Elinor Barker is thinking back to the 2012 UCI Track Cycling World Cup at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome.
“I’d never been in a velodrome so loud before and I still can’t find the words to describe the experience,” says Barker. “I’d also never ridden in front of a home crowd before except for junior races where it’s about 12 people.”
It was the first international cycling event to be held in the brand-new facility and Elinor was named in the British Team Pursuit trio, alongside reigning world and Olympic champions Laura Trott and Dani King.
It was a case of nerves and excitement.
“I was kind of star struck. To be in the same team as them was a really weird feeling.”
It was a winning start for her senior career on the track, which continued at the UCI Track World Championships in Minsk, Belarus.
Standing on top of the podium wearing the rainbow jersey and a Gold medal around her neck, Elinor had come a long way from Maindy Flyers Cycling Club where her career had begun eight years earlier.
Barker’s route into cycling came almost by accident. Attending swimming lessons at the local club with her sister Megan, the pair saw cyclists finishing up their training sessions as they were leaving.
“We’d walk past the track on the way out of the centre and my sister wanted to give it a try. So we did.”
Swimming’s loss was very much cycling’s gain.
There have been no recognisable ‘turning points’ on Barker’s route to becoming a world champion. Enjoyment turned into competition, which then turned into Gold.
“I’ve not really had key moments where I knew that cycling was what I wanted to do – it’s just been a desire to get myself on podiums and get faster and faster times,” she says.
When she first got involved in the sport, the thought of girls wearing Lycra going round in circles on bikes was an alien concept among her friends. Nowadays, her classmates want to hear all about her training and how she is achieving her goals.
“Things have definitely changed for the better and there’s obviously more interest in girls cycling now. I don’t really know why anyone wouldn’t want to get involved – it’s fun, it keeps you fit and gives you the opportunity to meet so many new people.
“Cycling has made me the confident person I am today.”
The next major multi-sport event that she will participate in takes place in the city where her senior career started.
“I’m looking forward to Glasgow 2014. Riding for your country is amazing and I can’t wait to get some Wales kit on and do my best.
“There’s a feel-good factor in Welsh cycling at the moment with Becky James also doing so well, so we’ll be in a good place for Glasgow 2014.”
Barker’s goal for Glasgow 2014?
“To come home with Gold.”