500 Days To Go!

500 Days to go!

by Jody Cundy
 

Can’t believe it, this coming Sunday when thousands of people will be running the London marathon, another milestone on the run in to the Paralympics rolls around, 500 days to go!

All of a sudden the Paralympics in London are becoming very real, and I couldn’t be more excited. With the world track championships all done and dusted for another year, it’s time to switch focus to the road, but not before hitting the track at the Good Friday meet, which for the first time in a few years won’t be rained off as it’s moved away from the outdoors of Herne Hill velodrome in London to the indoor velodrome, and my home track Manchester. The event is going to be the racing debut for the team I helped set up, and all our riders are down to ride, I can’t wait to pull on my skinsuit in the Para-T colours for the first time, and fingers crossed the couriers manage to deliver it in time! I’m going to be racing in the international sprint and keirin, which is a change from the normal track racing I do, which is usually me against the clock, but with others riders on the track elbow to elbow, it should be good fun.

Following the Good Friday meeting my road season really kicks off as I fly out to Sydney for the 1st round of the Paracycling road world cup series. I’m part of a small team of 8 riders heading down under aiming to score more essential points for the London qualification process. First up with have a 9- 10day training and acclimatisation camp in Wollongong, and then we head into Sydney and to the Eastern Creek raceway for a 75.6km road race, and then a few days later it’s a 24.8km technical (tight and twisty) time trial around the Sydney Olympic park in Homebush Bay.

Since the world championships I’ve had a very chilled few weeks and been busy with a few appearances. I returned to my home town to give an after dinner speech at the Rotary Club of Wisbech’s 74th Charter Night. I was also present in Salford Quays at the opening of the 2nd of 8 nationwide volunteer selection centres, where over 5000 people will be interviewed for an opportunity to volunteer at the London 2012 games.

Jody Cundy - Image ©Copyright Christina Kelkel

As a team we had a day of meetings at the Celtic Manor in Newport Wales, a venue that we’ll be seeing more of in the future, as it will be our base for the holding camp into the London Paralympics. During our day of meetings we had chance to find out what was in store for the next 500 days and how the team was planning to take us forward. We also had an update about the now complete velodrome and the equipment that we’re developing for London, as well as a fitting session with Adidas and Next who will be providing the sportswear and formal wear for the Paralympic team in London. With my new found endurance legs it turns out that in the quest for qualification points I’m going to be racing more than I ever have, so should be an exciting year. However we did hear some disappointing news, the UCI have decided for no apparent reason to change the rules for the Paracycling team sprint event, and have reduced the number of points a valid team can be comprised of. It’s an odd change of rules as the top 4 teams from the recent world championships are now deemed to be illegal under the new rules. As world champions we’ll never be able to ride all together in the world stripes we earned in Montichiari, and the WR we set will no longer be valid. To say I’m disappointed is an understatement and I have no idea why it happened, but the UCI are famous for this and we’ll just have to adapt our team and continue to challenge at the very top. However, I will enquire to find out why, as it seems like such a strange rule change at a particular sensitive time in a Paralympic cycle, and is bound to upset and disrupt many riders who were aiming to ride the team sprint in London.

Next week I will be at the Lee Valley White Water Rafting Park, for the official opening of the first Olympic venue that will be open to the general public prior to the games next year. It’s going to be a scary and exciting day as by the sound of it I’m in a raft with a bunch of others to test out the course, oh boy the things I have to do! I also have my rider review, where I’ll sit down with my coach and managers and discuss how the last 12months have gone, and how I can maximise my performance and make sure no stone is unturned on route to London.

Catch you all soon, with hopefully good news from down under.

Jody
 
 
 
 
All images ©Copyright Christina Kelkel

World Championships Review, Montichiari, Italy 2011

World Championships Review

(Montichiari, Italy 2011)
by Jody Cundy
 

Wow what can I say, 3 days of competition, 3 medals, 2 World Records and 1 National Record. Going into Italy the main concerns I had were:
1. Could I pull out the pursuit ride my training has been geared to?
2. Would all the pursuit/endurance training I’ve done effect my top end speed?
3. Would 3 events back to back be a step too far?

Day 1 (4km Pursuit)
Well question 1 was answered on day one and it was a big yes!
Preparing for the worlds myself and my coach (Chris Furber) targeted 4:45 as a realistic target, if I could do this, then based on previous results this would put me in the top 5 or 6 riders in the world and score a healthy amount of points for the London qualification process. However it would be a massive challenge as my best time prior to the world championships was a 5:03.286. Things had been going well in training, and I was on target, I just had to get up there and put all the components together. With Chris walking the line I tried to keep my 1st kilometre measured and controlled as I’d been finding it easy to get carried away, especially when your legs feel good. More importantly though this had been my big downfall in training and had led to some rather slow and incredibly painful efforts!

Jody at the World Championships Italy 2011 - Image ©Copyright Christina Kelkel

By the time I reached 3km I was feeling strong and still in control of my speed, and I now had my opponent all set for the catch. I swept by him in turn 3 and then pushed on through to the end, with my legs beginning to really burn with a lap to go, but hearing the bell I just had enough to get me to the finish line.

As I looked up to the score board I was amazed to see I’d rode a 4:44.085 (an almost 20second personal best time) and had a rank 1 next to my name! With just one heat to go it meant I’d definitely be doing a 2nd 4km in the finals, but I would have to wait 5mins to find out what medal I’d be racing for. In the final heat world champion and world record holder Jiří Ježek posted the fastest time of 4:41.895, and with his opponent falling short of my time it meant I was a guaranteed silver medallist and I would be racing Jiří in the final.

Before the final I talked with Chris and discussed how we were going to attack it, as now I had made the final my competitive nature had taken over, and I wanted to give Jiří a good fight and make him work for the title. My qualifying ride was a controlled measured effort, and I believed I could squeeze out a little more and put some pressure on Jiří. So we decided on riding to the WR schedule, and see what would happen! This was all well and good, however by the time I was at lap 3 I was a long way up on schedule, a very dangerous place to be in a pursuit, especially as this schedule was 4 seconds faster than I rode in the morning. By lap 6 my over exuberance started to take its toll as I struggled to maintain the rhythm and speed I’d started with. Kilo’s 2 and 3 were pretty steady before I managed to find my legs again, but by then my race was over, Jiří had me in sight. I managed to make it to the 4km without being overlapped, but Jiří was world champion, and I now had a new pet project to add to my list for London!

Day 2 (1km Time Trial)
With the pursuit over, and all my goals reached and exceeded it was time to get back to events I know and love, and to answer question 2. The kilo was going to be an interesting race, with 25riders down on the start list and team mate Terry Byrne snapping at my heels in training the pressure was on. Terry was off 2nd rider and was out to post the marker everyone would be aiming at, and he did just that blasting out the gate to a 2second PB and a time that only I had gone quicker than, and he’d done this before I’d even started warming up!

I was last to go and with Terry’s time still top of the table with Jiří Bouska 2nd and Eduard Novak 3rd, it was time to see how much my legs had recovered from the previous days efforts. Out of the gate and I wanted to get the bike up to speed as fast as possible, 1st lap complete and I was 0.971 seconds up, my legs were feeling good as I settled into my tri bars and continued to accelerate through the middle section of the ride as I crossed the line I was a full 2.55 seconds clear of Terry and 0.3 seconds inside my WR winning time from Manchester 2009. Question 2 was answered, I’d not lost any of my speed, and as a bonus from all the endurance training the last 2 laps didn’t hurt as much as in previous kilos. I think that’s the first time I’ve actually been able to enjoy my victory laps!

Jody World Championships, Italy 2011 - Image ©Copyright Christina Kelkel

Day 3 (Team Sprint)
The last day of competition was the team sprint, and I was teaming up with Darren Kenny, who had already successfully defended his 3km Pursuit and Kilo titles in the previous 2 days, and Terry Byrne who would be riding man 2 after his silver medal in the kilo the night before. This was a new line up compared to past events, as the rules and classification classes had changed since the last world championships, as our existing team was no longer a legal line up.

With 15 teams riding the competition had become stronger, and in ride 10 the Chinese team set a new WR time of 51.655, taking 0.5 seconds off the existing mark. However this didn’t faze us as we knew that in training we’d been quicker than this new standard. Lined up on the track it was important that we executed the starts and changes over smoothly and legally, as fast as possible, and we did just that, blazing around to a 49.809 to take the top qualification spot and smash the WR in the process. In the final, after looking at the race data from the heats we made some different gear choices and felt confident we could go faster. As we blasted round the track our confidence was well founded as we smashed the WR again, taking it down to 49.540 with the feedback from the morning making a big difference in the final, the Chinese finished in 51.771.

Jody shows off his latest bling from the Worlds - Image ©Copyright Christina Kelkel

With the final race complete and under my belt it was clear all my questions at the start of the week had been answered, I could pull out a world class pursuit, I hadn’t lost any of my top end speed, and to top it off I was still riding fast on the last day of competition, setting the fastest 3rd lap I’d ever done in the heats of the team sprint, with a 14.198.

Montichiari was a fabulous experience and one of those weekends of racing that as an athlete you love, because all the hard work has paid off and everything has come together.

As a team we topped the medal table with 9 Golds, 8 Silver and 1 Bronze. It’s starting to look good for London. All that’s left to do now is sit down with Chris and analyse the performances and work out how to get even quicker for London. I have a few days off, and then I’ll be back on my bike preparing for a summer of endurance that will hopefully set me up for next year.

Happy cycling!

Jody
 
 
 
 
All images ©Copyright Christina Kelkel

The Para-T Cycling Team is Here!

The Para-T Cycling Team is Here!

by Jody Cundy MBE
 

Wow, nearly missed this being a January update, my god this month has flown by.

2011 already! That means the Paralympics are next year! It’s all starting to sound a little scary, however I’ve still got 576 days to train and perfect everything before then!

Well 2011 started with me switching to a new cycling team. A team I helped setup with my girlfriend, to be honest she’s done a great deal to get it up and running.
Here’s a little bit of information about the team I’ll be competing in.
“Para-T” (Paracycling Team) is a unique cycling team made up entirely of some of the best Paralympic cyclists in the world. The team has been formed to help promote Paracycling, and demonstrate the skill and speed of athletes who compete at the Paralympics.
Through promoting the amazing ability of our riders, and not their disability, we aim to increase the interest in Paracycling and push the boundaries of the sport as well as to show that sport is something nearly everyone can do.
In the first year of racing, the team will be mostly focused on track events, but a number of road races and time trials will be attended whenever possible, with athletes competing in both Paracycling and able-bodied events.

The team is a mixture of British and German riders, and hopes to expand in the future with increased rider numbers and racing on the road.”
For all the up to date information on the team, and a look at the amazing looking kit I’ll be racing in, head over to our website www.paracyclingteam.com.

With the world championships fast approaching (March 11th-13th) I’ve spent many hours on my bi- cycle and things are going really well. This winter I’ve spent more time on my bike getting in the endurance miles than ever before, because in addition to the team sprint and kilo I will be also competing in the 4km Pursuit at the world championships. The GB team is on a point scoring mission to make sure that we have the most athletes available at our home games in London, and that translates into yours truly doing the pur- suit! The pursuit training, is quite a challenge for me, and is quite different from the out and out sprint train- ing I’ve previously done for the Kilo. It’s all about measuring your effort, and not giving too much too soon, but making sure you get everything out by the end. As part of my learning process in the event I’ve painfully found this out in training, and it really does come back to bite you before the end of the 4km if you go out too fast! However with GB’s rich history in the pursuit I have a wealth of advice on hand from coaches and riders, and fingers crossed if all goes well, there may be another medal in it, which would make all the hard work worth it. But one step at a time!

With the poor weather in the UK over the winter, it was really nice to get away to Majorca for a 10 day training camp with the GB squad. The weather gods were really on our side, and we were greeted with bright sunshine every day. That made such a nice change to our rides, being able to head out in shorts and minimal layers, so much nicer compared to multiple layers I’ve been used to in the last few months! The camp was a huge success, with the whole squad getting in many quality miles, and making the most of the beautiful weather. It was definitely the time to be on the island as we spotted many of the professional teams in their preseason training, including Sky, Leopard Trek and Lotto.

I’m back from Majorca now, and my training has now switched focus, as I’m back on the boards of Manchester Velodrome trying to convert those miles into some race speed. Things have been going really well, but with the Manchester round of the World Cup fast approaching track time’s been a bit crowded. However inspiring as it is to watch the GB Team Pursuit team in full flight in training, it’s never a great situation to have to rush your efforts on track, so next month we have a 2 week GB training camp at the Velodrome in Newport with just the GB Paracycling squad in attendance. Once the world cup is over, it’s back to Man- chester to put the finishing touches to my preparation before heading out with the team to Montichiari on the 7th March.

Well that’s January all done, were there really 31 days? Catch you next month for another update.

Jody
 
 
 
 
All images ©Copyright Christina Kelkel

A Topsy Turvy Year

A Topsy Turvy Year

by Jody Cundy MBE
 

As 2010 comes to an end, it’s time to look back on what has been a bit of a strange year.

Starting in January with a “warm weather camp” on Majorca which ended up in snow, it was a sign of a topsy turvy year I was going to have.
By the time March came around, our World Championships in August had been cancelled and my training goals where turned on their head. In Easter my first proper race of the season: The Herne Hill Good Friday Meet. Unfortunately, once again the rain brought a swift end to the racing, but hopefully 2011 will be luckier as the meet moves indoors to Manchester. Without Worlds to prepare for, Ride Across Britain was a perfect chance to keep the miles and legs over the summer and also to help raise money for Paralympics GB. Sharing the mileage with tandem pilot Barney Storey, the nine days from John O’Groats to Land’s End were some of the most enjoyable days I’ve ever spent on my bike. Even though I was soaked to the bone for the first three days in Scotland, the scenery made up for all the wetness and pain. And by the time we reached Land’s End, the sun was shining and myself along 600 other cyclists had completed 1000 miles and raised over 300.000 Pounds!

With RAB done, it was back to the track and to prepare for the National Track Championships and a potentially rearranged World Championships. With all the miles on the road in the summer, my track legs really came to me and my training went really well. The Nationals were filled with highs and lows, the highs being my New World Record in the Flying 200m and my first able-bodied podium in the Men’s Team Sprint and Team Pursuit. The lows, becoming really ill after Day 3 and not being able to perform to how my training had been going and loosing out on an almost certain Gold medal in the Team Pursuit due to a crash.

October brought us final confirmation of the World Championships after many rumors and many cities had been mentioned. From March 11-13, the new velodrome in Montichiari in Italy will play host. My training is in full swing now and I am working hard on retaining my World Championship titles in the 1KM Time Trial and Team Sprint, and also hopefully getting close to the podium in a new event for me: the 4KM Pursuit. However, for the first time I wont be able to win the Kilo in a World Record time as it might hinder my changes to win in London due to the unconfirmed factoring rules that the UCI will be applying to the Paralympic Games in 2012.

All that leaves me to is to wish everyone a happy and prosperous New Year and thank all my sponsors and supporters for their help and hard work and I look forward to your continued backing on my path to 2012!

I think that’s all from me, enjoy the remaining days of 2010 and I’ll see you in 2011!

Jody

PS: You can catch me on BBC4 on December the 30th at 8pm as I made a guest appearance at the Royal Institute Christmas Lectures.
 
 
 
 
All images ©Copyright Christina Kelkel

The Cycle Show & Europa Cup

The Cycle Show & Europa Cup

by Jody Cundy MBE
 

With Nationals all done it was on to The Cycle Show at London’s Earls court, where I was busy signing autographs on the British Cycling stand, I can’t remember ever signing so many autograph cards! The Cycle Show was also a great opportunity to meet potential sponsors and suppliers in the run up to London 2012, it was also a great place to generate feedback and interest for the Paracycling team that I’m helping put together, and be riding for in the coming season.

Next stop and my 2nd race meet in a month, this time the Europa Cup in Kaarst Büttgen, in Germany. Although the velodrome was indoors, it was very cold, and left many of the riders on the team wishing they had bought more layers to keep warm. However it was the same for everyone, first up on the race programme was the team sprint, an interesting race, not so much because of the result, but the way the race panned out.
With no electronic timing, start gate and countdown clock it was a bit of a shock to the system, especially while we were under starter’s orders the countdown began over the PA, not beeps like we’re used to, but the official counting down irregularly 5, pause, 4, 3, pause, 2, pause, 1, and Go! It certainly made us all laugh when we finished the ride! Myself Rik Waddon and Terry Byrne posted the fastest time, some 4 seconds quicker than Germany, who we would race in the final. Next up was the Kilo, and after some impressive times being posted by my competitors the top 3 separated by just 0.4seconds I managed to ride a 1:07, 3 seconds clear of the Czech Republic’s Jiří Ježek.

The final of the team sprint was the last race of a long day at the velodrome (12hrs!). Lining up against the home team Germany, and with the velodrome finally warming up, myself Rik and Terry put together a slick performance, coming home faster than our morning qualifying ride, posting a 50.8, just fractions of a second outside our world record and over 4 seconds clear of the team from Germany.
After Germany, I had 2 weeks off the bike, to recharge my batteries, and plan my preparations for the track world championships in Italy, which have officially been confirmed now as taking place from March 11th – 13th 2011.
After my break I’m back on my bike and so far I’ve been rained on every day, oh well I guess that’s an occupational hazard of living in Manchester! Anyway speaking of training, it’s looking dry outside now, so I’m going to head out before that black cloud decides to follow me for the next 2 hours.

Until next time happy cycling!

Jody
 
 
 
 
All images ©Copyright Christina Kelkel