Today’s the day we make the journey from Manchester to our camp in central Portugal – near Coimbra. I absolutely hate travel days, if there was an invention meaning they could be avoided to get wherever I want with a click of the fingers, I’d be the first customer. In fact I’ll do the test runs.
Today’s travel day is set to be worse than usual because Manchester airport was closed most of the day yesterday and thousands of people were left stranded. There was a fuel issue which grounded all flights, and was eventually sorted early this morning, but with an early flight to Lisbon, I arrived at the airport to join all of yesterday’s flights and all of today’s.
I’ve actually been pretty lucky. In my years of travel for training camps, competition and holidays, there’s only 1 cancelled flight I can remember. It was July 2017 and we were flying to Anadia, Portugal for the U23 European championships. We arrived at check in to be told that our flight had been cancelled and that we wouldn’t be flying until tomorrow. It was the first ever competition that we’d decided to fly in late to, so that we could make use of the extra track time in Manchester instead of use the limited practice at competition. Even though Manchester airport was 2miles from my house, we stayed in the airport hotel, caught the next flight out and arrived at the competition with 1 day to go til racing. I then went on to puncture during our only Team Pursuit training effort so we didn’t get an actual dress rehearsal. To top it off, I crashed in the very first race of competition (Elimination race), fractured my ribs, sustained concussion and ended up overnight in hospital, where I had a small surgery to remove wood fragments that were lodged in my side just below my ribs, and causing me debilitating pain. The next day I had to get into kit and roll off the start line of the Team Pursuit so that the team could start. We only traveled as a team of 4 and they couldn’t start unless I did the first half lap. I was also set to race the Omnium and Madison, so was pretty devastated to be on the next flight home. Even though I actually got up off the floor after my crash and went onto become U23 European Elimination Champion, the trip still sits at the bottom of the favourites pile. That race taught me mind over matter though. Hours after racing, my coach was pushing me round in a wheelchair at the hospital because I could barely move, but during the race I felt nothing. I wanted so badly to race and to win, I managed to block out the severe amount of pain I was in and still come out on top.
Anyway, back to today’s travel day and I’m still stood in the same queue- pre check in, roughly 10m further forward than half an hour ago when I started writing this post. Hopefully by the time you’ve read this I will be in my hotel room in Portugal. But with an hour to go til take off, mine and Ellie’s tradition of breakfast at the airport before we fly, is probably out of the question.