2011 is shaping up to be an exciting year for me with many new adventures and experiences lying ahead. It is almost like a refresh button has been pushed for me after quite a turbulent year last year with so much going on, and I have finally got myself back on track and ready see what I can do.
I have just entered into my 10th year of cycling and right up until last year everything was going smooth, making great progressions going from strength to strength and improving at a nice pace. I have had the opportunity to explore the world from a young age and gain invaluable experience both on and off the bike along the way.
2010 was meant to be the year to take things to the next level after a breakthrough year in 2009 recording some of my biggest results to date. By the end of the season I had signed my first European pro contract with the former Nurnberg Women’s team and everything was going along as planned. With less than a month before the start of the new season everything came crashing down. I awoke to an email in German telling me that the major sponsor had pulled out at the last minute and the future of the team was unknown. I had gone from an exciting year planned out with a good race program, strong team, and overseas living arrangements sorted, to suddenly not knowing if I would still have the opportunity to be able to race my bike in Europe.
December isn’t the best time of the year for your team to fold, as trying to find a ride with another team isn’t easy with so many teams having completed their rosters already. Lucky for me, I had the great support of the Australian national program that made space for me and took me back on board. They had a really good 2010 race program and a fantastic set up, but the program is there to bring girls over to Europe to give them the opportunity to race at the highest level and to develop them with the goal of signing professional. For me it was so hard to get my head back on straight and focused properly throughout the season, as I had made the jump and graduated from the program only to be back there trying to make an impression on pro teams again. I was given many opportunities to be the lead rider in the races we started, but unfortunately I didn’t have the performance or results I had hoped for and things just didn’t click. I made a few mistakes during the season but have learnt from them and they have made me a stronger person.
Towards the end of the season I finally got things back on track and signed with the Lotto Ladies Team and my old self returned. I was racing well, motivated and ambitious; I stepped back on the podium in my first race with the team, and finished the season on a high having the rare opportunity to represent my country at my home World Championships in Australia.
In 2011 things are much more settled. I have clear goals, a strong and stable team as I resigned with the Belgium based Lotto Honda Team, and already the season has started strongly with an early season win under my belt at the Jayco Bay Criterium Series. I have had the opportunity to meet some of my new teammates at the opening race of the women’s UCI calendar, the Ladies Tour of Qatar. I am really happy with the team, we have a good set up and great equipment and it is fun team to be a part of, with a good group of girls and staff to ride and work with. I will meet the rest of the team at our first training camp in March in Toscana.
I arrived in Europe about a week ago to Monaco where I will be living with my boyfriend in 2011. At just 22 years old, this will be the 5th country over 3 continents that I have lived in. It is always fun moving to a new spot, lots of different things to explore, a new culture to immerse myself in, more languages to learn and plenty of new training roads to explore. After being here for just a week I already love it, it is a beautiful area with so much great training and a nice lifestyle.
The European season kick’s off this weekend for the women up in Belgium with the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. The race starts and finishes in Gent, not too far from the Lotto Honda team house; it is the first of the cobbled classics. I’m looking forward to lining up with the Lotto Honda Team and we will be hoping to have a strong race on home turf and hopefully I can utilize my early season fitness to get some results on the board.
Here’s to a fresh start, a new year of motivation, goals and continuing to love what I am doing … riding my bike.
Thanks for reading.