If you ever need a benchmark of a world class talent, it’s that they win their National Championships while they’re “recuperating”. But if she makes it sound too easy, you’d better remember the training pain, and the winter Lake District miles and the years of determination, focus and experience that have got her this far. Anyway on with Caroline’s racing diary.
No sporting result is ever a foregone conclusion , especially in an event which relies upon machine as well as man . Despite the fact that my closest challenger at the Nationals was likely to be Y2K’s Sue Thomas , who had finished a full 15 minutes behind me in our last encounter only one week early , I still had get out there and put the pedal to the metal , when all I really wanted to do was stay at home and sleep !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I had to have a serious word with myself in the days leading up to the race . Beneath the jet lag induced blur I knew there was an athlete who desperately wanted to retain her National title , but while sitting in a queue of cars , waiting to be towed INTO a muddy field in order to check out the course I was have a hard job persuading myself of the fact !
After swanning around sun bathed ski resorts for 5 weeks I had come back down to earth with a bang . The constant drizzle had turned the course into a skating rink and so after a reconnaissance lap which took almost an hour I begrudgingly swapped my tubular’s for tyres and tubes – 1.5 hardpack’s no less , a tyre which has been around longer than I have ! At least now I had some braking grip , but after a further two laps I still had no idea where I was going , so fuzzy was my mind .
Thankfully the course dried considerably overnight , although narrow tyres were still the order of the day . Since I am in a recouperation phase of my training , my coach Martin had stressed the fact that I should not dig too deep . At the start I was left behind after becoming tangled in one of my competitors (Jenny Copnall) . After remounting and passing the opposition , I dropped my chain several times , so it was a couple of minutes before I could open the throttle so to speak , but then everything went to plan . I rode hard enough to win by a comfortable margin , but made sure I didn’t go in to the red – the zone from which recovery is protracted . Unfortunately yet again my overidding emotion was relief as opposed to joy , but I know had I been a no show , I would have regretted the loss of my title for a full twelve months !
Now my reward is a week of relaxation before I begin my preparation for the World Championships in 9 weeks time .