experience I’ve had and all in three full days. BRILLIANT!!! Thank you once again to everyone that helped and supported me.
Till next time,