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Janet Birkmyre

A couple of weeks after winning a national track cycling title up against riders half her age (see here for report http://www.torqfitness.co.uk/news/national-track-championships), Janet headed to Manchester for the 2012 World Masters Track Championships, which entailed six races over seven days at the Manchester Velodrome, bringing her 2012 season to an end. Here’s account of events...

The World Masters Track Championships is the final meeting of the year and, because I did not think I would be challenging for an elite National Title one week before this event, it has been the focus of all of my training and goals.  The win at the Nationals the week before was a huge bonus but not one I had been focusing on.

So, it was in a haze of post Nationals’ euphoria that I began my final preparations for the World Masters.  This is, in fact, the only event I taper for all season and so it is always an interesting feeling.  The goals for the World Masters were uncompromising; six wins from six starts, which would require a huge focus and a little bit of luck.

Things got off to a good start.  I won the 500m TT in a new World Masters’ record time of 37.419, over one and a half seconds faster than Annette Williams of USA, who took the silver medal.  One down, five to go…

If it were possible, things went even better in the pursuit that followed.  I qualified with a massive PB, almost three seconds faster than my nearest rival.  This underlined the fact that my form was excellent and that the new training plan (which had had me on my knees for most of the season), combined with the best nutrition TORQ can offer, was paying dividends.  The pursuit was one of the events where I thought I might meet a real challenge, so it was great to take the gold medal and title number two without having to dig too deep into my reserves.

Day three was the match sprint and a flying 200 time of 12.295 meant I was the fastest qualifier by almost a second.  I had relatively easy matches against riders from Japan, Columbia and Mexico to get to the final and then had to sharpen up fast to beat Debbie Capewell (GBR).  I rely on my husband for every event, but he really earns his keep on sprint days.  There are gears to change, race schedules to understand and most important of all, the tactics to win.  I can get a bit stressed on these days and I am so appreciative of David’s patience and help in getting through them… especially when it all works like clockwork. Debbie really made me work for this one, but that just makes it so much sweeter!

Next up was the scratch race and a chance to wear my new national champion’s jersey in battle and, with Lake shoes product manager Martin Pounder, in our pits for the evening, I really wanted to nail this one.  The race is just 20 laps and so there is a danger of attacks going away at any time and I really needed to stay sharp.  There were a couple of moves but nothing that stuck, so I was happy to attack at the sound of the bell and bag title number four.

It was at this point that my challenge faltered.  There was a particularly virulent strain of “man-flu” going around the Velodrome and my ability to fight this off was probably compromised by a lack of sleep.  A rest day on Friday apparently did nothing but give the bug a chance to develop and I woke feeling tired, nauseous and feverish on the Saturday.  The prospect of the 50 lap points race was not attractive.  I knew that a number of riders would try to gain a lap and, given my health, I would be in no shape to go with them.  So, the inevitable happened; four riders gained a lap earning 10 points each and I looked to be out of the medals.  I buried myself to win all the sprint points that were on offer every 10 laps and just scraped the silver medal, behind Annette Williams (USA), knowing that I had done everything I could.

So, just the Team Sprint to go – two maximal efforts over 500 meters – which did not sound too daunting, but I knew that they would hurt.  Ali Chisholm, who took the World Masters’ title for the 500m TT (35-39 age group) on Monday, was travelling down from Scotland for the event and I did not want her to make the journey for anything less than a win.  Five teams from Australia, South Africa and GB started but we qualified with the quickest time of 36.967.  However, I was not sure that would be good enough to win in the final so, after a quick gear change, we rode the final and improved our time by half a second, to win ahead of another British team, with South Africa taking the bronze medal.

So, it was five wins from six starts but I have to be satisfied with that and I am looking forward to a proper rest before setting the goals for 2013 and getting started with the winter training.