2013 started off by eating grapes, in fact 12 of them, one for each chime of the clock ringing in the New Year. I was in Majorca and this was a Spanish tradition to bring good luck. It was nice to get back into a routine of training and have no distractions. Also the weather was pretty good compared to back in the UK and I managed to get 10 quality days of training in, covering a good number of miles and a plenty of climbing to boot. Back in the UK I continued race in the Manchester Regional Track League, and enjoyed getting back into the competitive side of bike riding, although the endurance side of racing has never been my speciality.
Towards the end of January I attended the London Bike Show, and although there was quite a bit of snow disrupting travel I managed to get there and back in one piece and without too many delays. The show was good fun, signing autographs on the British Cycling stand, and then doing a half hour interview on the stage with Anthony McCrossen. The bike show was also a good chance to chat to manufacturers and distributers about the coming year and meet the industry insiders.
The start of February saw me heading north to Glasgow, to ride at the final round of the Revolution track series, and the first time the series had ventured away from Manchester. Once again I was riding for Face Partnership with the endurance riders. I didn’t quite get off to as good a start as in the first round as I finished 6th in the Flying Lap, an event I’d managed a 2nd in October. The Madison kilo was a much better ride than the 1st round though, riding with Jake Ragan we managed to post a sub 60 second kilo and good enough to take the lead at the halfway point. In the end we ended up 5th, but the time and placing was an improvement from previous rounds. The bunch races went pretty well this time around, although I didn’t make any of the top ten places I had much stronger rides than in the October rounds and was more aware of what was going on around me. However still need some more racing and training to properly get in the mix and contest the finish sprints.
With unsettled weather conditions and having spent 2 days straight on the turbo, I was online booking another camp out in Majorca, this time it was only for 7 days, but it was long enough to continue working on the base fitness, and clocking in the hours. I was staying in the Playa de Palma, and it was pretty much a cycling hotel, with the hotel filled with cyclists. I was joined on a number of rides by fellow Paralympic Colin Lynch, who was staying in the same hotel. I also bumped into one of my main rivals and good friend, Jiri Jezek, who was staying a few hundred metres away in another hotel, I joined him out on a big group ride where we discussed the issues we’re having in our sport at the moment. It was good to get out riding with these guys as I do a lot of my training on my own, and when you’re on longer road rides it’s good to have someone there with you going through the same miles and hours. My fitness was on the way up, and I set a few PB’s up some of the shorter climbs on the island I use to test myself.
The camp wasn’t without a few hiccups though, as on the 2nd day I was knocked off by a car, which in itself was pretty shocking, but I was incredibly lucky and managed to escape with a few cuts and bruises. Thankfully it didn’t affect my training and I was able to finish the week strongly.
Once back home it was off to another bike show, this time the Bike and Triathlon Show in Manchester. It was a smaller event than the one in London, but certainly felt like I signed more autographs this time around.
With my fitness going in the right direction, it was time to test myself out on the road, and I was set to race in the Eddie Soens Classic at Aintree Race Course. It was the first race of the season for most people and historically has been cold and wet, but with 250 riders from all categories of racing it was going to be organized chaos! The race set off at a good speed and I was off with the Cat 2 riders in the group just ahead of the Cat 1’s and Elites. It wasn’t long before we were caught and the bunch was 250riders strong and shortly after that the first crash happened, fortunately I managed to avoid it, but with the rider on the ground each lap the bunch would have to squeeze past before regrouping. A few more laps in and there was another crash, this time I wasn’t so lucky and got caught the wrong side of it. After not quite making it back on, I ended up riding to the end of the race in a small group, and with the peloton out of our range it turned into a strong training ride. Still it was pretty enjoyable, and my legs felt pretty good throughout.
Then it was back to Majorca again, this time with almost all the GB Para-Cycling Team. It was one of the most relaxed camps I’ve been on, although the craziest weather conditions. We had sun, rain, wind, snow, and hail, but all in all it didn’t stop me getting in all the training I had planned. This camp was about adding intensity to my rides, and working on specifics that’ll hopefully convert into more speed on the track during my kilo.
Well that’s spring done and dusted, off to race at the Good Friday Meet at Herne Hill Velodrome (weather permitting) and then it’s into the meaty part of my training block, as I aim to make the 2014 Commonwealth Team.
Catch you all soon, as I keep you updated on my progress
P.S. Catch me tonight (29/03/2013) on the last show of the season of Channel4’s The Last Leg, 9.30pm on Channel 4 in the UK.
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Click SL (slideshow) or FS (fullscreen)
All Images © Christina Kelkel
Earlier today at a press conference Jody unveiled his 2012 Paralympics prosthetic cycling leg design complete with new graphics. The leg carries the Union Jack Flag design used on the Team GB kit along with Jody’s medal tally down the back of the leg and the names of all the people who have helped him win ten Gold medals at Paralympics and World Championships.
Jody commented, “I am really happy the way it has turned out, I think it looks pretty cool.”
“It’s a whole new leg for London. It’s a refinement of the leg I had in Beijing with new positioning and alignment and refined aerodynamics. I think the leg looks stunning and it is a thank you to everyone who has helped me on my journey to the Games, right from when I started competing up until now.”
Jody, a five times gold medallist and eleven times World Champion who will compete in the 1km time trial, the team sprint and the 4km pursuit, at the Paralympic Games, unveiled the unique, eye-catching design at a special preview ceremony held at the Manchester Velodrome.
Jody was born with a deformed foot, which was amputated when he was just three years old. After a successful swimming career Jody switched in 2006 from swimming to cycling, competing at international events in the C4 disability category. Winning gold in the kilo in his debut at the 2006 world championships, he repeated this feat in 2007 and 2009 also taking the team sprint title at both events.
Representing Great Britain at the 2008 Summer Paralympics in Beijing, Cundy broke the world record on the way to winning the gold in the Kilo with a time of 1 minute 5.466 seconds. Cundy was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire,MBE in the 2009 New Year Honours. He is the fastest solo Paralympian of all time, completing the flying 200m in a time of 10.805 (66.635 km/h).
Jody’s World Champ Banded Leg
Jody’s Silver Wrap Leg – UCI Para-Cycling World Champs
He has been working on the design with top designer Gary Forshaw, who works with Össur, the Icelandic company which produced his new prosthetic leg as well as those for ‘Blade Runner’ Oscar Pistorius, who is also competing in the Paralympics.
Jody explained, “Prior to the 2011 I had feedback from some potential sponsors that although it was obvious I had a prosthetic leg when I was off the bike, once I was on it the black carbon of the leg and the black carbon of the bike blended into each other and I appeared able bodied! So for the 2011 World Championships in Italy I set about giving my leg a makeover.”
“Initially I painted it bright white and incorporated the world stripes around the centre to signify I was world champion. The leg was a big hit but the governing body didn’t approve of the design, as I was racing in a few events in which I wasn’t world champion.”
“So, for the following year I covered the leg in a chrome vinyl wrap and that attracted a lot of attention, with people calling it the Terminator leg! For London I’ve had a brand new leg made by Össur, and I wanted it to really stand out in front of the home crowds at the Paralympics.”
“I love customising my leg. With so many restrictions on kit and other pieces of equipment it’s nice to have a bit of creative freedom and stand out from the crowd. One part of the leg that’s been common and will continue to be is the medal tally, inspired by bomber planes which carried a mark for each successful sortie. My my leg carries a medal for each successful Paralympics or World Championships.”
On the new design for 2012 the names of all those who have supported the five times Paralympics gold medallist are ‘ghosted’ into the design and on the back of the leg is a ‘medal board’ with ten medal images representing his gold medals in previous World Championships and Paralympics.
Designer Gary said: “In the initial meetings we had to discuss the design Jody already had a fairly good idea of what he wanted, so from there it was just a case of getting those ideas on paper and then eventually onto the prosthesis. The aim was to create an eye-catching, iconic design, and to find a way to include all the names without distracting too much from the overall look – and hopefully we’ve managed to achieve that in the end. I think it looks great! “
Richard Hirons, lead prosthetist of Össur, said: “It happens to be a thing of beauty and I’m very satisfied with the result. “We’ve been very pleased at Össur to work with Jody and his coaching and support team on this collaborative project. We know that Jody will do his bestwhen he’s called to the line, as he always does. In prosthetic terms we’ve been granted the opportunity to pay attention to details that often we’re not able to do. But whatever our contribution, it is Jody who has put in the hours and the effort that is the real headline. And for that, he has our support, admiration and best wishes.”
- Jody chats to Jiří Ježek – Para-Cycling Track World Championships – ©Copyright Christina Kelkel
Jody Cundy MBE
After qualifying third in a time of 4:55.958 in the morning, Jody was facing Roberto Garcia Alcaide (ESP, 4:57.622) in the final for Bronze tonight. Motivated by his unlucky qualification run, Jody was off for a quick start and well ahead of his opponent after lap 2 already. Quickly closing in on Alcaide, Jody did not waste any time and managed to catch the Spaniard in lap 5 to take the Bronze medal.
After the race, Jody said “We had not planned to go for the catch so it was quite a surprise to have him in sight after lap 2 already. I was a little disappointed with my performance this morning when I was off pace, so we decided to change a few things and ride the same schedule again. We changed the gearing after the qualifying and without any distractions on the track, I could fully concentrate on my racing so I felt much better tonight than I did this morning.”
Even though Jody did not manage to improve on his previous World Championships performance in Montichiari where he won a Silver, Jody feels confident that his result is a step in the right direction: “Ultimately, London is my main goal and I am still learning in the pursuit. It’s a very different event to the kilo but I am not a million miles off from where I want to be, so everything is pointing into the right direction. Of course, I would have liked to post a faster time in the qualifying as my time didn’t reflect my good shape at the moment, but it is all about the learning experience and we learned a lot today!
Mark catches Juan Jose Mendez Fernandez - Para-Cycling Track World Championships - ©Copyright Christina Kelkel
After Mark qualified second fastest in the C1’s 3km Individual Pursuit in a time of 4:06.895 he was facing Spaniard Juan Jose Mendez Fernandez (4:06.285) for Gold tonight.
Mark got off for a very good start and managed to close in lap after lap on his opponent, finally catching him to take his first ever Para-Cycling World Championship Gold in his first International track competition! Mark said “I have come a long way after breaking my back in a paragliding accident in 2009 and I feel like all the hard work I have put in over the last 2 years is paying off now. It’s a dream come true and I can’t wait to tell my family later tonight!”
Mark Gold Podium - ©Copyright Christina Kelkel
Today had held a mixed bag of emotions for Mark, after his classification was challenged and he had to present himself to the classifiers between his qualifying race and the final for Gold. “I kind of expected this and always had it in the back of my mind. After all, it’s not common for a Paralympic Champion (Michael Teuber) to get overlapped in qualifying” Mark commented. However, after 2 hours of examination the commissairs confirmed Mark’s classification as a C1 so he was able to ride to Gold in the 3km Pursuit. “I am really happy all doubts have been cleared and I can now fully concentrate on the kilo tomorrow. I feel quite confident having achieved my first goal for these World Championships, so I’ll just enjoy the race tomorrow.”
Jody shows off his Bronze Medal - ©Copyright Christina Kelkel
Tomorrow will see Mark racing in the 1km Time Trial, which will be his final competition at these year’s Para-Cycling Track World Championships and also the last chance to leave a lasting impression with the GB staff before the London Paralympic Games.
After today’s pursuit, Jody is now looking forward to his favorite discipline, the 1km Time Trial, in which he is defending champion and WR holder. “I am in good form and I feel much more in control riding the kilo, but the track in LA is not as fast as Manchester or Montichiari, so breaking my WR will be tough”.
Following a discussion with the UCI Management Committee, the UCI overruled their decision to enforce rule 1.3.022 (stating that no rider is allowed to wear overshoes during competition) after tonight’s racing. This means that all riders will now be allowed to wear overshoes for the reminder of the competition.
Follow @christinakelkel @jodycundy & @markcolbourne and @BCreports on twitter for updates from track centre.
Jody on the track at Manchester
Well with all the excitement of 1 year to go celebrations I thought it was a good idea to update you on my progress and let you know what’s been happening over the last few months.
At the end of my last blog I was off to Glasgow to join over 600 riders, all raising money for Paralympics GB, on day 4 of the Deloitte Ride Across Britain. Myself and other members of the GB Para- cycling team (Darren Kenny, David Stone, Terry Byrne, Jon-Allan Butterworth, Helen Scott) rode alongside them for 4 days down to Bath race course. The ride didn’t get off to a great start, for myself Darren and David. We had been competing in Spain at the Para-cycling World Cup, but unfortunately for us our bikes didn’t make it with us to Glasgow! It was only by pit stop 1 that we managed to get hold of our bikes, and we joined the other riders on route to Carlisle Race Course. On each stage we started the ride as the last group off, and throughout the day we’d over take and talk to as many riders as possible. Some would join our train even if it was only for a few minutes just to say they’d rode with us, and others were just happy for the encouragement we gave them as they made their way to the finish line. The 4 days we rode were some of the hardest I’ve had in the saddle, not because of the terrain, or the length of the stage (even though they were the biggest rides I’ve done), it was the shocking weather we had to put up with. And in Chorley on the way to Haydock Park race course, this was possibly the worst I’ve ever seen, let alone ride in I really did wonder what I was doing! It was a shame we couldn’t do the whole RAB, but hopefully our presence through the midsection of the ride helped the moral of the riders as they headed to Land’s End.
Jody - Image ©Copyright British Cycling
National Time Trial Championships
At the start of August I headed down to Worcestershire to take part in round 5 of the Rudy Project Time Trial Series, which also doubled as the Para-Cycling National Championships. The course was changed at the last minute due to road works, into a challenging 13 miles of undulating roads. I rode as fast as possible around the course, trying to maintain as much momentum on the steep rises scattered throughout and managed to finish in 32:52. This was good enough for 4th place, definitely not a course suited to me, but perfect preparation for the World Championship TT the following month.
World Championships – Roskilde Denmark Worlds Day 2 C4 30.6km TT
The road worlds were something I’d never planned to do at the start of the year, but with a few top ten finishes at the world cup, and other events it kind of made sense and I found myself on the plane to Roskilde in Denmark. The first few days of training around the course were wet, and that didn’t give myself or team mates much confidence of a dry race, especially as all the app’s on our iPad’s laptops and phones had it down to be wet. But come the first day of racing the weather had picked up, and managed to stay dry for the duration of the competition. The time trial was first up for me, and I managed to get plenty of useful tips from my team mates who had tackled the course on day one of the championships, however I knew it was going to be tough, as it was a longer TT than I’d previously ridden and also with its undulating nature it was going to involve an element of pacing so I would not overcook it on the first lap. With my coach in the following car shouting words of encouragement on the megaphone I was underway, trying to maintain speed without going too deep into the red, as I came through lap 1 of 2 I was feeling pretty strong, but that feeling soon disappeared as my minute man over took me into turn 1 of the course. I had an idea this was going to happen as he had won the Segovia round of the world cup, so I just wanted to keep him in sight so I could post a reasonable time. However Roberto was quickly pulling away from me, and just as I needed to inject a bit more effort to maintain my speed the first laps efforts began to take their toll. It wasn’t until I was about 3⁄4 of the way through the ride did I get a second wind, but by now the damage was done and it was a matter of surviving to the end. I crossed the line in 45.13, a reasonable time, but only good enough for 12th place, just outside the top ten goal I thought I could do if everything went my way. After the TT I had an easy day, before an early starting road race, at 8am on a Sunday morning. I can’t even remember in my swimming days a start that unreasonably early!
Worlds Day 4 – C4 & C5 road race 75.6km
The goal for the road race was to try to stay in the bunch to the end and then sprint for the finish and see what that would get me. The bunch was the biggest I’d race in all year, 49 riders from the C4 and C5 class. The previous day there had been many crashes in the C1-3 race, and the first lap seemed pretty cautious, with everyone taking care through all the technical sections. By lap 2 the pace had increased and the race was on. However at the end of 4 laps I was still in the race as each break failed to get away. Even though lap 4 was easily the toughest all I had to do was just hold on for one more lap before being able to get involved in a bunch sprint for the finish.
With 2 km’s to go and much to my surprise, I was still there and was starting to think that it might actually be my day. Into the last kilometre the pace picked up again, as I found Jiri Jezek’s wheel and thought it was going to be a good place to sit. But just as I got settled in, there was a touch of wheels from behind, which forced me wide. I managed to stay on Jiri’s wheel, when almost instantly there was another touch of wheels. It was all gettng a bit too close for me and I had images of myself crashing in the last roundabout before the final 300m sprint. I had been watching the C1-3 race the previous day which had a crash in exactly the same place and didn’t want this to happen to me. I know the possibility of crashing shouldn’t affect me, but with the road being such a minor focus for me, I took the decision to back out of the sprint. As I moved to the side, I watched the finish in front of me, and sure enough there was a crash at the roundabout. I will never know if I would have been caught up in it had I continued to sprint, but I kind of regret not going for it, especially as I know I have more speed than any of the riders in the bunch. Unfortunately (or fortunately perhaps) in that sprint I developed a conscience and that voice in my head said it wasn’t worth the risk. I know it was for a podium place at a world championship, but I have to look at the bigger picture and that is London. Therefore, starting my track season injured probably wouldn’t be the best idea. I’m a trackie who loves riding my bike as fast as possible around a velodrome and I want to show the world just how fast I can go in less than a year, but in order to do that I need to stay injury free.
The road season for me has been a good experience, and although I didn’t score anymore qualification points for London at the World Championships, I’ve come away with an increased endurance base that I can now work into my track season.
Jody & Girlfriend Christina At The Beach
Outside of training and racing, I have been quite busy off the bike. I can’t tell you everything yet, as a lot of things haven’t been announced yet, however one project I can tell you about was collaboration between Channel 4 and Sainsbury’s. They have made a series of ten ninety second films, each one focussing on a different Paralympic athlete. My film was to be the last in the series and involved 2 days of filming. The first day was to capture me in my training environment, so they came to the velodrome with some very fancy HD cameras, lighting and a bunch of ideas. It was pretty enjoyable riding with cameras mounted to my bike, and to the motorbike I was chasing, it was all good fun, and the little clips I could see it was looking pretty cool too. With all the filming at the velodrome done, the second day of filming was to capture me outside of my training environment relaxing with friends and family. First venue was Hunstanton beach. Originally they’d planned on filming me fly my power kite, and being dragged through the sand, however it was pretty obvious that wasn’t going to happen as there wasn’t a breath of wind in the air! In the end they decided to film me walking hand in hand on the sand with Christina, my girlfriend, and then skimming some stones on the calm sea. After getting the shots they wanted it was off to my uncles, where we had planned a bit of a get together with members of my family. We played a little golf, and then a game of cricket before having something to eat, all in front of the cameras. After all the filming they had one piece left to do, and that was to film my mum. She was going to be the voiceover for the film, and as such I wasn’t allowed to hear what she said until I saw the finished film.
I’m pleased with the final film, and think the voice over from my mum is almost poetic. If you didn’t catch it you can see the film on my website by clicking here.
Next stop for me is a trip to the London velodrome, where I shall be riding with the Para-cycling squad for 3 sessions to learn the ins and outs of the new track before next year’s Paralympics.
Catch you all next month.