Jenny Holl and five other cyclists are keeping rider journals for The British Continental this season. The 20-year-old Scot is currently in her third and final year at the Great Britain Cycling Team Senior Academy rider. This is Jenny’s first journal entry…
I spent years pootling round off the back on my own, losing laps left and right
So, I’ve been struggling a bit with what to write for this first journal entry. The year isn’t really in full swing yet so there’s not masses going on. With that in mind, I figured it would be good to use this first blog to tell you a little about me. I’m pretty aware that most of you reading this are road riders or fans of road racing. You’re not, therefore, going to have a clue who I am, so I’ll give you some details. Where to start?
I am on the Great Britain Cycling Team Senior Academy, which is British Cycling’s under-23 endurance squad. Besides track, we do road racing as Team Breeze, which people might know if they follow the National Road Series or the Tour Series. Being on the Academy means one of our big annual targets on the track is the under-23 Euros, which falls slap-bang in the middle of the road season. This means my year tends to look a bit different to that of most riders, which hopefully I’ll be able to tell you a little more about as the year goes on.
A bit of early background information. I’m from Scotland and I’ve been racing since I was 10, doing the thing everyone in Scotland seemed to do at that point of starting with mountain bike and cyclocross, adding the road after a few years, and finally hitting the track. I was pretty terrible when I started, and I’m really not just saying that. I was bad, like very bad. All our races when I was little were run with the boys, so I spent years pootling round off the back on my own, losing laps left and right.
I was pretty lucky when I got onto British Cycling’s Junior Academy. In fact, I’d say I’ve been pretty lucky with a few selections over the years. I certainly know I wouldn’t have had the same opportunities on the track that I have had without being on the Academy programme. I’ve been to one world championships and four European championships with British Cycling. And I’ve raced or trained in about 13 countries. It has been pretty incredible so far.
Having something to study … has been great for distracting me, particularly at times when things on the bike aren’t going totally to plan
Alongside cycling, I’m also doing a degree in Humanities with the Open University. I was never that bothered with a backup plan for cycling while I was at school, which definitely frustrated my Mum. But I found that during my first winter in Manchester I just had a bit too much free time around my training. Having something to study in this time has been great for distracting me, particularly at times when things on the bike aren’t going totally to plan. Doing it part-time means that I can keep on top of it, even when I have days where I’m so tired from training that I don’t even glance at any work. I say I keep on top of it. Any of my teammates would be able to tell you whenever I have an essay due; I will spend the whole day complaining and panicking that I won’t get it done on time. And then I’ll finally send something off with the mentality of ‘screw it, handing in something rubbish is better than nothing at all’. It’s worked pretty well for me so far. Famous last words?
Other than that, I don’t really do an awful lot. I try to avoid cooking, instead passing that job off to my boyfriend, he’s much better at it than me. I take way too many photos of my dog (although that is a matter of opinion), I’m sure she gets quite annoyed at me. I’ll spend the rest of my time drinking coffee, watching Netflix or just generally being tired from training. And that sums me up.
Little side note: I wrote most of this before national track champs, but I am aware that as I’m finishing it up just now, nationals have been and gone. I’m currently just going to ignore that and will maybe give a bit more insight into the nationals weekend in the next journal entry.
Featured photo: Simon Wilkinson/SWpix.com. Jenny Holl at the 2019 HSBC UK British Cycling National Madison and Omnium Championships, Derby Arena, Derby
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