Friday, 24 August 2007


By the time the plane had landed I was barely excited to be home, the flight draining me of what energy I actually had left after an 8-day tour and a day in Paris. I was pleased to have purchased an item from all 3 airports I had visited on the way home. A 'Paris' mug for me and a 'Paris' lighter for my Dad at... you guessed it, Paris Airport. Then an overly large Starbucks mug for my younger sister at KL, of which I couldn't purchase and was forced to take willingly. And finally a stop-over in Melbourne International saw me walk away with some Clinique foundation for both myself and Mum, although I'm not sure she appreciated the 1.5hour wait on the other side of customs! I didn't buy for everybody... apologies. Physical damage: Migraine. Pain in upper, lower and mid back. Sore feet and shins from walking and very very dry skin when testing foundations.

I had no choice other than McDonald's for dinner on the drive home as nothing else was open. So I went the Deli Choice and afterwards wished I had've gone starvios. After 3 loads of washing and watching Kerry (younger sister) consume a rather large Milo from the Starbucks mug I headed to bed and can't begin to explain the feeling of returning after 7weeks, but I'll try... pure heaven! I've started to imagine what training solo again will feel like and whether I'll long for some company when I'm home alone. Will I turn to Ath to ask for cooking advice and realise she's not there? Or when I'm in need of guidance will I look to Dazza for one of his inspirational Deli-Lama quotes? I've since made some home visits, done some shopping, cooked 2 family dinners and even built my bike with the intentions of riding tomorrow morning. I'm supposed to be in class right now but school was cancelled for the day so I'm preparing for dinner with Big Jim and family, I love Aussie pizza!

Sunday, 19 August 2007


Josie and I had been allocated a double bed, my second time while on tour so we quickly stole the opportunity to swap with Ath who had been given two singles. We were in bed early... the next morning kind of early... at 3am! I woke oblivious to the fact that Josie had left at 6:30 for a 9am flight and was starvios, very overdue for breakfast. While the hotel was charging 11euro for a meal and the supermarket opposite was closed we set our sights on McDonalds. Picturing the luscious pancakes you see featured on commercial television at home we made our order. Now picture small pikelets with disposable jam in a squeezie sachet for the same price... we were devastated. So Bel and I scored some milk from reception and filled the spot with left-over cereals and snacks.

After 3-hours alone, where Bel had managed a sleep and I spent my time packing bags, Dazza returned to take us to Paris. He had supposedly dropped the girls at the station at 10am and ventured to set Broso and Ath on their journey to Italy. Instead, all 3 joined in on our Paris adventures. The weather prediction was correct, blue skies and sunshine would NOT be seen during our time in Paris, instead we were greeted with rain and wind so Bel and I, kitted out in team tracksuit, were keen for minimal sight-seeing. We started out with lunch along the 'Champs-Elyse' in view of the 'Arc de Triomphe'. A relatively long walk past expensive shopping arcades and 2 McDonald's bought us to the 'Louvre'. Had we been up to it, the 'Notre Dame' was next on the list but energy was wearing thin and the 'Eiffel Tower' was yet to be seen.

Finally we had arrived at a hideous looking steel structure. By now Ath and Broso had gone home and Dazza was walking the girls to the first floor via the stairs. On the second of four entrances Bel and I were waiting in queue for the lift. An hour and a half later, after we had been to the top and Kate merely to the first level, we were situated at the base looking up at the beautiful light-flashing feature in all its grandeur and magnificence... something worth the wait. The elegance and opulence of the detailed monuments I witnessed throughout the day simply blew me away; the history and legend behind every sculpture had me in awe. So the fact that we inhaled non-traditional chicken wraps and frites later this evening was slightly disgraceful of us. I haven't packed my bike or prepared for tomorrow, nor have I packed Bel's bike yet. It may be a late night... GOODBYE PARIS!

Saturday, 18 August 2007


With the last Kiwi having retired from the tour yesterday we've had their mechanic wash our bikes, stolen their swanny (Tess), used their team car for race feed and will be hijacking the latter two to take us through to Paris. Therefore a room swap occurred last night to allow for Tess, and don't bother guessing who made the change. I'm hoping that Kate's climbing form has rubbed off on me overnight because my legs never came good as Broso had indicated. Breakfast was our final chance to stash food for our travels to Paris. Tiff innocently inquired about creamy cheese, the host's reply, in a small French accent, was not what she had expected "There is no more cheese! They eat for 30 people! It's not fair!". Upon returning to the kitchen she delivered the left-over cheese, almost apologetic about her outburst. I DEFINITELY eat for 30 people!

We were feeding from 'Hoffman' team car today as Broso was organising the future of our own vehicle. The sun greeted us as we rode neutral up a 6km burg. It felt like Baw Baw all over again, 50rpm in my 23. At the summit we stopped briefly before official race start, giving the American's a chance to go 'pisso', one of them suffering stage fright before the sheltering car drove off. A 'Chirio' girl was next to surprise when, after a small attack I'd made over a crest, we were forced to stop for a train. She unclipped her foot, widened her stance, pulled her knicks across and relieved her bladder! Eww... The tour take's it's toll on ones mental state. Today, while positioned mid-bunch, a French National rep simply threw her half-full bidon at full throttle through the bunch. It was clearly a mistake and she evidently wasn't thinking, the re-iteration of "crazy girl!" very much warranted.

It was tough and almost stupid to be attempting a break when the peloton was travelling at 40kms/hr, but the final day posed final opportunities. I put myself right up there with Barry and his box today and I'm pretty sure I shouldn't have covered that attack by Boyarskaya on the climb toward the feed! Eventually I gave up, participating in the sprint and running 7th, first young rider. That means I claimed top 10 in every bunch kick at the '2007 Route de France', sprinter style! With a final GC of 24th, 3rd young rider, I'm quite satisfied with how the tour finished... expect the use of communal showers after the final stage. We made our own bottles, raced on stolen brekkie snacks, recovered without protein, reverted to self-massage and have handwashed for 6weeks. Now that's an experience you wouldn't find in Australia!! :) This is the life I want to live...

As the day was coming to an end and we approached the outskirts of Paris, I realised that our journey was almost over. I'd been homesick for the past week since speaking to my Mum and it wasn't a secret that I would happily skip on Paris and catch an early flight home. On early arrival at our accomodation, after I had feasted on steak and OJ, we met with Ath and Bel. I hadn't seen Bel since the accident and she was recovering well. The swelling around her eye and forehead had subsided and stitches had already been removed, her arm supported by a complicated sling. It took me a good 5 minutes before I was able to get a word out and when I did they were joined by tears. Soon enough we were both crying and hugging despite her broken bones... I was glad to have her back :)

Results: La Route De France Feminine, Stage 7, La Bresse - Vittel, 113.1 kms

Friday, 17 August 2007


It was when we arrived at the 30km mark that I found it odd we were stopping for 'pisso' so early. Can we not empty our bladders before the race? In saying that Australia was represented two fold today when both Josie and Lou participated in trying out new and improved 'pisso' techniques. The toughest day of the tour consisted of two Cat 1 climbs. Josie and I had studied the course profile pre-race and decided that she second climb was simply 4kms of steady gradient and that a long fast drag was all that would be in store. However, by the time we had lugged our arse up a non-categorised 6km climb 80k into the race, we began to dread what lay on the road ahead. Tiff was in more pain then most as she had already endured a 20km solo break before the feed, rejoining the peloton after drifting to car 6 in race convoy.

The 'Chirio' girls told us to be prepared for attacks at 107kms. I quietly laughed when I hit this counter as I was surrounded by three who were grovelling to hold the wheel. The first QOM had come and gone, as had 19 girls who were now up the road. Kate had made the cut while I was joined by the remaining 'Perform Group' girls in the second bunch. While starting out on the last 'steady gradient' climb I had comments such as "Bell wouldn't have liked this hill anyway!" and "Butter chick is gonna kick your arse!" to the Futuroscope girls, running through my head. Kate went on to claim 9th with an impressive performance, making her our highest placed rider on GC in 12th. Although retaining 3rd in YR, after losing over 6minutes, I've dropped to 24th GC and cannot help but think maybe I don't pull up well from deep-tissue massage? Or maybe I don't pull up well from 6days of hard racing?

Results: La Route De France Feminine, Stage 6, Vittel - La Bresse, 131.3 kms

Thursday, 16 August 2007


Something usually goes wrong on tour but the 'something goes wrong' part is getting a little out of hand. Not only are we a rider and swanny short, we're also a team car and DS short after a small accident in race convoy today. A domino effect saw Broso run up the arse of the Chinese race vehicle, they drove away with a small scratch and we WALKED away with a bumper, leaving the rest roadside. The American's are back in yellow, keeping the pace tempo for the majority of the 150kms, an average of 38kms/hr sort of tells that story though. At 60kms Lou went domestique style back for bidons but chilly weather meant we stored them down our jerseys. This however didn't prevent others from staging a European 'pisso'... my very first! By far the most exciting part of the race was through feed when a Chinese rider ploughed headfirst, rather fast, into a solid tree roadside :(

The legs must have felt the distance and the longer climbs in the second half of the race, because I found myself looking down to assure I hadn't punctured in the closing kilometre. A tight-right hander preceded a seated sprint, the legs were very gone! So I was impressed when I came past Tiff in the home straight to finish 9th, Tiff 16th. Kate is back to 5th in QOM after running second on the harder climb of the day with no change to GC. A busy evening followed. I was selected for random drug testing before navigating the van with Josie to our next housing. Manny then carried out DS duties over dinner and soigneur massages before bed, knowing that for the first time I hadn't been screwed with rooming arrangements. Massage comments: I tried to be strong and handle the pain while Dazza thrashed my legs, I'm not sure it was such a good thing...

Results: La Route De France Feminine, Stage 5, Saint Menehloude - Vittel, 150.4 kms

Wednesday, 15 August 2007


With an average of 45kms/hr it was Amber Neben who slaughtered the 64 girls still remaining in the race to take back the yellow jersey for the American's. I believe it was at the 20km to go banner than I began to lactate, and at 15kms that I wished Broso had chosen to drive behind somebody else, and finally at 10k to ride when I hit an uphill incline that I thought I would come to a stand still. There was no out-of-saddle action that lasted longer than 3seconds because I collapsed before getting to that point. With 2minute gaps I was almost impressed when I caught somebody, before realising it was Hyland who had crashed twice that morning. The finish line was very much welcomed and in knowing that our double stage had come to an end, I was elated!

Stephanie Pohl (Hoffmann) extended her lead in the young rider classification after finishing 6th, with American Mara Abbott relegating me to 3rd. My placing of 21st was just one below my performance in the recent Kowalski Tour TT! Kate was half a second behind in 22nd, leaving us 2minutes from a podium finish, still holding top 20 on GC. Thanks must go to New Zealand for allowing me to borrow their trainer, swanny and race wheels for the afternoon :) After Josie had checked off for random drug-testing we made our way to another one-night housing where I was once again placed with Tiff. The flashing lights slightly resembled those you might witness when locating a brothel! But never judge a book by it's cover... aside from the dimly lit hallways, the inner and outer particulars had nothing in common.

Results: La Route De France Feminine, Stage 4b, Amilly - Amilly, 22.4 kms


It came as no surprise that this mornings 94km stage was quite sedated, aside from three crashes in neutral, the first involving newly crowned yellow jersey holder Rasmussen (Menikini) within the opening 200metres. The wet roads proved for entertainment when I found myself near the front for 5kms of single file gutter action through relatively small towns. One by one I watched girls attack and deck themselves through roundabouts and corners, 5 in total, Michelle Hyland (NZL) accounting for two. She was riding strong and I felt bad for her as they had already sent 3 NZL girls home that morning via train. I stayed upright and in the closing stages found position and prayed that the rain would hold off for the finish.

Another bunch kick saw me place 4th and I'm beginning to wonder if I am indeed growing some sort of arse that brings with it sprinting ability? Rochelle was given most aggressive on the day after starting in the rain and withdrawing after 2kms due to excruciating pain in her shoulder. A buffet lunch put on by Broso and Dazza almost went to waste when Kate and I informed them that meals were being provided on our split-stage. But when presented with a hairy chicken for lunch, which was quite tender if I do say so myself, the girls were still slightly peckish. A drive around the 22.4km time trial circuit seemed longer than expected in the car, and I had no doubt that it would feel even longer on the bike.

Results: La Route De France Feminine, Stage 4a, Saintry - Amilly, 94.2 kms

Tuesday, 14 August 2007


After avoiding the Futuroscope DS at our magnificent buffet breakfast this morning I couldn't help but think back to yesterday when I had eaten with a smiling Bel, optimistic about racing and in high spirits after being in contact with Craig and family. I didn't say much in last night's report as I was quite distraught about the whole incident. I had gone back after finishing and seen her lying on the ground, head swollen, covered in blood. They had began to cut her clothes off and wouldn't allow Ath to travel with her in the ambulance. As I stood on the roadside crying I tried to predict the damage. Rochelle has bruised her hip and suffered multiple contusions in her shoulder. Bel has broken her clavicle and scapula, stitches now holding the left side of her face together. She is to fly home with us next week, no operations.

Many things ran through my mind as we raced. We no longer had our sprinter, or our swanny, or a full team of 'Perform Group' girls. Dazza has now been nicknamed our 'manny', a play on words with mechanic-swanny and man-nanny, after giving pre-race rubs. It seemed the local population of children under 12 had been placed on bikes to escort us for our 10km neutral section out of town, before we were faced with strong 'facial air currents' (cross winds) making any appearance near the front difficult. Persistence on Menkini's behalf saw Rasmussen (Menikini) and Ugolini (Chirio) obtain a gap late in the race. A 40second bonus dwindled to 7 when a steep QOM 4kms from the finish upset the field. Although moving to 13th after stealing 7th in the stage as first young rider, by no means does it indicate that my legs had a better day. Another transfer sees me now with Tiff, our sleeping quarters upstairs and bathroom downstairs within our room, that may hurt the legs!

Results: La Route De France Feminine, Stage 3, Beauvais - Argenteuil, 101.1 kms

Monday, 13 August 2007


We've now changed accommodation and roomies. I'm living with Lou in a 4x4 metre room, showering in a bath with use of a fresh towel, and constantly connected to our free wi-fi. This set-up, with Lou on Skype in the bathroom while my Mum and I hog the landline, is now known as luxury. Today was quite eventful with an average of 39kms/hr making any sort of unfortunate mishap a fair nightmare. A QOM at 11kms saw Bel suffer a puncture, while QOM 83kms featured Kate, placing her 3rd in the jersey classification. With 15kms to go I was towing Bel back to the main peloton, a 4km turn past 2 bunches, not an easy task when you consider the speed. At 10kms it was all back together before Josie broke a spoke and Lou mistook being with 'Barry in the box' as a puncture. Bel crashed within 50metres of stage victory after a collision with fellow Australian Rochelle Gilmore. She's been admitted to hospital.

With more teams than tables at dinner some people are forced to share. Last night we adopted a few Kiwi's, tonight Kate, Ath, Lou and I shared with the French team Futuroscope. Those not aware of my bread and butter addiction are obviously blind, and tonight I happened to be starvios. While waiting for our meals I consumed perhaps 2 baskets of bread with smothered butter... standard for me. After some giggling by the Frenchy's I went on to inhale my salad entree and request seconds at dinner. By the time the chef came around trying to barter his remaining six desserts, mine of which I had already eaten and then gone on to pick what remained off team-mates plates, the Futuroscope DS was pointing and laughing at me, signalling a fat stomach with his hands! I was totally offended but consumed the second dessert anyhow :)

Results: La Route De France Feminine, Stage 2, Neufchatel - Gournay, 103.4 kms

Sunday, 12 August 2007


The first road race of 'La Route de France' and I'm not lying when telling you that I was extremely nervous. The race consisted of 130kms with two Cat 2 climbs, both of which Kate ran 4th in, giving her 5th in the QOM classification. My legs are not as they were in Limousin and although never in any real trouble today, my form is not what I would like it to be. Broso said it takes 3 days to find your legs in long tours, I'm counting. Kori Seehafer, US National Team, was in yellow after the short prologue so when I was involved in a short tumble after assisting Bel over the second QOM, I was fortunate to have the American train put me back in contact with 10kms remaining. Passing under the 1km banner I found myself 5th wheel on the shoulder of Rochelle Gilmore, unable to find Bel in the bunch, hoping that she would find me...

With 450mtrs to race I heard a familiar voice yell "Yep, Pete!" Without turning I hit out down the left hand side and began my lead-out. We experienced unexpected cobbles and a gradual uphill incline with 200 to go as I watched Rochelle come off my wheel and take her first win for the season ahead of Bel in second. Although disappointed that we had come this far to lose to a fellow Aussie, Bel was appreciative, apologetic that she had allowed Rochelle to steal her lead-out. I finished in 6th as the first young rider, excited about my domestique duties despite the loss and walking away with a mere scratch from the fall, on my new Bianchi lever! Still seated in 17th on GC and 2nd YR it was nice to add the Team's Classification stage win to the list with Tiff finishing 12th on the day. Time to eat and the question stands... what surprises will dinner present?

Results: La Route De France Feminine, Stage 1, Fécamp - Neuchatel, 129.2 kms

Saturday, 11 August 2007


Was it some kind of sick practical joke that saw only Australia show for breakfast at 7:30am? Even the baker hadn't arrived so I was forced to wait for my baguette this morning, the first of six I totalled for the day. Ham and mash was replaced with chicken for lunch and pasta for dinner. They even provided us with pastry snacks that we've stolen and stashed in the team race food kitty as our budget is slowly dwindling. From race finish to the hotel I found myself dwelling on the return of our now 7 second shower button and am also dreading the newly introduced 'one-temp tap' that sees us brushing our teeth with warm water. Not to mention that pillows were never provided. Wish me luck =)

When I asked Bel how much time you can lose on a 2.2km time trial she replied 40 seconds. I was hoping that wasn't the case because a 25% cut-off time would see us out of the tour on conclusion of the prologue. Upon reflection by the team it was obvious that we found faults among ourselves over the 3 minutes of exercise. Some of us refuse to call it pain because the lactate never kicked in. We found ourselves arguing over who had the worst time trial, most of us claiming that we were the head of the Hubbard's (a poor bike handler) in the cornering class. From the 84 starters 83 managed to stay upright, with a lone Chinese girl taking a spill. From the 5 corners and 1 chicane I delivered well on... solely the chicane. I'm slightly disappointed with the effort but overly pleased with the result... of 17th... 8seconds down.

Results: La Route De France Feminine, Prologue, Fécamp, 2.2 kms

Friday, 10 August 2007


It was disappointing to finally discover that the fights surfacing over the need to use the washing machine were in vain. You see the water on our farm is untreated... slightly filthy, so we're required to incorporate washing powder and a sterilised tablet to every load in order to prevent staining. It turns out that Dazza had in fact purchased sterilised tablets opposed to powder; therefore our clothes have undergone a heavy duty water wash in sterilised water, nothing more and nothing less. It's like hand washing your clothes all over again! So when we fronted on the podium for tonight's presentation evening of the Tour de Feminine, we were in fact wearing dirty kit :(

With such a healthy food and exercise routine I have started to lean up. When I flew to Canberra I was weighing in at 57.5kgs, now I'm down to 55, but judging by the dodgy scales in our current bathroom that may be wrong. Either way it's good for the morale! What wasn't good for the morale was witnessing the feast that Ath and her partner Graham cooked up after their return on Wednesday. All of a sudden my pasta, chicken and veggies were looking quite bland and I came to the conclusion that maybe I was wrong when I said I could manage without her? Back to good situations for the morale... Broso had taken us out for a motor pace session behind the car and aside from the loss of heartbeat when a deer jumped out in front of the wagon, I loved it :) Bad morale... the sprints I had done earlier in the session and the rain that dampened my ride home.

After consuming all of the remaining food in the fridge and stocking up on snack food for our 8-hour road trip, we cleaned the house and prepared for a 5am departure. After seating arguments had been resolved we started on our way and just 5-hours in (I think Broso was being cautious after the Michel incident) we met with 'Fecamp', our new home for the next few days. A few hours were wasted at the internet cafe in town while organisation of registration and accomodation went on. Fecamp, despite the queer name, turned out to be a beautiful beachside town. The shores, covered in stones, were lined further up the coast with white-walled Alabaster cliffs, so crepes and frites went down well that evening while seated on the Esplanade.

Our race style accomodation was exactly how it sounds. Three to a small room with semi-communal sink and showers, two of each between six athletes. After changing into dirty kit for a short ride, we then came home and showered to once again dress in dirty kit for team presentation. On discovering that preso's had been delayed for an hour, the thought of extra chamois time became unbearable and I was forced to change into appropriate underwear for an hour of relief. Despite wishes to remain on the water and watch the concert that had been organised on behalf of the athletes, we attended dinner. Ham, ham, ham, ham, ham!! With a side of potato and grated carrot we feasted on the provided pre-tour dinner. Can we not talk about it please? It upsets me.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007


Ath is not up for sale, trade or discussion as our swanny... but we did allow her to spend 5 days with her partner Graham. She has since returned to find that we survived without her and were happy to gain some independence and take on some responsibility for the week. We're trying desperately to entertain ourselves. Kate plays UNO with Tiff until she wins, while Dazza has shaved his head. Well Broso shaved it against Dazza's will and then left a rat's tail that looks utterly idiotic! We left it for a day and then it too said good riddance. It is quickly growing back. He sought revenge and had us undergo lessons on how to clean our bikes. Splashing around in soapy water and gumboots was more fun than I remember! I'll get him back while he's sleeping on a matress on the loungeroom floor...

We've had some unbelievably hot days whereby I had no choice but to cake the whole body in sunscreen, jeopardising my tanning time but preventing the likelihood of skin cancer. These are usually followed by a few cold days whereby the washing is to dry in our room. It's that time of our stay, just as we are almost preparing to leave, that we have settled into a routine. Walk's and stretching sessions have been incorporated into our daily regimes and everybody seems to have their head either buried in the pillow for an afternoon nap, or into a good book. I wait every morning for Broso to get reception so that I can receive updates on the Junior World Championships and it's good to know the Aussie's are riding well. Travis gold IP & Scratch, O'shea gold omnium, Palmer gold Kilo, TP boys gold, Josie World Record!

Our training days have been filled with time trial, power or sprint efforts whereby we generally sight a deer along the picturesque roads, something Dazza says is rare in France despite the evident warning signs. Generally we do extra's, sometimes by mistake when Dazza takes roads that aren't actually on the map or sometimes because Broso decides that 4.5hours in the rain is considered fun. Afternoon excursions are planned by Dazza with Chateau's, art shows and shopping complexes on the menu, although I often stay back to converse with my Mum for hours on end. The final member of our team for Tour de Feminine has finally arrived in Josie Loane. At 27, the Queenslander has joined us from the women's AIS squad, a breath of fresh air to the team bringing with her new stories.

Thursday, 2 August 2007


Happy 49th Birthday to Big Jim (for yesterday) :) Although I wish I could be there to celebrate with chocolate and Pizza I know you will somehow manage all of that without me... take it easy on the Chomps! Having no commitments is different for me, giving me time to think about the important things such as my health and well-being. The worst thing I've eaten in the past two days is a dry biscuit spread with honey. I'm cooking some feasts that hold me in good stead for cooking duties when I return home. Mum... I think I actually like salad! I spend my days salivating over the meal to come; surely this is some kind of unhealthy disease?

We took the most direct roads to our hill of SE (strength endurance) effort selection, travelling via 'Harriet' the horse and journeying past Dazza's new woman whom he described as 'the filthy bikini-wearing female with good legs and a nice rack'. We're trying to set him up but may have to look a little farther. It felt good to incorporate some intensity back into the program but needless to say we were jealous when riding past Ath enjoying coffee and pastries in the sun. Today marks our 30th day as a team and although not a special milestone the coaches will find anything to celebrate. So off to dinner they went... without us! We've given Dazza an age range to work with, 18-80 years seemed pretty comfortable. He fancied the waitress at dinner I heard but she was only 12 so it was back to Mary, who turns out to be British.