Six days of racing at the World Masters for Jan concludes with the 500m TT, Team Sprint and Points Race…
Preparations for these Championships had been so spectacularly spoiled by illness, that I had done my very best to manage my expectations leading into them. At one point, my husband and I even discussed which events I might sit out to best allow myself to perform well in those that mattered most, but that was an impossible task. I could not drop the team pursuit or sprint, because I had an obligation to my team mates; the individual pursuit had been a real focus event all year and the bunch races were the ones I enjoyed most – and I was allowed to make decisions based on the “fun-factor” wasn’t I?
That process left just the 500m TT as an event that could be dropped, but given that it was only 500m to be ridden in the evening session of day four, it seemed a shame not to. On paper it was clear that my competition would be Brit, Julie Cooper, and I know her well enough to have a great deal of respect for her. The day before this TT, I had just pipped her on the line in the Scratch Race, so I expected her to be highly motivated to win this event and she has beaten me in the past. True to form, we were both seeded to ride in the final heat, with me in the home straight and Julie in the back straight.
Barring complete disaster, the fastest time posted at that point should not trouble either of us, so it was really all about beating each other to take the title. I came out of the gate pretty well, but after half a lap (125m) I tried to sit down and found the nose of my saddle was caught in the seat of my shorts. Initially I thought “it’s only 500m, I can ride that perched on the nose of the saddle”, but I quickly realised I was in a position where I could not put any real power down and so I had to unhook my bottom to allow myself to sit properly on the saddle. All of which had to cost me something in time and one look at David’s face as I came into the home straight for the last time, told me it was very close. Once over the line I glanced up at the scoreboard and saw a big fat “1” by the name at the top – this is always where the name of the rider who starts in the home straight is reported – and so I breathed a huge sigh of relief and proceeded back to my pits area. It was here, after some discussion of my issue with the bottom area of my skinsuit, that coach Chris Davies asked “did you think you won that Jan?”. There was, it seemed, much confusion and I realised that David was already trying to get some clarity for me. It turned out that they had posted my time of 37.704 in the correct position on the scoreboard, but for several heats, the scoreboard had taken it upon itself to transpose the names of the two riders so, in fact, it had shown Julie’s name at the top with my time, and my name next to her time of 38.003. It all seemed rather cruel; I know how much she would have wanted to beat me and her father, reading the scoreboard, thought she had and he was very excited for her for a little while. I was just happy that I was mostly oblivious to the drama and very thankful that David cleared it up quickly.
On the penultimate day I was riding the Team Sprint, and this was always going to be a real battle. With nine teams entered, it was a truly international affair, but the combination of Maddy Moore and myself looked good on paper. However, the single training session for which we had desperately tried to get together, fell victim to my illness (are you bored of hearing about that yet?!). That said, I have never had the opportunity to train with my usual TS partner, Ali Chisholm (who was sadly out of action this year with a back injury) and we hold the World Masters record with a time of 36.125. So there was just a chance that we might pull this one out of the hat on the day. The truth is, with the team events, sometimes 2+2=5 and that is certainly the case when Ali and I ride together; we get the best of both in combining her first lap and my second lap. Sadly, riding with Maddy we seemed to get the weakest aspect of both of our rides and 2+2 equalled, well, something less than four anyway. Anything less than a technically and physically perfect ride was not going to be good enough to beat Debbie Capewell and Julie Cooper, and we were a long way from perfect. They beat us in qualifying by just over two tenths of a second and although we narrowed the gap to less than one tenth, they won with a time of 36.904 and with that, Debbie took her first World Masters title, something for which she has worked very hard, for so many years. It was difficult not to be pleased for them, even if I would have preferred to deny them, the fact is they were better than us on the day and they deserved the title.
I was a little deflated and full of cold by the final day of competition and the prospect of a fierce battle for the Points Race title was rather daunting. Before I go on however, let me be clear, if I am beaten because I am injured or ill, I am not making excuses, simply stating it as a fact. In my opinion, turning up fit, well and properly prepared, is all part of the challenge and if I do not manage that for any reason, then I am not the best and do not deserve the win.
The Points Race was a complicated affair. For my age group the race distance is 40 laps, with four sprints, but there were not enough women in some of the age groups for a single race and, to achieve the UCI minimum numbers, we actually ended up with three age groups on the track. In fact, over 20 women took to the start of the race and that included the 35-39 year olds. That meant we all had to race their distance, a full 50% further at 60 laps, with six sprints. Ordinarily, I would have lapped that up (see what I did there?!), but given how I was feeling, the number of riders and the extra distance filled me with dread. The advice was to sit out the first sprint and then get stuck in, but my effort in the second sprint netted me just one point and confirmed everything I feared – I was lacking in power and the ability to recover on the bike. In the past I have enjoyed dominating this race, but this time it was all about chipping away to win some points and, although I won my age group by a considerable margin, finishing on points that were equal second overall was not the way I had wanted to do it. That said, the winning ride from the French lady, Cristelle, was stunning and her emotion after the race showed just how much it meant to her. When I found her to shake her hand after the race, it was done with huge respect.
And so, that was it for another year. Six starts, five Titles and one Silver medal, with just one trip to dope control this year and more fun in the pits than I have ever had before. That was a function of my wonderful team mates, Lou Haston and Mel Sneddon, plus the many people we shared the area with. Not least in that mix were the Aussies, who’s disrespectful brand of humour was right up my street. All of this is enabled by my husband, TORQ Team Pit Bitch, David Jack, who not only looked after all three of us TORQies, but he also tirelessly worked every day of the championships for a number of nations who needed technical or mechanical help and he made a huge difference to the racing for so many.
I have one more big race this season – the National Derny Championships on 29 November – but for now, thank you for reading.
Thank you also to those who support me – mentally as well as physically! – my husband David Jack puts up with so much, as does my coach, Chris Davis. Then there are the companies that support me as well: