Monday, 6 September 2010

European Junior Championships

European Junior Championships.

Athlone, Ireland.

4th July 2010

The biggest race of my extremely short career to date.

Home turf and everything, was really up for this, there was no pressure on me at all, just enjoy the experience and see what I could do – see if I would be able to cut it with the big guys.

Race was on the Sunday, so was down with the whole team from Wednesday. First major competition so it was an experience itself to be with the seniors and have a management team around me, it was brilliant.

I loved the atmosphere of the whole weekend it was just incredible, it was really good to see all the races before me and see how things were going.

Sunday;

Cycled down to transition area with my kit, got tri-suit pictured and get my numbers on me, and got transition all set up, everything was going smooth, was really excited and just wanted to get at it.

Got my wetsuit on went in for a quick swim warm up, was feeling on form, then when we were lining up it was announced that the race was going to be delayed, so had to go back into the athletes lounge.

The delay was caused by the strong winds blowing tiles of the roof and barriers fallinf down. At this stage I didn’t realises how much of a factor this strong wind was going to be to the outcome of my race.

Due to this unforeseen circumstance the route of the cycle and run was slightly changed in order to avoid the area around the castle.

So that was that, didn’t really mind the delay and I was ready to line up for the second time now.

I was so surprised; I didn’t even get nervous for the start.

Swim Start was fine didn’t even get cramped that much, but wasn’t really going as fast as I would have liked, but it wasn’t a disaster, wasn’t really able to see a thing either which didn’t help.

Got around the first bend fine and pretty comfortable, but once I got around it the punches came in thick and fast, but lets just say I was giving as much as I was getting, there was no point being mister nice guy when everyone else wasn’t.

One thing I hate is people trying to pull my zip down I just think that it is a really low thing to try, luckily my Blueseventy zip went the opposite way and it cant be pulled down.

The rest of the swim wasn’t that eventful, still didn’t know where I was position wise, but ended up exiting in 13th which wasn’t too bad for my 1st ever swim with people around me. Although unknown to me at that point it was going to be unlucky 13th.

T1 was amazing, have never got a wetsuit off so fast, was class, mounted the bike and the lead bunch was only 5m from me I thought I was sorted, but didn’t get into my shoes fats enough. Looking back that could have changed my whole race.

So missed the lead bunch, and waited on the chasing pack.

1st lap went ok, but wasn’t quite as comfortable as I would have liked.

On to the second lap, was at the front of the chasing pack, doing all the work and was just about to bridge the gap to the lead bunch coming up to the turn around point, they were so close. Then out from an entry there was a cross wind and a redbull can blew out, it was like slow-mo I could just see it coming, and I was prepared to dodge it, I was on the outside and I just seen it slide under the front wheel of the guy to my left, and he just lost it – went straight down and just slid and wiped me out – took my bike from underneath me, there was nothing I could do, then I could feel another fella go straight over the top of me (I had his tyre marks up my back and neck) so I was down, I had came of in the Europeans, what was I going to do? there was no way that that was the end I was finishing this race no matter what!!!

So up I got I didn’t even think about it I was pumping, got my chain back on as fast as possible and back on the bike. My shifters were both bent inwards, went round the turn around point and realised I couldn’t reach my breaks – I thought I was off again. I was still out of the saddle trying to make up time, but when I went to sit down I realised my saddle was sideways, this was a disaster, couldn’t sit down, hardly any breaks and ripped open down my whole right hand side.

On with the race I went there was nothing I could do. Got into the town again and just came in like a lone rider with my battle wounds, I could hear people cheering for me and then in their next breath – “o flip he has came off!”

Once I got through transition I sat up waiting on the next bunch, I was just freewheeling for ages waiting on someone. So as I was waiting I was trying to yank my seat around. Finally got it a bit straighter, at least I could sit now.

Two others caught me finally so worked with them as a three for the rest of the cycle, we were going ok and nobody else caught up with us.

Onto the run, first lap was awful, whole right side was dead from landing on it; hip was solid there was no spring off the ground at all, and to make matters worse I had taken a gel on the cycle for a pick me up, only thing was I had lost my bottles in the crash so hadn’t taken much fluids with it and it just sort of lay in my stomach making me feel awful, but I ran on.

Once I got a water station it helped and I was starting to loosen up, was getting into a rhyme.

I never knew if there was such a thing as home advantage, but after that 2nd lap I experienced it for myself, it was such a boost, I floated around that lap, somehow recording the 10th fastest 2nd lap run split (not bad after falling of a bike before hand) so that was it sprinting around the 2nd lap trying to make up as many position as I could.

In hind sight it wasn’t a disaster, infact there was many positives to take out of it. I finished 47th but I really thing I would have been top 20 at least if I hadn’t of coming off. The main thing was :- I now know I can cut it with the best in Europe, and the best part of it, I still have next year to redeem myself as a junior and really show what I can do.

Sorry that this has dragged on, but it was a bit of a dramatic race, I hope you enjoyed reading it, even if it took you a while.

Keep reading my blog – there is plenty more to come. ;)

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