Sydney, October 5, 2005
It's been a long time between drinks since I wrote my last diary entry but with all the racing I've been doing, along with travelling back to Australia, catching up with family and friends and sorting out loose ends while I've been away, I haven't had much time to sit in front of a computer.
When I last wrote, I was in Holland racing the pro criteriums and having barbies with the boys. I had a nine hour drive back to Italy and wasn't looking forward to doing it solo. So it's lucky that the coin landed on heads and Harro and Jess came down with me. See, whenever Harro and I have a decision to make, we just let "the coin" decide. I asked them to drive back with me, promised them sun and good food and the coin said they should go. Only problem was, when we got there, it was raining for the first time in six weeks. They weren't happy.
Before I left Europe, I had a few more races to do in Italy. I raced the Tre Valli Varesine and Giro del Veneto, which is four one dayers in five days and probably the four hardest in Italy. I was actually climbing alright after doing all the crits in Holland, and was a bit surprised. These last few races brought race day total up to 21 race days out of 25 days, so as you can imagine, I was a bit tired after that.
So what's the best thing you can do to recover from that? Step onto a 24 hour flight to Australia and keep the ball rolling with more racing... not! After stepping off the plane and doing the usual things you do when you first get home, like Vegemite on toast, go down to my local coffee shop, have lunch in the sun, go training on the left side of the road and have a VB, after two days at home I was on the road again.
The first race back was the Cootamundra Annual and the Coota Recovery race. They are both handicaps and the Coota Annual I got fastest time last time I rode it back in 1999. I was keen to do well again and it stared to look like I would. The legs were great and I felt confident until I broke a spoke on a set of borrowed wheels and there was no spares van. I rode the wheel that was hitting the frame and brakes but barely made it to the finish. The second day my legs were smashed from what felt like a strength endurance day the day before. The scratch bunch never looked like getting up and raced in for fastest time. I attacked up a climb with 3km to go but got reeled in towards the finish. I wasn't happy the way the racing ended up on the weekend, but it was good to be back in my favourite country town of NSW and catch up with the boys.
Next I was off to race the Tour of the Murray River in Mildura in far west Victoria. After a stopover for two nights in Wagga where I stayed at Tommy Dawson's pad, I lined up for the five-day tour, which I knew would be everything except suit me. This tour is flat, windy and just not my cup of tea. I was still keen to get a stage win and some good coin, but neither happened. Every stage went by and Russ and I kept saying, 'we'll do it tomorrow', but tomorrow never came. A break went up the road on the second stage and that was the winning move. As for the rest of the tour, Russ and I couldn't move as we were marked very heavily. Not until the last day when I got up the road on stage 9 (after losing time the afternoon before so they might finally let me go) and got third, and Russ was second behind McKenzie on stage 10. So we salvaged something on the last day. It didn't help that there were some young Victorians in the race with big mouths and no respect.
After the tour I drove back to Adelaide with Russ, checked the place out for two days before flying home to Sydney. Finally, time to kick back and settle back in for two weeks. The spring weather was sensational and I couldn't believe how warm it was. The rides were great, barbies were often and it was great to see my Wests Tigers kick butt in the finals. After following them for 27 years where they don't mind finishing last, it was awesome to see them finally win, along with the Swans winning the AFL.
The two races I really wanted to win this September was 'the Grafton' and 'the Goulburn' and both races finished in the same scenario. I attacked on the last climb, splitting it down to five riders, then attacking towards the finish before it came down to a group sprint where I finished fourth in both. I have to say I was pretty disappointed after both races because I didn't win, but in saying that, I rode a perfect race and couldn't have done anymore than I did. I am not the fastest of sprinters and couldn't manage to get away towards the end.
Out training I have been creeping but somehow as soon as I pin the number on it all comes together and the form is there. The last week I have been taking it easy and with the Sun Tour being next week, I hope to have a big one. Unfortunately, the Tour of Queensland has been cancelled so my last race will be the Sun Tour or the Melbourne to Warrnambool the week later, depending on the form.