UCI Para-Cycling Track World Championships Los Angeles, USA – ©Christina Kelkel
It’s almost over. All the hype and build up to 2012, the Olympics, the Paralympics, and here we are about to head into 2013.
What a year for sport, and amazing to have played a small part in it!
Back in February my season kicked off in sunny Los Angeles, where I was racing at the Para-Cycling World Track Championships.
They turned out to be an interesting championship, in the Team Sprint riding with Darren Kenny and Sarah Storey we suffered our first defeat since 2006, taking silver behind the Chinese, who had found an amazing man 1 that really did make the difference to their team. In the 4km Pursuit, qualifying was interesting, as there was an official standing on the track in the back straight! Cue a restart, and I managed to post the 3rd quickest time. In the Bronze medal final I tried to learn from my pacing issues in qualifying. However after the 1st kilometre I could see my opponent and decided to chase him downrather than doing a full 4km. After 5 3Ž4 laps I’d caught and over taken Roberto Alcaide from Spain to take the Bronze medal.
In the kilo I managed to maintain my unbeaten record to take the 1km title in 1:06.001. Not my best ride, actually the first time I’ve won at the worlds without breaking the WR, but still it was good enough to take my 5th consecutive world title and the coveted rainbow bands. So LA turned out to be a mixed bag of results, but I did get a full set of medals!
After the worlds it was back to training and preparations for the London Paralympics. Another visit to Majorca for another 10day training camp kick started the final cycle off. It ended with me heading to the Tower of London for a bit of modelling and showing off the Adidas kit that all the GB athletes would be racing in at the home games.
In between all the training, with the build-up to the games I ended up doing quite a bit of publicity, the most fun was the 3 part Sainsbury’s short films, and the Paralympic promo video for Channel4. Some of the shots in the films were pretty cool, and due to the way they were filmed, they gave you an insight into track cycling that you just don’t normally see.
Para-Cycling Track at London 2012 Paralympic Games – ©Christina Kelkel
With the year flying by, the Olympics came and went, and before you knew it, I was at the holding camp in Newport, putting the final touches to my preparations for London. Things were looking good, as I PB’d in pretty much every session on the holding camp, just one little hiccup was a crash on day 2, but I survived with just a friction burn on my hip and elbow. A massive relief considering I hit the deck at 75kph!
Then it was time to race, with the kilo up first I was ready to go, with all my competitors going before me I was feeling really confident as I stepped on the track, especially as the fastest time was still half a second slower than my Beijing winning time and still some 9/10ths of a second slower than my WR, and I was going faster than ever now. I just needed to race at my best and that was it, unfortunately it all started to go wrong in a big way! I made my start just as I have countless times in training, however something was wrong, the gate held me, the next thing I know I’m wheel spinning and going sideways. Not ideal. So I stuck my hand up, and called for a mishap, pulled off the track and got ready to take to the start again. However that was it, I was unfairly denied a 2nd start, and that was it, a big fat DNF next to me name, and what followed wasn’t my proudest moment, but it will go down in Paralympic history in the same way as John McEnroe’s outburst at Wimbledon in 1981.
I basically threw all the toys out of my pram at anybody who would listen, in denial that I wouldn’t be defending my kilo title, and was removed from the velodrome. Knowing I was out of order I wanted to apologise, and try to put things right, at least to all the kids that had witnessed my foul mouthed tirade. So a little later I came back out to apologise to everyone in the crowd, then to the sponsors and governing bodies and organisers in a press conference and media scrum. Then finally I headed back to the village as I had to compose myself and come back and race the 4km pursuit the following day.
With the crowd behind me I ripped around the velodrome in qualifying to a new British Record, and 3rd best time. In the final I made short work of my opponent and took Bronze with an overtake in 51Ž4 laps. I covered the first 1km quicker than the winning time from the previous day. Considering the disappointment the day before, and the fact I hadn’t focussed on the pursuit as I placed all my eggs in the kilo basket, a bronze medal really did feel like winning gold. Having watched the footage back, it looks like I started the tiniest of fraction too early hence the gate held me when I pulled forward. Unfortunately though, the false start wasn’t called by the commissaires, so I didn’t get the immediate restart the rules state.
London will always be memorable for me for some amazing highs and some equally amazing lows, but I’m glad I can say I was there and I won a medal in front of the best and noisiest crowd anyone can ask for.
My racing year finished with a few more races on the track, a bronze medal in the Team Sprint at nationals, a 2nd place in the flying lap at the Revolution track series, and in my final race of 2012, a win in the 10mile scratch race in the final round of the MRTL Premier Division track league.
2013 will be a really important year for training, as I plan my revenge in Rio. On the way to 2016 I have also set myself the ambitious target of riding for England at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014. So the hard work starts again, and my motivation is sky high.
Thanks to all my family, friends and supporters and all my sponsors!
See you in 2013, and happy cycling.
I heard of this great event and I thought I should share…
Sunday 11th September 2011
Ride the track on your own bike between
Free bike-powered cinema
Screening: Breaking Away & The Best Seat In The World
Herne Hill Velodrome
Burbage Road, Herne Hill, London, SE24 9HE, UK
This weekend sees “Save the Velodrome” host an evening of free green entertainment, first on the bill is “have-a-go” cycling on the newly laid track at Herne Hill Velodrome followed by a bicycle powered outdoor cinema night as part of the Peckham & Nunhead Free Film Festival. The screening will be showing the cycling classic “Breaking Away” it will be accompanied by the premiere of “The Best Seat In The World,” a new documentary about Herne Hill’s Velodrome and it’s long history and struggle to stay open, it’s peppered with interviews from cyclists young and old, past and present.
It promises to be a great night for all the family, volunteers will take it in turns to have a go at powering the cinema on the special bikes provided.
For more information on the event please click here to be taken to the Free Film Festival Website.
Herne Hill Track League Grand Finale Image ©Copyright Martin Dixon
Those of our readers in the UK who compete at any level or follow professional cycling will be aware of the ongoing battle to keep the wonderful Herne Hill Velodrome open, for our readers from further afield who are less familiar with Herne Hill you may be aware of similar stories of cycling venues near to you. Herne Hill is in London, it’s been at the heart of British cycling since 1891 and manage to survive the damage it sustained during blitz of the Second World War. The velodrome was a venue in the 1948 Olympic Games, it has an amazing history and many passionate people who use the track and fight to give it an amazing future. When Herne Hill was repaired after the war it was given permanent grandstands and buildings, these are now unfortunately closed to the public because of the upkeep costs and health & safety, but if the velodrome can be given a more secure financial future and a longer lease can be obtained, then one day the grandstands will hopefully be restored to their former glory.
Herne Hill Supporters Club Image ©Copyright Pete @Fixedgear
The velodrome still continues to attract cyclists and supporters to it’s grounds, including the ever popular Good Friday Meeting that attracts cyclists of all levels from all over the world to compete.
Herne Hill is one of the oldest velodromes in the world and it has seen racing from many cycling greats including Jaques Anquetil, Fuasto Coppi and Tom Simpson. Bradley Wigginsfirst raced at Herne Hill when he was just 12.
For more information on the Save The Velodrome Campaign and events please click here.
This event is presented by Free Film Festivals in association with Herne Hill Velodrome, Electric Pedals, Hackney Bicycle Film Society and Save the Velodrome. Free energy drinks and snacks for cyclists kindly provided by Vaidas Bicycles. Future Projections provide the inflatable screen for the event.
Piacenza, Gippingen & Segovia
by Jody Cundy
Once I was back from Sydney, I had a few weeks of training to prepare for the next trip away, in which I would be racing 3 weekends back to back in Piacenza, Gippingen and Segovia. Training took a racing focus once I returned home, and I started to introduce some intensity in training, by adding a 10mile TT and crit race to my weekly sessions. This way, I could replicate the kind of riding I’d experienced in Sydney, and hopefully that would better prepare me for future road races.
Piacenza in Italy was the first stop of my little road trip and I was joined by Jon-Allan Butterworth to represent Para-T at the P1 event, the team’s first road race.
First up was a 58km 26lap crit around the town of Castel San Giovanni, and from the off, it was a fast race. With C4s and C5s racing at the same time, the attacks were going right from the first pedal stroke. Having learnt my lessons from Sydney, I tried to stay near the front of the race, and although a few went off the front I managed to stay in quite a select group of strong riders. I was feeling pretty good even though I was on my limit, but then, with a few mistimed accelerations and an increase in pace on the front the group started to get away. With a few laps on my own I was joined by a few riders who had been dropped earlier on and I worked with those guys until the end of the race. There was some confusion on the final lap of the race as the lead riders who’d broke away passed us on the start finish straight, effectively ending the race without our group sprinting for position, unfortunately I was pipped on the line and finished 7th. However, I was feeling good about my form and looking forward to the pan flat short 11km time trial the following the day. I managed to post a 14:26 which was good enough for 5th place and just 45seconds outside the winner Jiri Jezek. With my 5th place in the TT I managed to move up to 6th overall and score a few more valuable points for London.
Jody on the road - Image ©Copyright Christian Kelkel
After Piacenza it was a 6hr road transfer to the Black Forest where we were going to be based for the Gippingen P1 event. Although the race was in Switzerland, we based ourselves in Germany just across the border, as the roads to cycle on were perfect, offering 5 days of beautiful rides and some good rolling terrain. Gippingen started with a 16.2km TT around a hilly 8.1km loop. The first half of the loop went uphill, the middle was flat and then it went downhill to the finish. With the first lap done, I was feeling good about how things were going, and then my minuteman caught me at the foot of the climb for the 2nd lap. I wasn’t too fazed by this as he’d finished 2nd in the last 2 time trials I’d raced, so I knew he was strong. But going up the hill for the 2nd time, I lost all my momentum and it wasn’t until the flat section that I could find my rhythm again, by then the damage was done. I came across the line in 23.20, not a bad time but only good enough for 10th place.
The road race the following day was a tough affair and to be honest, I didn’t feature in the race at all. It was one of those days where my head and legs really didn’t want to do the same thing, and as we went up the 2nd part of the stepped 178m climb for the first time the race just rode away from me as I struggled to keep up, my legs really weren’t working well! I think 6 races in 13days might have been 1 too many for me, but I kept on and used the rest of the race as a training ride for the World Cup. I crossed the line in a lowly 17th place, one from last.
Segovia World Cup round 2
Jody - Image ©Copyright Christina Kelkel
After the event in Gippingen I left my Para-T team to join the GB setup as we headed to Segovia.
The first 2 days of training we were greeted by torrential rain, but as the racing approached the weather picked up. First race up was the TT, a 21km race on a flat loop around the town of Valverde del Majano. It was going to be a quick race and I was hoping that the few easy days I’d had on the bike after the P1 events had been kind on my legs. Rolling down the start ramp and through the technical exit out of the town I quickly settled into a smooth fast rhythm and was relieved that my legs were feeling like mine again! With the long straight open roads the wind was going to play a big factor in the race, but with no real tailwind sections to speak of it was a tough ride. About half way through the 21km’s I had a bit of a disaster as my back went into spasm, and I could no longer maintain my aero position down on my ski’s of my TT bike, for the next 2minuntes or so I was struggling to hold my position while trying to release my back, all the time I could feel the seconds slipping away. Thankfully the pain and spasm subsided and I could get back to tiding the bike at speed. The last section of the race was the fastest as it made its way downhill into the town. I crossed the line in 28:06, not a bad time, but only good enough for 9thplace, at least it was a few more points in the bag.
￼The road race was 4 laps of a pretty boring 18.1km loop with the only interesting points being a small section on cobbles and a gentle rise after the start finish line for approx 2km. With the course being so flat I was feeling confident about my chances in the race, all I needed to do was stay upright and in the bunch. However with strong crosswinds on at least 12km of the course, positioning was going to be all important. As we raced through the first lap I was feeling good, my legs were feeling pretty good. Crossing the finish line the speed of the peloton increased as we went up the 2km rise, and with the 33°C heat searing down
I start I found myself struggling at the back of the bunch. Over the top of the rise I was about 50m off the back. Turning into the crosswind I put in a massive effort to get back on, eventually all the attacks failed to break clear, the bunch slowed enough for me to join again, however it wasn’t long until the attacks started again, and after the effort earlier I was spent, and watched the bunch drift off into the distance. Thankfully I wasn’t the only one, and after a few minutes of chasing the bunch it was clear that my chances of a bunch sprint had gone, but I was now joined by 3 other riders and we worked together to minimise the effects of the wind.
After doing our even share of working on the front, going into the last 3km I noticed there was a reluctance for anyone to come to the front. However as I knew the race was essentially over for me I was happy to lead into the last kilometre. Surprise surprise I was jumped by 2 of the riders I was with, I quickly accelerated onto their wheels, taking the last left hander I moved into 2nd, and waited to make my move, 250m to go and I got out of the saddle and applied my track speed and powered by. In the end I finished 50m clear of the riders I was with, if only I could have stayed in the peloton as I had the speed for the victory, especially as the race ended in a bunch sprint, instead I crossed the line in 14th, outside the important points.
With the Segovia World Cup done, I headed to Glasgow to do four stages in the Deloitte Ride Across Britain before getting back to my normal training programme and daily routine. Almost a little boring after all the travelling and racing this month, but it’s good to not live out of a bag or move hotel every week. Also it’s probably not for long, as there is more racing and exciting things to come.
Catch you soon,
All images ©Copyright Christina Kelkel
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!
Day 3 (Team Sprint)
Jody World Championships, Italy 2011 - Image ©Copyright Christina Kelkel
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.
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.
Jody shows off his latest bling from the Worlds - Image ©Copyright Christina Kelkel
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.
All images ©Copyright Christina Kelkel
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.
All images ©Copyright Christina Kelkel
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!
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