Monday afternoon and Australia was the first country to go through the classification proccess which enables athletes to be grouped into competition classes. I was quite anxious going into classification, given that a) I had never been through the process before and b) that I was aware I could be either a H3 or H4. The functional profile between the two classes is similar, the biggest difference is the bikes. An H3 rides a recumbent bike, an H4 rides a kneeling bike. Since I began handcycling 6 years ago I have used a recumbent bike. I have tried a kneeling bike on two occasions and found them awkward, preferring the layback recumbent style for ease of access and use.
The classification process at the international level involves three classifiers; a doctor, technical and functional assessor, and each has a protocol to follow that results in a classification. In my case, I was classed as a H4, which means I will be unable to compete in these World Championships. Fundamentally because I do not have a kneeling bike that I could ride in.
This decision was one that I, the team management and coaching staff were aware could happen, and I have been extremely appreciative of the support they have all given me. They have recognised what a blow it is for me not to be an H3 and therefore unable to race.
Following some careful negotiations with the event organisers, my team managers were able to secure a start for me in the Time Trial that would be unrecorded but effectively would allow me to race the course. It is spectacular!
It is now Thursday afternoon and the Time Trial has been and gone. And it was awesome! I don’t know the final times and placings but I know that I gave it absolutely everything and there was nothing left in the tank as I came across the finish line. Here are some basic stats that I down loaded from my polar watch (nb they are not official!): 22.3km course which included several hills, one of 1km long. Completed the course in 43mins 59sec, with maximum heart rate of 187, average heart rate 178, maximum speed of 72.5km/h, and average speed of 30.4km/h.
It was a great experience and I am so thankful that I have had the opportunity to be part of it and learnt so much about what is involved in being part of an international event.
I now have quite a daunting task ahead to make the transition from a seated to kneeling bike. However given today’s experience I am so motivated to make every endeavour to achieve that transition.
Thanks for all the support and emails!