Alison Salthouse: the UK Masters National Track Cycling Championships
by William Townsend on July 09, 2019
Active Root Ambassador and track cyclist recently took part in the British Masters National Track Championships. In our blog she talks passionately about track cycling and what it's like to race in a velodrome.
So… my cycling journey has further continued – from not being able to ride half a mile without getting out of breath, having jelly legs and weighing 5st heavier than I do now – at the end of last month I achieved my very first podium for riding on the Velodrome!
I took part in the UK Masters Track Nationals and finished 4th (one 10th of a second behind 3rd!) in the 500m Time Trail and 2nd (and a silver medal) in the Match Sprint!! I was competing for my first time in the 60 – 64 age bracket against some tough opposition. I’d trained hard, kept my weight largely in check and had tapered before the big event. This has to be up there as one of the hardest but most fulfilling things I’ve ever done or achieved in my whole life.
I have found understanding the appropriate nutrition really hard and only started working on strength and conditioning using weights at the gym during the last year - thanks to my coach Steve Cronshaw I have learned how to develop as an athlete and include these aspects in appropriate quantities into my training regime to achieve success.
The Nationals were held in Newport, South Wales. I registered, got my race number, had my bike checked (for UCI Compliancy) and began my warm up preparations. All too soon it was my turn – first heat of the very first event – gated start where my rear wheel is clamped in a start gate with a timer counting down to release me. I tried to focus on my regime from 5 down to zero breath in, breath out, stand up on the pedals, throw your backside back and GO with a powerful thrust of the hips to help you on your way, then re-set the hips around the first corner, staying on the track, out of the saddle, power through the bend and out the other side, down the straight, sit down and GO GO GO. I felt exhilarated and it was all over in less than a minute – whew! I came in at 46.166 – sadly just missing out on a bronze medal (3rd place was 46.081) but a very respectable 4th place. Warm down on my rollers, change of clothes to watch the medal ceremony wistfully and onwards to day 2. My favourite flavour of Active Root (Peppermint and Ginger) helped both before and after my race as it was refreshing and easy/ quick to make up.
Day 2 and Match Sprinting – this starts with a ‘Flying 200 metres’ – a wind up in speed around the top of the track followed by a dive from the top down to the black line with the aim of hitting the timed start line at the fasted speed possible then ride all out for 200 metres. The results of the Flying 200 are used to decide who rides off against who for the Match Sprints that follow. Match sprints are 2 or 3 riders on the track at the same time where the riders ‘cat and mouse’ watch each other and decide when to try and take the lead and cross the finish line after 3 laps. The bell goes on the last lap so the riders know that the ‘race is on’ to the finish. I was in the semi final – the winner would proceed to the Gold/Silver final and the loser to a ride off for Bronze.
I’ve trained to ride this event by riding against far younger riders at Derby Velodrome. Lots of riders my age are put off as you are unlikely to win against far younger legs……. BUT … I learned a lot of track skills, how to use the track to gain an advantage and then use this in races against my own age range. It paid dividends as I WON. I had ridden the ride off my life and was in my very first final!!
The final came around all too quickly. I tried my hardest but the Gold was not to be – my legs just wouldn’t carry me fast enough to become British Champion…… this time……. I was so proud to get second at National level. I managed to keep it together for the podium and am now a proud owner of a fabulous silver medal ????
This was a tough day – 3 hard rides – all involving speeds in excess of 30mph. Previously I found the hydration and nutrition difficult as the short, high intensity efforts meant it was easy to feel sick…. And throwing up on track is not what anyone wants. Since discovering Active Root this has got a whole lot easier – the flavour variety is useful and all are easy to drink and digest – I noticed a real difference this year using the products throughout the day.
The World Championships are looming in October at Manchester Velodrome where I’ll be aiming for another podium. Until then – more training sessions and preparation – including having some fun. Track is so awesome to ride, it’s exciting, exhilarating and scary in equal amounts – but it gives me such a buzz. Why not have a go……..