I wasn’t particularly looking forward to competing in this years National Championships, mainly due to the fact that for the last 2 and a bit months I’ve been nursing an elbow injury which has restricted my training, and essentially ruled out standing starts for me, which in turn meant I would have to scratch from the 1km TT. This was a difficult decision, but one I had to make, to make sure I have the best chance to race in the C1 event in November and the World Championships in March. I was most gutted in the fact that I wouldn’t be able to proudly show off the World Stripes I retained in Apeldoorn earlier this year.
With standing starts eliminated I could still compete in the Flying 200, and on Day 2 I was able to have 2 cracks at this, firstly as part of the Open Sprint competition, and secondly in the the ParaCycling Flying 200.
I took to the boards for the Sprint qualifying, winding up the speed with each lap until the bell rung out and I was at top speed. I crossed the line in a time of 10.684, a new PB, National Record and World Best time in the event. Considering all the compromises due to my elbow it was satisfying to see that my training was still heading in the right direction.
I qualified in 8th place overall, and made it into the sprint races, but trying to protect my elbow, I didn’t really attack how I’d like to and so I was easily beaten in the first round and the repecharge.
In the evening session it was time to try and put together the things I’d learnt from the mornings 200 to try and go a bit quicker. So I increased the gear a little and timed my effort slightly differently and it all came together to set another new PB of 10.531 which was good enough to take the national title, which considering there were 4 other national records broken was a pretty impressive achievement.
The final day involved the Team Sprint, riding with Jon Allan Butterworth and Louis Rolfe, although this was an able bodied competition, this was a trial run for a potential Paralympic team, and having only done one training session together was going to be a learning experience.
In the heats we rode Louis man 1, Jon man 2 and myself man 3. It all came together pretty well as we qualified in 8th place with a 51.414. This was enough to get us a second ride, so we could learn a little more and try to improve again.
In the 2nd ride we kept the order the same and Louis pulled out a better man 1 lap, as did Jon, unfortunately I missed Jon’s body cues when he was making his acceleration and I was late to accelerate myself and he gapped me on the 2nd lap. I finished strongly and we crossed the line in an even faster time than the morning with a 51.262. With more practice we can go even quicker just on technique and execution so this is important to learn, as the times we set were good enough to get us on the podium at the Worlds earlier in the year.
All in all, the nationals were pretty constructive and I came away showing good speed and also picked up a National title on the way. Now I just need my elbow to heal and get back to standing starts so I can put this speed to good use at the C1 Event in Manchester in November.