I flew down to Invercargill on Friday the 15th, and made my way to my accommodation, where I would be spending the next 3 nights with fellow WCNI rider Cassie Cameron, and travelling Scotsman Gus Gillies.
Saturday was day one of the UCI tier one event, which we started off with a 30 minute ride/crawl to the Velodrome. My Keirin was first up, however while racing I had a small mechanical. I still managed to finish a respectable third.
Later that night I competed in the scratch race but unfortunately the mechanical repeated itself, and I was forced to pull out. Due to this, I decided to enter the points race the next day. After lapping the field with a couple of NZ riders, and picking up a couple of sprints, I finished up 5th overall. I was very happy with this, as the points race is an endurance event and by nature I’m a sprinter. This 2 day event was a huge confidence boost, as I had proven to myself that I could kick it with the best of them.
Monday was the day between events, and proved to be a welcome opportunity to rest, although I still managed to head to the track for a quick session in the evening with my fellow west coast riders. Tuesday was also a quiet day for us, as none of us had a race on. Once again, we headed to the track for a few hours to take in some of the most exciting racing that the southern hemisphere has to offer.
Wednesday was the kilo final for me, and was a major focus of the trip. Unfortunately, things don’t always go to plan but I finished a close 5th. Cassie Cameron also had her scratch race on this night, and performed admirably given the very short lead up to the event that she had had due to illness, finishing up 9th out of a large field. The next day was my sprint qualification, which I qualified in and after a few games of cat and mouse, finished 4th.
On Friday morning, after an early exam, I had the Keirin heats, in which I qualified for the final later that evening by rolling over in a comfortable third. That night, in an exciting race against the national u19 track squad and Aussies top U19 sprinter, I earned a bronze medal. Cassie also rode a super strong race and finished 5th in a very strong field of international riders, which bodes well for the rest of her season.
This trip was an awesome experience for me, as I had to manage myself for 9 days, without any mishaps. I also learnt a lot about track racing and mental preparation, from my own races, the team coach and from watching some of the best in the world do their thing. It was a pretty full on week, juggling exams and racing at the same time, but I cant wait to do it all over again at national track champs in Cambridge early next year. Thanks so much to everyone who’s bought firewood from me to help out my fundraising effort, and everyone for their kinds words of encouragement. Your support has been greatly appreciated.