Peloton Watch
  Manon Lloyd Blog: Returning from injury and busy block of track racing  
  September 25th 2015 By Manon Lloyd @manonlloyd96  
  After becoming a dual European Junior Champion in the team pursuit and points race in 2014 Welsh talent Manon Lloyd was ready for a strong debut in the senior ranks. A crash and fractured pelvis at the Redditch round of the Tour Series in May forced Lloyd to take 10 weeks of the bike and miss the Under 23 European Championships.

A return to racing at Ride London at the beginning of August lead Lloyd in to a block of track racing in Great Britain, Germany and France to secure points for the 2015/16 UCI Track World Cup season. Lloyd talks the challenge of time of the bike and dealing with injury and a busy block of racing heading in to British Track National Championships.

On the 19th of May was the first Tour series in Redditch and I was really excited to be racing my first crit race of the year. It was a wet one racing in the rain and I soon found out it was a slippery one too. As we started the race, I knew I had to position myself at the front to avoid any crashes, so I was the first one around the first corner. A few seconds later I heard a clatter of bikes behind me as the first crash of the race happened! Good job I was at the front. There was then a big downhill with a sweeping corner followed by an uphill and a sharp left; it was at this corner I came a cropper. I went round the corner way too fast, hit a wet drain cover and wiped out. I just remember lying on the wet floor thinking "well that's the race over for me", I totally forgot about being allowed laps out. I got up put my chain back on and carried riding and when I got to the pits I then remembered about the lap out. I stopped and had a few minutes to sort myself out, at this point I had no idea how seriously I had hurt myself. As the bunch came past I got back into the race and again tried to stay at the front but went around the corners a lot slower haha. After the crash I had a lot of adrenaline, which helped me to pick up a second place in one of the primes and also 8th place over all in the race.

After I finished the race it kicked in how sore I was, the medics came over and cleaned up my cuts. When they were looking at my cuts I had a nerve spasm in my left arm - from my elbow to my fingertips I couldn't move anything. I was worried I had broken it at the time, but the medics assured me it was fine. It took a few minutes for them to massage my hand and get the feeling back in it. After I'd got the feeling back in my arm, we headed back to Wales where I live and train with my teammates. I was very tired after the race but sleeping wasn't pleasant, sticking to the sheets all night and not being able to sleep on the one side wasn't ideal.

The next day we all got up and went out on the bikes as we had 3 hours with hill efforts. As soon as I swung my leg over to get on my bike I knew something wasn't right, but at the time I just thought I was sore after the crash, as it's always worse the day after. As we rode through the town, getting started at traffic lights was one hell of a mission. It was very painful to get out the saddle and sprint. As I wasn't able to do the hill efforts I waited at the bottom of the hill for my team mates feeling guilty not doing the training, but I knew at the time I couldn't manage it. The next day I had booked to see the physio, he gave me a look over and I just thought I was sore after hitting the floor pretty hard. He told me to come back to see him in a week if it was still bad. So the days went on and I carried on training as normal. As part of Thursday's training I did the men's circuit race at Castle Combe. I usually get round easily but not today, I had to pull out because I was getting dropped going out of corners as I couldn't get out the saddle and sprint. After that I had a day off to recover.

A week after my crash it was time to head to Motherwell for the next Tour Series. Surprisingly I got round and got a top 20 in very hard race that saw Katie Archibald nearly lap the field solo. When I got back to Wales I booked to see the physio again and when I saw him, he did some tests on me for anything that could be broken or fractured. I was in quite a bit of pain when he was doing them! He then suggested that I get an MRI scan - I did not like the idea of that. I kept telling him that I hadn't broken or fractured anything because I had raced and trained on it for a week. He insisted I went to get the scan so the same day I went with my house and teammate Emily Nelson. I was really nervous about it, so I was very grateful for the company! I found out that MRI scans aren't for me; I can't stay still for a minute let alone a whole hour! It was horrible. The next day I went to the track for my track session as normal. I had just done an effort behind the motorbike at over 60km/h when my phone rang. It was the physio with the results of my scan. In my head I was pretty positive that the scan would come back fine, but no "Hi Manon, its bad news - as I thought there's a fracture in your pelvis" at the time it felt like everything was over. One minute I was doing 60km/h on my bike then the next I wasn't allowed anywhere near a bike until I was healed.

After I found out that I had a fractured pelvis, I had a total of 10 weeks off my bike. It felt like the longest 10 weeks ever! I was really stupid and kept trying to ride on the turbo. I just didn't want to accept that I couldn't do anything while everyone else was out training, getting stronger and fitter than me. I never knew how hard having an injury and doing nothing was. The only plus side to my injury was that I was able to go home and spend time with my family, who I don't get to see that often. In the back of my mind I kept thinking that the European Track Championships were coming up and they were my biggest target for this year, but my injury came at the wrong time. After many doctor and physio appointments I was finally allowed to get back on my bike.

My first session back I was allowed to do 30 minutes easy on the rollers. The next day 1 hour and then the next was 1 hour 30. I was then allowed back on the road, well not exactly on the road, I did sessions on Maindy outdoor 520m track. When my coach told me I was doing 2x45 minutes behind the motorbike at 45km/h I thought, "oh that will be pretty comfortable…" it was anything but, it was a very hard session. After a few of those sessions I started to get my legs back quickly. I then went out to Mallorca for a week to train in the sun and get some good hours in. Within 14 days of being back on the bike I was doing 5-hour rides. I then started back training in the gym and getting strong again, it took a few weeks for me to pick up where I left off in the gym, but it was good once I started to hit my PB on the leg press again.

My first race back was Ride London, a crit race in the middle of London which a lot of world class riders took part in. I had never been so nervous! It was such a hard race, but I loved every second of the pain of being back racing, I even got my self in a small break!!! Unfortunately, with one lap to go there was a big crash that took out pretty much half the field. I saw the crash happening in front of me and just missed it! Instead I rode into the barrier, thankfully not landing on my hip again. Despite the crash, I came out with many positives from the race and proved to myself that I wasn't as unfit as I thought I was.

My next event was the first round of the Revolution Series in Derby. It felt more like a World Cup as it was such a big event! There was a big emphasis here as it was on the new velodrome in Derby, with many foreign countries being there to qualify points for the World Cups. I was racing the scratch race and the IP on the Friday and then the omnium on the Saturday and Sunday. It was a long weekends racing. The first event was the scratch race, it was all going well and with about 7 laps to go Ciara Horne went for a long one and at the time I thought it would be a good idea to try and follow her, but with about 2 laps to go we were caught by the bunch and I think I rolled in second from last. That race was not good for moral… the last time I race a scratch I would have easily got round and got a pretty decent result at the end. Even I sometimes forget how much time I have had off and expected a lot more from myself so it really got me down. But onwards and upwards to the IP. I surprised myself and got a PB, by 2 seconds!! Finally a positive, it made up for a bad result in the scratch race and I went to bed a happy girl.

Next day and on to the omnium. I didn't have any expectations in the omnium, but it was upsetting not to go as well as I was before my crash. There were some positives in the omnium I managed to do another PB in my IP witch gave me confidence that I was heading in the right direction.

It was soon time to head back to Wales for another weeks training and on to another omnium event in Dudenhofen, Germany. This was a new and exciting experience for me being on an outdoor velodrome, and having World and Olympic champions as my teammates (Laura Trott and Katie Archibald). Racing on Dudenhofen track was a totally new experience for me, first time racing on an outdoor track. The first race was a scratch race due to start at 12, but because of the bad weather the racing didn't start until 3. About 12 laps into the race the heavens opened, and we were called off the track. I was gutted as I was just getting into the race. It rained for an hour and then it look another hour for the track to dry which was not ideal. After a long time waiting around we finally got racing again. Pretty happy with my scratch race, I stuck to my plan and got a decent result.

Manon Lloyd, Katie Archibald & Laura Trott try to stay warm during rain delay at Dudenhofen

In the timed events I didn't know what to expect but I knew that I wouldn't be close to my PB. This is because it would be much slower on an outdoor track with the wind and the concrete surface. The IP didn't quite go to plan… I went out way too fast and died at the end. This happens quite a lot with me and is one thing I really need to work on. The elimination was my best result in the omnium, which makes a change, as it's usually my worst race. I was super super nervous before this race, but had lots of tips and advice from the coach and Laura. I went into the race and got straight to the front. My plan was to stay in first and second wheel for most of the race, which worked well for me. I was happy with my fifth place finish in such a strong field of riders. After the elimination, I was selected to be drug tested. The racing didn't finish until 9:30 and with the drugs test it was a late night for me. This wasn't ideal as recovery between the races is very important.

On the second day, the weather took a turn for the better and the sun was shining. There isn't much to say about the 500m, flying lap or points race. But I was really happy to pick up some points in the points race. I gained a lot of valuable experience from these races and was really looking forward to my next chance to race.

An omnium in Roubaix was up next. I was in a much better place going into this competition so felt a lot more confident in my ability. The racing was really hard with lots of riders from different nations all working together in the bunch races. I was really pleased though as I got a new personal best in all three timed events which shows just how far I've come on since getting back from my injury. I finished with a top 10 position in all three of the bunch races as well so it was a very successful weekend for me!

My next race is the Senior National Track Champs at the end of September at the velodrome in Manchester. Here I will be racing in the IP, Points race, Scratch race and 500m TT where I'm hoping to pick up two new pb's in the timed events, and some top 10s in the bunch races.
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