Consistency is often the key to success for athletes across the globe, but when they hit a rich vein of form at the same time the results can be remarkable.
One such case in 2018 saw prolific 53-year-old veteran Jackie Field storm up the women’s national rankings table to third place. Frazer Snowdon reports.
For a fourth year in a row the CC Ashwell rider won the veteran women’s category in the Classic Time Trial Series with a maximum 240 points, which gave her ranking points a great early season boost.
In the Veterans Time Trials Association Best All Rounder competition, she won the women’s title and also became the first woman to win overall, beating all the male entrants too.
But she added to that with some other remarkable performances, culminating in second place at the National 12-Hour Championship where she was only bettered by Alice Lethbridge, who set a new competition record that day.
“Jackie’s performance at the National 12 was outstanding,” said Lethbridge. “I knew she would ride well as she’s really strong over 100 miles, but to be honest I hadn’t expected 273 miles from her on her first attempt.”
Field’s journey began around seven years ago when, like many before her, she was told to give up running because of knee problems. She bought a bike, joined her local club, and started riding cyclo-cross events initially before trying time trialling and discovering her forte.
“It’s a great sport,” said Field, from Cambridgeshire. “With the age group structure there’s always a competition to enter and something to aim for.”
Her desire to keep things fresh and try new things means that she may not be travelling so far in 2019, after racking up more than a thousand miles last season in attending all six rounds of the Knight Composites Classic Series which took her to Scotland and the Lake District among other locations.
“I’m not really sure about 2019 yet,” she said. “I fancy trying something new. I’m going to train and see how it all goes before I commit to anything.”
It would be hard for her to top her 2018 feats.
As well as second in the National 12-Hour Championship she was fifth in the National 100-Mile Championship, and was first female veteran at five of the six rounds of the Knight Composites Classic Series, as well as placing fourth overall in four of the rounds.
“2018 has been totally amazing, easily my best season,” said Field. “I can remember at the start of the season when I did the first two rounds of the Knight Composites Classic Series it felt like it had been a bit of a slow start.
“I wondered if I would be as good as I had in previous seasons. But thankfully things picked up, and winning the VTTA BAR was a total surprise because it wasn’t something I was targeting.
“I hadn’t thought about doing a 12-hour, but I spoke to Alice at the circuit championships and she encouraged me to have a go. I’m so glad she did!”
Lethbridge was quick to heap praise on Field and her performances, adding: “Her performance at the National 12 was incredible, it beat the best distances recorded by people like Jill Wilkinson and Jasmin Muller who specifically targeted this distance for several years, and puts Jackie third on the all-time list!
“I really hope she has another go because I think she can beat Beryl’s record too. The National Championships were on a fast course and it was a good day, but it could have been better as the wind made it really challenging so Jackie can definitely go further.”
Knee problems aside, few would bet against Field riding another 12-hour event. And if the conditions are on her side who knows what she could achieve?
But she hesitated to detail plans for next season, adding: “I want to keep going as long as I can, but I need a new knee at some point. As long as I can cycle I will keep going. I needed a new knee about eight years ago, and they said they would do it whenever I wanted.
“I don’t know if I will continue cycling after the operation. It depends on how much bend I can get back in it. But I’m not there yet, so I will just keep pushing on. I would like to think I could carry on for a long time. But I’m going to hold out on the operation for now. It probably won’t be this year.”
* All reports are copyright of Cycling Time Trials/Snowdon Sports. Not to be used without permission.