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Friday, March 29, 2013

San Dimas 2013

Update time! I am back in the US of A and loving it. Once arriving in LA I was picked up by my team mate Amber Gaffney and her partner Jacob and was spoilt rotten! Not only had she come all the way out to LA to pick me up, she had gone via my favourite super market (Trader Joes) and picked me up my favourite American treat for the car trip. Once arriving at her house she made me an incredibly delicious sandwich and then went for her second ride of the day so she could show me where I could ride.. That is what I call one pretty awesome team mate! I then spent the next week training with Amber and getting to know the area.

First race for the season was the San Dimas Stage race which consists of a 4 mile uphill time trial, a 50 mile road race and then finishes off with a 60 minute Criterium around the streets of San Dimas. We had a small team of 5 rider, Leah, Brie, Amber, Lauren and myself as well as Michael, Rachel and Jeremy (Mechanic, Director/organiser/planner/do everything-er and the swanee).

Leah and I stayed with Susie and Dennis, a lovely couple who looked after us incredibly well during the few days of racing. They were both very accomplished sports people so we had some good conversations. The morning of the time trial Leah and I got up leisurely to have breakfast. By the time we left for the race Susie had gone for a run, walked the dog and was about to head out the door for a ride to watch us race. Once returning from her ride she then went for another walk.. an incredibly fit lady!! I felt so lazy after just doing a little time trial then riding home.

The weekend was a great success for the team. There were close to 80 strong starters in the race, so we certainly had our work cut out for us! Brie rode to a very impressive 4th place in the time trial with Lauren, Leah and Amber not far behind. I finished somewhere in the 20’s. I was pretty disappointed with my result as I felt great and had a great lead-up but not to fear I will be there soon, just need to get some racing under my belt to wake the legs up again!

The Road Race was pretty action-packed with a nasty crash happening near the start and the race leader Mara Abbott came down. So for the next lap we neutralised the race until she rejoined us and then the race was on! My job was to go for the Queen of the Mountains, I won the first one, got 2nd in the 2nd and then 3rd in the final time.. Unfortunately that put me in 1st equal with Lex Albrecht and in the UCI rules the winner is determined by whoever is sitting highest on GC, which in this case was Lex… Dammit!! So I didn’t get the polka dot jersey for this one.. Next time =)

Amber and I attempted a couple of lead-outs for Leah and Lauren for the mid-race sprints, and they both did awesome, Leah got the first and then Brie (who also did the leading out) got another one. Kathryn Donavon from NOW got away solo on the 5th lap and rode strongly up the road for about 3 laps, with 1 lap to go Amber and I went to the front and set the pace as no-one else seemed very interested in catching Katy. Once we had about 5kms to go Amber drilled it on the front while I totally blew up! Going up the last climb (so with around 5 kms to go) Brie set the pace, ,and then kept setting it, and just kept going.. then won the sprint!!! She is like a pocket rocket that just keeps going!!! So we finished the stage with a stage victory, the sprint jersey (Brie), a place up in the GC standings (now sitting in 3rd) and a first equal for QOM (Dang). Successful day all round!!

The final day was a Criterium, and boy was it on from the start. We averaged about 42kmh for an hour.. it was hard! And I was hurting! Long story short Brie finished 2nd in the stage thanks to a great lead-out from Amber, Lauren and Leah.

San Dimas was a great first race of the season. I personally am not at where I want to be but know it is the first race of the season and speed will come fast! I have the strength and endurance, now I just need that speed. I am so stoked to be riding with such a great team again this year, we all gel so well and get along.. its going to be a great season =)

Me going for the QOM points at SDSR.

                          One happy team after Bries win in the Road Race. Very well deserved!!
                          Both photos copyright of Danny Munson, Cyclingillustrated.com

Now I am off to San Diego with one of my closest friends Emma Grant. I have not seen her since August last year and cannot wait to spend the week hanging out and riding my bike. Then I am headed to Redlands for a 4 stage race. Fun times ahead, will keep you all posted.

Thanks for reading =)


Friday, March 8, 2013

Critical Cargo Care

I am really excited to announce a new personal sponsor who has so generously decided to help me (along with Craigs Investment Partners) to get through my 2013  racing year.

Russell and Sharon Jackman, along with their son Daniel Jackman run a fascinating business called Critical Cargo Care. Sharon and Russell wanted to help  financially support a young Athlete who had set their heart on the Olympics as a goal,  and thanks to Greg and Richard from Tauranga Cycling Club, I was the one they chose to help support.

I was given the opportunity to visit their business a few days ago and see what happens and how it all works. I have come home absolutely astounded by what I have seen, and how little I take into account what goes on behind the scene at the Port of Tauranga.

After meeting with Russell I got taken into the office and introduced to some of the awesome team at CCC. Some young, down to earth men who were extremely interested in what I do. I was then shown what they do, and my job seemed A LOT easier.

What Critical Cargo Care does is they take care of all the Ports refrigerated cargo. From food products such as meat or fruit, to plants - it’s a lot of containers, and a lot of pressure to get it right! Some of the containers have up to 1 million dollars of product in just the one container!!
The shipper provides CCC with information on what temperature the container must be at. Once the container arrives they are connected and set up to the shippers’ requirements and are then constantly monitored throughout the stay at the Port. Once it is time to go CCC will know when the containers are able to be unplugged before heading onto a ship, train or truck for the next stop.

I was given the opportunity to go in one of the massive forklifts/moving thing on wheels (no idea what it was called, but it was huge! And I had to climb a big ladder to get to the top). Then I went along with one of CCC’s normal days of work where we picked up containers, then dropped them onto the back of a truck, or picked it up from the truck. I could not believe how someone in this tiny box on the side of this MASSIVE crane was able to drop the container right between the lines or into the perfect spot on the truck. It was very impressive and a pretty cool experience!

I am so excited about the new relationship with CCC and cannot thank them enough for their support. I also now have a new found respect for how much it takes to get things like apples or international fruits like mangos onto the supermarket shelf. It doesn’t just appear, it involves a huge process and hard work to get there.

 Above are some photos of my trip, on the top are the crazy cool cranes on wheels that I sat on (yup, I climbed all the way up there, on a ladder!), then on the right is the tiny little glass-type box that the driver and I sat in. In the middle is taking a container off the truck and at the bottom is our awesome work, a loaded truck!

Thanks Russell, Sharon, Daniel and the awesome staff from CCC, you are helping make my 2013 year a successful one and keep me on my road to Rio =)

Home Time.. For a Short Time..

Since training camp I have been hanging out at home, in the beautiful sunshine getting some even more beautiful tan-lines and making the most of this hot weather. I have also been working hard with my chiropractor from England, Ali McMaster. This lady is amazing, I really do not know what I would do without her knowledge and the work she has put into me. Last year while I was suffering from what I call the year long one legged effort, Ali would skype me weekly and she is the reason I was able to keep riding at the level I was with all the other issues going on. Sometimes I would make my room-mate and good friend Emma Grant do manipulations to me, Ali, over Skype, would explain to Emma where and how she could hit me as hard as she could on some part of my legs (she says she didn’t like hitting me, I don’t believe her for a second). I would also use rolls and rolls and rolls of Spider Tech tape (http://www.spidertech.com/) to keep me going forward.
An example of a bit of taping effort after skyping Ali... got to cover all the options..right!?

Anyway, Ali has been around here almost ever second day (while she is on holiday in NZ), making me absolutely perfect and sorting out all my ‘issues’. She is not only the World’s best Chiropractor but she sort of just knows everything. She has an answer for everything and is just.. well.. AMAZING.
When I am not with Ali, and not on my bike, I am enjoying a bit of CrossFit here and there with Mount (and the new Tauranga) CrossFit (http://mountcrossfit.com/). I have been doing this since Surgery as I get really bored in the gym and because as a cyclist I do not get any impact what-so-ever, which is terrible for my bone density. Therefore by doing cross-fit I am not only working the muscles I would in the gym, things like box jumps, skipping and running are also incorporated, helping the impact side of things and also keeping things competitive (which in-turn keeps me happy).

The past few weeks I have also been meeting some really cool up and coming triathletes and cyclists from all over Tauranga.

Last week I was given the opportunity to join in on Lyndy Wickham’s ride with the junior tri kids that she takes out for rides and bike handling skills each week. I could not get over the enthusiasm and talent these juniors had, it is really exciting for the future of the sport. One of the older girls, Amelia, has just been selected for the Nationals in Christchurch because she had an outstanding cycle split time in the selection race. I tried to turn her to the better side (cyclist) on the ride, I think she will become a roady in no-time with that kind of talent. 

Me with some of the awesome up and coming riders, great group of Kids. 

It is so impressive to see the time and work that people like Lyndy put in to motivate young people to get out on their bikes. Iris Thomas is another example of someone who puts their entire life into helping kids as young as Primary School level to get introduced to the sport and use cycling as an alternate form of transport. Iris also teaches the students road rules so that when they get their drivers licenses they will appreciate cyclists and give them some space. Iris has started up a Bright Sparks program which helps to encourage Intermediate students who had learnt cycle safety earlier on to find safe and fun routes to ride to school. I was lucky enough to come in to my old school Tauranga Intermediate and see what it was all about as well as meeting some children who were part of the program. The students had a really impressive understanding of how to check their brakes were working, the tyres were pumped up and the helmet was on properly, we then took some photos with Jamie Troughton (who is also part of the program with Iris) and the two of them took the kids for a ride on the road teaching them road etiquette and showing them how fun it is to ride a bike!

Kurt Pickard and I with some Tauranga Intermediate students on the 'Bright Sparks' program. Picture Credit; Jamie Troughton/Dscribe Journalism.

Now I have just under a week left before I head back to the States to start the racing season. I am pretty excited to get it kicked off and to see all the team again!

I also just want to say a huge Thank You to Richard Bates, Greg Taylor and members of the Tauranga Cycling Club for your incredibly generous support in helping me get overseas this year. I am overwhelmed by the kindness of some people who are so passionate about cycling and the support of a young rider trying to live her dream.

I have been riding with Tauranga Cycling Club since I first started and being able to share my stories and progress with the people who have been there from the start is all worth it! Even if they still like to torture me on Tuesday night Worlds…

Thanks for reading!