I went to the Alps, thanks to the support from Ride for Charlie, to get some experience racing against a European field.
I was racing in two races whilst away, in the youth category – an Italian International Series race and a Swiss Bike Cup. In between these, I had the opportunity to train with the Junior GB and Scottish Cycling teams in Pila, which was great as I got a glimpse of what it would be like to be part of the Junior Programme. Whilst I was there I was also able to practice the course for the European Youth Mountain Bike Championships which take place in August, as well as get some good training in.
In the races, I had a challenge from the start as I was always gridded at the back due to having no series points. I managed to move up quickly in the Italian race and broke away with one other boy on the first lap. We stayed together for almost 3 laps but I started struggling partially due to the heat and altitude, and dropped back. I was overtaken by one other boy on the last lap and finished in 3rd, a result I was really happy with and started my week off well.
I had a good start to the Swiss Cup, moving up from 86th to top 15 in the first part of the lap, but unfortunately crashed and seemed to lose my rhythm and energy and struggled from there on. I learnt a lot from this race especially though, and this should really help me for when I go back to Pila for the European Championships. I know to try not to give too much at the start and be unable to recover.
None of this experience would have been possible without the help from Ride For Charlie and hopefully I can learn so much from this in memory of Charlie.