12th September - 17th September
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The World Masters Track Championships wound up in Manchester on Saturday. There were 6 days full of racing for riders aged 30 years and older. The first thing that strikes anyone visiting the pits / track centre area at the Masters is the friendliness behind the competition. Riders finish their events for the day, shower and then return to the 'pits' - not necessarily their own either. There are friends from across the nations and returning riders look out for others who they competed against in previous years. Discussion of cycling is naturally a 'hot topic' and there are also in-depth analyses of bike parts exchanged. But, there is also a lot of laughter - jokes and banter abound. Riders from the same country cheer each other along in heats and finals and there were plenty of congratulatory hugs for those returning from their visits to the medals podium - from compatriots and opposing competitors too; there is a sense that there is real pride from all for anyone who wins a medal - everyone here knows how hard the training is and what they've given up to be here. These really are the friendly championships.
Don't be fooled, though. The competition is hard and fast. Riders train all year for this week of competition and are not willing to let anyone else take glory easily. One rider, with a plethora of the blue background, rainbow-striped jerseys already in the baggage to go home expressed considerable disappointment at 'losing the gold' and 'only' getting silver in one event.
Its a serious commitment for any of the riders to even get to the Championships. On top of the training schedules they follow, they also spend time racing against senior and elite riders to stay ahead of their game. For those that come from other countries, there is also the problem of raising the funds to pay for bikes, air tickets, (excess baggage) and hotels.
Catching up with riders was easy - they were happy to talk and pleased to share their World Championship stories and views and to give an insight into their bike racing background. The only problem was that there were so many people to catch up with and only limited time. Here's what people told WomensCycling.net >>
Click here to jump to comments from >> Julie Barnett Janet Birkmyre Michelle Enslin Joanne Fenwick Annette Hansen Lee Johns Anna Jones-Perrin Sonya Keay Petra Kleunder Marsha Macro Liz Randall Annerine Wenhold
"I raced when I was younger, but stopped when I had children. Now I'm back after the family have grown a bit. I've been racing again for 4 years. I only do track, some criteriums and unfortunately, this is my last Masters for a while - the family have given up a lot for me to be here and its an expensive trip from Australia. That's a decision we, the family, has made. Its a long way to come and I've been here 2 years in a row - that's a lot of money. We don't get any support as a team. I get my bike supplied by Sean Jefferies and I'm very grateful for that"
Upon retaining her sprint title; "Its a relief. The final was good. Tactically I think I did the right thing. She (Annette Hansen) led me out and I used my jump to go around her and that's where I stayed until the finish line." It seemed to take an age for Barnett to actually go past Hansen... "I had to make sure I was around her. I didn't want to go into the sprinter's lane. We had a bit of a knock in the corner, but it didn't put me off, I felt good."
Is it difficult, raising through the age group and having to race against younger riders? "I'd like to think there's more to come, but every year it gets harder on the family for me to be away. But racing, there are always different challenges, it doesn't necessarily get harder."
"I'm going back to Australia to ride the Queensland titles in January and then the Australian Masters in March / April. But the Queensland titles, I'm giving them a go, but its racing against Anna Meares and Kerrie Meares and people like that, so I'll be there for the competition and for some more racing. I only really ride the track."
"I'm from Port Elizabeth, South Africa. My local area is named after Nelson Mandella - Mandetta Bay. We have a 500m cement track, which is outdoor and you've always got a training partner because the wind howls at the track!"
"I'm pleased to be here - I was training hard for 9 months, but then fell ill with pleurisy and had to take 2 months off. But I've raced myself fit here this week. I've come 4th, 5th and 6th, I've only been losing by less than a second, so there's more! Its been an incredible week. I've loved this track, the people are great and its a wonderful event. This must be the best track meeting in the World because there are so many awesome people here. Its like one big family. We race against each other like hell, but afterwards, we're good friends. Its awesome."
"I think the thing that is least recognised is that these people here are superior athletes. Its called 'Masters', but trust me, that title is not in the least bit adequate, they are awesome - stars. Just look at the performances - they're something else. Its been great and we'll be back again and eventually, hopefully we can start moving it around the world and spreading it out."
"I've had a great time here. I'd like to come back as a trained athlete and give it a 'good hook' and show the world what I can do."
Joanne Fenwick (GB) 45-49
"I've been competing again for 2 years after a 30 year break. I only do the shorter distances because of the strain of racing on my back (Joanne has severe arthritis of the spine). Unfortunately I've had the problem for 5 years and it is getting worse, so I have to limit myself to just half a dozen events each year. This is my first World Championships, I've done a number of National Championships."
Janet Birkmyre (GB) 35-39
"Its a big surprise to me - I've won two titles this week. I expected to perhaps go for a bronze in the pursuit, but things went my way today and I qualified for the gold - silver ride. I've been riding pursuits all year because I have to in the (British, season-long) women's omnium series. So although I concentrate on sprints, I had to do some endurance for the pursuit. I broke it down into 8 500m efforts and I've definitely learned to hurt myself. This is my first really serious season - I rode the British Nationals last year because I was there - supporting my husband. He entered me in the sprints and so October last year was my first real racing. I was gutted to come fourth and miss out on the podium. That gave e a huge boost for this year and David, my husband, has been coaching me and I've been working on the track, road and in the gym and its paid off. My season ends in a few weeks with the British Nationals, which are here in Manchester, so this is a really good work-up for that."
"I don't really do much road. I do some circuit races, but was advised that proper road races would kill my sprinting speed, so I haven't done anything since early in the year. The most I do is about an hour - circuit races are good for speed, especially when there are intermediate sprints and I like the atmosphere."
"I did the British Masters Nationals this year and took four titles. That was great. Nikki Peters, who took bronze today beat me in the Nationals, so she'll be fired up for more racing now. I had a lot of support here today, which has been fantastic too. The atmosphere is great - track racing is just so friendly. People do different disciplines and its easy to be genuinely pleased for them when they succeed too. I've heard that this is one of the best events on the calendar for atmosphere and organisation. Its been brilliant. I'd love to come back next year - we need to sit down and look at it - we've made some huge sacrifices to get here, but I think I'd be mad not to come back."
Annette Hansen (USA) 40-45
"I'm a pursuiter, but I just took silver in the sprint (second to Julie Barnett). I'm not doing too bad, I suppose. We come all this way to the Worlds Masters and so we do all the events and do the best you can. The Masters is great, its a great venue and the people are great; after you come a couple of years, its like a family reunion. Its a good atmosphere and the people are genuinely pleased for you when you do well. I'm looking forward to the pursuits on Saturday. I've got tomorrow off and I'm going to go and do something fun, go and see something interesting. My form's good for the pursuit and there's not a predictable competition - its hard to predict. Its not necessarily the case that its easiest to be the youngest in the age group - it depends how many sprinters versus pursuiters there are. When I was in 35-39, there were lots of sprinters and now I'm in the 40-45, there used to be pursuiters, but now this year, there are not so many again. It just depends who comes, who enters. We had the biggest entry for the US Masters this year - hopefully I can persuade a few of them to come next year!"
Lee Johns (Australia) 30-35
"This is my first Championships. I've enjoyed it so much, except for my results, but there's always next year. It has been such a huge learning experience; my training just didn't come off. The training I did for the time trial just didn't work - its my main race and it just didn't work for me this year. There's things to work on for next year and I'll be back, if I can get the money together, I'll be back. This is a very expensive trip for Australians, but I'll be back. I've got to make the step up to this level - I had a lot of nerves, but you learn and I've really enjoyed it here. Geoff Stoker and John Beatty have really helped me through the year."
"I haven't got a whole lot of experience - I've been riding a bike for seven years, but this is my first year of competition and training. I've only really been serious for about 9 months, so I've done quite well really. Track starts about a month after I get back, so I'll be giving that a go. The State Championships are on and I want to do some good, competitive times. I have to work even harder in Australia because I'm still a senior there, not a masters level, so I'll be against the seniors. I mainly do track - I do some Sunday morning races, but just for the fun of it. I prefer the track"
Anna Jones-Perrin (Australia) 30-34
"This is my first time at the Championships and its great - well organised and good fun. I've heard people raving about it at home in Australia, so I thought I'd come over and give it a go. It feels good to be going home with medals - I was a bit disappointed with the colour of some of them, I was hoping to do a bit better, but I had a crash earlier in the week and that kind of took the gold out of my eye, but I'm really happy. I hope to be back next year"
"I've been cycling for about 5 years and track for about three years. I was a road cyclist initially, tried track and enjoyed it more. Training for the track is harder - I still do the road miles and then special track training too. I'd like to thank my coach, Mike Brady, the Bank of Queensland and PeopleResources.com for their support, plus all the people who bought 'Freddo Frogs' (chocolate bars) and then family and friends who have supported me throughout the year."
Sonya Keay (Australia) 35-39
"I'm really enjoying it here. Its good to be racing against people my own age - at home I'm up against the elite riders - the Meares sisters. There's still pressure here and the competition is still intense. I've got two children and its nice not be racing against 18 year olds!"
"I've had a lot of support from home - I'd like to thank everyone who's supported me - my husband and children and the help I've had from the Bank of Queensland and PeopleResources.com. Do you know, Anna (Jones-Perrin) and I did sales of chocolate bars so that we could get here!"
Petra Kleunder (Germany) 45-49
"The Masters is wonderful - I love it. I have 2 bronze medals and two gold medals. I have been here before - since 2001, last year I won the points race in 2003 I took silver in the sprint and the 500m TT, before that I took bronze in the pursuit. I am not a specialist. I ride the Road Masters too, in St Johann in Austria - the time trial and the road race. Every year, its a surprise to me which discipline I do well in. I like masters racing - to race against women my age because during the year I have to compete against the seniors, which is very hard for me to stay with. There are no German Masters at National level, so every year, this is my goal. Although, this year, there was the World Masters Games in Edmonton in Canada at the end of July, so I trained for that too - the road, time trial, track and criterium. I took three golds and three silvers! I was very tired after that, so I took a couple of weeks to recover, before preparing for here. After here, there is no further racing, so I will start with basic training for 2006 in November.
"I've won two silvers and a gold (in the pursuit) this week. The pursuit was retaining my title, which really pleased me, I came back to defend that title and I had luck with the other ones too. I really enjoy Masters events - I'm only in my second year of competition and I feel that its really important that women can see an older woman can do things like this. I'm 61. Its possible to have success and have a good time and I'm meeting other people my age who also enjoy doing what I love. I've ridden my bike all my life, but only just started competing. A friend took me to the track, told me "You need to try this, see what its like." and I had a go and thought "Hey this is kind of cool". I started competing on a really inexpensive track bike, went to my first Nationals and I've had a ball since then. I live in Denver, Colorado and we have the Olympic training centre and its a beautiful track there."
"I'll be back next year, the only thing is, as I get older the age group doesn't move up (the women's age 50+ is a catch all) so I have to compete against people 10 years younger, which is fine, but it would be wonderful to have an age group with closer bandings. If we had that age group, there might be more women interested in coming to events like this, we want people to come here and have success, not be discouraged."
"Being here with so many people is just the best. Its wonderful. People who don't speak English are coming up and chatting. Its so great."
"We do a lot of serious training. We ride on the road with fixed gears from October through until February, then in March we go to our road bikes to build a bit more leg speed and strength and I also work in the gym then. We then start on the track with specific, progressive sessions to get ready for these Worlds. We're probably doing 8-10 hours a week on the bike, plus the gym. I'm lucky, though, I have a Pilates studio, so I have a good base level of fitness anyway."
"Its so incredible that we have people here who are 65, 70+ and still competing, I'm just so excited about it all. No one should think its beyond them, just go out there and give it a go."
"I've been riding for 5 years. I started as an (on-foot) orienteering competitor and went to mountainbike orienteering, then road racing, then track racing. I've been racing on the track for about three years. I've been to the Masters before and have won medals previously, the 500m TT is my (first, I hope) title this year. I'm going to be riding the points, pursuit and possibly the sprint."
"On my way home to Australia, I'll be taking some time in France. I don't know how my legs will be after the track, but I'm going to ride up L'Alp d'Huez to see what its like. I've never done it before."
"I've had a great week. We don't get much opportunity to race in South Africa, we only race outside once a year, so its great to be here. I don't get to race all the time - I've got a two-and-a-half year hold child, so that limits things. I don't do too much road racing. I just love the track, I've had a great week, defending my sprint title, taking the 500 TT. Its a pity I didn't get the flying 500m record, I did it in training earlier in the week, but it was just not meant to be."
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