The Jayco Bay Criterium series and the Australian Open Road titles have been run and won, and instead of sitting cheekily in McDonalds abusing the free wifi privileges, I am happy to say that after an 8hr drive I am reporting from the comfort of my own coach happily nursing my soup bowl of tea. Unfortunately for me, I kicked off what I secretly hoped would be a cracker of a 2011 season with a few disappointing results.
First up was the Jayco Bay Crits around Geelong. I was racing for Kim Howard’s TDT R.A.C.E Team and was super excited to say the least about racing again! The atmosphere at Bay Crits is similar to that of a traveling circus. Its nuts, and you can’t help but get caught up in it! The first circuit was a ‘roadie’ circuit in the Botanical gardens with a nasty little pinch in it leading into the final stretch. This ended up being the place that I had my best performance, making a break and dropping off with 2 laps to go…
Photo courtesy of womenscycling.net
From then on things weren’t working out exactly the way I had imagined it… I knew I was lacking the race intensity but I didn’t know to the degree just how much! The rest of the week was a slug fest on the short face-paced circuits and I was disappointed I was not able to contribute as much to the team as I would have liked – instead of starting breaks or helping our main sprinter Chloe Hosking out in the closing stages of the race, I was yo-yoing off the back of the pack and watching the finish from the sidelines – not a great mental boost leading into Nationals!
After Bay Crits it was off to Ballarat for the Australian Open Road Championships. I decided to give the National crit a miss in favour of an extra recovery day and couldn’t have been happier to see my bestie Lauren Kitchen take out the title of Australian Criterium Champ!!! She took out the Open and U/23 divisions as well as taking out the intermediate sprint prize – equating to a prize of 63 Mars bars, 3 bottles of champagne and 3 boquets of flowers. Oh, and she now gets to strut around in green and gold jersey in any criterium :). Lauren won over break compatriot Jo Hogan which was initiated mid way through the race. The break was bought back by the Honda Dream Team to 8sec but as Honda started to use up their riders, the break blew out again and ended up winning by about 30sec! Chloe Hosking broke away with 1 lap to go to round out the podium in 3rd.
I was coming in to Nationals this year a lot differently from last year. I wasn’t with a team, an institute or family… I was traveling and doing it solo (but fortunately had my coach waiting in the wings anytime to come to the rescue if needed). I know I keep saying this and you probably want to punch me in the face by now, but it was again a harsh reminder of how far I seem to have slid down the ladder, back to booking your own accommodation, picking up your own races numbers and even pumping up your own tyres *gasps*! It was like I was starting from scratch again, I was a no-namer out to prove myself. Sure it was a big slap in the face, but it was also a real eye opener.
Firstly, it made me appreciate how fortunate I was to have the support that I did but secondly, it also reminded me that when you eventually do make teams and the logistics are all taken care of for you – you forget about the other riders who are self supported or new to the sport. Just like you once were. Next time you see someone who looks a little unsure, lost or needs a hand at racing – ask them if they’d like help because most of the time they are too scared/proud (guilty) to ask for themselves. Remember, that was once you too! Anyway, after another day of rest and it was time for D-Day – the National road race. I honestly had no idea what to expect leading into the race, had I recovered from Bay Crits? How was my form? How was I going to compare to the other girls? And before I knew it, I was a mess. Both physically and mentally. In a race which most riders are trying to peak for and where you want to be at your leanest and fittest – I realized I was not.
The gun went and the pace was pretty steady for the first 2 laps until Carlee Taylor attacked over the 2nd KOM and the pace lifted drastically, leaving everyone scrambling for positions behind. I clawed my way through 3 more laps before breaking into tears when I saw my coach in the feedzone. I was heartbroken and cracked mentally. I have no excuses, I just couldn’t do it. The group that went with Carlee over the top of the climb ended up by being the winning break – Alexis Rhodes taking out the title of Australian Road Champion over Garmin-Cervelo teammate Carla Ryan and Jo Hogan from Victoria. Carlee took out the U/23 title and the KOM jersey whilst Sinead Noonan and Lauren Kitchen rounded out the rest of the U/23 podium. So that was my Nationals over and done with for another year… I’m just glad I get another shot at it in 363 days!! I strongly believe that this course suits me, when I’m fit, and am probably one of the only few campaigning for it to stay the same – at least for the next few years! Tomorrow is the time trial and from what I’ve heard about the weather – I hope the riders packed their water wings!
Despite the lack of results, I was still a happy little vegemite at Bay Crits :)
On a final note – during the course of the week there were quite a few photos taken of me and once in particular attracted a comment by someone saying ‘slightly overweighty’. They say the truth isn’t an easy pill to swallow and I’ll agree – it isn’t – however, this wasn’t news to me, this has been an issue for me for over a year. The third butt cheek is a result of an extended offy, injuries and a bit of a rough patch but hey, it happens to everyone. During times when things weren’t going my way, I found comfort in eating junk food and partying, I mean what makes you forget about things better than a bit of whipping-your-hair-back-and-forth and alcohol?? Except for 6hrs later when you wake up - your problems are still there and you’re punished with a massive headache for being so stupid as to think solving them would be that easy.
I have no one to blame for the extra Kgs except myself, after all I’m the one shoving the food in my face! Prior to going overseas and racing for SwABoLadies in Holland, I promised myself that I would use it as a chance to change and get back to the way things were and come back a new me but unfortunately life had other plans for me. Again, things weren’t going my way and I thought that eating would solve them. Although I didn’t weigh myself much over there, I can remember weighing myself one day and was shocked to see a whopping 61kg on the scales. For those that don’t think that is much, don’t be nice – it is. Especially on someone who is only 157cm tall. 158cm on a good day. That was a far cry from the 48kg I was 12months earlier…You could say from one extreme to the other?? And if that wasn’t a reality check and a half, a couple of days after that I was downloading my SRM files and I noticed that the ‘slope’ seemed a bit odd. I went to go check it and instead of being programmed in at 34.5Hz, it was set at 24.5Hz.. meaning that basically in a nutshell, I was putting out about 80W LESS than what my SRM was showing me. Ouch.
Weight in women’s sport in general is a widely avoided topic; it’s like that big grey elephant in the corner of the room that no one talks about. In my case however, being lean is part of the job description. My strength on the bike lies in my ability to haul ass up hill faster than anyone else and in order to do this, I need as least amount of ass to do so. If I wanted to be able to eat whatever I wanted to, I would have chosen a sport like sumo wresting, sit at McDonalds with 4 Big Macs and call it training. But I don’t.
Got no one to blame except myself
Despite the job description, it doesn’t mean however, that I’m going to stop eating in order to achieve ultimate ‘leanness’. As a well respected coach once said to me – my goal is to return athletes back into the real world as functional people. This statement always remains true to my heart and is forgotten or even ignored by athletes – yes. There is life after sport. Most athletes live in the moment and are willing to sacrifice everything physically and mentally for their sport without thinking what the later consequences will be. There are many women out there who are so skinny that they are doing themselves permanent physical damage. I am no Dr and will not go into the specifics, but it doesn’t take an expert to see that it can’t be good for you!
I remember riding the Giro and sitting down at the dining hall seeing what all the athletes are eating – you get the girls who are fueling their bodies for yet more grueling racing and some others that look gaunt as they feast on salad leaves. It’s just sad. I know that I need to lose weight to improve my performance and sure, I could stop eating and achieve my target weight in a couple of weeks. But I won't. And I don't want to. I am confident that I will achieve a weight that is sustainable and will lead to optimal performance in a healthy manner. I’ve already lost 5kg in a couple of months and I plan on losing the rest of it in the same way - without excessive use of salad leaves, shakes…or my fingers. It’s only January and if I have things my way, I’m going to have a long season ahead of me. Life and I are back on speaking terms - I even received a Christmas card from it! So things are still on the up and I’m going to put everything behind me and do my damn hardest to keep it going that way. New year, new you. Right? So to those commenting about my weight and thinking that I’m not taking things seriously, thank you for your concern but rest assured - I am. And I can’t wait to see your face when I succeed. :) I hope everyone entered the New Year with a bang – and not only a massive hang over – and I wish you all the best for the coming year :) Until next time Stay classy and happy pedalling Miffy xx