Since I last wrote I have gained many more frequent flyer miles, met up with some good mates, completed another UCI tour, enjoyed some sun in Florida, enjoyed some sun in California, enjoyed some sun in South Carolina, had an impromptu trip back home to Australia, done 4 hour training rides in complete white out blizzards and been flat on my back for a week with exhaustion. It is an exciting yet challenging lifestyle. I have had my fair share of knocks and blows, but I haven’t let them push me over.
In March this year I clipped in for my first international race since October, 2013, the Tour of Taiwan. This was 5 days of fast, furious and unforgiving racing. My lead up to the race had been good with 2 solid training blocks in California and with mates from the Hincapie team in South Carolina. However, I was apprehensive about how my legs would react to such a break from racing. It was damn tough, but I got through it. I finished in dead last place- the lanterne rouge at the Tour of Taiwan. However, I wasn’t ashamed to cross the finish line in this position. The team element in cycling is often overlooked as only 1 rider stands upon the podium and has the pleasure of throwing their arms in the air across the finish line. But it is only due to the hard yakka of 5-8 other riders that this one rider can have that privilege.
I’ve been in cycling long enough now to recognise my place in the sport is not as a super skinny climber who can dance away from others on the hills nor is it one of a fearless bulky sprinter who can engage fast twitch muscle fibres after 200km in the saddle. What I can do however is work, and work hard when the cameras and fans aren’t necessarily watching to ensure the superstars that are my team mates can have the best shot at glory toward the finish of a race. Somebody has to come last and I am grateful I could do my part to help my team to some good results at this tour and look forward to doing it again and again at many more races in the future.
I kept riding because that is my job and I love my job
Life doesn’t always reward hard work, but I believe hard work has its own place not just in cycling but everywhere in life and the rewards just might require a little more patience sometimes. What keeps me working when times are tough is love. I LOVE riding my bike and I love racing my bike, I have done it for 15 years now and would definitely not still be doing it if I did not love it. That is what makes me grateful for the job I have, I love my job and this is the only thing that can really drive true athletes to great performance. The simplicity and spirituality I draw from spending hours upon hours pushing pedals in the countryside will always outweigh any tangible award that may come from finishing first place.
Last week at my base here in Michigan it was 2 degrees celsius with a cold rain. I had 4 hours on the program this day, at 30 minutes the cold rain turned to snow, at 2 hours the snow turned to complete blizzard at 3 hours I met the local bunch for a group ride, the blizzard had turned to a freezing wind. I was wet, freezing cold and shaking to the bone but I kept riding. I kept riding because that is my job and I love my job, if I turned around I wouldn’t be doing my day’s work and I would not be able to write this little diddy about it now:-). However, truth be told I spent the following 5 days sick as a dog.
Today on my 2 hour training ride I encountered zero traffic lights, four cars, a few friendly farmers and nearly a rogue black bear.
Following Taiwan I returned to USA for some great time and good training in Florida with my girlfriend. The flat roads and warm temperatures were welcome after acidic rain in Taiwan and still snow-clogged roads in Michigan. Then it was back across the pacific to unravel some bureaucratic issues in Australia. This turned into a 3 week ordeal but granted me a welcome opportunity to catch up with mates and family and also do some Aussie racing & travelling with my old Aussie team GPM-Wilson Racing. This was a cool feeling and a reminder of what got me into the sport, travelling with good mates, sleeping on the floor at dirt cheap motels in the Aussie outback, eating at the local ‘bowlo’ the night before a race and eating Weet-bix,water and sugar for breakfast before the race. This is the life for most amateur cyclists around the world and it is always a grounding experience to return to where it all started for me.
After spending three weeks training in my home city which seems to be getting busier and busier, with aggression toward cyclists at a seemingly all time high, training back on the now snow free roads of Michigan feels liberating, romantic and safe. Today on my 2 hour training ride I encountered zero traffic lights, four cars, a few friendly farmers and nearly a rogue black bear. This is what makes loving my job easy and is what I ride for- freedom. A ride should be an escape, a liberation not contrived by structures of over development like traffic. It is refreshing to be training here again and is putting a smile on my dial! Now to get the legs moving fast again as next stop is Azerbaijan in the middle east for the Tour of Azerbaijan.