This years National Para Cycling Championships were once again held in Echuca, Victoria, this past weekend and although later than last year it certainly didn’t stop people from taking part.  The Championships were supposed to have been held in April but the UCI had set the Para Track World’s on the same weekend in Mexico, so hence the change to May.  I was a bit concerned about what the weather would be like so late in the season and I tell you the weather gods didn’t disappoint.  I don’t think I have ever had so many challenging conditions in a couple of races!

Echuca CollegeI headed up to Echuca on the Thursday morning and was meeting the lovely Hannah MacDougall there to go and speak at the Echuca College.  We both had individual talks to give and then one that we presented together on Thursday and then Friday we returned to the College to speak together again to a combined class.  I hope that we were able to both Motivate and Challenge the students, at least we got a couple of laughs out of them.  But it was interesting to note that it is so different talking to high school age kids than primary.  Seems that the primary kids are more open to ask questions and not scared to ask anything.  Whereas the high school kids just sit and listen.  I think that most of the questions were asked by the teachers!  But hopefully we were able to impart some wisdom before we left.

It was then on to focusing on the races that we had to do.  Saturday was the Time Trial and Sunday the Road Race.  The weather wasn’t looking too good for Saturday and at 4:30am when I heard the thundering rain I realized that the weather man probably had got it right this time.  But once at the course it seemed fine, just overcast and there was hope that the rain would hold off.  Not to be!!!  Just as we got underway it started again and continued throughout the entire TT, which made the corners very slippery.  But I had a goal in mind and I just had to control what I could and get on with the job.  In the end I was extremely happy with my result, winning the TT with an average speed of 33.4 km/hr over the 15.9km course.

At the start just as it was starting to rain!

At the start just as it was starting to rain!

After being cold and wet most of the day I was hoping that the following day in the small town of Rushworth that the rain would stay away.  Well it did but the fog rolled in and to be honest I have never ridden in weather like it!  At times you couldn’t see more than 30 metres ahead of you, I was constantly wiping my glasses with my gloves so I could actually see where I was going and it was really cold at 7 degrees (I think the fog made it feel even colder!).

The course itself was a 21km loop and because, in the Women’s T2 category internationally, we don’t race over 30km it was decided that we would do just one lap, so really not much farther than the TT the day before.  So I had planned to ride it like a TT to see what kind of speed and wattage I could push out.  I was very pleased with the result, even though the fog was bad, there were a couple of rolling hills, muddy roads (with a little cow poop mixed in) and a false flat towards the end.  I ended up doing the 21km in 39:55 with an average speed of 31.6km/hr, a kilometer an hour better than last year!

On my cool down lap, fog starting to get better!

On my cool down lap, fog starting to get better!

I actually ended up going around the course one more lap to cool down!  But as you can see from the photo above the fog was slow to lift!

So the weekend was a success with my 7th and 8th National Titles, the overall win of the T2 category of the National Para Cycling Series and attempting to inspire some local school kids.  Other than the weather I couldn’t have asked for more!

Thanks to Cycling Australia, Cycling Victoria, Echuca Moama Cycling Club. Michael Taylor (national series) and all the volunteers who helped out on the weekend, it was run exceptionally well.  To all the competitors, old and new, it was great to catch up with all of you and I hope to see the numbers build even more next year.  Thanks also to Ben at the Victorian Institute of Sport, the hard work in the gym is definitely paying off and to Rebecca my coach for the challenging sessions she has been giving me!  A big thanks to Liv Giant Australia for believing in me and providing me with the best equipment possible!

Where to from here for me?  Well next stop will be Segovia, Spain in July where I will compete at the 2nd World Cup event and then on to North America for some training and then the World Championships in Greenville, South Carolina, USA.  I am looking forward to seeing how much faster I can actually go!

Full results can be found here.