It has taken me a few days to be able to sit down and put some thoughts down about my first weekend of racing for the year, I have been so busy! So here goes!
I flew up to Sydney last Friday to take part in the National Hand Cycles Series for 2013. Now a lot of people will say…”but you don’t ride a hand cycle!” No I don’t, but they have added Trikes to the program this year which is brilliant. Maybe next year they can call it the National 3 Wheeled Cycle Series!
I was talked into taking part in the NSW Handcycle and Trike Track Championships and having never ridden on a track was a bit nervous about doing this. However after seeing the track and having a warmup around it I was hooked, I absolutely loved it! The track was fairly flat and 400 metres around. Not like the ones you see at the Olympics where the track is 250m and banked so that it looks like a wall at the ends. I had 3 races to do, a 200m flying sprint, a 400m sprint and a 2km pursuit. It was fabulous racing around that track and now I am in the hunt for one here in Melbourne that is similar because doing some of my sprint training on it would be fantastic! I ended up as the NSW State Trike Track champion kind of by default as my competitor wasn’t able to make it. But it didn’t matter because I had so much fun.
The next day was the start of the series and the first race was at Waratah Park Reserve, Sutherland. It was a 1.5km circuit and the trikes were doing a criterium of 25 minutes plus one lap. We had 3 starters, myself, Jarrad Langmead and Steve Bastick. This was great because at times there has been just only me! The 1.5km course had a good left hand turn and downhill to start with but then at the other end had a pretty good climb which at one point was 7% grade and I figured we would do about 8 laps in that time frame. That first corner was a bit tricky with the camber, turn and downhill all rolled into one, so I wanted to be in the lead each time I hit that corner. The first two laps went off without a hitch then on the 3rd lap (yes I was in the front), I had just got around the corner and heard an almighty crash from behind me. Now veteran racers will tell you “never look back”, but what did I do, yes looked back, albeit just for a moment, until I realised I was almost going to run myself off the road. Steve had crashed and I heard Jarrad say “Steve’s gone”. I was extremely worried as it sounded terrible and was worried he had hit a tree after coming off (luckily he hadn’t, was only bruised, but his trike was a write off!). As soon as Jarrad had said those words I heard a really loud crack and Jarrad’s seat sheered off! I then heard “And I’m gone!”. The only thing that went through my mind was “damn now I have to do this whole thing on my own”. By that last lap (8) going up that hill was no fun anymore! So I came away with a win for the day and with top points for the series.
Day two we made our way to Lansdowne Park, Bankstown for the Road Race. It was held on a 2km circuit that had a bit of everything in it. The course started with a slight climb but then went into a huge downhill which included not only a left, then right, then left and then into a climb, but also off camber. The rest of the 2km was a mixture of up and down but I absolutely loved it. Because of Steve’s crash the day before where he wrote his trike off (literally breaking the frame) it was just Jarrad and I taking part in the race. We had 11 laps to do and took turns at the front. It’s amazing how much rest you can actually get sitting on the back wheels of a Trike. We took these turns until into the 9th lap when I got stuck behind 3 handcycles at the start of the first climb and Jarrad took off and he was able to hold that lead until the end of the race. But that is what racing is all about and the one thing I’m learning from this racing is tactics.
At the end of the day I still had enough points to be presented with the Leaders Yellow jersey. Unfortunately I won’t be at the second round next weekend in Queensland as I have my 24 Hour Mega Swim to run. But I will be around for the 3rd and 4th rounds and hopefully I’ll be able to pull off some wins.
It was a great weekend, with beautiful weather and some new handcyclists taking part who are really riding well. We even have our first H1 Female Handcyclist Emilie Miller from Canberra. She is extremely young and if she puts in the work may become a fantastic rider. Thanks to Sebastian van Veenendaal from NSW Disability Sport and Rec for picking us all up from the airport and basically being our chaufeur for the weekend and to Cycling Australia for supporting the National Series. It can only get bigger and better!