As always it’s a busy schedule as competitive cyclists, but the ladies in the TORQ team have outdone them self this year in what can only be described as an awesome season. Katherine O’Shea won the cross country national title in what has been a difficult few years. Jenni King, who was runner up in the cross country national series, has had a super consistent season and took out the marathon national championships. Finally, Jo Wall who decided to ride more for fun this year rather than compete in the cross country national series, pretty much won most of the enduro races and stage races she entered, but to top her season off came first in the national solo 24-hour race in style, beating current world champ Jess Douglas in a discipline that certainly doesn’t favour a cross country rider.
Below are a few words from the riders themselves in what has made the year so good for them.
Winning two national titles, by Katherine O’Shea
Ever since I started riding and racing mountain bikes back in 2006, I had dreamed of winning a national title. I thought that it was to be mine in 2009 when I came into the national championships after winning the previous two national rounds. I had built up the confidence and believed that I was capable of taking out the title. However, it wasn’t to be after puncturing half a lap into the race. It was a devastating experience. But, not as devastating as losing my mum at the end of 2009 to an auto-immune disease. The 2010 season was a blur of disappointing results and lack of form.
The national title seemed like it was to be an elusive goal for me. The one thing that remained with me throughout this time was my love of riding my bike. It helped me to cope and as time went by the pain eased.
The form started to return and the national tiitle returned to my dreams. Soon everything I was doing become about winning nationals. I was determined to prove myself to the cycling community, my family and friends, but most of all to myself. My Mum was always a motivation with the strength that she had shown dealing with pain.
The race was a small part of the whole picture, but it was a day where everything fell into place for me and I was able to ride away from the field feeling strong without any pain of exertion. Once I had taken the lead I felt relaxed and comfortable being in that position, being able to enjoy the rest of the race and the celebration that come with becoming the cross country national champion! Taking out the short track championship the following day was bonus, but it was great to emphasise the point and prove myself once again.
Domestic season has been my most consistent to date, by Jenni King
The 2010-2011 domestic season has been my most consistent to date. In previous years, I have struggled with up and down performances. This year I have worked particularly hard on my weaknesses and have managed to podium at every race. Overall, I’m very satisfied with this result. The win at the marathon national champs was a bit of a surprise as I have been mainly focused on cross country distance racing. To win a national champ's jersey in any cycling discipline can be difficult and is certainly a great honour!
National solo 24-hour national titles, by Jo Wall
This year saw a bit of a shift in my training and racing. Having made a commitment to my job and not travelling to Europe chasing World Cups, I decided to try my hand at some longer events. I raced the Mount Buller weekend stage race and won and then followed it up with the Terra Australis (A seven day epic mountain bike stage race in the Victorian High Country) with my teammate Mark Fenner. We won the mixed pairs, and the seed was planted to have a go at a 24-hour solo race.
It just so happened that the national titles were a month away. My preparation and loading was perfect, and the race went perfectly. I went out sensibly as I didn’t know what to expect having never done one before. I made my move on Jess around 12 o'clock. I closed the gap in a few laps and passed her at 1:30 am and never looked back to what can only be described as a very rewarding win.
Upon reflection, 24-hour racing has provided me with a rich and unique experience in which I feel I have been stripped to my very being and learned so much about my constitution as person. I loved that it was an experience for my whole team of people and not just myself as a competitor. My pit crew lived through it with me, the highs, the lows, the lack of sleep and of course the elation of winning.
I’ve got so much thanks to my crew and TORQ as without them it wouldn’t have happened on that crazy weekend!