There are several contenders here. First is the road race at nationals in January, where the mercury nudged 47 deg, the roads melted and most of field didn’t finish. If it weren’t for Andy giving me icy bidons each lap, I would have been one of them. Next is the Baw Baw Classic in April, where we had rain, driving cross-winds, hail, then snow going up the steepest, most brutal climb in Australia. Should have packed a jacket. If anyone here did either of these races, RESPEKT. You are hardcore. But I think the gong goes to the Giro Donne – 10 days of racing through the toughest, most mountainous terrain around in the height of Summer. No rest day. Lots of gastrolyte. Full of Italians. I think that’s why they called it the hardest women’s tour in the world this year.
Undoubtedly Tour of New Zealand in February. This was a 5 day, 6 stage race where Donna the Supercoach had gotten me into amazing form and it all paid off. I now get to point at photos of Linda Villumsen, who recently podiumed at the world champs in the time trial, and say excitedly, ‘I beat her in a TT!’ But apart from being in shape, the tour was awesome because I had the best teammates ever and the team (Aust-NTID) all got along really well. Bron Ryan, Sarah Roy, Alex Carle, Bec Halliday and Laura Luxford – you guys rock. Someone now only has to say, ‘No.7 Special Fried Rice’ and I get the giggles. Sorry, that’s an in-joke. You’ll have to ask the girls. Or you could ask our team managers Ben Cook and Paul Larkin, who were equally awesome. I don’t know how you can plan a good team and leadership dynamic, but crikey if I could bottle that one I would.
Nicest gesture during a race
At the Baw Baw Classic, I didn’t bring spares, thinking we had neutral service. We didn’t. In steps Sean ‘The Man’ Hurley, who offered me his spare wheels and went without himself. This is in a 100km point-to-point road race. Luckily, neither of us punctured. When I asked The Man what he was going to do if he punctured and didn’t have spares, he said, ‘Are you kidding me? This is Baw Baw! Puncturing will be the best thing that could happen to me!’ What a star.
In Stage 7 of the Giro Donne, I was in a world of hurt going up some berg near Lake Como when 2010 world champion Bronzini offered me a can of Coke. I could have kissed her. Lucky I didn’t, because her girlfriend was in the group behind us and would have kicked my arse.
In a kermesse in Belgium – my first ever race with the national team – Lauren Kitchen moved to the front of the bunch to protect Spratty, who had just gone up the road in a break. A Belgie didn’t take kindly to Lauren being in her way and hit her and yelled at her in Flemish. I then saw Kirsty Broun ride up to the Belgie and say something which made the Belgie retreat immediately to the back of the pack. Later I found out that Kirsty had told her that Lauren was her teammate and if the Belgie dared do that again she would have to deal with Kirsty. That’s a mate.
‘You’re stupid’ – said by a 40 year old professional cyclist while tapping across the finish line 30 minutes down on the winner. Yes, Carlee Taylor, that is IRONIC.
This is also a highly contested category. Beth Duryea @ AIS is pretty amazing, not least because she managed to get me into THAT skinsuit. She knows what everyone in the team likes and she operates by stealth, so the only clue you get is a pack of your favourite flavour gels in your bag, or your favourite cereal appearing in the breakfast box. However, first prize goes to the Lovely Andy who drives all over the countryside with me only stand by the side of the road in rain, hail or shine and wave a bidon. He even listens to my boring race debriefs, makes the right sounds and gives me hugs. In 2010 he has come into his own as an excellent mechanic and has shown a willingness to be paid in coffee and fruit toast. High 5!
Quirkiest drug test
Two spring to mind. The first was at Tour of Canberra in April, where it took so long to process the athletes that by the end they took the blood sample from me by torchlight. My relationship with the ASADA chaperone could at best have been described as frosty. The second was in Italy at the Giro Donne where they were a little more relaxed with their protocols. In Australia, ASADA sit there and watch you take a whizz. In Italy, they give you a cup and point you to the toilet. No one spoke English and I probably should have thought twice before asking in mime whether they wanted to watch me pee.
Getting selected in the Aussie team for a season in Europe. All my dreams.
Hope you have had an equally eventful year. The lows only make the highs higher.