This year I have the privilege of being on a cycling team, the Subaru-MarathonMTB.com Team, with a manager (Mike Blewitt) and team mates (Kath, Graeme, Tate, Stu, Will and Werner), it is a motivating and inspiring experience.
I started cycling purely and simply because I like to ride my bike. I started racing because it gave my daily riding routine a focus and a purpose, and it seemed like the natural progression. I continued to race as the atmosphere and the challenge sparked me and introduced a whole new spectrum of people and trails. I started racing team endurance events with my partner, Andy, and we then moved to marathon events and a few stage races. The multi day races suited us and provided an excuse to visit a new place, experience a new culture and escape the ‘everyday life’ routine that had become almost too comfortable. We selected races that were challenging and located in obscure parts of the world. I admit to having an addiction to these types of events but Andy succumbed to Ross River Fever, so I lost my racing partner but not the desire to continue with my new life style.
I have raced Cape Epic in South Africa four times, I have raced Tour de Timor twice, I have raced TransAlp once, I have raced the Langkawi International Mountain Bike Challenge once, I have raced Wildside in Tasmania twice, The Crocodile Trophy once and the list goes on. I have been to many wonderful places with my riding and had many wonderful experiences but so many times I traveled alone. I admit that each riding adventure guarantees meeting new and exciting people from different cultural backgrounds with a similar affinity for riding, BUT the absence of a real friend to share experiences and emotions with leaves a deficit in an otherwise amazing experience. There are some races Andy can attend but many he cannot and this is where my new and wonderful teammates step in.
My Europe 2012 adventure was based around racing TransAlp with Mike Blewitt but it has developed into so much more. The Europe adventure started with the 119.9km Dolomiti Superbike race in Villabassa. The Australian fraction of the Subaru-MarathonMTB.com team (Kath, Mike and myself) racing alongside the UK team contingency of Stu and Will. This is the first time I have been able to enjoy the company of any of team mates for more than just a few days. The Subaru-marathonMTB.com team camaraderie in Villabassa at the Dolomiti Superbike and in the proceeding days training at Livigno has allowed me to share these experiences with friends, practically family.
The Dolomiti Superbike is a tough race, and makes up part of the UCI World Marathon Series. After racing it once there are many aspects of my preparation that could be improved to increase my chances of success, including entering masters women instead of elite! During a race there are only so many times you can be passed and shunted before you decide it is better as a training ride than a race. This mind shift occurred very early into my Dolomiti Superbike race, and I was comfortable with the decision, especially considering I was racing TransAlp seven days later. What made the race so much more than just another training ride was the elation I felt at seeing a team mate on the side of the track with cramps. I was not elated that Stu had cramps but to see a familiar kit, a familiar face, and to know he was in a similar frame of mind eased my own internal struggle and gave me a purpose. There was still 60km of race remaining and as a team of two we were able to support each other through the closing kilometers. I had never even met Stu prior to Villabassa and Dolomiti Superbike, but after riding and suffering together for 60km I now feel like I have know him for ever.
This camaraderie carried through the following week when Mike, Kath and myself were staying and training in Livigno. Mike is practically a Livigno local and his knowledge of the area and aptitude as a tour guide are outstanding. We rode the most amazing trails and always as a team, proud to be associated with, and wearing the Subaru-marathonMTB.com colors.
This is what a team is all about, having someone to share training, traveling and racing with, it is an uplifting experience and I am thrilled to now know that I will never again be alone at a race.