Jan Birkmyre talks about the success and fun of the meeting and of the amazing performances put in by each member of the TORQ Track Team…
The Masters National Track Championships is one of my absolute favourite meetings of each season. I guess it is easy to attribute the fun factor to the success that I have enjoyed at these Championships over the years 11 years. Whilst the success certainly plays a part, there is also so much more about this event that makes it very special, in a way that just looking at the results would never reveal.
Cycling is the ultimate leveller. I know of one competitor that arrives in a Maserati, while others are “white van men” and a quick glance around the car park shows that there is everything in between as well, but once inside the velodrome, the vehicle you arrived in counts for nothing. The skin tight lycra skin suit and dark glasses (that are the “uniform” of a track cyclist), give away nothing about income and, in many cases, little about age – on the bike it is all about strength, speed and cunning.
The Masters Nationals are organised by Graham Bristow, one of cycling’s legends and a promoter who genuinely organises events first and foremost for the riders. There is no money in it for him and no ego either, as he even takes a bit of abuse from riders sometimes, but he tells me plenty thank him after the event too. These National Championships are a product of private enterprise and the fact that Graham is prepared to give up his time, energy and money to make them happen will never stop amazing me.
I am trying to be a little more focussed on the racing these days, but there are so many people to catch up with at this meeting, that it feels like a social whirl from the moment we arrive on Friday morning at 9am, to the time we say our thank you’s and goodbyes and leave at 10pm on Sunday night. There is no doubt that the racing is full on when it is “on” but off the track, people congratulate and support each other – my husband is often seen working on one of my competitors’ bikes, making it faster just before they roll onto the track to race me! – it is an atmosphere that defines sportsmanship and I feel truly privileged to be a part of it.
2015 was particularly special because I had teammates for the first time ever and we were a team that commanded attention, both on and off the track. In the first instance, our kit was (as always) uncompromisingly about performance; Wilier bikes, with KMC chains and FFWD wheels – which had been upgraded with Ceramicspeed bearings and fitted with Dugast tubulars. Lezyne tools were on hand for all the little jobs that needed doing and we all wore our Lake shoes, Tifosi sunglasses and Limar helmets. There was also more TORQ nutrition around our pits area than we could consume in a week!
It is a team with very high standards and even higher expectations. Don’t let that fool you though, between races we had a blast – I can’t remember the last time I laughed so much and I guess we need to thank the team Pit Bitch David for working so hard to set up our bikes, so that really all we had to do was get on and race.
Each member of the small but perfectly formed team, medalled in every race they started and that was despite Louise being very sick indeed (in case you think I am exaggerating, she ended up in hospital on Sunday night)! Louise was awarded the “Hard as Nails” award for this Championships. In summary the results were as follows:
Louise “Hard as Nails” Haston
1. Sprint – Silver
2. 500m TT – Silver
3. Scratch Race- Silver
4. Pursuit – Silver, but with a new PB almost 2 seconds faster than ever before
Mel “Silent Assassin” Sneddon
1. Pursuit – Gold with a new PB
2. Points Race – Gold, taking two laps on the field to secure the title!
Jan “Sprinter turned Endurance” Birkmyre
1. 500m TT – Gold
2. Scratch Race – Gold, getting a lap up on the field in a small group, before sprinting for the title
3. Points Race – Gold, again gaining a lap and winning three of the four sprints to take the title
4. Pursuit – Gold
We shouldn’t really be allowed to have this much fun and we are really indebted to those who support us: