Olympic selection for Neah Evans means one or two pressing family matters will have to be attended to.
Firstly, there is what to do with her pet whippet, Figaro. He will either have to stay with her fiancé, fellow cyclist Jonathan Wale, or be decamped to her parents house in rural Aberdeenshire for an extended holiday.
Then there is a potential scheduling conflict when the women’s team pursuit takes place in Tokyo. Her father, Malcolm, may well be able to watch but her mother Ros – a former Winter Olympian and international orienteer – could have an orienteering championship on at the time.
“My mum does quite a bit of orienteering and I think she’s signed up for a big championship that weekend, so she’s got a little dilemma,” said Evans, who hails from Cuminestown near Turriff. “But my dad will definitely watch.
“Hopefully my fiancé Jonny is going to be looking after the dog. If not, he’s going to go for his Aberdeenshire holidays. My parents have dogs, so he’ll have a great time.
“I’ll be completely honest: selection is one of these things that was never certain. I know on paper I’ve had a really good record and training has been going well. But you’ve still got the doubt that British Cycling has got so many top-class riders and they’re only taking five.
“It’s hard to get selected, so I was never complacent that I’d got it in the bag. When I found out I’d got selected it was quite a big relief.”
The timing has worked out just right for Evans. She was a latecomer to international sport, giving up her career as a veterinarian in 2017 to pursue cycling full-time.
A landmark time in her career came in 2018, as part of Team Scotland at the Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast. She won silver in the scratch race and bronze in the points race in the velodrome, while also doubling up and competing in the road race.
Since then, Evans has become an indispensable part of the team pursuit squad. GB have claimed the women’s team pursuit title at the last three European Championships, while Evans took the individual pursuit gold in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, last year too.
The delay of the Games by a year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, has come at the perfect time in her career.
“I’ve been really fortunate with the opportunities I’ve had, the time windows of where I’ve been in my career. I’ve had ups and downs, every athlete does, but overall it’s been a real upward trajectory.
“I know a couple of other people from other nations who have retired; with the year’s delay they couldn’t do it any more.
“Obviously I would have liked it to have gone ahead last year but it’s worked out pretty well for me.”
There will not be a familiar, jovial atmosphere around the Athletes’ Village in Tokyo, however. A series of strict guidelines have been put in place for competitors, insisting they eat 2m apart or alone, avoid talking in confined places and wear masks at all times.
Olympians also look to set to be forced to quarantine upon arrival in Japan, with any tourist or sightseeing activities essentially off the table.
“Normally you would try get away from the velodrome, away from the hotel and try and switch off. But nothing like that is going to be allowed,” said Evans.
“It’s going to be pretty weird and bizarre but if these are the hoops we need to jump through, fine.
“We’re quite fortunate in that British Cycling are super-organised. They’ve got a logistics manager who will look after things – it’s not like you’re having to fend for yourself.”
Being part of the British Cycling team brings an understanding and expectancy of excellence. Great Britain has topped the medal table at the last three Olympics; in 2008 and 2012 they won 25 medals, going one better in 2016.
Evans ensconces herself in a bubble around race time but does her best to unwind. Being an elite athlete brings its obvious rewards but can lead to an intense, all-encompassing lifestyle.
“Nobody really speaks about life post-Tokyo,” she said. “For most of the girls it’s been a five-year build. For me it’s been slightly different, as I’ve come into the programme a bit later.
“Everything for me very much ends on the third of August. Regardless of the result, afterwards is going to be so flat; you’ve built so much towards these two days and three rides, then it’s all over.
“Normally I’m good at getting a balance. I was doing a masters degree, which helped. But it’s going to be harder when we going into holding camp, as we’re never going to be away from it.
“It’s going to be easy to sucked into thinking ‘everything is cycling’. Everything you do off the bike, can affect how you go on the bike.
“You can have a rest day and say you’re going to relax, but the time you go to bed will affect the cycling. What you eat will affect you the next couple of days.
“It can get exhausting. A lot of people burn out. Until you live that lifestyle, you don’t realise how hard it is to balance. You do need to switch off but then again you can’t really, as all your actions will have consequences.
“It’s such a hard juggle. There’s things that aren’t ideal from a performance point of view – taking the dog for a walk maybe isn’t the best for performance but mentally, it gives me a bit of normality and a change of scenery.
“But coming up to competition, the dog gets shorter walks or someone else takes him. I know I can’t take him out for two hours because that will affect my performance.”
The aim in Tokyo, for the days of racing on August 2 and 3, is to come home with gold. Everything has been geared towards this.
“The last three European Championships we’ve won and for me it’s been building momentum and feeling stronger. The times are coming down; at the Europeans we were so close to the world record.
“It’s quite exciting and it’s no surprise we’ll be trying to break the world record.
“The gold is the hope. British Cycling, on the track at recent Olympics, have been so dominant, there is a huge level of expectation. So we’ll see how that goes.”