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British National Champs at Moelfre, Wales 22 July 2012

Helmet cam run with Jack

After a podium finish in the BDS round at Glencoe I trained hard throughout the following week, then took off to Majorca for 5 days with girlfriend Sarah for 5 days of rest and recovery in the sun. Therefore it seemed pretty unfair to start getting a cold on Thursday morning when all I'd been doing was chilling by the hotel pool and beach in temperatures above 30 degrees. It seems that when I stop training hard I become more susceptible to catching stuff. We landed back in the UK at midnight on Friday night (after the usual flight delay), so after only 5 hours sleep and with the beginnings of a cold manifesting as a niggly sore throat I headed off for the National Championships at Moelfre.

I felt great on the bike throughout Saturday, despite feeling very tired and my head cold getting worse and making me feel rubbish when I wasn't riding. The weather was great with sun and no wind – important for Moelfre because there are no trees to protect you from the effects of bad weather. I did 7 runs throughout the day and finished with a talkie helmet camera run following my buddy and fellow elite and O'Neal rider Pete Williams. That is included here in this the report so check it out – it's worth a watch, if only to see Pete go flying off the track into the gorse!

I was in bed at 7 that night feeling terrible. My ears were all blocked up from the cold and I'd just given up because of the lack of sleep. I slept through until 7 the following morning and felt better for it. The cold was still there but I didn't feel anywhere near as bad as the night before. The weather was still clear and warm on Sunday but the wind had got up and was set to make riding much more difficult. It's always a head wind at Moelfre, which makes the track have a much greater emphasis around pedaling and fitness. There are a couple of spots where the wind makes it feel like you're pedaling with your brakes on. Great news, as I know from experience that when you've got a cold, hard pedaling and burning your lungs is not good and doesn't work very well.

I put down three practice runs in the morning before the race and was feeling fast going into seeding, but I knew the wind was going to be a nightmare in places. I decided to hit everything flat out in my seeding run, but save a little bit on the pedalling so that I'd have a bit more time in the tank for the race. I did a 2.31.6 which put me into 12th place, but times were pretty tight, I was only 1.2 seconds back from 5th place. I really really wanted a top 5 finish, but more realistically aimed for a top 10 considering my cold was going to affect my fitness. When it's a one off race like the National Champs you can really go for it, not having to worry about your overall position like you do in a series. I knew I'd have to go crazy in all the technical sections of the track if I was going stand a chance of getting the result I was after because the other boys would pull time on me on flat windy sections.

Before race runs one of my best buds from home turned up unexpectedly to support me. Its always nice when people are there supporting you, and with my Mum and Dad already there running my pits for me, I was ready to give it 100% and hopefully make their trips worth it. Although like most Mums, all mine really cares about is that I 'get down safe' haha. The wind was again worse for the race run. I knew it would be as it always increases as the day goes on, so I was ready for her. I gave it everything from the start, but I really tried to focus on breathing well throughout the top section. This was because the worst flat and windy section was towards the bottom after the steep technical switch backs, so I wanted to keep lots in the lungs and the legs for that. I had a great top sections keeping things smooth and fast with no mistakes. Dropping into the steep technical turns I really gave it everything and attacked. It worked and I got it awesome. As I crossed the fire road and hit the wind it was so demoralising. I almost stopped and although I thought I'd be in the right gear to pedal I had to move up the cassette two more gears to be able to pedal after a little step up.

I felt the pain rushing through my body as the lactic acid kicked in. In a situation like that you feel that the wind must be worse for you than everyone else, surely you've got a bad gust and your chance is over, you're losing too much time. But you've got to tell yourself that's not true and keep pushing because it really is the same for everyone along there. I pushed as hard as I could and pedaled in places along that straight that I didn't think was possible. At the end of the straight suddenly the wind is gone as you swing left into the view of the crowd. All of a sudden the frustration of the wind is gone and you have speed back, your pedal strokes become effective and you accelerate again. I hit the difficult corner at the end of that straight really well and jumped through it catching a boost on the way out and it revitalised me. I had an awesome bottom section and pushed so hard. I came threw the finish and didn't for a minute think I'd I done anything special.

However I went into the hot seat, and by over a second, which was quite a margin on that track. I'd beat my seeding time and with the wind being worse I started to think I might have that top 10 after all. I'd done a 2.30 and was less than 5 seconds behind Gee who won. I finished 7th and am so happy with it. This season is really on the up as I continue to get more and more comfortable on the Trek Session and my fitness increases. I've got four days to shake this cold off before the French World Cup starts on Thursday. I'm currently ranked 58th in the World Cup series and aim to drag that up towards the top 40 by the end of the season!

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