I was super happy with my 5th place at the National Championships. I had two weeks at home before I was due back down in Glasgow for the Inter – Regional MTB Championships. The result from the champs really motivated me to work hard to try go get some top results at the end of the season.
The Inter – Regional MTB Championships this year had been shortened to 2 days of racing, from 3. This made for a super hectic weekend.
My team met at the Glasgow velodrome on Friday before heading over to the university halls we were staying in in Paisley. We then had an early morning start on Saturday to prepare for the first event – the skills competition. I’m not the best at skills competitions, however, I have been working really hard to get better at it. I was glad to finish 9th. The skills competition decided the order for the handicap race. This race was set so that the people who did well in the skills got to start first in the handicap. The points system was awfully complicated, so all you need to know is that I started 20 seconds behind the winner of the skills. I had a great handicap race and caught 8 of the 9 riders who started in front of me to finish in 2nd, behind my Scotland East team mate. The third race of the day was the dirt crits. There were two heats, each with 20 riders in it, where you have to race 5 laps, which lasts about 10 minutes. The top 10 riders in each heat goes through to an A final and the bottom 10 go to the B final. I had a good start and was leading my heat when I crashed and cut my knee. I chased back but didn’t go too deep as I knew I would comfortably qualify in 4th place. The final went really well, no crash this time, and I dug really deep to come 2nd (again) behind my Scotland East team mate (again). However, this time another of my Scotland East team mates finished in 3rd, meaning we got a clean sweep of the podium! The next day we had the team relay in the morning. My team smashed it and we convincingly won. It was then time for the main event, the XC race. It was a cold day (as it normally is in Glasgow) and I was absolutely freezing between the relay and the XC. I was also really tired from the intense weekend. I struggled to do an effective warm up as I was so tired and cold and ended up just spinning randomly on my rollers until it was time to get gridded. The race was a really tough one and luckily I wasn’t the only one who was really tired. Again, I managed to dig really deep and finished second, again behind my Scotland East team mate. I was really happy with all of my performances throughout the whole weekend. The Inter – Regional Championships is a team event and all of our top results from the boys and girls meant Scotland East convincingly won the overall.
I had 1 week between the Inter – Regionals and the 5th and final round of the British series. I was super motivated to smash it and get a podium. I enjoy the course at Cannock Chase and was really looking forward to the race. I had a good start and led the field out round the first corner. However, I was over taken and started slipping back. I was really tired as I hadn’t properly recovered from the Inter – Regionals and struggled the whole race. I eventually finished in 10th place. I was really disappointed that I didn’t manage to give some more and finish higher up. I couldn’t dwell on the bad result for too long as I had to leave for the European Youth MTB Championships on Friday.
I was 1 of 9 riders going to the event in Graz, Austria. We left on Friday to try to arrive late on Saturday. However, while driving through Belgium one of the vans broke down and we were stuck for 5 hours. We drove through the night after replacing the van for 2 hire cars, eventually arriving in Graz at 6:30 on the Sunday morning . I jumped straight into bed!! The temperature was in the high 20 degrees, higher than I have ever raced in, and the course was super fun and tough. There was a team time trial, relay, skills and handicap, XC-XL and XC race, spread across 5 days. The whole week was a lot of fun but I wasn’t racing very well and was down in the middle of the bunch (of 147 riders). The racing in Europe is very different to Britain and it is definitely something I would like to do more of.
After the European Championships I only had two races left – the Peebles Cycling Club 4 Stage U16 race and the Scottish National MTB Championships (and last round of the Scottish series). The Peebles 4 stage is always a lot of fun and I was really looking forward to it. I had a slow start to the day and came 3rd in the XC race before picking up momentum to win the uphill, downhill and dirt crit races. I therefore won overall for the second year in a row.
The final race of the season was the Scottish National MTB Championships in Forfar. Going into the race I was sitting 3rd in the Series but still in contention, so I was really motivated. The course was a lot of fun and I really liked it. The race went well. Although I found the first lap really hard, I got into a bit more of a rhythm on the second and third laps and raced to 2nd place. I was really happy. 2nd place was also enough for me to win the Series for the 3rd year in a row.
The season has been a very tough one and it hasn’t gone quite the way I had hoped although it did have some good results in there and it finished really nicely. However, I have learned a lot about racing and about how I can race better and this will really help me next year as a first year Junior (U18), which I am really looking forward to.
I would like to thank Debbie and Jim at Dales Cycles in Glasgow, my physio Mike Mackay, coach Tim Mackley and SportsAid Scotland & The Robertson Trust for all the support they have given me this year. It would not have been possible without them.