Sunday, 16 March 2014


'Happy Birthday' - this is my favourite quote from the team, a sarcastic response to things that they are not fans of. For e.g 30hrs of travel two days before a race, training when it's only 3 degrees outside, or when the UCI calendar presents three 140km+ races in four days! Yes, welcome to Europe- Happy Birthday to me..

I arrived in Belgium on Tuesday at our team house in Boogenhout where Jarrod and I will be based for most of the year. It was a long flight with a short stop-over in Dubai and London, and a sad ending when our MTB's didn't arrive at the airport- typical when I forgot to take out travel insurance. We spent the day at the shops, building bikes, making our new house a home, and of course in bed- trying to beat the old jet-lag. When we woke the next morning at 4am our bikes had arrived- phew!

On Wednesday we decided to pop into a nearby town for some more food and stumbled across an early-morning market. The air was brisk, the conversation scarce, and the smell of pastry filled the air. To me this was what I expected Belgium to be and I pinched myself that just two days ago I was in little ol' Bendigo. How special this bike riding game is..


Start: Dwingeloo, Netherlands
Finish: Dwingeloo, Netherlands
Distance: 139km
Status: UCI 1.2
Team: Giorgia, Bea, Emilia, Schnitzy, Emily and I
Staff: Franky, Jarrod and Pascal

Thursday = race day. We loaded into the truck and camper en route to Holland, but not without a bit of drama- flat battery in the truck- happy birthday. The estimated 2.5hr drive turned into 4hrs and we arrived at our hotel with just 90min to race start. It would be my first time racing in Holland which meant my first experience of 'dutch racing' and of course the all famous cobbles.

I wasn't nervous for the race itself, but I was very worried about the distance as my training of late has been very short and specific for the MTB. I was also nervous that I was unable to ride my very new Colnago C59 yesterday. With wider 'Deda' bars, a different 'Fizik' saddle, and the new style 'Look' pedals the bike felt all wrong when I rode it to the start-line, but there was no time to change anything and I would just have to make do.

At least the sun was out in Holland!
Photo courtesy Bart Hazen

Not surprisingly the race was flat but the wind was being kind today. We had four laps of a 6.5k circuit followed by a transition loop of 32k back to Dwingeloo for another five laps of an 11.6k circuit. The roads were quite narrow by my standards, with two cobbled sections of 3k and 2k in length, and a shit load of corners- it took me 24k to get to the front of the 127 rider field! I was spoilt to be sixth wheel when we hit the first cobbled section and somehow managed to sail over them. I was in a big gear, hands on the flat part of the bar and slightly off the wheel to allow for punctures, crashes or any other mistakes that girls seem to make. I was NOT crashing out of the race today.

On the second cobbled section things went sour for the team. Bea and Giorgia both had mechanicals on the second cobbled section, while Emily was caught behind the mayhem that is cobbles. Their bunch was sadly pulled from the race on the finishing circuit. Schnitzy, Emilia and I came out the other side unscathed and formed part of the lead bunch of 50. As the race went on I could feel the effects of jet-lag and lack of km's kicking in. A few breaks went and came back but we were present in none of them and attempted to lead Emilia out for the finish. She was mostly on her own to finish 8th and I sailed in for 24th. That's right folks- I finished my first European race as a Wiggle….go me :)

Results: Via CyclingNews
Garmin: Via Strava


Start: Hoogeveen, Netherlands
Finish: Hoogeveen, Netherlands
Distance: 146.6km
Status: UCI World Cup - CDM
Team: Giorgia, Lotte, Emilia, Schnitzy, Emily and I
Staff: Franky, Jarrod and Pascal

So here I was, the first World Cup of the year. I still wasn't nervous, only about my developing saddle sore from wearing fresh new 'dhb' kit everyday. It's like a new pair of shoes, you just have to wear them in first. The team was complete for racing when Lotte arrived, and it was into the camper again en route to Hoogeveen. Another field of 126 riders but with a few bigger names in the mix, and another four cobbled sections- 500m, 4km, 3km, 2km. Throw in three times up the Vamberg, a 500m man-made hill paved over a rubbish mound with sections up to 23% (this shows just how much Holland love their cycling) and we have a bike race.

I won't say too much about the race as I was barely in it. I had no impact on the team result and was merely a face in a crowd battling to survive. My legs were really heavy from Thursday and I failed to even get to the front as the bunch sprinted their way into the first cobbled section. I chased around girls as they dropped the wheel and when the vibration and numbing sensations were over I found myself in the second group with Emily and Schnitzy. The good news was that Emilia, Lotte and Giorgia had made lead bunch, but some hard chasing from behind saw the race come back together.

L-R: Mayuko, Bea, Emilia, Schnitzy, Giorgia, Emily, Lotte and I
Photo courtesy Bart Hazen

From here all hell broke loose. The race split into three groups- Giorgia bunch 2, the rest of us bunch 3. It was painful to know that she had no support up front and the girls chased so hard to try to make it back to her. I went back to the car for bottles but was so rooted that I never got to deliver them, instead drinking all four myself just to make it to the end. On the Vamberg our bunch split again and Schnitzy towed me to the finish. It was an epic day. Two epic days this week for me. In fact only 70 girls finished- I was 68th.

It's been six years since I raced in Europe and in that time I haven't even completed a whole domestic road season. It's also my first time in Holland, and on cobbles, and in a way it all feels new to me. Slowly I will learn, become stronger and my team will teach me what I need to know to help them win bikes races. Baby steps..

Results: Via CyclingNews
Garmin: Via Strava


Start: Coevorden, Netherlands
Finish: Coevorden, Netherlands
Distance: 140km
Team: Giorgia, Bea, Lotte, Emilia, Mayuko and Shell
Staff: Franky, Jarrod and Pascal

Today we remain in Holland for the third race this week. Only Giorgia and Emilia will complete the triple and I am thankful to have a day off the bike. I'm excited to join Jarrod and Franky in the race car to get an insight into what goes on in the convoy, while Schnitzy and Emily will travel in the camper with Pascal and be 'super swannys' for a day. Today's race sees riders go back over the Vamberg 'hill of rubbish' early in the piece, and then tackle EIGHT cobbled sections- as Schnitzy would say.. happy f***in' birthday!