In the past few weeks as I’ve been doing more interviews or having conversations about my Hour attempt, a recurring question has been “what have you learned?”
Let me tell you, it’s a very long list!
Perhaps that might explain why I have been feeling so agitated with only one week to go: I’ve improved from zero to …. somewhere in the territory of ‘good,’ where ‘great’ is Rohan Dennis, ‘amazing’ is Alex Dowsett and ‘exceptional’ is everybody’s favourite knight rider, Sir Bradley Wiggins.
And I still have a lot to learn.
I might be approaching my 10000 hours on a bike since I took up IM Triathlon in 2006 but I’m a bit behind schedule (track joke) on riding the black line at high speed, among many MANY other tasks…
So, aside from coming a long way from that first track session in July when I was terrified of crashing, dying of an anxiety-induced tachycardia, or just being totally and completely incompetent (which is my standard fear), I have encountered a lot more challenges, and some even more unexpected wonderful occurrences.
There have been so many people willing to give their time, accept feedback, encourage and be involved in this process, and I have been truly blown away by them.
One such company is Endura, who created the most awesome aero suit for Mr Dowsett when he broke the record earlier in 2015, and they never cease to amaze me with their professionalism.
Despite less than ideal circumstances (I live in Melbourne, they’re in the UK) for creating a custom, bespoke aero suit to minimise drag and fit ME perfectly, they have been nothing but efficient, clear, considerate, willing to accept questions and suggestions, and create a completely open dialogue about something integral to my performance.
Jim McFarlane has built an organisation with integrity and a great reputation and I can’t recommend them highly enough.
Raoul Leuscher of LeuscherTeknik has been a long-time aero specialist and highly skilled engineer in Melbourne, assisting cyclists and triathletes in aero set up, and more importantly, modifying elements of their set up to work best in real world situations.
He and his assistant Liam, along with Dr Stephen Lane and his HPTek colleague and mechanic Ken Ballhause were very clever in coming up with the best way to remain UCI legal while keeping me as aero and comfortable (or not in agony) as possible.
The energetic and devoted women’s cycling photographer, Kirsty Baxter, was generous enough with her time during the flurry of racing at Ballarat for our National Championships to meet me at the velodrome last week so we could capture some pics for all the excellent technical partners in this project.
This woman is busy, and like so many people associated with domestic cycling, she frequently gives her time for free to improve the reporting and promotion of women’s side of the sport in particular.
Thanks to her, we have better images of the wonderful equipment I’m using next Friday night at the SuperDrome in Adelaide.
I couldn’t do this without any of them:
Graeme Moffett and Lucien Keene of Cervélo Australia
Chad Moore of Mavic
Mark Swift at Ultimate Sports Engineering
Weston Snyder of Dash Cycles
Jamie Reidy of Fetha custom components
Sam Layzell and Power2Max Australia
Alex and Charlotte at Muc-Off
Aria from C-bear
And in a short ode to coaches, I want to specifically thank Dr Stephen Lane.
I have had the fortune (and misfortune) over my ~20 years as an athlete to be under the command of many different coaches. Some were highly skilled and experienced, some were lacking, others incompetent.
Some were desperate to be liked, and some were self-serving arseholes who thought of nothing but their contract KPIs and the dollar value of a medal for our country.
I have had wonderful, enthusiastic and inspiring coaches like Mark Fenner.
I’ve been screamed at by Italian Director Sportifs with clearly no other strategy than to ‘inspire’ their rider with abuse and humiliation.
I was nurtured and developed from a no-name, know-nothing ex-rower into a good rider by Donna Rae-Szalinski, Warren McDonald and Dan Dwyer and I can’t thank these three generous humans enough.
Those coaches who are ambitious, flexible, clever and put an athlete’s needs first are few and far between.
And trust me when I say, it’s not only an athlete who experiences these challenges, I know many great coaches who bemoan the exhaustive, stressful experiences they encounter with athletes for whom the ‘fit’ clearly doesn’t work. (The same arsehole described above loved me when I was winning but I’m sure he found me intolerable when I wasn’t).
So, like any important relationship, its success is absolutely dependent on context and timing. The best coach for us as a beginner is not always best for us 10 years later.
For this enormous, frightening and exciting challenge, I have the perfect person.
He is smart, collaborative, experienced, empathetic AND he promised to buy me a 3D printed elephant if I achieve our goal #winning
I hope you can come on Friday January 22nd to the Adelaide Superdrome & help me do my best to honour and thank all these people who have supported me!