After a few weeks of specific preparation and a lot of general hard graft, I took to the Velodrome for the 2018 British Championships. I think I felt every emotion imaginable over the weekend but, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger right?


It was an early start, with the alarm set for 6.30am. I can hear friends in the swimming world already laughing. But cut me some slack, normally I don’t need to be up before 8am. I know it’s a tough life… We arrived at the track at around 7.30am and began to set up. You don’t realise how much stuff cyclists need until situations like that where, you’re still half asleep and you need to carry three race wheels, a pair of rollers, two bikes, your race shoes and a track pack. I literally felt like I was setting up a small campsite for a few days. We began to warm up and I didn’t feel too great. Thoughts then began spiralling around my head about whether I’d done something wrong in preparation and maybe I wouldn’t perform too well. I just tried to relax and to trust in the process. Fortunately, I then got up for my qualifying 200m and achieved a personal best!


It was messy and can be improved in multiple ways, but it’s important to be proud of the little gains along the way and I can’t argue with a decent PB. I’m striving for high goals but I’m not going to kick myself every time I don’t hit that goal, at least on the journey getting there. That’s not what it’s about. Or that’s not what I’m about anyway. I was ranked 7th in the country, which I was chuffed with alone and made it through to the first round.  I gave it my all, and I found myself in the mix at the quarter finals. I felt both out of my depth but also grateful. This standard and above is the long term aim, so I was thankful for this first hand experience. I was knocked out by the defending National Champion but assumed disappointment was replaced with gratitude and desire to get better and come back stronger. I could now see my real weaknesses and where I really needed to step up!


Today was the Kierin day and thankfully it didn’t start until a leisurely 6pm. I began with the heats and due to a completely stupid error, became too close to rider in front. This was still following the derny. Utterly ridiculous, but somehow I managed to hit the deck when the race hadn’t even started. I then slid down the track, denting my suit and pride simultaneously. I was helped to my feet and walked back to the pen. As I sat down my coach spotted a small splinter on my shoulder blade. I couldn’t feel anything but it didn’t bother me to pop over to the med pen and get it taken out before the repechage began. As I walked away people said ‘Oh wow that’s bad’ and ‘That’s a big one’. The paramedic even made a comment about having to go to A&E but in the end, he managed to get it out. ‘Phew’ I thought. ‘On the positive side, no crashes now for a few years Mill’…


My attention then turned to the repechage- this was where I could make my attempt to get back in the game and reach the semi-finals. I was really pleased with how I raced this, focusing on my strengths and racing my own race. I completed what I set out to do and won, securing a place in the next round. The semi-final then came at around 11pm (which is a new time to race for me) and I don’t remember too much from here. I drew 6th, which meant after the derny I was the sixth rider back. As the race began I started to make my way up the pack and then as I went in to a bend, I felt someone tap my elbow. And down I went.

After being dragged from the bottom of the track because the race was still continuing, and establishing why I was on the floor, I staggered with my coach and paramedics to the first aid section where I had been an hour or so before. The crowd gave me round of applause as I left the track and to anyone who was there, a huge thank you as this meant a lot! A coach offered me my road bike to warm down but I physically couldn’t get my leg over the saddle. My suit was then completely cut apart exposing piece after piece of track wedged in to my back, with the worst being one that showed a start and end but no middle. I was reassured that it was all fine, and everyone was hushed when they started to explain how bad it looked. For those wondering how you can get splinters from a velodrome, basically the track is pretty old and made of wood. After hitting around 65km/h, once I fell to the ground parts of the lycra suit I was wearing was burnt away due to friction. Any fraying wood on the track basically went into me as I descended. I think it sounds worse than it was but I’m told the size of the splinters I had, don’t happen often. Obviously just to the lucky ones. But these things happen in track cycling, just part and parcel of the job- I’m sure it won’t be my last.


I was extremely lucky to have the British Cycling coaches at my side, some incredible paramedics and my amazing parents too. I kept saying how I’d be back for team sprint (the event we’d been working so hard on) starting in the morning, but little did I know what the evening/morning had in store for me! However, no one could have done any more to help me in the situation, and even though I basically had a small tree stuck in my backside- I knew it would all be alright!


To cut an exhausting night short, I went to A&E and at around 1am was lucky enough admitted to the major trauma unit. By 2am a Doctor was digging for these splinters. After 3 hours he’d removed multiple pieces and I was finally discharged at around 5.20am. I was then dropped home by   who deserves a special huge thanks because he literally didn’t sleep that night and went straight into the third day of Nationals without a break from the second I crashed. Jan, whose spare clothes I wore all night and Justin for his portable charger which came in pretty handy. Just shows the phenomenal support I have, I genuinely couldn’t be more grateful. As I arrived home the boys I live with began making breakfast for their big day of racing, they couldn’t believe I’d only just got in! Quite the odd situation.


I think it was the painkillers talking when I was still deliberating competing the next day. I had to sleep on one side, woke up with burns sticking to sheets and a lot of pain. I still wanted to go to the track though, because even if I wasn’t competing, my team mates were. In many ways I want them to succeed as much as I want to, so it was nice to support them in any way I could. I also was interviewed after tweeting the picture of the splinters and realised they were in fact pretty big bits of wood. At times it was hard to watch all the events because I would have loved to have got stuck in, but these things happen and I’m assured my time will come. After all, everything happens for a reason.

Nationals wasn’t what I had hoped for in many ways, but in others it was. I definitely learnt a lot, and had a variety of new experiences. And if nothing else it’s one hell of a story.

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2 thoughts on “A&E/Nationals

  1. You have the attitude of a fighter and a winner. Keep it up and you will succeed.


  2. Milly, an absolute brilliant blog, a true inspiration. I’m probably repeating big Mike’s words of ‘ no pain, no gain’. A true testament to determination and courage. Keep up the good work.


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