This blog is a couple of weeks late in coming but I really wanted to thank Cadel Evans for all the exciting times we as admirers and fans shared with him in his cycling journey. Although is was a 20 year career I don’t believe that it is yet over. There is so much more to just getting on your bike and riding and I think that in the coming years we will see Cadel as someone who has just shifted his focus in this crazy world of cycling.
I haven’t been a cyclist very long. Oh sure I rode a bike as a kid growing up in Canada and I hopped on a bike when I dabbled in triathlon in the late 80’s-90’s. But my real cycling journey didn’t start until 2011 when I was enticed by a rowing friend to follow her to Para Cycling. So with not much specific cycling training under my belt I headed to my first ever Para Cycling Championships. Wow, I would never have believed that my life would change so drastically after that first racing experience.
2011 was a huge year not only for me in Cycling but for Australia as a nation. It was the year that put Australian Cycling really up there on the world stage when Cadel Evans won the Tour de France. I along with millions of other Australians stayed up late each night just to watch how he was travelling in the standings. If I couldn’t stay up I was looking for results first thing each morning. Then came the final night of the most important stage of the Tour and there was no way I was going to miss it. I was on a girls weekend and we all watched Cadel make history becoming the first ever Australian winner of the Tour. We were on our feet cheering and clapping when that history was made. I’m sure that every Australian who was interested could tell you where they were at that moment.
With all the controversy around cycling and the Armstrong era we Australians were extremely proud to be celebrating Cadel’s success with him, it was like cycling was given a new breath of fresh air. One with no controversy or cheating but with hard work and determination with that “Never give up” attitude.
At the end of 2011 Cycling Australia had their awards night and what a celebration that was going to be! I was invited as a nominee for Female Para Cyclist of the Year as I had won 2 silver medals at Worlds. But the most important thing to me was getting a photo with Cadel. It was my goal that night! But trying to get anywhere near him seemed impossible. However at one point in the night I could see only one woman talking to him, so I asked one of the other cyclists to come with me to take a photo and she promptly said no! As I tried to persuade her I felt this tap on my shoulder and looked up to see Cadel Evans standing there! I was dumbfounded, took a breath and said hello. He said “Hi, I’m Cadel”, haha as if I didn’t know! It turns out that the woman who had been standing talking to him was one of our Para coaches asking him to come over. She then introduced me to Cadel and said “Carol is a dual silver medalist from Para Worlds”. With that Cadel put his hand on my shoulder and said “Oh I’m so sorry, I know how hard it is to come second!” We had a chat and photos taken and I must say that he was amazing to speak to and inspired me that anything is possible!
Two weeks ago his inaugural race the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race was held and it would have been magnificent if he could have won it. But in saying that he placed 5th which was amazing against some fantastic up and coming riders. I took part in the people’s ride the day before and he was there sending all of us off on our own journey.
I really hope that the path of his journey is just making a 90 degree turn because he still has so much to offer the world of cycling. It may not be as a cyclist but his experience and inspiration is second to none! Congratulations Cadel on an amazing journey, I look forward to seeing what the next phase is all about and who knows maybe one day you’ll see me out on the road on my trike and give chase!