A long week of racing

Exactly a week ago I had just got home and thrown myself at the sofa, exhausted after what felt like a very long week of bike racing. The ‘week’ started on Tuesday with my first big track race of the year- The National Points Race Championships. I’d felt the nerves quite bad coming up to the junior track nationals because a lot of my training for this year had been track based and this one week was my only big opportunity to let the training pay off and get some results on the track. So, Tuesday, it was probably one of the worst results I’ve had on the track. I wasn’t too disappointed though, I had put all my efforts into the race and it just hadn’t paid off for me today. I left the track reassuring myself I had two more days to show myself and get a result. Wednesday I didn’t race, just an easy spin on the road. It rained.

Then Thursday came round and it was the national scratch race championships, the very race I happened to win last year. I still had no luck. I attacked the race I believed in my fitness and form. I had raced in Brittany where one of the stages was around 130km long, this race was 10km, but I wasn’t given an inch and I didn’t leave myself anything for a sprint. At the end of this race I was disappointed. I only had one more day to get a result and racing against the newly crowned European Team Pursuit Champions in the pursuit I didn’t feel like it was going to be my race.

Mel Lowther

As a youth I rode a good pursuit, breaking the national U16 record, since then with injuries and illness impeding my progress I had never gotten within three seconds of my PB, it felt like I would never break it. Needless to say I didn’t really turn up to the track in high spirits. I knew I was in good form but mentally I also knew at every other attempt I’d been so far off my PB. I was still going to give it my best though, no point turning up for anything less. So in my heat I gave it everything, when I finished I looked up at the score board and I’d done it, new PB, I beat my two year old PB by just over a second, four seconds faster than I’d rode all year. It was the first time all week I’d finished a race with a smile on my face, it felt a relief, I was going in the right direction. I managed to get in the bronze ride off, against Abbie Dentus my ODP teammate. Abby had gone faster in qualifying by around half a second so it was set to be a close race. With around three laps to go we were drawing on time and the pressure was on, the next lap round and I was up and I was able to hang onto my slim advantage, finishing half a second quicker, and beating my PB by another second in the process.

Saturday came around soon enough and in the morning I headed down to Jessie’s to travel down to London with the Walkers. As last year The Prudential Ride London Grand Prix was a great experience, made all the better by the fact it was televised live and so my parents could watch me racing from home!! I also improved on my finishing position from last year, from 23rd to 13th which I was pleased about as the field had also improved from last year. Of course there is always a part of me who wishes I was in the top ten.

Sunday I was again with the Walkers, on the way to the Pontefract GP. Jessie and I managed to get away together after a few laps of the race, which was very rainy. We’d already spoken beforehand about how we would race if we got in a break together and decided if we had enough time on the rest of the field we wanted to race it out between us. So when I knew we had enough time I decided my plan was to wait for a sprint. Jessie, however had different plans and started attacking me with around five laps to go, she definitely didn’t make it easy for me. I managed to get on her, just, at each attack and coming into the last lap I was ahead, looking back all the time. It felt like we were racing a track sprint, in the end I just managed to get past Jessie before the line, it was so funny racing against each other for the first time since we became teammates nearly two years ago. I learnt that I’d rather have her as a teammate than an opponent! As we rode around another lap and up to the podium we saw Penny waiting to be presented for third so it was a Matrix Vulpine 1, 2, 3, and just when we thought the day couldn’t get any better the race was sponsored by Haribo and so we all got a pack of Haribos each!