This Summer Millie joined a number of other Riderz and Scottish Cycling for their assault on the UEC Youth MTB Championships in Pila, Italy. This is her story…

First of all I want to say thanks to everyone who helped get me to this competition and everyone who helped me while I was there. Millie Shuttleworth

Day 1

Having woken up at 0400 IN THE MORNING. Me and my mum threw our last things in the van and headed for Edinburgh airport, stopping on the way to pick up my teammate, Gregor and his dad Graeme – my soon to be team captain. In the airport we met my other teammate, Andrew and his dad, Duncan. We also ran into my friend Sophie’s dad, she was already in Pila but her dad had had to work so was flying out with us. We took off around 0840 and during our flight I read my book, watched some TV and did some homework and we landed around 1200. After we had set off to for Pila I started to get nervous, worrying about letting the team down. But I also got excited and I couldn’t wait for the morning when I would get to see the course.

At dinner I planned with my mum what I wanted her to do during the races and discussed what I’d need at the pits, it helped me calm my nerves if I knew we were prepared. At 2000 we had a briefing, first of many. Paul Newnham (lead coach from Scottish Cycling) told us, ‘Tomorrow we will do a course practice, starting up the top at 0830 and you will do 2-3 laps then have 4-5 hours to clean yourself and your bike before the tech workshop where we’ll do M-checks ready for the TT on Tuesday. That night I played pool with everyone and gave myself plenty of sleep for the big day ahead.

Day 2

Too much time to think
Nervous Before Practice

Having had a great sleep, I was ready to ride. I took the gondola up to the Scottish cycling tent before the older ones who took the road which gave me much too much time to worry about the course. We set off in two groups, U16 boys and everyone else, I soon realized I was right to worry there was nowhere to rest, it was all either super steep up hills or techy A-lines. I didn’t ride all the A-lines but the ones I didn’t I knew with some practice I could get them so I wasn’t too worried. However on the second last A-line, of my first lap. DISASTER. On the A-line ‘rock garden’ (they all have names) I crashed. Another rider stopped halfway along, I gave them time to move but they didn’t, so I figured “if I’m riding towards them they’ll move”.

I was wrong.

They didn’t move I went too far to the left, planted a wheel and ended up crashing off a drop. I lay on the B-line in pain for a minute or so before my coach told me we should go up to the tent so he could do a proper first aid check. One of the parents is a GP and he checked me then agreed with my coach, Jason, that it was probably muscular and that I wouldn’t need an x-ray. The advice from everyone was even if I did want to go to the doctors I should wait for the swelling to go down. I rested for the rest of the day, hoping I would be able to race the next day. I was terrified that I would be in too much pain to race or even ride in the TT. That night I went to bed early as I hadn’t ridden the TT course yet.

Day 3

I woke up at 0630 so I could get up to Pila and my mum wasn’t allowed to come in case she distracted me when I was trying to ride my bike. I got on the bike and immediately collapsed onto the handle bars as soon as I put any weight through my left arm. I persevered through the pain until I could ride my bike on the tarmac however as soon as I hit any bumps I’d collapse.

I had a discussion with my coaches and they said that the race on Saturday was more important so I would find out the consequences of me not racing, which turned out to be disqualification from the relay. I HAD TO START, so I did but it was extremely sore. After I had done around a third of the course one of the marshals told me that I was obstructing other riders and that I didn’t need to finish. When my friends and teammates congratulated me I felt like I didn’t deserve it.

Rule "A Competitor must start and finish with their machine"

We were then advised to try and find a physio. Me and my mum headed up to the top to ask the organisers if they had anyone on site, they didn’t but just as we turned to leave a coach from the Swiss team asked us if we need a physio and that his team had one with them. We arrived after an uncomfortable walk at the Swiss team’s hotel. We weren’t seen straight away because she had a Swiss rider in we didn’t have to wait long though the woman turned out to be a masseuse not a physio but she was still very helpful. We returned to the apartments none the wiser as to what I’d done.

Day 4

Despite the relay not being until the afternoon, I woke up at 0745. I went up to the top of the gondola s we had an appointment with Gabrielle the ‘physio’. She taped me up and said she was coming to the races so she’d cheer us on. After that I tried riding my bike again and found that I could ride over small rocks and bumps. Despite the fact that I wouldn’t be able to ride a lot of the course I really wanted to finish. So that’s what I did.

Cycling on the flat was bearable. JUST.

I managed to ride about a third of the course and had to run/walk the rest. By the time I had finished they had already started to pack up the course. After lunch Jason gave me a lift down in the van as I didn’t feel fit to ride down on the road and my mum’s car was full. We had yet another briefing after dinner and then I played pool and ate ice lollies for the rest of the night.

Day 5

I woke up after a nice lie in at 0900, I got a lift up with my mum and whilst waiting for the start of Emily’s (one of the other Scottish riders) race I went to the event shop and bought a lot of socks. I watched Emily’s race and she did amazing but got eliminated in the semi-finals. I had to go and visit Gabrielle for another appointment at 1200 which was helpful but the appointment itself was very sore. That evening Sophie, Beatrix and I finished our course briefing ready to be handed in at the group meal. After the meal we had yet another briefing but there was good music playing and I was busy singing along in my head to really listen to what Paul was saying. We all played pool and planned for our day off before heading to bed at 2300.


Day 6

I woke up with plenty of time to get up to the top in time for photos, whilst eating our breakfast the dad who’s a GP messaged my mum asking if he could take a look at my arm again. He told us it would probably be best if we went to the hospital before the race. We went for photos then as soon as they were done went down to the hospital. We were waiting for less than 20mins before they called me through, sadly it was only so they could take my blood pressure and assess my injury. After another 30 or so minutes we were taken through to a nurse who asked me again about how I’d hurt it and other details. We were then told to follow the yellow line to the x-ray where we waited for less than 5mins before I was taken for an x-ray. We returned to the nurse who said “it’s broken, follow blue line.” So we did.

Broken arm made my hair straight! (Photo might have been taken once we got home!)

After about an hour we saw a doctor who told us that I had broken the head of my humerus and she gave me a very serious looking sling to wear. We went back to the accommodation and were met by some very surprised and impressed expressions. I played pool until dinner which me and my mum had in the restaurant just in time to go to the briefing. During the briefing I was named, bravest girl in Italy and I got 2nd place for my profile. I played one handed pool, surprisingly winning some games before I went to bed a 2330.

Day 7

I woke up in a bad mood at 0730 so I could help set up in the pits for the under 15 boys and under 15 girls race. Before the under 17 girls race I wished Sophie luck despite being very jealous that she could race. I returned to the pits and stood at the A-line nearby to cheer, staying there throughout the boys under 17 race so I could cheer on my teammates. Helping to pack up afterwards. I kept wishing I hadn’t crashed throughout all four races and that I too could race or even ride down on the road with everyone else. After the group meal Sophie and Beatrix left at 2000 with two of the boys. I went to the games room and played pool and talked until 0030.

Day 8

I woke up at 0200 which kinda defeated the point in going to bed. We put our last bits and pieces in the car and set off. As we drove down the hill I was sad to leave but still excited about the experience.

This isn’t over Pila.

To be continued…


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