• Small Steps

    Starting Again

    "Some days life is all about your dreams, hopes and visions for the future. But there are some days where life is just about putting one foot in front of the other. And that's ok."

  • The Silver Lining

    When life gives you lemons

    Optimism is a difficult notion to convoke in the midst of adversity, and even more difficult to maintain, when there is little more than a glimmer of light trickling through the faraway exit of the dark, dreary tunnel that is your world. Time is just as capable of harm as it is healing, when days turn to weeks, and all you can do is sit, wait, and watch your progress dwindle away with the minutes. And for six weeks, that is what I did.

  • Ups and Downs

    Life in Kutztown, PA Part 2

    I have been left with a lot more time to play with than I would have liked, due to a few unexpected, and unwelcome, hurdles along my way. Only two weeks after arriving here, and on my nineteenth birthday of all days, I proved the common theory of 'they come in threes' to be incorrect, by way of snapping my chain mid sprint and consequently hurtling head first through the air and into a grass ditch. Number Four.

  • Living the American Dream

    Life in Kutztown, PA

    We are now settled in and beginning our new lives as Pennsylvanians. Having already spent three weeks here last Summer has made it much easier to adapt, along with the incredible hospitality that the locals offer. It seems every citizen of Kutztown is not only willing, but visibly eager, to lend a hand where they can. It is one side of the US that I was oblivious to last year, being part of an organised team, and one that has certainly warmed me to the town and it's people.

  • 24

    Base training at it's best.

    Twenty hours spent doing one thing, irrespective of how enjoyable it would usually be, will in most cases become somewhat tedious toward the end. Even twenty hours of sunbathing on the coast of Tahiti would have a certain degree of monotony once the halfway mark was reached. So when I suggested twenty hours of solid bike riding as a fundraising idea for our U.S. campaign, I struggle to understand why we were so enthusiastic about it.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Small Steps

So here I am, nearly seven months on from my last post, and I cannot decide whether time has moved fast or slow. In one sense, I am exactly where I was in the wake of this strange year, yet in a literal sense, I am somewhere far away - and somewhere I never would have thought I'd be.

A good friend of mine passed on some very pertinent advice to me recently. I have always been one to find the deepest of meanings within the simplest of phrases, but the relevance of these words to the situation in which I have found myself gave me a little more comfort than usual.


"Some days life is all about your dreams, hopes and visions for the future. But there are some days where life is just about putting one foot in front of the other. And that's ok."


Right now, I am putting one foot in front of the other. It has been difficult to shift my scale of progression from one so broad to one as small as a single step, and even more difficult to reassure myself that I am moving forward at all, but each day, each week, each month I can see the start line come a little further into view. 


Most importantly, I am still trying. My dreams, hopes and visions are still there in my mind, though at times they have been masked behind a smokey wall of despondence, and I have no doubt that they will soon be clear and within my reach again. 


Cassie

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Thank You

"Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy." 
- Anne Frank

There are many parts of me that are strong. I've proven to have a lot of will when I've needed it, presumably because there have been times in my life when I have had no choice but to be strong. But there are some parts of me that are not; some parts that are somewhat fragile. And I guess that's all part of being human. We can fight out way through the roughest of storms without an ounce of self-doubt, and yet fall to our knees at something so small, so insignificant - one would allege - as a few spoken words.

And it's often the weakest parts of ourselves that we most fiercely long to be resolute. Perhaps because they are the only weaknesses we've ever known, and we have become so accustomed to our instinctive resilience that we take our strengths for granted, regardless of their contribution to our prosperity. Or perhaps because we cannot help ourselves but imagine what we would be capable of without our own limitations. But we are not by any means perfect. Each of us have our deficiencies, our flaws, our insecurities and vulnerabilities, and no matter how convincing our facade in the public eye, we can never hide these frailties from our own selves.

Every now and then, we come to realise this fact - that until then had been sealed in a vault at the back of our minds; a vault which society had us prepare the day we learned that weakness was not an option -  once again, and the only rational response is to crumble to the floor and allow ourselves to immerse in the years of despair we had chosen to renounce until then. I am not invincible. I am not extraordinary. 

I am tired of trying.

One of my weaknesses has been my capacity for happiness. Or perhaps, more specifically, my understanding of it. A misconception of happiness is the biggest barrier to finding it, because you are essentially searching for the wrong thing. And by finding happiness I, of course, mean finding the place on this earth where life itself brings happiness without any conceited effort. I am still learning where that place may be for me. But what I know for sure is who I want to be a part of it.

I crumbled to the floor today. I could fill the page with the reasons why I no longer felt I could keep the weight of my shoulders above the ground, but in essence, I remembered I was human. I felt the anguish of wasted work, the slow panic of uncertainty and the sickening turbulence of disrupting perspectives, all come crashing down on me, and at that moment, I was defeated.

At a time like that, it takes a great deal of reassurance to pick someone back up. And it's moments such as those that I am reminded of how fortunate I am to have people who love me. And not only love me, but know me well enough to see me in my state of hopelessness and know exactly how to make things better.

No words - Just a hug. An 'it's ok, I've got you' hug.

And with that I felt a bit of hope come back. An unspoken promise that, no matter what adversity I faced, I would never face it alone.



Thank you;
 - Conor and Tavis, for understanding me
 - Mum, for always being there
 - Gary, for your patience and compassion
 - Michael, for giving me a reason to smile
 - Ryan, for knowing what to say
 - Acker, for genuinely caring
 - Racquel, for looking after my trust

“Friendship is always a sweet responsibility, never an opportunity.” 
- Kahlil Gibran

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

The Silver Lining

Optimism is a difficult notion to convoke in the midst of adversity, and even more difficult to maintain, when there is little more than a glimmer of light trickling through the faraway exit of the dark, dreary tunnel that is your world. Time is just as capable of harm as it is healing, when days turn to weeks, and all you can do is sit, wait, and watch your progress dwindle away with the minutes. And for six weeks, that is what I did.

After investing as much time, work and money as I had into my US campaign, it would be the epitome of understatements to say that coming home to a back injury was frustrating, particularly when every attempted treatment seemed to be in vain.

But every cloud has it’s silver lining, and I found mine in the opportunity to review the aspects of my usually frenetic life which had - until then - been overlooked. Seemingly small adjustments began to compound and show progress, and what I lost in six weeks of dormancy, I compensated for with constructive fine tuning of everything else – controlling the controllable, and letting the rest take care of itself.

The interruption also brought about an re-evaluation of my short term focus, as kicking off my training a mere three weeks prior to the Oceania Championships was not sufficient preparation to have my legs in the condition I’d anticipated they would be, when I began what was meant to be my Oceania build up in the states. There is a fine line between optimism and naivety, and I am not one to cross it.

Consequently, the individual pursuit was kicked off the stage and the spotlight shifted to the points and scratch – races which are much more relenting in the case of form deficiency. Fortunately, I had an abundance of base fitness to fall back on, and therefore it didn’t take too long to get back into the routine of pedal turning.

Alas, no amount of base alone is sufficient for the high-intensity, erratic affair that is track cycling – laying the foundations is constructive and crucial, but in no way complete. As a result, I was more than a little underdone heading into the championships. Nonetheless, I took my place on the railing, free from expectations but with my usual incentive, and delivered a decent performance in both races.

It was then a matter of bundling up my bikes in their boxes and skipping across to my favourite side of the ditch. It is with no exaggeration that I say I had been looking forward to the Bundaberg International Cycling Spectacular with great eagerness ever since stepping foot on the plane home from last year’s event. Bundy, in all its unassuming glory, remains my most beloved wee corner of this world. The countryside is beautifully tranquil, the town bustling with matchlessly welcoming locals, infectious smiles and outstanding cafes (Mannas takes the cake with their incredible salmon eggs benedict), and the coastline, with it’s stunning, golden beaches, offers a sunlit paradise only ten minutes away.

My Bundy parents were kind enough to hand me the keys to their lovely home, where I spent the first four days alone (though with the company of my cherished dingoes) , exploring the barren, but enchantingly calm landscapes of rural Bundaberg by bike each morning, and soaking up the sunshine in my own secluded haven all afternoon. Bliss.

The house was soon filled with the addition of three fellow kiwis and our short-term parents’ return from their own little escape in Hawaii, as well as the occasional visit of our gorgeous wee adopted sisters, Olivia and Charlotte. The following week was one of the best I have ever had, surrounded by some of my favourite people, in a beautiful town, and with copious amounts of laughter. Thank you to my besties, Michael and Rac, for making the week unforgettable.

After a test run of the 400m asphalt velodrome at the Wednesday night racing, and a very entertaining Sponsor’s Evening the following night, we were good and ready to set the track alight for the International Cycling Spectacular. Entry numbers had soared by nearly fifty percent from the previous year, and comprised a notable international contingent, including NZ, Germany, Switzerland and Scotland, as well as some of the top young riders from all around Australia. Needless to say, we put on a top notch display for the Bundy locals.

I was very thankful to have my closest friend and dependable team mate, Racquel Sheath (hereby known, for reasons unclear, as the ginger ninja) racing at my side in the Elite Women’s events, and we showed our class with three victories and a number of top three placings, despite being heavily outnumbered. We made a brilliant team with my aggression and lead-outs (and just plain old getting in everyone else’s way) and Racquel’s dominating sprint finishes and elbow-scrapping skills. The Beds’R’Us boys also put on an impressive show, particularly with their valiant ride in the Madison.


I cannot say a big enough Thank You to the Bundaberg Cycling Club, and all of the munificent sponsors of the event, for another incredible experience in my much-loved home away from home. An especially big thank you to Melinda and Darren, Bill and Trish, Peter and Judy, and the town jokers, Sheldo and Juzza, for their matchless benevolence, hospitality and friendship. I miss you all very much already; promise to be back soon.


So where to now?
Next up is the formidable Tour de Vineyards (31st December – 4th January) - a five day tour featuring the daunting Takaka climb of sixteen uncomfortable kilometres, followed by my first attempt at the Elite Road National Championships (11th January) in Christchurch. These two races are somewhat atypical objectives for me, so I’m not sure what to expect. Apart from a great deal of suffering.

Ciao for now,
Cassie


                                                                                            




Saturday, 20 July 2013

Ups and Downs

I could lie and say that - very much like my dining experiences here in the land of supersized portions - my plate has been piled a foot high with all sorts of American adventures, and has left little room for my otherwise frequent blog updates. But the simple truth is, I have been slack.

In fact, I have been left with a lot more time to play with than I would have liked, due to a few unexpected, and unwelcome, hurdles along my way. Only two weeks after arriving here, and on my nineteenth birthday of all days, I proved the common theory of 'they come in threes' to be incorrect, by way of snapping my chain mid sprint and consequently hurtling head first through the air and into a grass ditch. Number Four. 

I walked away mostly unscathed, but another hard hit to the head after two recent concussions meant a week of no pedaling (over $600 USD in medical bills to my insurance provider to receive this prognosis)- and with my seemingly exponential rate of fitness deterioration, I was beginning to feel like for every two steps I took forward, something would throw me three back. Alas, I did the only thing that one can do in that situation but sulk over their misfortune, and shifted my focus to the next achievable goal.

Four weeks in, I found myself moving back into Kutztown University - a result of what would require a long, complicated and dispensable explanation - but the long and short of it is that I am more than content with my new home and fill-in-family - fellow kiwi Patrick Jones, and two rascals from across the ditch, Luke Ockerby and Michael Astell. 

Since then I have done a fair bit of racing, both on the track in Trexlertown, and on the road with the Chesco Grand Prix Racing Series. I struck another run of misfortune during the criterium series, crashing twice in one race, but thankfully came away with little injury to show for it, and threw myself into a long, hard block of training the following week (from which I could swear I am still recovering). 

I still have my head down, ass up, searching through my legs for some decent race form, but I can still feel a little improvement from one week to the next, and at the moment - with my sights set on the 2014 Oceania Championships in November - that is enough for me. 

Bike riding aside... I have been having an awesome time here in the States, with road trips to New York, Dorney and Hershey theme parks, and plans to head off to Niagara Falls tomorrow. Even things as ordinary as post-race trips to the Diner, restaurants with free fry refills, and exploring Walmart, all conduce to the inimitable American experience.

Even so, I would be lying if I said I wasn't feeling the effects of that dreaded homesickness. Less than one month to go before I step foot on New Zealand soil once again, and head straight to the fish and chip shop. But until then, I will be out there making the most of these never-ending, cornfield-lined roads under the forty degree Pennsylvanian sun. 

Cassie

Friday, 7 June 2013

Living the American Dream


I like to live by the philosophy that things will always fall into place. Whether this is a genuine belief, or simply my way of justifying my organisation deficiency, I am unsure. Whatever the case, my first few days in Kutztown, USA have reinforced it.

We arrived in our new hometown after a somewhat flurried few days of travel; it's never easy when you have your weight in luggage to drag along with you wherever you go. This included an overnight stay in Sydney, where, thanks to uninformative Wotif listings, we ended up in a shoebox room with a shower in the cupboard, at a hotel sandwiched between MacDonalds and KFC. Just as well, though, as we were four minutes late for the 9.30am hotel breakfast cut off, and had to weigh up between an empty stomach or a McCafe toasted sandwich to fill the gap. Upon later reflection, the former would have been more satisfying. Alysha and I followed this with what was intended to be a morning walk around the block. But after three left turns, we somehow ended up walking in the opposite direction to our motel, and found ourselves in the Sydney Ghetto.

Real Estate Advertisement in Sydney. Seems legit.
A three hour stop-over in Dallas sounded sufficient - even mundane - before taking into account the two hours it would take to creep our way through the customs line, let alone rechecking our exorbitance of luggage, catching a train to the domestic terminal, and tracking down our gate. As it so happened (and we should have guessed based on prior experience with US airlines) our flight was delayed, and we were left twiddling our thumbs for an hour or two. But nuisances aside, we got here.

As you would imagine, in our jet-lagged, weary state, we were more than ready to collapse into bed and sleep our exhaustion away. So it was hardly satisfying to open the door of our new home for the next ten weeks and be met by vinyl mattresses with no bedding or pillows.

Me sleeping. (reconstructed footage)
The following day was pretty crazy, but long story short we ended up moving out of the University and into an apartment on the main street, primarily because of it's affordability, but also because it feels much more homely than the Uni hostel, which resembled more of a hospital ward that a place to live. When you are spending ten weeks in one place, feeling at home is vital in keeping the morale at a healthy level. We are now settled in and beginning our new lives as Pennsylvanians. Having already spent three weeks here last Summer has made it much easier to adapt, along with the incredible hospitality that the locals offer. It seems every citizen of Kutztown is not only willing, but visibly eager, to lend a hand where they can. It is one side of the US that I was oblivious to last year, being part of an organised team, and one that has certainly warmed me to the town and it's people.

Our first night of racing was cancelled due to rain - it has barely stopped since we arrived, which has not made recurrent bicycle trips to the supermarket all that pleasant - but Alysha and I are eager to hit the track once again and give it a bit of dig.

I have recently been given the honour of partnering up with Steve Brandon, Barbara and Dev Barron of the upcoming Wanganui Pita Pit, as a sponsored rider and employee. I am regretful that I will not be home for the opening of my favourite food store, but I know I have plenty of pitas to come home to once I have finished my job over here. I am so appreciative of the support I am receiving from them, and cannot think of a better store to be backed by.


Because I need both of my arms and legs, I have decided not to fall victim to the notorious roaming charges, and therefore do not have my phone working over here, but feel free to hit me up on Facebook or Viber.

With some luck I will wake up to a sky full of sunshine, as opposed to pouring rain and Alysha's 'WAKE UP, I'M HUNGRY' and get a good day of riding into my legs.

There will be plenty of updates to come.

Cassie



Sunday, 5 May 2013

24

Twenty hours spent doing one thing, irrespective of how enjoyable it would usually be, will in most cases become somewhat tedious toward the end. Even twenty hours of sunbathing on the coast of Tahiti would have a certain degree of monotony once the halfway mark was reached. So when I suggested twenty hours of solid bike riding as a fundraising idea for our U.S. campaign, I struggle to understand why we were so enthusiastic about it.

We had no doubt that it would prove to be a challenge, but we more than underestimated what it would take to spend such a duration turning the pedals around and around, stopping only to refill our pockets with bananas and muesli bars, bathroom stops (though we did not always have the luxury of a bathroom), and at traffic lights.

So at 7pm on Friday night, Maddi and I set off to begin our first of many hours to come, with a naive eagerness that would not last us more than one quarter of the way. Riding throughout the night had its ups and downs. The advantages being that it gives the illusion of riding at least 5km/h faster than you truly are (fuels the morale), the wind was low, and traffic was scarce. Though beginning so late in the night meant that we had already been awake for 10 or so hours and felt the fatigue set in much earlier than we'd anticipated.

Most of the first ten hours is hazy to me now, either because I was so exhausted that I wasn't taking in much of what was happening, or the fact that we were unable to see much more than the fifty metres of road ahead of us, so there truly was nothing but tar, stones and the occasional pothole to wake us from our pedaling coma, that was significant enough to remember. I tend to lean more towards the latter.

At exactly ten hours, Maddi - having regained an ounce of sanity - decided to pull the pin. I didn't argue. She was not in a good way (if you head out Sumner, you will see a small crater in the road where she went BANG).


But I was not particularly enthralled at the idea of riding the remaining half alone, with nothing but my own thoughts for company. Nevertheless, I had a quick change of kit, restocked the pockets and headed back out onto the Christchurch roads.

I have developed a theory that lactic acid is very much like cement, and my legs are the cement mixers. As long as they keep turning around, it just swishes about and doesn't bother me too much. But the second they stop, it sets, and the next thing I know I'm trying to push the pedals around with two lumps of solid concrete where my legs used to be. So even stopping for five minutes at the halfway mark left me feeling very heavy.

The following few hours seemed to fall away pretty fast, but the second the wind picked up my spirit plummeted, along with my average speed, and I had my suspicions that my Garmin was taking two seconds to record every one that I rode. Thankfully I had someone join me at this stage, and refuel my motivation by way of a 'harden-the-f#@k-up-you-weak-b@%#' speech. So thank you to James McCoy for that. (And the shot of whiskey).

At fifteen hours I was alone once again, but the messages of support were flooding in. I was humbled by the amount of support I received, and I found so much more drive seeing how many people had belief in me.

Sixteen hours in, with a major deficiency in caffeine, and when my morale was already dragging along the road behind me, I more or less fell asleep while riding down a quiet street and smashed into the back of a car. (haha). I lay there for half a minute and just sighed at my situation, before pulling myself up of the road, bending my hood back into place, and carrying on my not-so-merry way.

It would have been easy to have raised the white flag at that stage. But the thought never crossed my mind once. I have always been one to work hard for what I want, and will do whatever it takes to meet the expectations I set for myself. I somehow shut out the pain and exhaustion and just focused on where I was riding to next, breaking it up into small pieces so as not to overwhelm myself.

I had two others, Soph and Kate, join me for a while to break the boredom, and soon enough, I had hit the 18 hour mark. It was at this stage that, for reasons I still do not comprehend, I offered to stretch it out to a full twenty hour hours for an extra two hundred dollars. I felt a peculiar mixture of satisfaction and sickening regret when I was taken up on my offer. The two hour countdown became six, and if I hadn't have been in enough pain as I already was, I would have slapped myself in the face.

video

My final four hours were spent alone, in the dark, with a bag of natural confectionery company party mix. The no-doz had well and truly worn off, and apart from a short nap before we left, I hadn't slept for around 35 hours, yet I felt wide awake, and had enough in the legs to climb Mt Pleasant (and faster than I ever have before, might I add.) Apart from the muscles above my knees, I felt almost fresh, which I'm assuming was some sort of shock my body had gone into, because the second I got home I could barely walk.

video

video

From the beginning til the end of the ride was nearly twenty six hours, and exactly twenty four of those were spent pedaling just under six hundred kilometres. Bed had never been so comfortable. Even if it is a swab on the floor under a desk.

I'd like to say a huge Thank You to all of you who have supported me, whether it be financially or with messages of encouragement throughout my ride. It has been appreciated so much. If anyone else would like to support me with my U.S season, you can do so by hitting this link.

I am holding up much better than I had anticipated, considering what I have put my body though. But I still have severe windburn on my lips, some nasty chafing and no feeling in my little finger and four of my toes. I'm hoping they come back to me sometime soon. Next up is Round Three of the Benchmark Series, and after fiifty-two hours of riding in nine days, I know one of two things is going to happen to me in that race.

A special thank you to Hamish Ferguson, who followed Maddi and I throughout the night with a car-full of food. Also to Fig, Jordan, Michael, Tessa, Alysha, Racquel, my Bundaberg family, Andrew from The Hub, Lauren and Chad (for the phone calls haha), Cazza and Maddi for letting me live with them for the past month or so, and also to my incredible family who have always been, and always will be, my biggest supporters and motivation.


Peace out,
Cassie

PS. I'm contemplating another one back home in the Wang.

Friday, 12 April 2013

They Come In Threes


It was with an unsettling familiarity that I was thrown to the road in a brutal stack up after only seven kilometres of the Te Awamutu Tour on Saturday morning, and as I lay there with shredded hands and loose shards of stone embedded in the side of my head, I was hardly surprised at this continuation of misfortune. It was defeating at first, having to pull myself off the road to see the battered condition of my body, a broken bike and even more fluro paint scraped from the ends of my prized Sidi Wires.

But in my adrenaline-fuelled state, I figured my best option was to grab the nearest operational bike, regardless of size, and get back out on the battlefield. The trouble with adrenaline, though, is that it wears off after a while. So I found myself halfway around the course with severe pain everywhere but my legs, an interesting change but no less uncomfortable than the usual lactic saturation. So despite my best efforts, I was unable to finish the stage (and consequently, the tour). 

After some sweet talking with Hitler the head commisaire, I was allowed to race the Time Trial the following day. I wasn't expecting a startling result given the fact that my body resembled that of a bear-maul victim, but after a nutritious breakfast of weet-bix and paracetamol, I sucked it up and threw out the best performance that I could - fourth place - before heading home with a lot less skin than I began with, and a bitter disappointment at yet another less-than-successful campaign. 

I had less than a week in Wanganui before I had to pack up my things (which involved very little seeing as I hadn't yet unpacked from my last escapade) and head across the Cook Straight for a big weekend of racing and a training camp in Blenheim with the Altherm crew (And Alysha). During that week, I visited two primary schools as a Role Model speaker for the Duffy Books for Schools program; a program which I support whole-heartedly and was hugely excited to be a part of. I spoke to over a hundred children about the importance of education and perseverance - two things which I hold in very high regard - and the attitude and values that I have held in order to get me to where I am. It was a humbling experience to be placed in a position of influence and inspiration to so many young lives, and to present them with stacks of books to take home - to see their genuine excitement as they carried them in their little arms, glowing smiles on their faces - I felt inspired myself. 

I left home on a high note, motivated to continue the journey which has allowed me to uplift others, and eager to see my team mates once again. We were fortunate enough to be adopted by a lovely (and very amusing) couple during our stay in Blenheim, so an enormous thank you to Ken and Kaye (and Bruce the Moose) for their generous - and entertaining - hospitality. 

First up on the race menu was the Grape Ride - a 100km race through scenic Marlborough - and due to the women's field being swamped by the first bunch of the individual race, and consequently stringing us out to the point where we were lucky to even see where our competition was, let alone contest them in a bunch sprint down a narrow, twisting vineyard driveway. As a result, what should have been a fair bunch kick became a 'who could squeeze themselves further up the bunch' competition, which - with my post-crash over-cautiousness - meant I was out of contention. 

The following day was the first Benchmark race for our Altherm Team, and went pretty swell up until the five kilometre climb affectiontely known as Spooner's Hill. I surprised myself, however, and managed to reach the top within a manageable distance of the bunch, so that I could chase my way back on afterward. With a team mate (Jaime) up the road, we felt pretty content with the situation and just kept things rolling in the bunch. However my legs were not content at all, and so when I punctured at the bottom of yet another climb at around the 60km mark... let's just say there have been worse times to blow a tire - and I crawled my way back to the finish at my own pace. 

So although the weekend wasn't brilliant results-wise, I was pleased with the work that I put in, and after the three days of training in Blenheim, I am starting to feel a bit of form coming together. 

I am now back in the Garden City, living with my wonderful part-time family of Maddi, Cazza and Murray the dog. Next up is the Club Road Cycling Championships, where I will be competing in the individual time trial to see where I stack up against the elite women. With my fair share of misfortune over and done with, hopefully things will begin to take a turn for the better. 



Cassie


PS. Yesterday was the Three Year Anniversary of the day that a very special young man was tragically taken from us. On the 11th of April, 2011, I was racing the fourth and final stage of the CRI Rotorua Tour, and punctured for the first time ever during a race. The following year, I was again competing at the CRI tour and again punctured in the final stage. This year, on Sunday afternoon - the exact time that Stage four of the CRI Tour was underway, I punctured in the Benchmark race. Just Brad Martin's cheeky way of letting me know he's still watching. 

We all miss you Brad. <3