Sunday, 19 March 2017

National U19 Omnium Track Championships

This weekend I went down to Cambridge to compete in the National U19 Omnium Track Championships. The omnium is like the "yellow jersey" of track cycling, the winner is the rider who gains the most points over 4 races. The higher placed in each race you are, the more points you gain. These races are the scratch race, tempo race, elimination race and the points race, and are all raced over one day.

I was very excited for this event as most of the races suited the endurance fitness I have been working on, as well as fast pace sprinting. I also have never participated in this event before as it is only raced from the U19 level, so the day was a huge learning curve. I am extremely thankful I had the opportunity to represent Auckland in this event, there is no training or racing which is quite as hard as national events. These races extend me as an athlete and help improve my performance.

Throughout the day I picked up a 2nd place in the scratch race, 3rd in the tempo race after breaking away with team mate Georgia Danford for 6 laps. 5th in the elimination race, and finally 3rd in the points race. I must admit the points race was one of the hardest track races I had ever done, which made finishing up with 3rd place overall and a bronze medal, even sweeter.

Without the support from my parents, and Frequency Projects I could never been able to make it down to Cambridge for the Omnium National Champs. I am always thankful for everything they put into my cycling which in turn makes things much easier and better for me. Also a huge thanks to my coach Paul Leitch for all the work he puts into my program and training sessions in order to ensure my legs are race ready.
On the podium with Georgia Danford (1st), and Libby Arbuckle (2nd)

Monday, 29 September 2014

National School Road Champs 2014

A famous cyclist once said "It never gets easier, you just get faster." I thought about this as I lined up for my 35 Team Time Trial race for Baradene. I know myself, that no matter how many times I've done this event it definitely has not got easier. It was early Saturday afternoon and I was racing in the Baradene Senior A team I had been with throughout the season. The race was over 16km of rolling hills in Levin, and the winners would be crowned National Champions. We lined up for the start, listening to final words of instruction and encouragement from coaches Tony Songhurst and Paul Leitch, and setting our eyes on the targets ahead.

After 6km of battling the fierce crosswinds and hills, we reached the turn around, but disaster struck... Team member Maddy Songhurst snapped her chain coming out of the turn, we were forced down to 4 riders, gritting our teeth we pushed on further, faster, stronger. The remaining 10km was full of pain, swirling winds but defiantly no regret. We all collapsed after the finish line and we knew we left everything out there in the race. Once we returned back to our tent we received the exciting news that we had come 3rd!!! This was the first time a senior Baradene team had ever got on the podium at a national event and we were all extremely proud! We stood on the podium with huge smiles and it was a special moment for us all, reflecting the dedication and work we had put in over the season, what a way to sent our senior riders out on.

The rain, hail and torrential winds welcomed us on Sunday to road race day. This was a new circuit with new challenges and I was absolutely pumped to race! But the extreme weather conditions were starting to look quite unsafe and many schools were looking at scratching their younger riders. At about 10.30am and halfway through my warmup it was decided all u13, u14, and u15 grades would be cancelled for the day, so I would have to wait another year to race on this circuit! Later on it was announced all the racing for the day was cancelled, this was only the second time in the 40 year history of the event that a race has been cancelled.
We decided to make the most of the day by going to watch a movie back in Palmerston North, and rested up for the big day that would follow.

Criterium day started with a schools banner parade, the winner getting the corporate box and a free subway lunch! A combination of cool banners and loud chants got Baradene through to the top three, along with Waikato Dio, and Epsom Girls Grammar. Unfortunately we didn't pull off a win but we will defiantly be back next year to get it!!
The crits. then started, first with the u13's where my brother Aidan won his first national title! The wind started blowing harder, and the sun shone hotter as the day went on, and my race was growing closer. Soon I found myself lined up at the start line, ready to race. We set out as a big pack, and the starting gun went off, 6 laps to go. The winner of the race is the rider who wins the most points, you can win points by placing in the top 4 riders across the line at the end of the three sprint laps. After our first sprint where I won 1 point, I knew I hadn't recovered fully from the virus I had weeks previously. I struggled for the rest of the race although I was doing all the right things technically. When the race finished I was disappointed, but soon realised that I shouldn't expect much because I still wasn't at 100% after illness, but 5th place nationally was a strong performance! The race offered a lot of learning for me and a very big opportunity to improve.

I spent the rest of the day cheering on all the other Baradene girls and being with my friends. At the end of the day was the final prize giving, where the best boy and girl schools of the competition would be awarded with their respective trophies. In every age group points are given to each of the top 10 finishers, the schools who have won the most points win the overall title. In the past two years the girl's school winner has been Baradene, and we were very keen to make it three years, what a way it would be to send our seniors off with this award, and way to end this year's road champs! Annnnd the winner of the AJ Drake cup, and the title of Best Girls Cycling School in the Country is....... BARADENE COLLEGE!!!

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

AKSS TTT Series 2014

Over the last two terms the AKSS Team Time Trial series has been running early morning on 7 Sundays. This is the fourth year I have raced in this series, but the third since the course was moved to the back-roads of Mangere. For the first race of the series, I rode for the Baradene Junior A (u16) team, in that race we posted a solid time and put us at the top in 1st place. For the next 6 races, I was moved into the Senior A (u20) team for Baradene. Although most weeks members of our team were away, or sick we managed to win 6 of the 7 races.

On finals day (which is race 7 and counts for a separate award) we couldn't quite hold the clean sweep but still placed 3rd, which is a record breaking achievement within Baradene Cycling. I really enjoyed the team races as they offer an opportunity to ride with the senior girls, and also expose us to a different type of racing.

At the prize giving held at St Kents, Baradene won a number of awards, the senior team which I rode in won the overall series cup, and a third for finals day. In race one the girls also broke the record, so they won a trophy for posting the fastest time for the season. The junior A team which I rode for in race 1 also came 1st overall.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Tournament Week 2014

Tournament week is definitely one of my favorite weeks of the year, an entire week off school playing football. Also after the recent successes of our football team we were definitely in it to win it, which added to the excitement, as well as it being in Wellington this year.

We stared the week with an early morning flight to Wellington, I checked in with my bags and also my bike, I had to train during the week because National Individual Champs were being held at the end of the week. After a rather turbulent flight, we landed in the sunny but windy, Wellington. We arrived at our hotel which was very close to the inner city and unpacked all our gear, then we decided to make the most of the weather and go for a walk. Along the waterfront and back we went, enjoying the sun and sorbet ice creams that we bought, relaxing and getting prepared for the big week ahead.

Monday and Tuesday bought for a Baradene clean sweep, four wins, over four games gave us a huge advantage, and we were comfortable sitting top of the table. Wednesday morning bought another win, but the end of the round robin round, from here on was the all important knockout stages. We had a game-free Wednesday afternoon which was spent at the local pools, and of course, shopping in the city. That night we went to dinner at a local restaurant to celebrate the success of the tournament so far. Halfway through dinner I started to feel very unwell, that night I hardly slept, with a bad temperature and headache! The next morning I was feeling much worse, so I was taken to the local medical center, and diagnosed with a nasty virus. I went along to the quarterfinal game to watch the team win 4-0! In the afternoon I was feeling slightly better but I was so determined to play and help the team, I went on for half the game and we won that too!!! On to the final it was!

The next morning I felt the sickest I have ever been, I knew that I couldn't play but watching the team play and supporting them was the best I could do! All week the weather had been amazing, so sunny and warm, but finals day was a whole different story. The wind and rain was fierce and it was freezing! The team we were playing was Sacred Heart Wellington, a local college who we had played and scored 4 goals against in the previous rounds. But within 15 minutes Baradene conceded a free kick which went straight into the goal! Our determination and grit really showed in this game though, we never gave up and scored two goals back to go up 2-1. It remained like this for the remainder of the game until the final whistle sounded, and we, Baradene 1st Xl were crowned 2014 Grant Jarvis National Satellite Tournament Champions! This was an amazing achievement and I am extremely proud of this huge achievement!

Sadly due to the virus I was unable to race in the National Individual Cycling Champs the following day, which I was very gutted about but I still returned to Auckland with a medal in hand and the amazing experience of tournament in my mind. 

Thursday, 26 December 2013

2013-Year sum up

What a year it has been, full of thrills, spills, plenty of miles and loads of fun! 2013 was consisted of track racing, the summer road tours, school team time trials, schools and club road racing, I also got a sponsorship deal with Frequency Projects which allowed me to buy a new road bike, a new track bike and a Frequency Projects cycling kit. Over the year I won 6 national titles, 23 medals and I was part of the best girls cycling school in the country, Baradene College, my highlights would probably have to be riding on the indoor, wooden velodrome in Invercargill for track nationals, and racing as part of the Baradene Junior A team time trial team! Over the year I have recieved so much support, I'd like to give a big thank you to the team at Frequency for all their support, Ben at Performance Bikes for fixing my battered and bruised bike and all your help you give me. I also want to thank my coach Paul Leitch for helping and coaching me at track and road, and my parents for being my biggest (and loudest) supporters, taking me everywhere and giving up your time to watch me train and race! I'm so proud of how successful this season has been, bring on 2014!
The Year in Pictures

Sunday, 8 December 2013

AKSS Track Cycling Champs

Over the last 4 Sundays  I have competed in the first Auckland Secondary Schools Track Cycling Competition at the Manukau Velodrome. Due to the numbers in the Baradene team I joined an U15 boys team, with my brother Aidan and Jamie Leitch. Each race day had 4 events including one team event, although most of the races were individual each rider earned points for their team. It is always a great experience riding with the boys, they are very fast and have a completely different style of racing; fast and furious. As the races went on I learnt how to hold my own, ride smartly to my advantage and by the end I managed to get a couple of placings. Our composite team were probably the 'underdogs' of the competition, with only 3 riders who were all at least younger than the rest but in our Italian pursuit we proved that anything was possible, beating the slick Auckland Grammar team! By the end of the competition we had accumulated enough points to place 2nd in the U15 boys division and 3rd in the Overall Boys School division. It was a fun event full of new learning and just a good, valuable experience.
Line up for Italian Pursuit 

In among the racing

Final sprint

Match sprint final

Battling on the track

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Sports Awards Dinner 2013

It's that time of year yet again, Baradene sports awards, a night to sit back, relax, and celebrate the successes of the past sporting year! I was lucky enough to receive an invitation to the dinner along with many of the high achieving sportswomen at the school. We arrived sporting our whitest shirts and smartest uniforms to the Ellerslie Event Centre, and the night quickly kicked off. We had the first set of awards followed by a huge dinner, our guest speaker (a former all black) spoke then we got into the major awards! The excitement grew in anticipation of who the winners would be, so far I had won an outstanding achievement award for track cycling, a gold award for winning national events in cycling in 2013, and a silver award for representing Auckland in football. They started announcing the 'team of the year' awards, i exchanged nervous glances with the members of my Junior A cycling team as this was the award we were really aiming for. The Year 7/8 A cycling team won the Year 7/8 team of the year, the climbed on stage with all the cycling girls cheering loudly for them. Time for the Juniors, "and the winner of the Junior Team of the Year is............... JUNIOR A CYCLING TEAM! We all leapt up and I don't think we stopped smiling for the rest of the night! Now for the final award, for the 'Most Outstanding Performance of the Year', it is usually won by a senior and it is said to be the most prestigious award of the night. "but this year this award has been won by a junior, a sportswoman who has put 6 national titles to her name this year, Jenna Merrick", I actually can't begin to describe what I felt in the moment but the first thing I probably thought was "what?!". I was stunned, and absolutely in awe of how it could ever be me! With shaking legs I made my way onstage, my voice trembled all throughout my speech but I was extremely happy. I made my way back to my seat to be welcomed by all the cycling girls, and that was the end of the night! I walked out of the with 5 awards and a rather special trophy, one which I never dreamed of getting. In the car on the way home I read the names of the previous winners, two stuck out to me, Henrietta Mitchell, a track cyclist who went to the commonwealth games, and Emily Collins, a road cyclist who currently rides with a pro-cycling team in Europe. I couldn't believe that my name was among two of my heroes!

What a night! Successful, and a great way to finish a hard year of sport! I'd like to congratulate all the award winners who worked so hard to get there, especially all the cycling girls who cleaned up fair chunk of the awards ending what has been, a phenomenal season.