Saturday, 29 March 2008


Firstly, happy Easter! Although not my first Easter away from home, it almost felt like it. Usually I'm surrounded by a group of testosterone driven males, who, have no appreciation for family ties over Easter, and are simply satisfied with substantial amounts of chocolate. This year, I spent my 'chocolate day' as I like to call it, with the AIS girls, who, would have traded all the eggs in the world to see their loved ones, four days before overseas departure. So, as if to feel part of the group, I dwelled on the absence of my family for a while...that was until our Easter egg hunt began, when 'chocolate day' started to call on me! Now let’s talk statistics. I consumed eight mini eggs of 2.5cm in diameter; 2 of which were caramel, 2 white, and 1 nutella tasting. Following that, 2 medium eggs 5cm in width, made up of quite a thin layer of chocolate though, saving my 15cm bunny until last. Three eggs in and I was suffering a toothache, followed by a stomach ache, which began to plague my progress. But a good athlete never quits, and I downed the whole batch easily, in under an hour. Better yet? I didn't feel guilty, because it was 'chocolate day' =)

Gone are the days of discovering our eggs so 'cleverly' hidden in the dryer. I'm 20 now, so it was time to step up to the vigorous demands of Laura and Dave's (our sports physiologists) expedition. It all started at 9am, compared to my 12-yr old days where chocolate consumption began before 5am, and it didn't take long for me to find my first egg. Actually, it fell out of my helmet, and I looked at it for a good five seconds before realising what it was! From here on, I emptied the contents of my drink bottle and used it as a storage device for any chocolate I was to earn that day. I couldn't eat it just yet...I'd just brushed my teeth! A series of letters and directions guided us through the day, which meant that our supposed 35km trek was extended to over 40kms...poor navigation! We started with a prologue of 5kms, our first destination seeing us in search of a mini egg each (of which I was last to find), before a 'how slow can you go' track stand competition. Seeing as Spratt is the only one capable of performing an actual track stand, the remainder of us simply riding slowly, it was no surprise that she earnt herself an extra egg.

From here, Carla took over the role of navigator, and I was her assistant. Immediately we missed a turn, which saw us trying to convince the other girls that a u-turn was actually part of the directions...extremely unsuccessfully. We arrived at Dave's not long after, intruding on his family Easter to hi-jack his trampoline. This time I was like an egg detector, which shamed me when it was voiced that his two young sons has so 'discretely' hidden our shells (in clear view), that opened to three more miniature eggs. Another envelope, another challenge...stunt-time on the trampoline! There was a mixture of emotions for the task ahead. I was nervous; it had been a long time since I'd jumped, even on solid ground. I was excited; what creative jumps could we invent? And what surprise was to come? (more eggs I assumed). But those feelings were quickly over-shadowed by pure fear; of injury, as I was attempting a flip, still alive to tell the story =) Then our greatest challenge of the WEEK (pictured above with Dave giving directions). Bird announced that those over 60kgs were to brace the bottom row, and after my five sausages the night prior, I'm pretty sure I was tipping the scales! The picture tells all, aside from the screams of pain during the building process of the pyramid. Folks, those aren't smiles!

We farewelled the Martin's (pictured above) and ditched the maps en route to Laura's. Once again, a photo helps to explain what I struggle to (pictured below with Laura guiding). We dismounted our Teschner's and stacked them alongside the van, the whole time fixated on the Twister board spread across the lawn, which saw more 12-yr old memories flooding back. After going through the egg hunting process (I was last again), Laura spun the wheel, eventually making up colours and body part distributions to make the game more interesting for Donna and herself as they looked on! Our final instructions before brew were to savour the chocolate bunny's in Laura's backyard (pictured top). I was determined to prove that my Mum's occupation as a Cadbury rep hadn't made me immune to the presence of chocolate, and was first to start searching, yet still I required a hint to discover one of the last prizes =( It was the best Easter ever, according to my short term memory! For more photos and a shorter report on camp (now that you've all read this) view the AIS Women’s Road Diary on cycling news. The two days to follow were plagued by rain, a terrible Mexican pizza, and the unwanted sight of Ross in the gym. Departure day however, was more than welcome!

It was cold, but luckily void of rain for my final day in Canberra. I could only pray that I was puncture free today, as a week along bike paths had used up my four reserved tubes. I was eager to see home again, I think, or I may have just been eager to prowl the DFO's at the other end...3 hours of shopping can certainly be considered a workout! With heavy rain impeding the roads, traffic was slow, and it's a sad statement, but I was grateful that Mum had broken down in the old Ford a few days prior and that we were safely in the comfort of the heated Elantra. As the AIS girls organise their belongings after arriving in Varese, Italy, I've returned to Melbourne for some scenic training around Kinglake. My first adventure to this relatively hilly terrain North East of Melbourne was a good one, consisting of four girls; not including Anna Wilson, who I had dragged out of the house at 6am to endure the first hour of what I had to, a motorbike; ridden by the skilful and experienced Stuart McKenzie, black skies; although no rain, and a tailwind home; all downhill! Motor pacing, 5 degree mornings, combined with what I hope to by a dry Glenvale tomorrow, are true reminders that I'm finally back home!

Saturday, 22 March 2008


Back to where I last left you all. Our media launch… in preparation for the predicted photos at our shoot, I decided to moisturise my unshaven legs. In the process I managed to rip the wrinkled skin from the surface of my burn, leaving it sensitive, splotchy, and very noticeable! How would this show up on camera?! I went to the nurse to have it treated and covered, and now I have a bandage from my knee to my ankle!…very noticeable to say the least! Then, looking like a cripple, I once again enjoyed the pain involved in time trials, and the hurt that our strength and conditioning coach, Ross, likes to put us through. Not far from that thought, are those that passed on Tuesday when I was treated to one of the hardest sessions of my life. To celebrate our successful completion of such training, as a team, after skinfolds had been taken of course, we indulged in Pizza, followed by Baskins and Robbins for dessert =)

To work off all of that food before Easter was upon us, we spent some more time out on the slopes of the famous Mount Stromlo, before venturing to the criterium circuit in Stromlo Park itself on Wednesday evening. It was the ACT Criterium Championships and the 10 of us had been separated into teams of five. ‘Team Donna’ (and Laura) were to coach Amanda Spratt, Josie Loane, Vicki Whitelaw, Sara Carrigan and Ruth Corset to victory. While Bridie O‘Donnell, Carla Ryan, Carlee Taylor, Louise Kerr and I, were to be guided by ‘Team Benny’ (and Dr. Dave). We were secretly worried about the opposition and their tactical approach, but decided that our team would be aggressive, and I would unfortunately claim the title of the designated sprinter…pressure! I was also team leader on the road…communication would be our winning ingredient. My roomy Sara (pictured above) gave away nothing, so if anything dangerous was to go up the road, I needed to be there!

I crossed to an early break of Bird, Vicki and Ruth with two Canberrian’s (I just made that word up) early in the race. The odds saw me second in a sprint finish, so after Bird - AKA - Wonder Woman, regained her composure from a puncture, she laid down the gauntlet with 10 minutes remaining and rode solo to her first criterium win! ACT Crit Champ! In the closing lap Carla and Josie made contact and a final bid for the podium, but with fresh legs I was able to take out second in the elite (smashed in the sprint by local youngster Chloe Hosking), followed by Ruth in third. With medallions around the neck (pictured) and video cameras still plastered to some of our bikes, we headed home in high spirits. Before our departure, an almost unnecessary apology was made of behalf of the CCC to the AIS Women’s squad in regards to our previous appearance. We were quite chuffed to find that they love to have us at racing just as much as we love to race! We’ll be back next year guys!

There are many different beliefs on hot/cold recovery treatments. The short of it is…everybody loves the spa, and we are encouraged to finish in the freezing depths of the plunge pool to reap the benefits. Now the problem? Some girls didn’t sleep until 1am, and there was a congregation of athletes in the kitchen between 3-4am for a midnight snack! So despite the evidence that cold therapy makes you sleepy…I can’t help but think it may be slightly anecdotal. Now another of the not-so-fun aspects at the AIS…the 30 minute time trial test! I played with my pacing, put ‘Numb/Encore’ on repeat, and took on the challenge. New PB’s are never unwelcome, nor is a first-rate Aussie BBQ at Laura and Shaun’s =) Just quietly, sausages are heaven to me, and they only tasted better as I worked my way to five! With Donna Ray-Szalinski on board as coach for the week, she decided to show us why she’s highly respected in the cycling community. It MAY be because of her coaching skills, but I would attribute it to her brownie baking ability (pictured)!

Monday, 17 March 2008


When asked to participate in a calendar to raise funds for the Amy Gillett Foundation, I was more than flattered. So on Wednesday, I travelled to Melbourne to parade in the not-always-flattering lycra. It was embarrassing to say the least, so while posing on a lazy chair; I kept telling myself it was for a good cause! It was a gorgeous day, so I spent some quality time on the beach, rode 15kms in flip-flops, and passed that as my training for the day. Later on, Alex and I took his neighbours dogs for a walk. By the first corner, we had removed three bags of fresh excrement from the base of near-by trees, not my favourite past-time. After dinner, dressed in the appropriate attire (pictured - wearing ugg-boots out of view), Alex took me for a spin on his motorbike. It was exciting, dangerous and appealing…until I burnt my left calf on the exhaust pipe, which has now bubbled at the surface and continuously excretes puss! Eww…

I fell asleep on the couch that night, but at least I was awake in time for training with Davo, unlike Alex. I gave him breakfast on the way by means of a jam sandwich from my back pocket, yet we still managed to miss motor pacing. When the outrageous heat calmed for the day, some crazy incentive saw me with the running shoes on for a jog around the block. The pain didn’t set in until I completed a solid gym session, whereby after, there wasn’t many muscles in my body that I wasn’t aware of! Organisation is required when I decide to have a good time, and as Sunday saw me starting back at camp, Saturday was my last opportunity to accomplish this. As an athlete, I feel guilty when sacrificing my training or recovery, so after a morning bunch ride, a 2hr sleep at eleven, and a 2hr sleep at eight, I cleared the sleep from my eyes and got ready to meet the girls (pictured)! Some dancing, good laughs, and a lengthy car-trip to Melbourne, and I was too close to Canberra for comfort.

Before and during a flight, it’s best not to read a novel about a group of amateur rugby players who survive a plane crash, and ten long weeks of endurance in the icy, desolate wastes of the Andes Mountains. Then, one by one, they are forced to eat the flesh of their friends to survive. With my skinfolds, I’m pretty sure the team would opt to eat me first! Back to the Altitude house with a new roomy in Sara Carrigan. Back to the AIS food hall with three buffet meals a day. And back to intense training with nine other girls here to endure the AIS Easter training camp. I was in no way disappointed that our first night was devoid of altitude, and that our first session was recovery at a choice time. After getting slightly lost with Carlee Taylor out on the bike, I’m now on my way to attend the official media launch of the 2008 Women’s AIS Road Team. Time to actually brush the hair, squeeze those abs, and paint on that smile! =)

Tuesday, 11 March 2008


It’s hard for some men. My Dad doesn’t stop to fill the car with petrol, so it’s no surprise that he doesn’t like to eat out, or even enter any sort of shopping centre. So when I forced him to do the latter two as part of my birthday present, he was close to death, in a non-literal way. With this sacrifice agreed to, there was no way he would be encouraged to attend my hair appointment on Wednesday, where I became a much happier girl having my caramel blonde back. Now only an outing to the waxing salon remained, to take care of the overgrown lawn strips across my forehead, before I could finally set off to Melbourne to catch up with Apryl and Livia (pictured below: with me after salsa). Dinner was a first, eating out at a Japanese restaurant. But it was a poor attempt, missing out on a floor seat and optioning against the raw fish. From there, another first in Salsa dancing. Take away the odd feisty old man with sweaty palms, and I would definitely recommend it!

It’s hard to describe the feeling of returning home… relief and happiness, yet stressful and traumatic. It’s a whole bundle of both positive and negative emotions, but primarily, it’s a reality check. Back to training solo, work at the bike shop, cooking meals, spending money and now study. So I decided, with my 20th birthday upcoming, that I would do none of the above…and simply enjoy my week =) (pictured below: Angie and I now 20 years old!) So Friday saw a day in the city for me to catch up with some friends. In the morning, I enrolled at Swinburne TAFE, now studying a Certificate IV in Fitness. Not only did it drain my bank account of the savings I had, but it weighed down my suitcase with multiple heavy textbooks that I am dreading having to account for in excess luggage when flying! Then I roamed the city, forgetting how much I love the place for short periods of time, before stopping for coffee with Anna and Japanese again, for Lunch with Ev.

On Saturday I joined the morning bunch for a ride, because I knew I would be the one to consume the batch of honey crackles later that day (this was true). For birthday celebrations, my parents took me to lunch, and after the honey crackle incident, I began to prepare for dinner. My twin sister, Angie, had organised a dinner at a Mexican restaurant for 30 people. Let’s just say that you don’t go there for the meals, but the alcoholic beverages on offer. While Angie consumed her strawberry margarita in a fish bowl, Kristy and I ordered from the kids menu an OJ surprise - orange and lime juice with vanilla ice-cream (pictured below)…surprisingly delicious. As soon as everyone had played with their food and sent their meals back, Kristy and I bailed on the celebrations and headed off in search of birthday desserts, which just so happened to be toblerone cheesecake =) It was one drink, three clubs, and four hours of dancing before my head hit the pillow…weak!

Yesterday was my transition day, half athlete day, half normal person day. After a return trip to Rawson on the bike, where I struggled the whole climb, I prepared to attend the Moe Jazz Festival in conjunction with the horse racing. It seems that not a single person under 50 was interested in the event, not even the horses as it was 40 degrees and they had been pulled from the track. After 3 minutes, we girls had labelled the idea a failure, and decided to drown our sorrows in a McDonald’s sundae. I spent the afternoon with Angie, watching her boyfriend Rory continue celebrations from his grand final win the day before (of which I witnessed). He is the proud captain of the local cricket team, and between the boys they drank enough to make up for their 16 years of losses. As one by one they covered the garden in vomit (eww), I realised they hadn’t bathed or slept in the 24hours since the game. Can we not savour our moments of glory while showering? Obviously not…

Monday, 3 March 2008


Gravel rash, tan lines, filthy hair and eating just for the sake of eating...I’m glad the tour is over. Within 48hours I will have changed my hairstyle, waxed my eyebrows, shaved my legs, painted my nails, spray tanned over these lines, and most importantly…picked out an outfit to celebrate my 20th birthday this weekend! I am writing this while seated in Qantas club on my way home to Melbourne. By now, most of the girls are at home unpacking their bags after leaving on the 3am bus to the airport. Some may not have slept, as last night we had a small celebration for the likes of Olivia Gollan, who, as of today, is retired. From here I have a week off the bike, for the joys of things such as shopping, ice-skating, salsa dancing and whatever else it is that I decide to entertain my time with. But first, a quick account of what took place on the final day of tour for the team (Pictured L-R: Josie, Spratt, Me, Bird, Tom Tom, Carla).

The backdrop (above) looks picturesque, but not much can be taken in when racing a point to point 6.5km time trial into a block headwind…lucky I didn’t ‘race’ it. Instead, I was able to save the legs to help the team in the criterium. The last day of competition had finally arrived, an important one for Carla as we were hoping to improve her 8th on GC. It was also an opportunity for Bird to have a shot at the stage win. With one minute intervals I was curious as to whether I would be caught out along Marine Parade. But that didn’t happen, even when positioned on the hoods, at 20k/hr in the 39-25! To my surprise, even after losing 2.5 mins to Kristin Armstrong, I wasn’t even last! On the other end of the scale, Bird managed top 10, with Spratt, Carla and Tiff top 20. Josie would have managed a good position had she not been penalised a ridiculous 10 seconds for false starting. She said she was a little 'too' keen to race.

After a short drive to the criterium course, and 3hours to spare before racing, we set up camp and received lunch and massages in the main street of Wellington. There were a few peculiar looks from local bystanders, many jealous comments from other teams, and no doubt that as members of the AIS...we get spoilt =) The race was just as I remembered; windy, sketchy, technical and fast. I did a dodgy and took two laps out after being caught behind a crash; Bird did well with her brief criterium history, while Tiff impressed all involved by completing the whole race! The girl has stitches in her elbow and can’t even brush her own hair! The remainder of us finished in the bunch, with skin, pride and young rider jersey intact. The GC did change, but not for us, with Carla retaining 8th, and Spratt 17th. It’s a successful start for the team, and as for climbing form can only improve...seriously…it can’t get much worse!

Results: NZCT Women's Tour, Stage 5, Wellington, Time Trial, 6.5kms
Results: NZCT Women's Tour, Stage 6, Wellington, Criterium, 1hr + 3laps
Results: NZCT Women's Tour, General Classification

Saturday, 1 March 2008


I’ve scored the double bed on the first floor at the Angus Inn, while Carla enjoys her single, and Josie sinks on her fold out bed...which we actually disposed of on our first night. The process of eating, manoeuvring 6 bikes into the back of our 12-seater, eating, racing, eating, cleaning our crash wounds, eating, massaging our sore muscles and buckled backs, eating and sleeping...has become quite monotonous. Another two days of racing have passed, and our results are still worth boasting about. Carla remains in 8th on GC, Spratty 18th, and I am not really worth mentioning! We still hold the young rider jersey and are hopeful that tomorrow will only improve our situation. As we become tired, the girls are turning their visit to the ‘chocolate room’ into a ritual and I am quite devastated to add that the cookies and cream dessert I bought last night was too big for our freezer. As a result, it has melted, and been disposed of...

Rumour has it that Bird has been found on numerous occasions burrowing through the fridge at 3am for an ‘up & go’. On the contrary, I had a poor day of food consumption yesterday. Question: What do you eat when faced with a 130km day in the hills, finishing on a 12km climb, in 33 degree heat? How about nothing? I know...its bad... I thought about it often, but I simply never got around to it in my spare four hours! Large amounts were however consumed later (pictured). To make the day more interesting, I crashed early on, and Tiff was swept from her bike before spending a good 20kms chasing to regain contact. I was pleased to be lead bunch when we hit Admiral hill, but that didn’t last long. Carla rode away with the leaders to finish 6th, I lost contact early to tempo up the climb solo, and Bird could be found alongside Ina Teutenberg as she yelled to those attacking her bunch “China, what you doing? You cannot win!” in her famous German accent. To say it took me 20seconds to stand up straight after dismounting is an understatement!

I could say things didn’t quite go to plan for me today during stage 4...unless you include dropping your chain on the climb and crashing on the final lap a race plan? The first 15kms were strung out single file, and it wasn’t until a small break formed off the front that the bunch became propped. With a short 10km circuit, I thought the 12 hill repeats would take their toll. But the legs felt good thanks to Bird, who bought me back to the bunch after my mechanical =) The feeding zone was hectic, the climb was steep, and the coastline was windy. The rain held off until after the descent on the final lap, but that didn’t prevent some massive crashes as the roads became wet and our brakes became inadequate. I was involved in the first, suffering nothing but some gravel rash and a minor cut on the hip. The second crash claimed the majority of the bunch within the final kilometre, including previous victim Tiff. This time she was suffering shock and in need of some stitches. She is again ready for battle tomorrow!

Results: NZCT Women's Tour, Stage 3, Masterton - Admiral Hill, 125.5kms
Results: NZCT Women's Tour, Stage 4, Miramar Circuit, 126.0kms