Jan Birkmyre spills the beans on the Masters World Championships

Janet’s season finishes with a trip to Portugal to race the 2010 Masters World Track Champs, as usual she sets some pretty ambitious goals. She tells us all about it.....


Portugal has never been known as a power nation in the world of Track Cycling and most of the residents in the small town of Anadia, one hour south of Porto, still seem blissfully unaware that they have a world class indoor track on their door step. 


None of the competitors knew what to expect and given that we have been spoiled by the professionalism of the organisation and officials at Manchester and Australia for so many years, it was going to be a hard act to follow.  On arrival at the track there was a distinctive ‘Delhi’ feel about it.  There were no start gates to be seen, no electronic timing strips and getting on /off the track required riding up/down steep ramps from track centre, which was 30 feet below the track itself.  Add to this cold showers and the fact the roof leaked and the riders were wondering just how the week was going to play out.

In the event, despite some rain delays during the sprinting, the racing was well supported and extremely hotly contested.


 Jan Birkmyre TT World Master Champs 2010



At the start of the season, I had set the very highest goals for myself.  I wanted to take all five titles available in my age group (greedy, yes, that’s me all over I am afraid!), and when I saw my form at the European Masters, I added an attack on the 500m TT record (which I already hold) and the flying 200m time as well.


Then, eight weeks out, disaster struck.  I was brought down heavily in a road race, damaging my knee and elbow, but worst of all I separated my shoulder joint.  My pain tolerance was redefined in the weeks that followed.  As soon as I could drive, I threw time and money at getting the shoulder operational for the standing starts, whilst making up for lost time on the bike and also trying to catch up on the work that I had not been able to do in the week after the fall.  On several occasions, I came close to pulling out, checking the cancellation policy for Brittany Ferries and the hotel reservation that I had made so boldly months back.


Now, that all seems faintly ridiculous.  I took all five titles in my age group (40-49 years) – 500mTT, Pursuit, Scratch, Sprint and Points – dominating the bunch races that included all age groups from 35 to 49 (I am squarely in the middle of that).  I missed out on bettering my 500m TT record, but I was still a full second faster than any other woman at the championships, regardless of age.  I also did not make an impression on the 200m record, but again was the fastest woman in the competition and given the preparation, I cannot feel too sore about that.  My legs are telling me that I worked hard and so for now, I will enjoy some down time before thinking about the winter ahead.



Jan Birkmyre World Champs podium

Jan Birkmyre sporting gold in the middle


Thanks as always to my husband, the best ‘pit bitch’ in track centre!  He worked tirelessly for me all week, setting up the bikes, rubbing my legs, walking the line, feeding me delicious For Goodness Shakes!  He also helped a huge number of competitors (some days it feels like he is like neutral service to the championships) all of whom went out of their way to tell me how knowledgeable and helpful he is – ‘I know, I told them, that’s why I married him!’



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