Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Yesterday Jude and I travelled by train to Bratislava. After recieving a bit of a culture shock at the train station, the city was really beautiful and Jude and I had a great time. The place is exceptionally cheap so the shopping was great and there are lots of really good bars and restaurants in the lovely streets between the old buildings. We were pleasantly surprised to have dinner and 4 beers for less than 20 euros combined! Our hotel was, lets just say, interestin! I can imagine that it was very flash in the 1960's or so....but the carpet on the walls isn't quite 'in' in the 2000's!
We awoke this morning, walked to the castle which gave a great view across the city and the Danube and then settled down for a quick coffee before we had to leave the hotel. We flew in the middle of the day to Dubrovnik which proved very easy.
We arrived in Dubrovnik to be greeted by rain filled clouds...but considering our great spell of weather we couldn't be too picky. The bus trip from the airport into the old part of the town was quite spectacular...it reminds me a little of the Amalfi coast.
We checked into our accomodation (found after traversing several narrow alleyways)....we are staying in the house of a local which is very nice. We went for a walk around the city walls....bloody fantastic...I think it is one of these places where it is impossible to take a bad photo! We explored the old town very quickly...enjoyed some very good gelati....then went back for a 5min lie down before we joined the rest of our 'group' for a walk. We climbed up the hill behind town (there used to be a cable car but it was destroyed in the 'war' in 1991/2)...it was a bit of a journey but we were rewarded with gorgeous views back over the whole coast. The sun set while we were up there and the lights lit up the whole area....really amazing! With big hungers fuelled by our 3 hr journey we went into the old city for pizza and beer...very satisfying.
Tomorrow morning we are hopping on a ferry to Korcula...it should take 5 hrs and then we are staying with locals again. This place is fascinating...its just a shame I can't add any photos at this point...

Monday, September 25, 2006

Another season over

I am at the Hauptbanhof (main train station) in Salzburg, about to get on a train to take mumsie and I to Bratislava and from there we are flying to Croatia tomorrow.

I have been in Salzburg for just under a week...it is a beautiful city and we have been graced with gorgeous weather which is supposed to change tomorrow. The Aussies had a whole hotel to ourselves in Eugendorf, 10km north of the city. We had a couple of days to peruse the course for the World Championships and then settle in and get some good recovery. After being very tired, a little sick and scared that all my form was gone...I started to feel better during the week. My biggest worry was that I didn´t quite have the power left to have a hard race for all 130km....but I had a good training day on Wednesday and so all I could do left was to cross my fingers and pray!

I was feeling positive going into the race, and Oenone was confident that she had the legs for a good result. The Aussie team, for all our strengths and weaknesses is a very loyal and cohesive unit and everyone was prepared to give 100% to try to get Oenone in that pretty rainbow jersey. We awoke to lovely blue skies, had a quite morning and settled in to watch the fast action packed race of the U23 boys. It gave us all some ideas of how the race might pan out for us....but at the end of the day it was quite a different scenario. Race reports can be read on Cyclingnews....Oenone finished 6th...she just didn´t quite have the legs in the sprint after a solid race. I think it was fantastic that she was in that final group of 15...a lot of good bike riders were missing and she did everything tactically right. I had a pretty tough day...I did a lot of work (perhaps some of it unnecessary) in the early stages of the race which I paid for later. I was dropped on the 5th lap of 6th. There was then the dilemma....do I continue to race, my mum is here to watch, it is a world championships...all of these things...but I knew through race radio that Oenone was in a front group of 15 and had a good chance to win...I didn´t want to miss seeing how the last part of the race unfolded. I stopped at the pits on the last lap and sat with my team-mates Helen, sis Kate and Olivia to watch the last nail-biting kilometres....this did involve us all on our feet yelling at the television! I think we had a great team ride...at the end of the day we didn`t finish on the podium but we did all that we could and I think that that makes us winners :)

We are all looking forward to a much needed and deserved holiday and then to building for next year. I think the Aussie team can all take a step up and be something to fear in the next few years....I look forward to that.

The train is about to leave...I hope to be able to write and send some photos from Croatia.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Friday, September 15, 2006

A rollercoaster ride

It has been awhile since I have posted a blog…I have been on the road for a couple of weeks with no internet access…so I’m not sure where to start…

Last week we had a four day tour that had two stages in Holland, one in Germany and one in Belgium. I was feeling like I finally had some good form and after a strong time trial and good climbing legs the next day I had some confidence that I had managed to get ‘good legs’ at the right time of the year. Unfortunately I have yet to perfect my stage finish and my lil sister beat me into 3rd position on GC with a great win on the last stage….better her than anyone else I think! We were pretty lucky all week with mostly good weather, a really nice race hotel and no long drives. I had one little crash on the 3rd day but it paled into insignificance when we found out that Miriam Melchers had broken her pelvis and jaw both in several places with a crash on a descent earlier in the day. I send my thoughts and best wishes to her for a speedy recovery…

From Holland we drove across to Germany for a World Cup the following day….it was the last World Cup on the program for the year, and although one of the easiest World Cups of the year in terms of terrain, there is double points on offer so this is a big one for many teams, especially if they have a sprinter with good legs on the day. It was a pretty uneventful day for me, but I stayed upright and helped where I could and that was all I was hoping for. I just don’t have the head to mix it with 120 charging girls in the last 3km….definitely not brave enough for that.

We continued on our tour of Europe, with a long 11 hr drive south to Italy to begin the 6 day Giro della Toscana. This is the last tour before the World Championships and a lot of girls use it to put the finishing touches on their preparation and make sure there is enough speed in the legs. As usual with Italy everything is a little bit crazy and chaotic…sometimes a little deep breathing is necessary. After a pretty hectic block of racing and traveling I wasn’t sure how I would go in the tour…I never had any intention of finishing, thinking that this would push me over the edge….and I was quite right. After the 1st road stage I knew that things weren’t as I would have liked them to be….I felt quite weak and lactatey, arms, legs, head….just like I could sleep for 3 days. I have a tendency to panic when such things occur but I tried to keep my calm and push on as I felt I did need another day or so of racing for the speed in my legs. 100km into the 130km stage yesterday, at the top of the 1st 10km climb for the day I decided to ‘pull the pin’….it had been raining heavily the whole stage, I blended in with the road I was so black from all the spray from the diesel covered roads, and I felt completely empty. I had dragged my sorry assie up the first climb at 150bpm feeling that it was 190bpm…a sure sign for me to get off my bike :) I changed, had an Italian style hot chocolate (just like pudding) and got some tea for the rest of my poor rain soaked team mates. This morning I took my team-mate Theresa’s car and headed north of the familiarity of Novellara. I am staying here with Barbie and Massimo until Tuesday and then Liv and I will drive up to Salzburg which is only 4 hours from here. It is great to be here in a comfortable place that I know well….tonight I am going with Barbie and her friends to my favourite restaurant for a balsalmic covered steak…Lots of rest over the next few days and I am hoping I get back the power I had in there last week…fingers crossed :)

Monday, September 04, 2006

A light breeze in Rotterdam..

I have just come to the end of my last proper week in Holland....and a joyous one it was.....rain, wind, grey sky...and did I mention rain! All this grey sky gets me down but at least I know I have a summer to come home to. I feel a little sorry for all the locals...this is probably as good as it is going to get for a good 9 months or so...yucky! I am craving some good Aussie sunshine and some golden sand to lay myself on :) Only 9 days of racing to go.....

Yesterday we had the penultimate World Cup of the season in Rotterdam. After a week of rain and wind I thought I would be prepared for anything the weather had to throw at us...but alas no...we awoke to gale force winds and driving rain. Luckily by the time the race started at 1pm the rain had slowed to a drizzle but the wind was going to be a major factor. After 20km or so we turned into the cross wind, I was desparate enough to be 3rd wheel at this point and the bunch split to pieces. Initially there were 16 of us....the Bates family was well represented with little and big Bates there and I had 2 other team mates. Being a bit of a lightweight I tend to suffer big time in the cross winds and on one occasion I just couldn't hold the wheel in front, but luckily I dragged my assie back on. Lucky because at this point we were approximately half-way through the 130km lap...it would have been a very sad day all on my lonesome. Anyway....9 other girls joined us and our group of 25 grovelled through the wind to the finish. Unfortunately I just couldn't hold on when the pace picked up with 10km to go...but my team-mate Kirsten was 3rd and I was happy to be up the front all day and get a bloody good training day in.

Now I am at "home" for my last day for a month...I need to pack for 2 tours, a world cup race, the world championships and a holiday in Croatia with my mum....see if I can get all of that into one bag! The last thing to do is to download some podcasts onto the I-pod...Merrick and Rosso have been getting a lot of airtime and keeping me in touch with some good Aussie humour. You get to this time of the season and having being surrounded by non-native English speakers I find that my vocabulary as become quite atrocious...Katie pointed out to me the other day that within a 10 min period I had said to her "you know the thingy, with the bit that goes like this...(insert hand gesture here)"....at least 5 times. I need my SMH crossword....