Amira Mellor: My World Championships
11 February 2015
17-year-old Amira Mellor has emerged as a British cyclocross sensation this season. Her achievements include winning the elite women’s National Trophy series and riding impressively at the fantastic Milton Keynes World Cup.
She thoroughly earned her selection to ride for Great Britain at the World Championships held in Tabor (Czech Republic) ten days ago.
We asked Amira to write about how she prepared for such a big race and what the World Championships meant to her, so that youth riders can learn from her approach.
My World Championship journey started on the Wednesday when I travelled to Manchester airport in the morning to fly out to the Czech Republic with the Great Britain Cycling Team. After a long day travelling with two flights and a two-hour car journey in the Czech Republic, we arrived at our hotel and were fed by our Czech hosts before heading to bed.
The following two days consisted mainly of riding the course and sitting in our rooms watching the hours go by before race day. On Thursday we rode out to the course to loosen our legs from the long journey. I did two steady laps of the course to get a feel of what it was like. When going to a new course, the first lap I do is just gently riding to get a feel of the corners and where the course goes. Then on the second lap, I stop and look at technical sections such as corners or sharp hills and I try different lines, figuring out which is the best line for me. I also try and watch other people ride a section, especially if I’m struggling with it, and get some tips from the way they ride that section.
On the Friday I rode the course at a faster pace so I could see how the course rides at “race pace”. I think this is really important as going round at warm-up pace is very different to the way you will ride in the race itself and you need to make sure the lines you are using also work when going fast. During the two course practices I also tried different tyre pressures to see what I felt confident on around the course.
After I’d ridden the course on Friday, I got some warm dry clothes on, had a recovery drink as well as something to eat before we drove back to the hotel. I then showered, sat down and began the waiting game.
On race morning I woke up at about 7:30 a.m. and I made sure all my kit was ready. Drinks were made up before I headed to breakfast at 8:30 a.m. Race breakfast for me is always scrambled eggs and beans on toast so that meant the coaches had to use Google to translate what we all wanted to ensure we all got our preferred race food.
We left the hotel for the course at about 11:00 a.m. to arrive in time for the course practice, just after the Junior men’s race. I like to get a lap in on the morning of my race, especially if there’s a race taking place on the course beforehand. That means I can see if the ground has changed and then decide on the tyre pressures I want to race on. It also refreshes my mind about the course and my lines.
After a quick lap to look at the course, I changed into my race kit and ate another snack, as my race was at 2:00 p.m. I was ready to race, my bikes were clean and sorted, just twenty minutes to sit and listen to some music before I started my warm-up. As it got closer to my race, it started to snow and the temperatures dropped to 2 degrees. I have never raced in conditions like this before, and I was to race in leg warmers, a thermal skin suit and a thick layer of warm up balm on my legs and feet to keep them warm.
I started my roller warm up at 1:15 p.m. and finished at 1:40 p.m. leaving time for me to take my gel, get my helmet on, plus a toilet stop on the way to the start. Gridding started at about 1:50 p.m., so I was just waiting for the minutes to count down and waiting for the last possible minute to take my top layers off.
Once the tape was moved from the front row of riders, I stared at the red light, watching and waiting for it to turn green – then the charge began…
Overview of the World Championships
This was my first experience of even being at a World Championship and to race it as well was just incredible! The whole trip was amazing and I learnt so much from it.
It really showed me how good the quality of women globally is, and the importance of a World Championship in the world of cyclocross – perhaps because this is the highest level of competition with cyclocross not being an Olympic sport. It also reinforced just how much I want to be a professional cyclocross rider one day, and to be racing at the front of a World Championship.
This was a first step to more World Cups and World Championships in the future, and to my ultimate dream of winning the stripy jersey.