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University of Nottingham Students' Union, Portland Building, University Park, Nottingham NG7 2RD

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Circles to Nationals

Updated: May 27, 2019

Following on from BUCS victory, our boys are now training for the national stripes! Check out what our very own lit sec Ollie Hucks has to say about this next challenge...

As we approach the termination of 2018 I feel it an appropriate time for a final blog post of the year, with an update on what I’ve been up to in the ‘off season’.

I’ve had a slightly more unconventional off season this year, since I’ve gone #fullsend into track riding and have seen huge improvements in a short space of time, so I think it’s fair to say I’ve caught the bug….

After riding on the track for the first time only last year then getting accredited earlier this year I thought I’d get involved with the Uni track team and see what I can do, much like with everything with UoNCC I soon felt part of the squad and began learning from the more experienced riders, under the watchful eye of the one and only Olympic Medalist (silver) Bryan Steel. The first few weeks of the track programme began with long efforts with multiple riders to get used to riding on the track, riding the line and practicing changes, with the emphasis of this group being on Team Pursuit. A few weeks of doing 5k efforts and laps at anything between 17 (at a push) to 19 second laps, this made the prospect of doing short 15s and sub 15s laps a hell of a long way away, no wonder Sir Joey P didn’t want to come to these earlier sessions and I’ve no doubt Bryan had very little hope of getting a result come BUCS in December….

As the weeks ticked on, places in the Team Pursuit team were contested, with a few minor revolutions along the way, one of those being understanding how track gearing works (and what works best for each individual), trying ‘race wheels’ for the first time and Michael Gill getting aero (DPC 2019). The team was then decided as being Joe P, Michael, Seb and myself, a team with varying specialisms, however under the guidance of Bryan we would utilise all these strengths to go as fast as we could come 2nd December. The day that Mr Perkins turned up to his first session with the squad was struck with fear for the 3 others, and a hell of a lot of tiredness for Joe himself….. being a more mature athlete than the others he isn’t quite as sprightful as the 3 young upstarts at 7 o’clock on a Sunday morning….Anyway, Joe slotted into the team like a glove, giving us all extra rest over the 3k due to pulling longer turns and adding that much needed engine to ensure the pace is kept high for the whole distance. Being just 4 weeks out from BUCS now things began to take shape, Gill sculpting himself into a start specialist along with a suicidal few laps mid way through the race, Garry being the second acceleration man, pulling the dreaded second lap, Hucks (myself) acting as a speed maintainer of Garry's lap, ensuring I drop Joe in at a quick pace, for him to maintain for his longer turns, then Joe was the gas man who would just park it on the front at 15 second lap pace and take the kids behind for a little spin.

Our times began to get quicker and the prospect of a medal became ever more hopeful, the gold medal we (at least I) had thought would be a no brainer for Derby to win, since every time we saw them at the track they looked pro, rode fast and whenever I heard a squad conversation, sounded fast….. This did however give us something to aim for, we began to close down on these times until we did a 3:14 in training as one of our final hit outs and this gave us all confidence of what we could achieve should we all execute our role come the real thing.

As BUCS rolled round, we pitched up in Manchester with the UoNCC massive and excitement grew for everyone’s relative events over the course of the weekend. Myself, Gill and Garry all rode the kilo on the Saturday, I went off first posting a time of 1:08, Gill up next posting a blistering 1:05, which saw him in the hot seat up until the final 2 heats, but still coming away with a mega 4th place, then Garry having a right palava with pedal problems (due to his favourite pedals; Vector 3’s) but still posting a very respectable 1:09, even with basically flat pedals…..no doubt angered by this and ready to unleash all the following day… Joe came second in the IP, after a battle with local hitter Will Perrett (Derby…).

Soon the Sunday was upon us and there was the inevitable onset of nerves but underlying excitement of what could be achieved. The warm up all went smoothly, we watched the girls qualify for the bronze medal ride off, saw Derby post a 3:10, however tried to forget this and just focus on our own ride, which is just what we did. The plan couldn’t have been executed much better, ‘a very business like ride’ (Steel 2018), posting a 3:09 to qualify fastest and be up against the favourites Derby in the gold medal ride off. The gold medal ride off was the ‘stretch goal’ initially, with the plan for the final to just go #fullsend and see what happens. Having never ridden a 4k together before the plan was composed only an hour or so prior to the event, with the main ethos of the team being we ‘just gotta send it’ (Lambie 2018).

The nerves developed again, but with a slight sense of ease since we already felt we had achieved the main goal of the competition, so anything more was just a bonus. Seeing the girls TP come away with a bronze gave us that extra incentive to win our ride off as well. We knew that if we stuck to our plan it would put Derby under pressure in the final km since they go down to 3 riders very early on. After fully utilising Gill in his second turn to pull a filthy 3 lapper, we soon had them under pressure, with one of their riders getting gapped and in a high pressure race like this, once the elastic goes it’s tough, near impossible, to get going again, this meant that within 3.5km we had caught them and upon hearing the gun to signal race over, we began to come to the realisation that 3 budding Track up starts and Joey P had only gone and won it. We were on for about a 4:11 which gives us great confidence for next year since 3/4 are definitely around and one in the process of delaying real life and seeking to do a masters.

This link shows the 2 rides from the weekend, thanks to Matt Taylor for the footage: https://photos.google.com/share/AF1QipO_-EQnngUO6uE2cf9kTF8Kn5aQCD7-u-b0yhddnxuJOX7XMwrwSFSKj9GFAtGOFA?key=SVhnVWl1YUYzMFBLb0JhOXVCaGJnWVptZTJTRHlR

Due to the new found craving for track riding we wanted to keep going in some way, so with that in mind, the next event on the agenda is British nationals at the end of January. Joe is riding with a Derby team who are hoping to podium and we wish them all the best and will be cheering for them on the day; so to replace Joe we have roped in George Clark, a fellow (ex-)member of HWCC and spent the previous year on the continent, so will no doubt be a great addition. We will be representing UoNCC so hope to do the club and uni proud at such a high calibre event.

A massive shout out to the whole of the Uni cycling club, without everyone playing their roles in the background and supporting us all this (and all the other great results) would not have been possible. Raking in a whole host of medals over the weekend and feeling like a family in doing so. Exciting times for the club looking ahead to TT’s and road races in the not so distant future!