Starting on Friday, I was running around packing and getting kit sorted for the weekend. I got my new kit, which arrived in perfect time. Thanks to Fully Sussed, Silverfish UK (Yeti) and Rockets and Rascals for being my 2014 sponsors. The kit is luscious, although I have learnt that I am not an XL women (horaay) and it is a little big, but nothing I can't fix! The design is great!
So with my kit sorted, we headed to the course on Saturday morning for a day of pre-riding and yoga. I always find yoga is so good before and after a race, completely relaxing and freshens you up, even if it does look funny.
When I rode around the course, I was really nervous because of the BMX track - every time I've been on one before I've crashed. However, I conquered it this time and found I could pump through it without crashing! The rest of the course was exciting. It had lots of quick, power hills and a few exciting drops. It was not the most technical course, only having one chute needing a B line. However, I think this is nice as it makes every National course different and it plays well to different strengths.
Some of the races were on the Saturday so we got to watch them and cheer everyone on. Including my boyfriend, Max Suttie (Certini rider), whom I got a bit carried away in excitement for as he went from a gridded 45th place to 3rd! I got a lot of strange looks as I jumped on the spot like a crazy woman. Well done Max! Also, fellow South West rider Tom Dunn for coming 10th, also, an amazing position.
On race day, we woke in sensible time to get to the arena for me to do my turbo warm up and prep for the big race. Having practised this in the South West races, this was now fairly automatic for me, which helped reduce my nerves. I did make the mistake of taking an extra gel and have now learnt that the Nationals are not the time to change my routine as this made me feel a bit ill! My lesson is definitely learnt for the future!
The start was very scary, as it was the biggest group I have competed against in the Nationals (15 Junior women) and lining up against them all makes it all so real. Luckily, I got to start on the front row letting me focus solely on what was ahead of me. My start went really well, leading the field up the first climb, however, I was quickly caught up by the top riders and after sticking on their wheel for as long as possible I faded behind into 7th place. This was disappointing for me because my aim was for the top 5, having managed to achieve a 3rd last year. The competition has really stepped up and those girls who have moved up are all of a really high level.
Although, a bit of a throw back finishing in 7th place, it was also a wake up call. I feel like I've started to train a lot this year, but I have realised that my competitors are also training hard. So in order to be the best, I need to train even harder! This has been an encouragement for my training, as I still really want to be at the top and am going to train as hard as I can until I do.
Overall, this Nationals was a sociable, fun and motivational experience. You can't get better than a weekend like this.
I loved seeing my fellow team mates on the podium too. Harry Birchill getting a 1st place at his first Nationals and my mum getting her first podium in 2nd place. I couldn't be more proud.