What a great week of racing! Although there were only 4 trikes involved, this tour was an extremely valuable experience. I got to race with the fastest male trike rider in the world, Hans-Peter Durst from Dortmund, Germany. The lessons I learnt from riding right behind him were fantastic and although I wasn’t able to actually keep up with him within the races it was great to be able to follow his lines in and out of corners and mimic how far he got off his bike when going around corners.
In fact I think one of the best pictures ever taken of me riding is one that our coach Tom Skulander took of us in the Road Race!
The organisation of the whole Tour was pretty good apart from some last minute changes to what was actually listed on the website. But hey you can only control the controllable’s so you just go with the flow. There were 100 riders from 15 different nations, so it was great to see other countries supporting the event. Every volunteer who took part was fantastic and always had a smile for you, even if they had no idea what you were saying!! They would just find someone who could speak English. In saying that most people I dealt with spoke a bit of English, so we were able to get by with a little, English, German and miming!
It was also great to meet new people, a new trike rider – a young man from Romania, Theo and his dad, he didn’t speak at all but his dad translated the conversations for him and just through his actions and facial expression you knew what he was saying! That’s the great part about Para Cycling, no matter what the disability, we are part of a family and accepted no matter what. It was great to see so many hand cycles. It is a HUGE thing in Europe and some of the stars of the Para Cycling world are treated like Rock Stars here and they actually make a living out of it.
I had a lot of firsts here for me as well. My first time in Austria, my first Hill Climb race, my first ever 55km Road Race and my first time winning 3 litres of beer, so it was a great experience!
To be honest with such a small group of us – 3, Tom (coach), Stu (hand cyclist) and myself I was a bit concerned that spending 3 weeks together would be tough but we all got along really well.
We have now gone our separate ways. Stu is racing one last race in Austria, then on to Switzerland for more racing next weekend. I’m off to Dortmund for a week of training and visiting with Hans-Peter and his wife Ulrike and Tom is having a weeks holiday back in Belgium with his partner Barbara. Then it will be back to Australia for 2 months before heading back to Italy.
The good news is that I just received official word that I am definitely on the team to compete in Rio, but for now happy cycling!!