When the AOC approached me to write a series of monthly blogs in the lead-up to *hopefully* making the Rio Olympic Games, I agreed, feeling it would be a great way to force me to get back into blog-writing and essentially keep on top of my website. All went well for 5 months or so, until the real summer of cycling began. On November 28, the Australian Track Cycling Team flew to New Zealand for the second round of the World Cup Series, which was my first major competition of the track season.
This event was a great success for the women’s track endurance squad. We sent a group of six riders over, with the aim of winning the Team Pursuit (TP) against the likes of Canada, New Zealand and USA. I was also riding the Omnium and had hoped to come home with a solid podium after a heavy 2-month training block in Adelaide. We did just that. I rode the first round of the TP, in second wheel with Ash Ankudinoff, Amy Cure and Georgia Baker but was taken out to focus on my omnium the following day. Bella King joined the girls who rode a great second round, and backed up in the final to win in a time of 4:18.213, .054 ahead of the consistently strong Canadians. It was such a thrilling final, which made us work hard and really come together as a team. When it’s so close between each team, your decisions during the race become so important. It’s not just four people doing the same work. Each wheel is different. Wheel’s one and two require more power to get the team up to speed, but this often zaps their back end. Wheels three and four are often asked to help out in the second half of the four kilometres, which is where you’ll see them pulling longer turns, sometimes up to 2.5 laps in length. You also don’t know how each person is going to feel on race day, so you have to feel the pace in your legs. If you can feel a teammate dropping the pace, you might have to get them to shorten their turn and essentially increase yours if you have the legs. Once the pace goes down it takes a lot of work to bring it back up, so it’s vital to work together to make it the smoothest ride possible.
We had hoped to win slightly more comfortably, however it was still a win. My omnium was also a success, with a second place to accompany my TP gold. I always go in to win a bike race, and I’m never truly satisfied if I don’t, however it was a pretty solid performance and I took home confidence that our training was working; we were on the right track.
December came and went in a flash. Two more weeks of solid training were had before a speedy Christmas disappeared before our eyes. Boxing Day saw my brother Alex and I head to Tasmania for our annual Christmas Carnival trip, racing in 6 different locations over 7 days. This is always a nice week as it’s a chance to pin the number on in a relaxed environment. It’s so easy to lose yourself in the intensity of racing, that sometimes it’s nice to take a step back and have a bit of fun. Not worrying about warming up quite as hard, trying some new race tactics, and spending time with other cyclists from interstate.
January saw the Australian Track Endurance Squad return to Adelaide and get back into the swing of training. After a couple of weeks, I had the opportunity to swap my track bike for a road bike and join my road team, WiggleHigh5 who had ventured out to Australia for the Tour Down Under. This is a special race for me, given it’s not just a chance to race in Australia, but a chance to race right here in Adelaide, on the roads I’ve grown up riding on, in front of a home crowd. It was refreshing to see some faces I hadn’t seen since the Road World Championships back in September.
The TDU was awesome. It’s getting bigger and bigger each year for the men, but even more so for the women. This was the sixth year they’ve had racing for the women, but the first time it’s been classed as an International “UCI” event. We therefore saw five international teams fly over to join the Australian domestic teams, boosting the quality of the racing. This year the tour was raced over four days, with two, 100km road races and two shorter ‘criteriums’; circuit races, usually lasting 30-60 minutes in length. Day one was pretty solid on an undulating course in the Adelaide Hills. Katrin Garfoot from Orica-AIS won the first stage and eventually went on to win the overall tour, whilst my teammate Dani King claimed 3rd in the first stage and 4th overall. Due to my track training, I was suited to the two criteriums on days 2 and 4, and was lucky to have the team’s support to go for the win. After a textbook race and leadout from my WiggleHigh5 teammates, I managed to take the win (with teammate Chloe Hosking 2nd) and steal a 2nd on the final day. This was really important to me and I was so thankful to my team for giving me the opportunity to win in front of my home crowd.
Two easy days later and I was back with my track girls, with ten days to go before the Track National Championships! It really has been a summer of madness. The Track Nationals kick off tomorrow from the 3rd-6th of February in Adelaide . Performances here will greatly influence our chances of making the team for the Track World Championships which are held in London at the start of March, so tune in to my next entry to see how it all goes! Fingers crossed!