Sunday, June 24, 2007


It doesn't matter which language you use, Prague is truly a beautiful city with a great atmosphere. In order to make the most of my time off the bike, Gunnar and I decided to head to Prague for a brief visit. We were only there for one night which meant a lot of walking in the two days to see the sights. We made it back feeling very satisfied with our trip, but with aching legs and feet....its amazing how unathletic such a venture can make you feel! We were both lucky and unlucky with the weather, it was pretty stormy so we had periods of glorious sunshine interspersed with pouring rain. We made the mistake on the first afternoon to head out without an umbrella or rain jacket....this lead to us running along the cobbled footpaths trying to make it back to our hotel before we were completely saturated (this was unsuccessful!).

We explored Prague Castle (the largest ancient castle in the world), walked across the beautiful Charles Bridge that crosses the River Vltava several times, drank some Czech beer (cheaper than the water here) and took photos of many other sights in the city....its hard to name everything. There were many highlights and I have to say that the only real downside was the amount of pissed British 'lads' who come here for the weekend to drink the really cheap beer, but even that was quite amusing in itself.
I am back 'home' now and today was the start of training again. My first race is two weeks away and so until then I am trying to build some strength and get ready for the second half of the season.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


After many hours of travel in many forms I have eventually made it back 'home'. We had one last morning in Montreal before our flight, it was a beautiful day and I am glad that we got to see the city in a good light before leaving. We went to the 'Le Monde du Corps' at the Montreal Science Museum which was an amazing exhibition of human bodies in many forms, with some dissections that I would have thought impossible...coming from a science background I thought it was pretty cool, some of the girls were freaked out by it which is not that surprising! We had a false start at the airport, a return from the runway with the plane being grounded and a further wait of 6 hours in Montreal....the joys of travel...
The weather in Germany has been a treat to return to, and apart from a good dose of jet-lag I am feeling good and glad to be back. The highlight of my day today was going strawberry picking....they have a field very close to where we live and you can go there and pick as many strawberries as you like....they then weigh them and you pay for what you pick at the bargain price of 2 euros/kilo...pretty good if you ask me. The challenge was to find the biggest, juiciest ones possible and we quickly filled up our little basket....should be enough for dessert tonight I think. Not sure if it possible to OD on strawberries but I have been doing a good job of trying :)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A little piece of paradise

It seems like quite a lot has happened since my last blog...the highlights of which haven't been on the bike! I thought Summerside where we first started was pretty but it doesn't really compare to the green, hilly interior and north coast of the island. Our first stage of the tour was harder than expected on a relatively flat circuit around Summerside. The sun was shining but the wind was blowing and lots of girls were struggling in the cross-winds which meant the bunch was strung out a lot.
The next day was a very interesting stage, an individual time trial of 28.8 km across Confederation Bridge, the bridge that joins New Brunswick (on the mainland) with PEI. Again the wind was blowing very strongly which meant 60kph+ on the way out, spinning out in the 12 cog and then a very slow grovel home of 22-26kph...crazy! All just on one corners to ease the wind in our faces.
We then moved hotels to the north coast, we were staying in cottages on a lake, fireplaces in all of them and my highlight was a beautiful golden retriever named Sam who lived there. It was a gorgeous place and we felt very lucky indeed to stay there. The race on the third day was pretty nasty, again a lot of wind and after my tummy bug I haven't regained the strength I would have liked. I am lacking any power to have a real go and was hanging on for dear life. We started and finished in the village of Cavendish which is home to 'Green Gables', we took some photos and I explained the stories of Anne of Green Gables to the Germans who had never heard of it.
After much overnight contemplation on whether to start today, I had some feedback from the heart rate data that I take in the mornings that my body was coping okay, despite feeling terrible and so I started. Luckily it was a slower race at the start and I was able to ride myself into it a little bit. We raced from the north coast, eastwards and then looped to the south-west and we finished in Stratford, just across the bridge from Charlottetown, the capital of PEI. We are now staying in uni dorms in Charlottetown which are the flashest that I have seen. Tomorrow is the last day of the tour with a crit in the afternoon in downtown Charlottetown...its been a pretty tough 10 days of racing with some sickness and lots of travel thrown in. It has been great to see a different part of the world, but I am looking forward to going home :)
The first photo has Confederation Bridge in the background, the one that we time trialled across. The next photo is me at Green Gables, the next at one of our hotels called Shaw's which has been a hotel since the 1860's and the final one is of the team at Brackely Beach on the north coast.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

To greener pastures..

After a not super enjoyable week in Montreal that concluded with we catching a stomach bug that knocked me about and meant that I didn't finish the tour....we have moved to greener pastures quite literally.
Yesterday morning we boarded our coaches, and reminiscent of a school bus trip, only slightly longer....16 hrs later we arrived in Prince Edward Island. We couldn't really appreciate the beauty of our surroundings at 1am, with both the darkness and weariness well and truly set in.
This morning we awoke to very blue, sunny skies and enjoyed a short ride, exploring what we could of the island....the first impressions are that it is very green, very quaint, lots of little white picket fences and immaculate houses, lots of water and very very friendly people. Whilst riding, we had so many people cheering from the footpath and hooting from their cars (in a friendly way)...these people are genuinely glad we are here and for cyclists that is a rarity rather than a regularity.
We had the team presentation and dinner tonight, very yummy brownies for dessert and tomorrow afternoon the tour starts. We have some interesting stages traversing the island, time trialling across the 13km long Confederation Bridge that joins the mainland to the island and a criterium on the last day in Charlottetown. See for more info...

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The rollercoaster ride

Photos courtesy of Andrea Brewer, CJ Farquarhson and Si Truc Phan.
This week in Montreal has been a bit of rollercoaster is often our lives, being full-time athletes. We have raced in thunderstorms, torrential rain, on extremely dangerous circuits and in the motivation has been up and down and there have been quite a few moments where I have been questioning what I am doing in the world. This cycling business is often not nearly as glamorous as it sounds, especially when staying in school dorms, racing in the rain and hand-washing rain soaked, dirt encrusted racing clothes in the small basin in our rooms. I have been lucky that many Aussies have been here racing and our late afternoon starts have meant the mornings can be spent in the local Illy caffee or Starbucks talking rubbish.
Last nights's criterium was the most enjoyable stage for me so far and hopefully it stays dry for our final stage this evening which is around a circuit with a climb in it (about time!)...this flat racing is killing me! Tomorrow morning we head off for our 12hr bus trip to Prince Edward Island...I have heard it is very scenic so I will be sure to keep my camera handy.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

The circus is in town

Yesterday I raced my first ever race in Canada - the World Cup in Montreal. It was a really tough race, exacerbated by a pretty hefty dose of jet-lag and some very humid conditions. I had alternating good and bad laps yesterday and at the end of the 11 laps the result wasn't too terrible...I finished in the 2nd main group behind a highly fragmented first 20 riders.
Today is our 'day off' before the 4-day tour of Montreal starts tomorrow. Kate told me yesterday that her and Alex had managed to get tickets for Cirque du Soleil's new show Kooza and I hopped on-line and secured the very last ticket for the session. This is the third Cirque du Soleil performance I have seen, one in Rotterdam, one in Sydney and now this one in is hard to explain how amazing it really is if you haven't seen it live but it is just mindblowing. It makes you think that you can never say that something is impossible because what these people are able to do with their bodies is out of this world...I have never seen such strength, flexibility, control and daring. The audience in Montreal was the most appreciating that I have been in, they were constantly on their feet cheering and everyone was gasping in awe at some of the stunts....what a great way to spend an afternoon.
I was awake at 3:30 am this morning so I'm not feeling flash now....I hope to sleep through tonight and get ready for 4 tough days of racing...