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,



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