But in Cycling it’s one of the hardest things for me to do. You see, me being an expat in Australia has set me up for isolation. I’m too Canadian for the Australians and too Australian for the Canadians. This leaves me in this constant state of limbo. Sometimes life is amazing. I get to travel, race Olympians, have crowds cheer for me. Other times it just sucks. And right now is one of those times.
It all started a couple years ago. When Cycling Australia changed the rules. different nationalities were no longer allowed to race track nationals. The rules state, if you have raced another countries nationals, you need a 2 year exclusion in order to be eligible to race Aussie nationals. That year was the first year I was selected to the NSW long squad. No matter what I did I could not race, my season was over. I was gutted.
I was still fairly new to racing, and this was a real eye opener, a view of things to come. While over in Canada, I had to defend my ‘Canadian-ness’ by proving I was Canadian, and eligible for medals. Then when i came come back to Sydney I was told, sorry you’re too Canadian- you can’t race. I felt numb and stateless.
I’m a sucker for punishment. I know the rules. I read the technical regs every time they get released, just to make sure I don’t fall into any weird loop hole. I know the rules but it doesn’t make it any easier.
This year I raced Canadian nationals. Went to registration, only to be told ‘You can race but you can’t medal- you’re not Canadian’ I instantly answered ‘I am Canadian’ and proceeded to argue the rules until, an hour later, it was confirmed I was a Canadian and could compete for the championship medals. It happens every time I register, and although I know I’m right, I feel like the maple syrup is being drained from my heart. It doesn’t become any easier.
When I got back, I decided to protect myself from a bit of hurt. I decided to race the Queensland State Titles and not the NSW ones. By not riding in NSW, I would eliminate myself from the selection pool. The only problem was I totally kicked ass in QLD. Won 4 titles, PB’d everything, and made a selection time in the flying 200. And by selection time I mean for Canada and NSW. So happy and so sad. All I want to do is train with a squad of girls that’ll allow me to push them and them to push me. I want to be challenged to become the best racer I can. Because I live too far from Canada I can’t expect the Canadian program to support me, and because I can’t race for NSW I can’t expect them to support me either.
Life isn’t fair, and sometime you just gotta deal with things and keep going on with what makes you happy.
I sometimes question why I stick with the sport. I spend hundreds of dollars on Cycling Australia membership. But the racing licence I have does not allow me to race (at track nationals). So I spend thousands of dollars on an international licence, and thousands more on flights so I can go argue my nationality, and race on home soil. It seems unfair. Then to just rub a little salt in, Cycling Australia needs the women’s Madison at the Austral to be a UCI class 1 event. They have opened up the national champs on the track for that one event and asked me to race. Again, I’m a sucker for punishment. Of course I said yes. I love racing Madison’s and I’m not bitter enough with the system to say no and deny someone else a future opportunity. It makes me feel used, but I don’t think anyone making the policy realizes. It’s not fair.
So, why do I do it? Why do I keep trying to buddy up with the Canadians when they see me as a Citizen by convenience? Why don’t I change my UCI code from CAN to AUS and get access to training out here.?
I like the opportunities my Canadian-ness offers. I like being able to travel, to be know as the Canadian on the pink bike. I do enjoy the lack of pressure, because no one has expectations of me. I do have an absolute blast at racing. It’s not easy being in country limbo, but for every hard part, there are 10x amazing memories.
I do feel there is something missing. I want to be part of something, I want to represent. But for now, as the rules stand, I’m limited. This means I’m a vocal spokes person for my Club, St George CC. I race around the country in their kit, getting onto as many podiums as I can. I also support a lot of grass roots events- RAW track, the Sydney Christmas Carnivals, Bankstown Sports Keirin Cup, Victorian Sprint Series, Roller Frenzy, Penny Farthings. I write reports, get news out of the events, I really feel like I’m representing the club level racer, and I get recognized for the efforts. It’s not the same as making a state team, but you know what, I recon in some ways its better. And that’s why I keep at it.
I wasn’t at states this weekend because I didn’t want to set myself up for disappointment. But instead I missed and opportunity to have some good racing. I’m upset with the rules. I’m upset with the system. I’m disappointed my track season finished before it even got started.