It’s been a while since I last updated you folks on my travels. I could come up with a number of excuses why I haven’t posted a blog, but it comes down to the simple fact of procrastination! I do have to keep reminding myself thats important to keep BOTH the mind and body active to create equilibrium and sanity! It’s been nearly a month since my last blog which was in Tulsa. ‘Shazza’ the Vanderkitten team van have traveled 2,641km ( and for all my newly acquainted american friends, thats 1,635miles) across the US and all the way into British Columbia, Canada. My time with the team has flown by, so much that suddenly I’m now sitting here writing this at my kitchen table, 9017km away in a small town called Gavirate in Italy.
I’d like backtrack to the previous weeks events, sharing some of my highlights and factual points, while also trying to provide you with an interesting read. I won’t be recounting my races like I have done in past blogs, but instead share some ‘behind the scene’ stories that are still vivid in my mind.
Lets go back to the event we traveled to from Tulsa, North Star GP, Minnesota. The biggest and most coverage stage race in America. I would have to say this Tour was my most memorable, successful and enjoyable race in the US. This 5 day stage race incorporated an ITT (individual time trial), 3 criterium’s and 2 very LONG road stages (150+km's in torrential rain and gail forced winds). As the week went on, I found my confidence and groove, landing myself on the podium in three stages, including finishing off the tour, winning solo on the ‘brutal’ Stillwater criterium course. So brutal that I managed to cause myself a migraine (first one ever!) after the race that lasted 6hrs, missing out on the celebrations and dance-offs that following evening. The final results saw Specialized Lululemon rider Carmen Small winning the Tour with Alison Powers the current 3 time US National Champion followed closely behind her. I finished 4th overall GC, which was a very pleasing result given after stage 1 i was sitting 29th! #needtolearntotimetrial#
As a team, Vanderkitten had our most successful results to date, including Gillian Charlton my teammate, also winning the last road stage. The media exposure we received at this event, not only benefited the team but also my own international racing career, where i definitely got people talking about the ‘comeback kid’. I'd also like to mention a massive thank you to our host family Kristopher, Kelly and their 2 boys, Miles and Henry. They went above and beyond their duties as hosts, Kris cooking for all 8 of us, kelly taking time off work to come cheer us on, and the boys for sharing their rooms and entertaining us!
From Minnesota, a dwindled team drove on to Wisconsin to compete in a few stages of the Tour of American DairyLand. This tour is well known for its large prize pool, so my aim for the week was to gather whole foods spending money for the weeks ahead. Now if you haven’t heard of the whole food supermarket chain, well thats probably good because you won’t go bankrupt! picture a small independent health food shop and then multiply that by 100. A massive organic supermarket with way too many options to choose from and also a sit in restaurant. This week allowed me to give both my mind and body a rest, racing only on the saturday/sunday. After a week sleeping in Karen and Johns basement, I felt reenergised and ready for the next block of racing to come. I also managed to win the 1k sprint prime on the saturday with a superb lead out by Liza ‘Lizard’ Richetto. We certainly put a gap in the field that day!
After a restful week, Kate and Myself flew to Boise Idaho, where we were to spend some time training in half altitude. We were greeted at the airport by Liza’s mum, a bubbly, energetic little lady who we were staying with, including her kidlings, Walter Jackson, Missy and Pookie (dogs) and Rupert her cat. Boise is where Liza grew up (Jono our team manager is married to Liza), so we were well looked after during our time here. Boise quickly became my favourite city in the US, providing me with great training routes, funky cafes and an overall chilled vibe. A shout out to Remi my training buddy for the week, and if you ever visit Boise, you must visit his very uber cool fine dining restaurant called STATE&LEMP. Very Melbourne! And coincidently we happened to dress almost identical the night we visited the restaurant..weird!
Boise had sadly come to an end, and once again we were back on the road, bound for Canada! I was very excited about finally visiting Vancouver, a city I have heard so much about. The team had a 3 day race in Delta (30min out of Vancouver city). This was to be my last race with Vanderkitten before I was to jet set across the globe to Europe to meet the Australian team. The setup was a little different here in Delta in regards to the host housing. We were all allocated our very own host family, all houses positioned 500m from one another. I definitely drew the longest straw and ended up with the most lovely couple, Bruce and Nicki. This was the first time they had hosted a cyclist and it definitely won’t be an experience they’ll ever forget! Bruce and Nicki were volunteering at stage 2 of the tour so i was keen to put on a show, and also give them bragging rights in their neighbourhood street. Well, I did keep my end of the bargain and put on a spectacular show, but not for any good reasons. Unfortunately my clean run from crashes and misfortunes ended here in Tour De Delta. Lets just say, I tried to wash the concrete with my skin! Our team had a plan for me to go for the crowd sprint prime and the win, so i was to sit back and wait to pounce when ready. The primes are called randomly at any time during the race, usually the big $$$ are towards the pointy end, which in this case it was called at 3 laps to go. I managed to win the 1k prime but then had to back it up and go for the win in 2 laps. I was sitting 4th wheel going into the last (very tight) corner, behind the current 3 time Canadian National Champion Leah Kurchman. I knew I could contest her in the sprint but I wanted to get the jump on her, so I chanced it and took the inside line, ‘full gas’ and nekminitt….i was sliding into the barriers. Apart from taking off a lot of skin (and half of the peloton) I was ok. My worried Canadian parents were standing over me while i was being patched up by the medics in the gutter. Not the best day out on the bike but this comes with the territory. I decided to sit out for the remaining stages of the tour, due to my banged up hand. This wasn’t so bad as I enjoyed being in the convoy commentating during the the last stage. Our team rode fantastically and managed 2 top ten results. My last night with the team was wonderful, all the host families and their riders joined together and had a BBQ/pool party. Many of the neighbours hadn’t met one another so it was a lovely experience of people coming together and making friendships. And that’s what life is all about!