Well this is the first chance I have had to sit down and write a few words since arriving in Cambridge on Tuesday … it’s been all systems go up 'til this point and now I have 40mins to bang some words out before it is time to head back to the track!
The whole Southland team (well, those of us not living here ...) eventually arrived safely in Cambridge (some of us taking a slightly longer route than others!) and settled in to our various places of accommodation. The bulk of the team are staying at a place on Karapiro Road, which is an awesome set up – tailored as rowing accommodation, which of course crosses over nicely for cyclists! It is about 9kms out of Cambridge and is very peaceful/idyllic setting – a great place to chill out after a big day at the track - and with lots of shaded outdoor seating, which is great in this very warm weather! So yes, the temperature here is considerably higher than home and we have all had to be very conscious of keeping our fluid uptake up. Fair to say the water cooler at the track (which I am very glad we bought up in the van with us) has had a hammering!
Everyone had a chance for a roll on the track during our team session the day before racing started - it was really good to catch up with Eddie, Matt and Steph, who are based up here now and riders were very happy with how the track felt. It is a beautiful track and so shiny and new – I felt really sad that it would soon be getting its first patches (sure enough, they were busy bogging holes and sanding before racing starting this morning, after crashes during the practice sessions!). We rounded out the day with supermarket runs, the cooking of dinners (Cam wins the MasterChef award I reckon!), the managers meeting and getting the final bits and pieces organised before race day.
Finally it was time for the first session and everyone was excited to get underway. After a last minute change, which saw the removal of the standing lap heats for the Elite Men and Women, meaning the Elite Individual Pursuit heats were first up. Kirstie shot straight to the top of the leader board with her ride, which was an impressive 3.44.606– (this eventually saw her finish 5th place and with a massive improvement in her PB). Sophie and Sequoia also rode strongly, finishing 7th and 9th respectively.
We had Hamish, Liam, Josh and Cam in the Men’s IP with Cam topping the standings for Southland finishing up 6th with a 4.32.003. Liam also rode strongly to record 4.35. 568 for 10th and Hamish Tomlinson had an impressive return to elite level track competition on limited training and Josh H rode a very gutsy race, without a full tank of fuel as he recovered from the flu he had earlier in the week.
The standing laps followed on from the IP heats, with Stephie blasting out of the gates to record an impressive 19.643 to take the gold medal in the first official final of the event. A great way to start things off! In the Men’s equivalent, Matt came away with the silver, despite pulling his foot, then clicking it back in through the first corner. He is a machine!!! Jeremy Presbury was also impressive, recording 18.761 to finish 4th in his first Nationals as an Elite – outstanding! Karl and Fabian both rode strongly for 9th and 12th respectively and a good hit out on the track before the races they are focusing on.
In the U19 standing lap, Mike Culling recorded a smoking 18.7 to finish 2nd. Jake Milligan also using the event as an opportunity for a hit out before the Kilo, and riding well to record a 20.4.
Overall, a very loooong morning, but well worth the time and effort with some outstanding rides!
Time to restock the chilly bin and the water cooler and hunker down for tonight’s session of IP Finals, 500’s and Kilos, finished off with the U19 Men Scratch Race Final.
Watch this space for more updates!
Thanks super star Manager Dale MacDonald for the first instalment - watch this space!