Matthew Running – YTOS 2016

This Youth tour of Scotland was my first and last ytos. I was very excited as I had great teammates and I was looking forward to the new experience. The first stage was a long road race where we would have to warm up at the school (in which we were staying) and then cycle down to the start line which only took 15 minutes. Despite Andrew (our coach) planning everything down to the last minute, the race started roughly 20-40 mins late which meant the effect of everyone’s warm up was gone. As the race started on the first lap I was able to stay and move up the bunch, however as soon as we hit the climb there was a crash and I got held up by it. During the climb I managed to get in a group that was working well together. The race officials decided to stop the race so everyone could get back together. They stopped the race for roughly another 10-15 minutes. When the race started again the peloton was much faster and as a result of this I got dropped and was in a group with Scott. Our group was working well but a few laps in Scott wasn’t feeling well and then threw up. I was then stuck in a group that I didn’t know anyone. About half way into the race between my left shoulder and my neck I started getting a massive pain which made it really hard to ride, no matter what position I was on the bike. I then dropped of the group I was earlier comfortable with. I raced the rest of the race with a huge amount of pain but I was able to finish, which was a personal achievement for me. It didn’t help that our warm down was cycling up a hill but such is life.

The second day was a team time trial and then a road stage on the same course. During the warm up my neck pain was present but I was going to see how it felt during the TTT. Our starting time was delayed but when we did get started, Scott got us off at a good pace, then I continued it, with Douglas and Frasers after. The more I rode, the worse the neck pain got. I then dropped off and shouted I was dropping to inform my teammates. I wasn’t far off finishing from them but we set a good time. My neck pain on the other hand became unbearable. I had a talk with Andrew and even though I didn’t want to, I withdrew from the race. I didn’t like the decision but it was to make sure I didn’t get a permanent or serious injury as it was only the start of the season. I spent the next two stages as the team ‘mascot’. The third stage I watched from the side as Douglas, Fraser and Scott all raced. They were all able to stay in the bunch for the first few laps until a crash and a restart which took forever. The peloton then started much quicker and they split up. When walking round the course, Scott got an unlucky puncture, in which I helped him, even though he had to wait for ages to get it changed as the car was nowhere to be seen. All my teammates put a great performance in.

The final stage was at the school and the conditions were horrible. I stayed to watch and support my teammates. The race started off really fast and Douglas was right in the middle of the bunch, while Fraser and Scott were in separate groups. When walking around the course, during the race, Douglas just disappeared, I saw Andrew and asked if he saw Douglas, which he also had not. It turned out Douglas’ bike broke during the race. Fraser and Scott both finished and put in strong performances.

Despite not finishing, I enjoyed the experience of the youth tour. I enjoyed the stay at Strathallan School, the cycling, the workshops and just the overall experience. I want to say thank you to Andrew who was a fantastic coach and a well done to Fraser, Scott and Douglas who were brilliant teammates and great roommates.

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