2020, What a year.
Nothing represents the ups and downs of the year like my Strava account. I was plodding along, slugging it in the gym. After signing onto Tesseract a few months earlier, racing (and doing well) in a few CL1 track races, I was on track to get a start at one of the world cups. But alas, it was not meant to be. Besides being on a trade team and the required amount of qualifying points, countries also had caps. I was heart broken.
In comes 2020, New Year, New me! I was going to get some k’s back into me legs (I came from an enduro background before I decided sprinting was where all the cool kids were). And K’s I did… for about a month. It didn’t take long for that idea to get old, so I went back to the gym and started planning my 2020 races. May- Taiwan, June- Japan, July- America and Canada. The options were endless. Training picked up where it left off, I had the backing of Tesseract to go wherever I wanted and race whoever I chose. 2020 was starting to pick up.
Then, Covid happened, Australia went into lockdown. I was working from home, gym was closed… for sanity, I jumped back on the bike with twirly bars, brakes, and theses clicky things that make your cadence easier or harder. It felt good. The roads were quiet, I could go out for hours alone, just to clear my head. I wasn’t training, I had no goals. After the initial love of the open road, I was over it. All I wanted to do was pin a number on and turn my pedals in anger.
In June, a glimmer of hope started to filter through social media. Racing was returning. The only problem was, racing was returning in winter. This is the traditional road season in Australia. But I was at my whits end with not racing. I didn’t care what kind of race. I just wanted to race. The next glimmer of hope opened up; my gym! I could go back into the gym lift something up, put it down, then spend several minutes talking smack with the other lifters. It wasn’t racing, but having the extra human contact was bliss. I was back into training and it felt good.
At this point I also decided I would go back to being a sprinter. The one good thing to come out of Covid is, I finally waited out my 2 year exclusion period to race Aussie Track Nats (scheduled for early Oct). I had a goal, racing was starting to happen, 6 months into the year, and I was settling into the “new normal”.
Going back to me publicly saying I would do hills. St George CC is my local club team. They run grassroots road and track races all year round. Being winter, it’s road racing at Oatley Park, arguably the most brutal road course in Australia. Additional to St George being my club team, I’m one of the Club’s co-captains.
Now that I said I would race and do hills, I couldn’t back down. I was leading from the front (by being dropped out the back)
That was week 1, I had 3 more races to the series. It’s actually been years since I’ve enjoyed a road race that much.
In my own words ‘Well that sucked. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ would do again’. There was something about seeing people, pushing myself, going up a hill, it sucked, but strangely with everything else going on in 2020 it was comforting and made me want to continue.
Racing in 2020
This year is like no other. The term new normal is being thrown around. The only thing normal about the new normal is you need to expect everything, anything, and nothing. As an athlete, training is not the hard work for events. It’s mentally dealing with the changing emotions of prepping for an event that my be postponed cancelled or re formatted.
I’m currently on my first version of track nationals prep. But the third time mentally preparing for it. First prep was aiming for Canadian Nats. There is so much depth within the Canadian female sprinters. I just had to have another crack at racing at Milton. Nope international travel was canned back in April (as well as the airline I was going to book flights with). I went back to lockdown bulk k’s to deal with the mental disappointment. Ooooo! Aussie Nats were announced. It’s just on the end of my 2 year ineligibility. Something good was coming out of Covid. It’s the same time as Canadian Nats, I’m on track for a good peak, excitement and emotions were high. Lets go! The gym re-opened, I was back in the mental game. Second wave. It hit. Aussie Nats were cancelled. Ya. 2020 happened. *Oooooo!* sarcastically said. Virtual Aussie Nats. Yay…. That event is 2 weeks away, and my want to race is that low. I have zero interest. Except, it’s a good chance to see where I’m at and there is the added bonus of catching up with all the track mates that I don’t see on the road.
Now that we’ve looked at my lack of racing, it explains my enthusiasm and absolute appreciation of the racing that is on. Don’t care what racing, as long as I’m pinning on a number I’m in!
Real racing in 2020
#outsideisfree I ain’t talkin’ aboot any of these virtual races. I’m talking about real racing. On Fridays I race indoors at Dunc Grey Velodrome at the No Brakes Racing series. Then I back it up with Saturday Afternoon St George CC road handicap at Oatley park. Also, not cycling related, on Sundays I go to the beach to race with the Bronte Splashers Winter Swimming Club. I used to be a swimmer, and now I just turn up for the post swim BBQ and social.
Now here’s the kicker, all this racing is a ‘bonus’. I don’t really have it properly in my training diary. I do gym then track on Thursday, I have a track session at Dunc on Friday, ‘bonus racing’ (*cough* go to the pub for a post-race carb loading social *cough*). Go to the gym Saturday morning because that’s when all the social lifters are there. Lazy Saturday heavy lifts+ Smack talk+ Coffee. Does life get any better?!
At this point my legs are wrecked. I head out to Oatley anyway. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve registered for that race knowing my legs would be blown, but looking at the weather forecast, it should be raining, and the race cancelled. There is nothing worse than waking up on a wintery Saturday morning to glorious sunshine and blue skies.
Somehow, as hard as all of this is. I’m loving it. I’m aware I’m over training. It’s a real problem and habit I have addressed in the past. Because 2020, I’m not actually training for anything, there are no sheep stations on the line, I have nothing to win, and nothing to lose. I might as well just ride the wave and do everything I can. When there is a bit more certainty I will buckle down and take it seriously.
About the races
No Brakes Racing- 6 week track series run at Dunc Grey Velodrome on Friday nights. This has replaced the old RAW Track format. Racing is: Warm up scratch, enduro event, sprint event, enduro event. I’m racing Division 2 and I use the term racing very loosely. It’s more I’m hanging on for dear life, holding out for the sprint event, then trying not to die. For the endurance races, I’m putting on a small gear (92”ish) and spinning. And in true sprinter fashion, I pick my gears wisely for the sprint events.
A couple weeks ago keirins were run. For racing, I normally wear my local club kit, But because of the keirins I pulled out the new 2020 Tesseract team kit. I brought 2 skinsuits. The normal one, and one with tiny maple leaves around the sleave cuffs to represent I was a past Canadian Champion. I don’t think anyone noticed (except my training partner Selina, she was wondering about the wardrobe change between races). But mentally it was one of the highlights of 2020. I ended up on the bike and got swamped with ½ lap to go, but that didn’t matter. I raced the race the way I wanted to and ran out of legs. I have time to fix that. Did I mention I got to show off the Maple leaves?!
Oatley Park- I had planned on doing a bit of a report like I did for the Friday track races. But really my race experience is; I turn up, half the time saying I didn’t want to be there. I have counted every time I went up the hill 8…7…6…5… FFS is this over yet!
I join in with the heckles from the crowd, I made sure my chain is in the big ring for all photos, and won the fashion stakes. Because it’s short races, skinsuits only! Except the week I decided I was going to clash hi-viz yellow with pink and then match my St George jersey with floral patterned bibs. It looked so bad it worked, I got dropped in that race too.
Despite those shenanigans, I managed to drop my handicap time by 3 min over the winter, I grabbed a second place, and I was in the prizes for the return to racing points series.
Ok, so maybe I want to be there, and deep down inside I’m disappointed this is the last week.
2020 Sometimes it be like that
I’m sure this roller coaster is not over. The border to South Australia was just announced to be opening to NSW. With optimism, I bought the first flights down to race a club race Monday Oct 5. Then I’m going to stick around for the Tuesday sprint training before flying home Wednesday morning to get back to work. Fingers crossed it happens.
I’m still waiting on confirmation of Aussie Nats. I’m racing the National Virtual Track Challenge.
But what I do know, is I’m going to appreciate all the opportunities my club and team give me. I will take every mental win I can achieve, and just enjoy my riding.
Cant wait to see what else 2020 has in store.