Jan reflects on the Individual and Team Pursuit titles taken at the World Masters Track Champs…
The number of women competing at these Championships has been steadily increasing, ever since I rode my first World Masters Track Championships back in 2005. This year, there were almost 70 women from all over the World, including a good showing from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, America, Japan and, of course, many of the European Nations as well.
With a number of new names on the start list, the first event, the Individual Pursuit, was going to be a case of “show and tell.” Way back when I set my goals for the season, I set out to attack the World Masters record for this event, which, at that time, was held by Annette Williams of the USA. Her time of 2:31.570 for two kilometres was to be respected, but with a PB of 2:32.632, I believed it was within reach and I needed a stretch goal to keep me motivated. I even went as far as publishing this goal via my first blog of the New Year, safe in the knowledge that no-one actually reads them… that illusion was shattered by the number of people who commented on how brave (did they mean “stupid”?) I was to come out with my goals and perhaps I needed to be more circumspect in future!
With the help of Chris Davis (my coach), I changed my training quite significantly this year, dismissing any suggestion of sprint work and I even suffered through some 10 mile Time Trials to boost my endurance, much to the amusement of my team mate Mel Sneddon, who is truly a force to be reckoned with in a TT. However, in July of this year, the Pursuit record was put beyond my grasp by a stunning ride at altitude from Catherine Moore. She posted a time of 2:29.161 in Colorado Springs and with that, I had to accept I would need to let it go.
In a strange and painful way, I rather enjoy the Individual Pursuit, so despite being rather ill with a virus for the two weeks leading up to the World Masters, I was looking forward to seeing what I could do. Given that I was not feeling 100% and had not been eating properly for almost two weeks (yes I did at least enjoy some weight loss!), David and I agreed on what should have been a fairly relaxed schedule for qualifying. The communication I get from him once I am on the track is limited to telling me only that I am either on schedule and can hold the pace, or that I need to pick it up. He never tells me to slow down, because once you lose momentum in a pursuit it can be very difficult to get it back again. Riding last, and knowing what I needed to do to qualify for the Gold medal ride off, was the advantage of being the defending champion and I expected to feel comfortable, but when I caught the rider who was on the track with me for half a lap and then saw that I had posted 2:33.618 – a full four seconds faster than I had set out to ride – I began to wonder what I might have been capable of if I had really gone for it?
With 11 seconds over the next rider going into the final, it was more a case of keeping my head and keeping everything under control to win the title, which I duly did later that same day.
Day two and my second race was the Team Pursuit. I absolutely love the team events and, under the watchful eye of Chris Davis, we had a super-strong team of pursuiters including myself, TORQ teamie Mel Sneddon and VC St Raphael’s Maddy Moore. We had managed to get together just four times before the Championships, using the drop in sessions at Newport and, although the first two were a bit ragged, by session four, it was clear we were capable of posting something quite special.
That would not require any good luck, but an absence of bad luck is always a necessity and sadly that was not to be. Whilst Maddy showed she had come into the Championships in stunning form, by breaking the World Masters record on the way to winning her Individual Pursuit, Mel had to sit her race out because she was in a dire state, with a cold that had gone to her chest and robbed her of her voice en-route. We weren’t too bothered about her lack of voice (sorry Mel!), but the ability to breathe should not be underestimated, and so we had TORQ trackie, Lou Haston, on standby.
Incredibly, Mel not only dragged herself up from Newbury to Manchester, but she even found the strength to ride technically beautifully and to put in some useful turns on the front, so that we qualified fastest and then pulled out an amazing ride to win the title by almost four seconds! Our time of 2:27.886 lowered the World Masters record by one and a half seconds and left us feeling justifiably proud of the achievement. There was also much hilarity during the day, as thanks to a random team name generator, we had entered as “Dolphin Commando Squad”, which was a source of so much laughter – at least for the three of us riding – coach Chris and our ever attentive Pit Bitch, David Jack, didn’t seem to find it quite as funny!
So that was a great start to the 2015 Championships, but with the Scratch race coming up next, I had no time to stop and enjoy it…
Thank you for reading and 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: