Since I last wrote I have returned from Europe, stayed back in the USA, returned to Australia, returned to Europe, returned to Australia travelled to China, returned to the USA and then returned to Australia again. 2013 has been a hectic yet exciting year and I would not change a thing. I have crossed more borders, flown more miles, pedalled more roads & trails, met more inspirational folk than I could have imagined possible in 12 months. I have smiled, I have suffered, I have laughed, I have whinged, I have chased, I have won, I have fought and I have worked hard! I have felt alive.
After returning to Australia for a few weeks in September, I flew to Barcelona to be part of the ‘EASD’ diabetes conference. I have for a few years now, been involved in such conferences, these are an opportunity to reach out, learn and engage with the wider diabetes community. Sharing the story of our team strikes a chord with every single person I meet. I get the fabulous opportunity to hear about inspirational stories from other diabetics also, of which there are so many. I heard from a group who plan to fly single engine aircraft around the world with diabetes! Awesome stuff! Such events to me are such an example of how in the diabetes world, we are such a resource to each other. There is so much to learn, having people around me who are informed, inspirational and intelligent has been such a blessing for my health and wellbeing as a diabetic. This is one aspect, I hope we can help share to diabetics all around the world. A community- we need to work together, because diabetes is a lot like cycling, in that it is a team sport! Sharing stories and knowledge is such a beneficial part of my job.
From Spain, it was back to Australia for a final few weeks of hard training before the final race of 2013, the Tour of Hainan in China. I had never raced in China before and now I am back, I am glad I have. The racing style is different, the food is different, the bathrooms are uncanny and the culture is different. Racing outside of the developed world is an eye opener. Our team had fantastic support here again, and riding up there with the most accomplished riders in Asia was hard but we did tremendously well. Team mate Chris held top 10 overall for 8 of the 9 days, we worked so hard as a team and earnt our spot at the pointy end of the convoy every day. Hainan was bloody hard work and one thing I unfortunately will never be able to share with my office job friends who constantly accuse me of not having a ‘real job‘ is the physical and mental pain & confusion we put our bodies and minds through on these multi day tours. I think it makes up for the hours I may spend chatting at a brew shop of a morning. This race was over 1500km in 9days and at a speed faster than what most 1hour criterium races in Sydney average. Flying the flag here was important for us as a team and as ambassadors for a disease. Diabetes is huge in China and is growing, seeing our supporter flags in the crowds was encouraging and motivating to see and helped me make it through this tough race. Finishing was a feeling of accomplishment for myself and will be a huge help prepare the body and the mind for 2014!
Hainan marked the end of racing for 2013 for me, and it is always at the end of a season nice to recuperate with a few weeks sans bike. Spending some great time with my girlfriend after this was awesome and even indulging in some “bad” foods that I had been avoiding during training was much appreciated. Also in my off season (offy) I was invited to speak at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation ‘walk to cure’ in Sydney. Speaking at such events really inspires me and is such a pivotal part of the notion of sharing I was alluding to. When you have the opportunity to share not only what we have in our hands but in our heads and our hearts, life feels so much more lively! Our cycling team has a remarkable story to share and to be able to help share this and see first hand the impact it can have on people’s lives makes me happy and keeps me motivated to keep putting my best foot forward as a bike rider.
From here, it is a few more weeks in Aussie land and then off to the launch of the 2014 season in Santa Barbara, California. Back to Australia for Chrissie and new years and then o/s life begins again in January. Excited to be transporting my USA life from 3years in the South to where feels most like home and where I am most happy, to the far North in Michigan!
You can follow Justin on Twitter: @JustinMorrisTT1