Friday, April 30, 2010

Tour of Canberra: Stage 1

I like coming to the nation's capital because, living in Melbourne like I do, it's nice to be reminded that there are other cities in Australia other than us and Sydney. And I have a soft spot for Canberra, because when I first came to Melbourne to start uni, I got teased mercilessly about being from Adelaide, and the only comeback that worked was that at least I didn't come from Canberra.

Jokes aside, I think Canberra is a pretty cool city. Andy is trying to convince me to move here for a year and I have to say he is doing a pretty good sell. Andy is working here for a few months so my trip here to race could not have been better timed.

Back to the Tour. 3 stages, all hilly, all hard. Today was only 45km and I thought from the course profile that it looked pretty gentle. It wasn't. It ended with a 7km stretch that was mostly climbing. It hurt a lot. I will leave it to the others to give you a more detailed race report (Bec Domange's blog is pretty good for this!), but the skinny is that we were pretty much altogether until we hit the 7km climb, then Jo Hogan, Alex Carle and I got a little gap, then Alex faded and Jo and I were left battling it out. this is jo's last race with Prime Estate before joining me at VIS- I am looking forward to racing with her and not against her! I got the KOM and got a gap over Jo so kept going and stuck it out to win by 30secs. It's a handy time advantage to have- I'm going to need it over the next 2 days.

Bron Ryan outsprinted Jo on the line to take 2nd, after having 2 MECHANICALS and chasing back on both times. What a machine, that is truly impressive.

Alex told me today that she has been invited to race for Colavita-Sutter Homes in the US before she joins her pro team there, which means she is flying out on Sunday night, straight from the tour. She only found this out on Tuesday and I imagine she has had a lot on her plate this week which would have taken the edge off. Alex and I rode together in NZ and she is a gun rider, she is going to have a ripper time overseas.

Tomorrow is 91km of hills, will test the legs. That's it for me, I'm off for an ice bath.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ride Happy Tuesday @ St Mel

Just a quick one folks - St Mel are running a $30 tee special "Ride Happy Tuesday" for the first 20 prints. Get in quick! Order at

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Wow, so much to write about and so short an attention span. I've just arrived home from Tour of Coleraine, a 2-day 3 stage tour in the Southern Grampians (VIC). It was the first race I've done as part of the VIS team since taking up a scholarship with them recently. It was sad not to be wearing the team kit of Fitzroy Revolution, with whom I've been riding (alongside NTID/SASI) for the past 2.5yrs. I've really loved riding for them and they have been with me through thick and thin. And they remain my #1 vote for best bike shop in Melbourne. Drop in on the guys if you are in Fitzroy, they will really look after you.

The VIS women's team now comprises myself, Jo Hogan and Stef Hansen (U19). It's an exciting time to be with the VIS as they rebuild their women's road program, and I'm looking forward to it. It felt a little odd seeing VIS painted everywhere instead of SASI - to the guys and girls in SA, I hope you'll still talk to me even though I'm officially no longer a crow-eater.

At the Tour of Coleraine this weekend, Jo had commitments to Prime Estate to fulfil and so was racing for them instead of VIS. So although we drove up together, wore matching t-shirts, put our St Mel race tattoos on together and shared the same room, we were both on a mission to crush each other like bugs. It went down to the wire but Jo won out and really deserved the win. She is riding really strongly and has come back from injury with both guns blazing.

Stage 1 went my way, with Jo 2nd in a 3-way sprint with Kendall Hodges (3rd). The 3 of us had broken away at 11km after the first KOM and stayed away all day in pretty tough conditions. This meant I wore the yellow leader's jersey going into stage 2 (my first yellow jersey!), but quickly lost it when the 2nd stage crit offered 2 sprint bonuses of 20 secs each!! Unfortunately despite my request the race organisers did not put a massive hill on the crit course and so my GC lead of 5secs quickly became 2nd by 12 secs after the crit. Oh to be a sprinter in Coleraine. Stage 3 offered some hope when I won the first KOM and a 5 sec time bonus but Jo was too strong on the 2nd KOM and ended the stage in 2nd to take out GC. I was happy with 2nd GC, but it's been a big couple of weeks and I definitely need some rest in my legs before I head to Europe in 2 weeks.

On Europe... I am heading over on May 10 to join the AIS girls as part of the national team for 9 weeks of racing and hi-jinx all over Europe. We start in Belgium, then Holland, then France, Spain and finally Italy for the women's Giro! I am so excited. It will be a steep learning curve but I am really looking forward to it. I'm a bit worried whether I can freshen up in time - I've felt a bit flat for a while - but Donna has her eye on me so I am in good hands.

And finally... you may have noticed lately that I have been dropping the words 'St Mel' into a few of my posts. St Mel (the patron saint of Melbourne cyclists) has agreed to take on the challenge of dressing me, off the bike (my Mum gave up years ago) and I am a much better-dressed cyclist for it. St Mel make some very cool casual wear and their tees and hoodies are wicked. And GUESS WHAT, St Mel has just released a ridehappy range! Rumour has it that Lisa's Mum may even get a guest appearance. I've put a pic of the tee above - you can purchase direct from St Mel herself at Tell them Lisa's Mum sent you.

Good luck to the U19s competing in their national road champs next weekend in Mooball, Qld. I have to warn you, the VIS youngsters are looking pretty sharp.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Inking up for Tour of Coleraine

Training may be important, but there is nothing, NOTHING that puts the speed in your legs quite like a temporary tattoo. Onya St Mel.

I'm in Hamilton for the Tour of Coleraine this weekend. Jo Hogan, my new VIS teammate, and I performed our tattoo ceremony and proudly showed the receptionist our st mel tatts before she informed us that around here they are known as 'tramp stamps'. Nice.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Lisa's Mum interviews Amber Halliday - 2010 Aust TT champion

This week, Lisa's Mum takes time out of her busy schedule to interview 2010 Australian time trial champion Amber Halliday. Those of you who are into cycling may have charted Amber's phenomenal rise through the ranks of elite cycling over the past year and a bit - first bike race in January 2009, first UCI international tour win in February 2009. Amber is no stranger to sporting success, having been a triple world champion and dual Olympian in lightweight rowing before realising that pedalling bikes in the rain for 500km+ per week was far more fun than sitting in a boat and avoiding carbs. So here it is, Lisa's Mum's WORLD EXCLUSIVE interview with Amber (eat my shorts Phil Liggett):

Amber Halliday, thanks for joining ridehappy today. The last time we saw you was after stage 2 of the Tour of New Zealand in February, when you were doing a first-hand audit of NZ's paramedic and emergency facilities. Can you talk us through your findings? [For the benefit of readers not in the know - Amber crashed out of the Tour of New Zealand in Feb 2010 in spectacular style, sustaining a dislocated shoulder, broked humerus and generally making a mess of herself.]
They seemed to be all in order - I thought I'd take it upon myself to check them out for other riders in the case they needed them for the remainder of the tour. The best bit was the happy gas.

Your rise through the ranks of elite women's cycling has been unprecedented. Your first race was the 2009 national time trial championships, in which you came 4th after only 2 months of specific training. You then won your first international tour 6 weeks later, and joined the Australian national team for a season of racing in Europe. In January 2010 you won the national time trial championship against a star-studded field. All this only 14 months after taking up the sport. How do you sleep at night, making the rest of us look so bad?
The pressure that I brought on myself by doing reasonably well reasonably quickly means I don't sleep at night. I stay up, huddled in a corner, rocking to-and-fro chanting 'must win next race, must win next race.'

How does cycling compare to rowing? You've won 3 world titles on the water as a lightweight rower, do you find the challenge of facing forwards during a race difficult to get used to?
Facing forwards is awesome but the best thing about going backwards in the rowing boat is that when you're in front you can just sit out there and enjoy it. Maybe even play a little cat and mouse. The other main difference is cycling is like a fashion parade. Its all about the gear and how much carbon is in it and your clothes, and how you wear them - i.e. sock height. Rowers are dags who believe it is the athlete that will make the boat go fast. I love and miss that.

What are your plans for 2010 and beyond?
To get back on the bike after 7 weeks of my healing holiday and go race some TT's with my national stripes OS. I'll be in Geelong for the World Champs too - as a spectator and journalist if nothing else!

Is it true that your partner, Mello Bouwmeester, founded his world-class wheel building company purely so he could have an excuse to talk to you?
I like to believe it happened that way (even though he hatched his wheel business idea years before he met me). Such a sweetie - I mean, he could have just talked to me about the weather.

You are in the minority of elite female cyclists who actually hold down a real job as well as training 500km+ per week. How do you maintain the balance... and what have you had to sacrifice?
Some people would say I sacrifice journalistic quality and integrity but I beg to differ. By spending most of my day training, instead of in the office, I believe I am connecting with the athletes - my subjects - much better than those other journalists who only do research, networking, attend press conferences, functions, training etc.

You've been a SASI (South Australian Institute of Sport) scholarship holder for a few years now, first in rowing and now in road cycling. Did SASI try to talk you into any other sports? I hear their roller derby team is on the lookout for new talent.
If it involves hand-eye-ball coordination, I'm out. Dad did not possess those genes. He just has the genes which make you really good at sports that last a long time, hurt a lot and are not profitable. Thanks dad.

Do you have any role models or mottos that you live by?
Learn to laugh at yourself and you'll be constantly amused.

The SASI women's road cycling crew is a formidable force. I've noticed that there is an unusually high proportion of blonde women in the team - is it true that blonde chicks ride faster?
Nice 'n Easy #105 is worth about 10kmph I believe.

What advice can you give to cycling newbies that you wish you had been given when you first started out?
Ride the peleton like you're the rudest most aggressive taxi driver in New York and wear long socks.

Last question - as a media-savvy journalist and celebrity TDU commentator yourself, can you give me any tips on how I can get a gig with the SBS commentary team? Phil won't return my calls.
Use initiative - fly to Le Tour and show up at the broadcast point every day with your sweetest smile. Try to wear your least stalker-ish outfit. And if still no love, let the heckling begin.

Thanks Amber - Lisa's Mum hereby awards you the yellow cardigan for being the most over-achieving cyclist in the peleton. (It comes with a matching tea cosy) For those of you who want to keep in touch with Amber's adventures, get onto - heckle her enough and you'll go into the running to win a tea cosy for yourself.

Top o the morning to you

Just thought I'd share this view of Mt Beauty from the top of Tawonga Gap. Andy and I were up at Falls Creek this weekend for some altitude cramming... Just kidding, we were up there for a mate's wedding. And wasn't the weather fantastic. (So was the wedding.)
Coming up on the race calendar is Tour of Southern Grampains this coming weekend, then Canberra Tour the weekend after. And then off to Europe to smash it up with the AIS chicks!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Baw Baw pics

 Thanks to James Broadway for these pics. Check out JB's online gallery at . (Sorry they are all of me... JB has others in his gallery)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Mt Baw Baw Classic - a Sunday in Hell

I am SHAGGED after the Baw Baw Classic today. (I also have no photos just yet, sorry, although I'm pretty sure I can track some down soon.)

The Baw Baw Classic is a hill-climber's dream, and can be their nightmare too. It's 104km from Warragul to the top of Mt Baw Baw in Victoria. The last 6km (the climb up Baw Baw) hits 20% at times and is by far the hardest hill climb I've ever done... probably because it comes at the end of 100km of (sometimes hilly, sometimes technical) racing. And once you're on the climb, there's no going back - it's just hard yakka the whole way.

My favourite part of the Baw Baw Classic is the atmosphere before and after the race. Everyone knows that it's a bastard of a climb and the real race is between you and the mountain, not the other riders. So there's a great sense of communal accomplishment at the end.

Last time I raced Baw Baw was in 2008 and I hadn't been back since, so I was a bit hazy on the details but I remembered the climb was tough. Over coffee after riding last week the gentlemen of TE convinced me that I needed compact cranks - and boy, were they right. DC @ Fitzroy Revolution sorted me out with compacts and race wheels. I've said it time and time again but wow, Fitzroy are awesome. I had to skip town for James Williamson's funeral in the southern NSW highlands on Friday (more on that later), so I pretty much just dumped the bike with DC on Thursday and it came back all ready to go and waiting for me last night when I flew back in.

The race was tough - so bloody tough. It started off raining, then we had some wicked gusty cross and head winds that almost picked up the bike from under me a couple of times... then hail, and finally snow. I'm really glad it snowed because now I can casually drop into conversation that it hailed AND snowed on us during the race and I can sound especially hardcore, even if it only hailed a little bit and the snow was actually quite cool. The rain and wind was much worse, but how boring does that sound?

The women's competition included Jo 'Top 10 at Nationals' Hogan, Stef 'VIS's pocket rocket' Hansen and Bec 'MTB superstar' Henderson. Jo in particular was in great form and coming fresh off a 2nd at Mersey Tour in Tassie the other week. She had a great nationals in Jan and then broke her wrist in a crit shortly afterward, which took her out of contention for Tour of New Zealand. Jo is a demon in the hills and I expect to see her featuring strongly in the national road series this year. She and I were neck and neck until the ticket box (around 6km to go) and I just edged her out to claim the win. It's a huge honour - it was a tough, tough battle. The race doubled as Vic Hill Climbing Champs so it's nice to get that honour as well.

Mostly, though, the whole way up when things were getting tough, I thought of Jimi Williamson, who died a couple of weeks ago in Sth Africa and whose funeral we went to on Friday. Jimi was an amazing bloke and to think of all he accomplished in just 26 years, and the kind of guy he was, was pretty inspiring. His funeral had around 700ppl attending and was so big that we couldn't all fit into the chapel, so there were giant projector screens set up in the school hall next door, broadcasting it all. There were 7 or 8 eulogies and each of them was heartfelt and emotional, but uplifting too. Jimi's legacy is to remind us to live life to the full, smile and follow every opportunity with energy and positivity. A few weeks ago, before I went to do Tour of New Zealand, Jimi came out on a training ride with TE in the Dandenongs. Niki had convinced him to come along and I'm glad she did. Sharon and I were there to climb our guts out for our upcoming races and Jimi wanted to fit in some hill training before the Otway Odyssey which was coming up. Jimi outclassed us all on the climbs but had nothing but positive encouragement for us chicks and it really meant a lot to me. One of his comments later on was about how when you're hurting, you just kep digging. Most people stop when they get to a point, but the good people just keep digging. It was an analogy that stuck with me and I've used it a lot during races. Today on Baw Baw I really dug, and I hope it's made Jimi proud.

Monday, April 5, 2010

My definition of torture

This Easter I had 5 days in the mountains of north-east Vic, with 25deg of sunshine each day and a group of friends ready and willing to ride up a storm. And I was sick as a dog, the whole time. It was a great long weekend nonetheless, but boy did I wish I had gotten sick at some other time. My bike reported a serious vitamin D deficiency and I got very frustrated at not being able to ride.

One highlight of the weekend was a visit from Tilly the dachshund. Tilly was a bit overwhelmed (easy for a very small animal) but agreed to pose for a couple of pics first with Andrew and I.

Hope you all had a good easter.