Getting my track legs back in the Olympic Velodrome
Going to the Olympic Velodrome is weird. I feel like we should get on a plane and fly off somewhere to get to the Games.
A track is a track, and as a team pursuit rider I'm on the track a lot. But the London Olympic Velodrome is special.
From the outside, driving in, it looks good. The track feels good, too. It's similar to Newport's velodrome, which is handy as we'll have a holding camp there before the Olympics.
Each track is built slightly differently - longer straights maybe, or bigger bends - and the Olympic Velodrome is like Newport in that it has the same shape, except perhaps not as steep and a little more round.
With Ed Clancy, Steven Burke and Pete Kennaugh in the Olympic Velodrome. Photo: Getty Images We had our first training session a few days ago ahead of this week's Track World Cup, which is also the Olympic test event. We got there early so we would have time to soak things up, see the building and take a look at the scenery.
With Ed Clancy, Steven Burke and Pete Kennaugh in the Olympic Velodrome. Photo: Getty Images
We had our first training session a few days ago ahead of this week's Track World Cup, which is also the Olympic test event. We got there early so we would have time to soak things up, see the building and take a look at the scenery.
But this week is hard. It's the Olympic track and everyone wants to ride it, and that means so many teams have come to the World Cup that things can get quite busy, especially in the team pursuit.
It's exciting to see everyone here, but hard to get that feel for it when you have to keep your wits about you. If you go ploughing into the back of somebody, with more guys behind you, it can be dangerous.
Some things here could improve. The hotel, if we're honest, does a job but could be a lot better. It's little things. Sometimes I feel as though everything here is broken - the internet, the sauna - and you wouldn't expect that from London.
Those little things can make a difference. If you have the internet then you have a way to kill 15 minutes, replying to emails to take your mind off things, reminding you that you have a life and it's not all about one race.
And I find the sauna really helps me. I tend to bloat up sometimes, so before Beijing we got these electrode things which measure fluid retention in your body. If I had a sauna and a good sweat, the figures stayed down and my track performances reflected that.
That makes the sauna useful for me, so I've even got a portable one in my house. It's a small tent with a kettle-type thing and a pipe that my girlfriend bought me for Christmas. That was a hell of a present. Now, I wish I'd brought it with me.
My track legs are coming back and it's good to start going quick again, but I still have a lot more to come. As I do more on the road and start racing, my form is going to come up and up. I have a lot more track time ahead of me, too - I've only really had two weeks up until now. Even though we had a boot camp over the winter, I was ill for half of it.
But racing-wise there are potentially only four flat-out rides in competition, with a number on my back, remaining before the Olympics: two here at the World Cup, and two at the World Championships.
That's why so much emphasis is placed on this event. All the good teams are here and this is important for every one of them; we all want to do well and, psychologically, it feels great to beat other teams.
Throughout the winter we saw good team pursuit times posted by the Aussies, the Kiwis and the Russians, but they were always on their own without there being another good teams up against them. It will be good to get a sense of each other now.
We have talked about 2012 for ages but, beyond this weekend, I have the Paris-Nice road race, the track World Championships in Melbourne, the Giro d'Italia and then it's the end of May. Two months, and we're there.
Even in November the Olympics seemed far away. Now it's 2012 and I've started racing, it feels so much closer.
This is my sixth year as a pro and it feels like I've only just started, it is crazy how quick the time goes. Before you know it, we're at the Games and it's all over.
I'm going to be 26 come the Games and in my prime on the track. Between now and then, it's worth giving it everything.