After a busy race season, a big summer and lots and lots of riding in circles – it’s good to have a chance to take a breath and reflect with SmashFM on the year I have had.
Most recently I competed in my first World Cup over in Cali, Columbia and then came home to compete at the Nationals Championships in front of a home crowd a week later. Below I reflect on both competitions and give an insight into 2015.
I woke up as a nervous newbie, not knowing what to expect nor how I would handle all of the unknowns about to head off on my first world cup experience. A week later, I walked away having had the greatest experience at the highest level of competition, being part of an amazing, supportive and professional team plus a few hundred splinters, a couple of burns, big bruises and a sore shoulder.
We arrived in Cali after nearly two days in transit to find our bikes, bags & equipment hadn't made it across from Miami and instead of waiting for the next flight to Cali, the airline had flown everything to Bogota (the equivalent of Sydney to Melbourne) where Rik Fulcher, our team manager, got our bikes on a truck to get them to the track the day before racing. It sounds dramatic but really, things like this happen all the time in international travel and the way the coaches and support staff handled it made it very easy for me to stay relaxed. Even if I was wearing the same clothes for nearly 5 days! Luckily, we were able to borrow the enduros road bikes, and NZ were kind enough to lend us their LeMond trainers so we were able to tick over on the rollers and do some off track efforts whilst we hoped everything would arrive before race day.
I was very excited to pair with Rikki Belder for the first time, she is super speedy off the line and I knew it would be a great challenge for me to get on her wheel – and I did it. We ended up seventh with the quickest team sprint I have ever done and I was very proud of us to pull that out with close to no practice together at all!
It is always hard going into a competition where you haven't practiced the line time and time again. I ended up qualifying 12th in a time which was a bit disappointing however was really lucky to have Nick Flyger (coach) who refocused me on the sprint rounds. I was then able to ride some of the smartest sprint matches I have ever ridden, where I ended up placing in around the top 10 at the World Cup. A confidence boost for competitions in the future.
I got to the track and had the usual friendly greetings that I had become accustomed to over the last week or so. The Columbian people were all really lovely and helpful and made the event even more enjoyable. In my keirin heat I had girls who had ridden quicker or the same as me in qualifying so I knew I had to be flying to get through to the semis. I got boxed in coming into a lap and a half to go and had to back out and come around to stand a chance, but much to my surprise I not only did that but rode away from the pack and was safely through. I just made it through into the final with a photo finish in the semi with Wai Sze Lee from Hong Kong. We had a minor delay with a spectacular thunder storm which meant we lost power in the velodrome for a little bit, where I was lucky enough to be kept company by Shane Perkins, who was a real role model for all us - being such a young team. Between Nick and Perko I was filled with so much confidence and was really ready to execute our race plan and leave everything on track. I was feeling great coming into the bell and then I locked bars with Shuang Guo and hit the ground hard, with the Russian rider (Ekaterina Gnidenko) riding into my leg and straight over back which left me lying on the track centre, unable to fight for a medal. After a few minutes to catch my breath I was able to pick myself and my mangled bike up and walk across the line to claim fifth spot (Guo had been disqualified), seven minutes behind the others, in the presence of a very loud and supportive crowd. A moment I'll never forget.
I then came home with a week until nationals to find our bikes were lost again, and that Hilton Clarke already organizing my old bike frame to be built up to get me back on the track, plus rehab for my shoulder and a management plan for nationals all ready for me to put into action once I got home. We luckily got our bikes 2 days before competition so I was able to race on my usual bike which saw me come away with a team sprint silver, keirin bronze and a sprint fourth. I also am really proud to have managed my shoulder injury with the help of my team and my coach really well throughout the week allowing me to race. I pulled the 500m TT to prevent a flare up before the Olympic events (sprint and Keirin) which was really disappointing, even more disappointing was that my shoulder did flare up anyway on sprint finals day. The positive, however, was how well we worked together for my next race – only 24 hours later where I was able to hold on to bronze.
2015 is a year for more race exposure and some serious training. Although I can’t pin point which events I will be targeting I know I will be pushing for positions on the Aussie team and training harder than ever to make a stronger, faster and smarter Katie. I also look forward to continuing my personal sponsorships with Ronde Sports who have been absolutely wonderful with clothing and sock supplies as well as SmashFM who have been of great assistance and are always willing to raise awareness of my sport - which is beyond amazing. I also would like to take this opportunity to mention my Coach Hilton Clarke and my support team at Cycling Victoria and the Victorian Institute of sport who spend countless hours going through the highs and lows of my career, I could never have achieved half of what I have and what I hope to in the future without your dedication and I am so grateful that you back me 100%.
Photo taken by Cali World Cup