Sunday, November 30, 2008

Getting Around

The first two weeks of my experience in Australia was by car and bike.  Driving on the left side of the road was a challenge but I mastered it. 
Now that  Shelly and Nicola are gone, I have no rental car.  My new host house has a car I have access to but I have taken on a new challenge... public transportation.
The train/tram/bus system here is awesome!  I have not heard one positive thing out of the locals when it comes to the trains but I don't really get what their complaints are yet. Obviously they have been spoiled.  I come from the US where good public transportation exists rarely- Chicago, NY, Portland, etc.  Even then, the options are limited in those cities.

For $47/week or $161/month, I can have unlimited access to the whole system including the routes to all the suburbs.  It is less expensive if I were to choose only the inner-city trains... but Clare and Kate are in the burbs and I think I will visit every now and then for a home cooked meal by Clare's mom!  There are daily and hourly rates as well.
The cool part is just how easy and convenient the whole thing is.  The train station in my little area of town is 2 blocks from my house.  I can bring my bike on the train and go anywhere.

So, my challenge for the next 3 weeks is to use only public transportation and not give into driving the extra car in the driveway... calling my name. No, really, I think this is a good challenge!  I will keep you posted.  Tomorrow is my first real test because I am taking the train all the way to the other side of the city to the town where the training velodrome is.  Crossing my fingers it is as easy as it seems!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Goodbye and Hello

This morning we said our goodbyes to the awesome host family in Sandringham, the beach suburb where we have been staying.  I dropped Nicola and Shelley off at the airport around 11- funny to think they are STILL sitting on the airplane to California.  Then I headed to my new host house in Elsternwick, a town in the south part of Melbourne.  So goodbye to Andrew and Lisa Judd in Sandringham... goodbye to Nicola and Shelley... hello to Clint, Juno, and the three kids in Elsternwick.

This week has been busy.  Nicola and Shelley had one week to fit it all in and I was along for the ride.  We rode our bikes on Beach Rd. about 400 times, drank lots of lattes, ate great Indian food, and....

Spent time getting lost in the city on our bikes... best way to learn a city.
Went to DISC to be a part of the first Australian women's only Omnium Championships.  We were so honored to be there and present the medals to the different champions.  Rhys, below, runs the velodrome and couldn't be nicer.  The supportive environment in track racing world wide is amazing.
Went to the Healsville Sanctuary to see Australian wildlife.  We drove 1 hour, got there 20 minutes before they closed, talked our way in for free, and ran the 3k loop in order to see all the animals... emus, kangaroos, platypus, wombats, tasmanian devils, dingoes ("the dingo ate my baby"), kaolas, etc.  I can't remember half the animals because we were only pausing at each area.
Spent time on the beach watching kite surfers... this one is for you Nick!
Relaxed... only a little.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Pass the Sunscreen

Did you know there is an ozone hole over Southern Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand?  Melbourne has one of the highest rates of skin cancer.
I don't know what exactly this map mean but I know I will not be tan when I come home!

Monday, November 24, 2008

See the World's Best Burn up the Boards

This was the Melbourne World Cup theme.  Well, the best were there.  I was not one of the best but I was there racing in my first World Cup.

I had so many emotions during the 3 days of racing and the one I am left with after decompression is eagerness.  I am ready to do this for real.  I am ready to take my preparation to a new level.  I am ready to be “the best burning up the boards.”

My races were not as fast or successful as I would have liked.  Maybe I had the nerves, although I felt really calm, or maybe I just didn’t have the right training in my legs since Nationals.  At this point I let go of the past and make the experience part of my future.

Concentrating before round 1 of the keirin.  Me, Phillipines, Malaysia, Netherlands, Australia, China.

For those who are into track racing here is the quick race report.  The  200 was slow (12.2).  When I stood up to jump, I felt the feeling we all dread.  I had those nervous, heavy, lactic induced legs.   12.0 would have qualified me and this time is totally achievable.  I scratched from the 500 because of the scheduling.  They placed it right before the final keirin events and I completely expected to be there.  My first kierin round was fast and intense.  I got squeezed by Willy Kanis coming over top of me on bell lap and hesitated.  We all know what happens in a keirin when you hesitate… you go backwards.  In the reps the race was fast but manageable.  I followed the Korean thinking she was going over top but she never made it all the way around.  I didn’t go with my instincts to jump around her early because I don’t think I trusted my speed.  MISTAKE!  I was just as fast or faster then those girls and should have made it through those rounds.  I ended ranked 13th for the night.

About to start the keirin.

Ok- for those who didn’t understand any of that lingo… let’s move on!

The experience was a very positive one for me.  I learned so many of the little things and now understand what I need to work on.  I also learned that I can race at this level.  I belong at this level.  It may take me a bit to figure out the style or racing and the players involved and to increase my strength/speed but this is all achievable.

The crowd at the races was great!  The promoters did a good job of adding entertainment to the night.  Oh, the announcer was awesome!  He made the slowest pursuit exciting.  I spent a lot of time at the track just soaking it all in.  (I won’t do this next time because it is exhausting.)  I wanted to be in the moment and appreciate the scene of my first World Cup.  There will be more and I hope that the other countries do as great of a job as Australia has done.

Entertainment for the crowds.  Clowns on bikes... or something.

It was very exciting to have a teammate to watch and cheer for.  Shelley made the finals for both her races (points and scratch) and came away with an 11th and 13th place.  She was not completely satisfied with her final races but only because she is a true competitor and won't be satisfied until she is on the top of the podium.  You will see her on the podium this year though... you wait!

Shelley (teammate), Richard England (our Aussie friend who provided a HUGE amount help this weekend), and Nicola (team manager)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Real Friends

No, I am not referring to the French team that I shared track time with a couple days ago.  Mainly I don't refer to them as friends because they never spoke to me.  One girl... on a bike... the only other person on the track.  They have about 6-7 guys and we never managed to speak words.

I am talking about Shelly and Nicola.  They arrived!  Life is so much better!  For those who don't know, Nicola is the owner and manager of PROMAN Professional Cycling Team who I am so glad to be racing for.  Shelley is the hot thing that kicks some speed in the endurance races.  and

Yesterday I picked these two up from the airport and we headed down to our host house in Sandringham.  We are a block from the beach and in the coolest area.  We all went out for a spin, made some dinner, watched some footie, and went to bed.  
What is footie?  You silly Americans... don't you know?  It is the coolest sport ever!  A bit of rugby, some soccer, some football, some hockey body checks, some basketball jump balls... and it goes on.  These guys are athletes.  Apparently we are staying in the parents of the "Peyton Manning" of footie (or Aussie Rules Football.)  I thought I was sleeping in a room full of kids' trophies, medals, mounted jerserys, etc.  Um, no.  Those are League MVP trophies and such.  This Judd guy is an athlete!

Today we spent some time at the track.  Tomorrow is the first day of competition.  It is funny how different my workout is compared to Shelly (sprinter vs. endurance.)  She laughs at my short efforts... I laugh at her long ones.  Either way, we are both ready for tomorrow!


For the first days of my arrival, I was training at one of the local velodromes outside of Melbourne.  DISC (Darebin International Sports Center) is not just any local training facility but an indoor 250m!  Yes, these folks are spoiled and don't even know it.  

After a bit of "negotiating" with the track manager, I somehow managed to have the track all to myself for 2 days in a row.  Sounds nice, right?

I suppose I have been spoiled by having the best training group in Colorado Springs.  Not only do the coaches provide a supportive and challenging environment but my training partners provide lots of entertainment.  (thanks Dean and Blatch!)  Anyway, I figured out quickly how lonely the track can be.

Luckily I found friends... bowling friends.  Bowling... Aussie style. Don't laugh!  It is a very serious sport here in Australia.  So serious that there are uniforms, correct shoes and hats, lots of cheering, and, no doubt, competition. 
This was their little halftime pep rally.

Oh, and then my friends... the Koreans.  Between the athletes and the coaches, there were about 15 of them and nobody spoke English (or at least they chose not to).  Even though they were very suspicious of my camera (like I was spying on their equipment) and we never did manage to communicate, I still consider them my new friends.  Hey, I am alone and in need of friends!
Did I mention I have been driving a rental car this whole time on the left side of the road?  More on that later!

Monday, November 17, 2008


I wrote a little something for a website that follows track sprinters.  Check it out- there should be a link at the top to click on.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


It has been a couple days since I got to Melbourne.  The internet where I am living is super slow and makes blogging impossible. 

I will catch you up on the trip so far-

First, the flight was long... of course.  But, I got Business Class.  NICE!  That actually made the trip enjoyable.  14 hours and I slept about 10 hours.  That was my first time in the upstairs part of a 747.

This is all I saw of Sydney.  This city looks super cool and I want to one day make it here.  I don't think it will happen this trip but one day.
Commercialism is alive and well in the Sydney airport.  No recession here!  People were spending cash on jewelry, liquor... everything.  I was debating whether to spend $5 on a coffee.
All went well with the custom officers except they made me unpack EVERYTHING and repack it.  Seriously, they are strict.  Apparently their big fear is seeds or plants from another country.  Forget smuggled drugs.  They want to make sure I didn't bring kudzu in from the States.  So, as soon as they saw I had bikes, they wanted to make sure there was no dirt on them.  They opened my bike box and leaves fell out everywhere.  Out came the vacuum and 4 more officers.  That added a nice hour on the LONG day.

I rented the car and somehow found my way to Clare's house.  Clare is an old teammate who's family lives in Melbourne.  I will be staying with her a couple days until my new teammate and manager get to town.  

In this big Greek family and in this big Greek house live two birds.  These birds are the most spoiled animals ever... way worse then Elke, my sweet Rottweiler.  Here are Clare and her birds.
Greeks like to eat.  Clare's mom is afraid that I am going to starve and makes crazy amounts of food everyday.  They say this is normal and I am not complaining.... YUMMY!  Spanakopita is one of my favorite Greek dishes.  This is for you Stratos!

All is good so far with training so far.  I am adjusted to the time and sleeping well.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I gave in

I didn't want to. I avoided it.  I made fun of all you people with blogs yet secretly read every one of them.
Now, I am one of you.
Why?  Because I left on this journey that will take me to cool places this winter racing my bike.  I HATE mass emails.  My family and friends have demanded (rightfully) updates.  So, instead of picking and choosing and being so presumptuous by sending emails to a list... I will blog.
Read if you want.  It may be interesting and it may not.  I am not a creative writer, I am a bike racer.