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Emma James

The Long-nosed potaroo

Australian National Championships and potaroos

Cycling News
February 07, 2005, 0:00 GMT,
April 22, 2009, 20:23 BST

Yeah the ones three weeks ago. But better late than never...I still have a story to tell! After the...

Echunga, South Australia, January 12-15, 2005

Yeah the ones three weeks ago. But better late than never...I still have a story to tell!

After the Bay Series Criteriums had finished, I sampled some seriously spicy Sri Lankan food before Adrian and I set off on the long drive to Adelaide. We stopped for the night in Ararat, and took the 'scenic route' for the last part of the trip up the coast towards Adelaide, seeing fields and fields of salt! It looked like the land was being rehabilitated with salt bush growing around the edges of the crusty 'salt lakes'. The joys of air conditioned car travel were much appreciated in the 35 plus temperatures.

We stayed at the Warrawong Earth Sanctuary in the Adelaide Hills near Mylor, and just ten kilometres from where the racing was in Echunga. Warrawong is a former dairy farm, now replanted with native vegetation and surrounded by a heavy duty 'feral-proof' fence. Inside the fence, the sanctuary is home to platypus, koalas, kangaroos, loads of birds and also little native critters that can't co-exist with cats and foxes, including Tammar wallabies, Southern Brown bandicoots, woylies, pademelons, Rufous bettongs, Eastern quolls, and Long-nosed potaroos. Adrian and I became close friends with the Long-nosed potaroo who lived just outside the cabin we were in. The potaroo was not shy at all, sucking on the sprinkler system like a water bottle, and not even bothering to knock if we left the door open! Despite the heat of the week I was quite at home, well relaxed and ready for the racing.

The National ITT did not go quite as well as I would like. The day before our race, the out and back course seemed cruel with fierce heat and strong winds (that fanned the deadly Eyre Peninsular fires). The following morning we were met with much milder conditions, and not much wind. I tried to peg back the gap to the rider who started three minutes before me, but I had no bunnies to chase with a couple riders not starting who should have been just ahead of me. It was a fairly flat circuit, but with some pinches on the way out, and long drags on the way back. Oenone did a great ride to win by a good margin ahead of Sara Carrigan. I finished 9th, minutes off the pace. I know I have a better ITT ride in me, but I will have to wait a little longer to do justice to my perfect Cervelo P3 time trial bike. This year, with me in OZ, will be a good time to focus on my time trials. Maybe give the Calga circuit a nudge!

The National Road Race was an interesting day out on the bike. The circuit at Echunga is tough! The fast downhill finishing straight is followed by a tight corner leading into the uphill feeding zone triangular loop, and then straight onto the big climb. The climb is about a kilometre long and 10% grade in parts, no corners, just the crest of the hill looming up, far ahead! From the top, the road descends gradually for a couple kilometres, and then onto an undulating road for a while before a fast, fairly open descent leading back to the end of the 12km loop.

There were some early breaks in about the third lap, and then the Nürnberger team took up the chase - But there were only two of them - quality but not quantity! Each time Olivia or Oenone took up the role of setting the pace, trying to pull back the 'mad early break', I confidently thought: 'Excellent, I will be right to get over the climb with them at the end of this lap if they wear themselves out a bit now'.

It seemed a lot of riders were happy to sit back and just let the characters play their parts. With a lap or two to go there were still 30 riders in the bunch (once they had struggled back on after the climb). There were one or two laps when I struggled on the climb, but most times the pressure was not really put on when the damage could be done.

Into the final lap, and up the climb with around five riders over the crest together, Lorian Graham attacked. The move was covered and riders scrambled together on the gradual descent. Sara Carrigan then launched her move - one for the day with solid force and good timing. Oenone led the chase, and called for the rest of us to contribute as we pulled her back on the descent. Onto the undulating back roads and Lorian attacked again. I tried to bridge across on one of the steeper pinches, with Kate Nichols the only other rider going with the break. We worked well for a few minutes, but there was a strong reaction from the bunch. Amy Safe bridged across to us, but the bunch was not far behind.

A little while later Lorian attacked again. Her third attack in the final lap. There was no response - from any rider. The gap grew quickly. I was keen not to be finishing with such a large group, and had hoped that the field would be whittled down to a nice little group by this stage. I had a dig up another steep pinch, Natalie Bates just getting to me at the top of the steepest bit. She struggled with her gears, changing into the big chain ring, the momentum was lost and the bunch was on us. From there Amy Safe kept the bunch moving at the front, and there were no serious attacks. The descent led us into the final kilometre. I was on the right hand side of the bunch, and luckily we seemed to get a good run at the line. Not known for my sprinting prowess, I was happy with 5th for the day.

Lorian deserved the win. She had the brains to save her strength for the business end of the race, the form to ride strongly on the climb and on the flats, the guts to ride aggressively and the self belief to see and take the opportunities that arose. The Queensland team rode as an impressive unit against a field of individuals. They had the numbers with at least five of the strongest ten riders on the climb most laps, and at the end of the day - three Queensland girls on the podium!

I had a painful fear of broken ribs that flared up that afternoon! From the crash in the Bay Series a week earlier, the muscles between my ribs were seriously bruised and painful. It didn't hurt on the bike, but lying on my side was impossible, and picking up my bike strains those muscles and I couldn't believe that there was not a dagger handle visible when I searched for some visible sign of the pain. I was told by good medical advice that you don't do anything for broken ribs anyway - so just keep training and toughen up. A few days later it was much better, so I guess I'm just getting soft.

The Tour Down Under Criteriums for the women had $10,000 on offer, so I thought I might be able to earn a bit of money to pay for the petrol for the trip home! We enjoyed a week of riding in the Adelaide hills, along the Torrens River bike path, and a bit of camping experience. I dipped my toes in at West Beach, but was a bit scared of sharks after the recent attack, and my tan lines were not looking great either (permanent knicks and jersey). I didn't race well enough to clean up in the cash stakes. I worked with a few riders, but the stronger mafia network of Bates, Bates and Rhodes cleaned up, winning all three crits in style. It was an enjoyable week, and a good chance to see a bit more of Adelaide. We headed off for the long drive home, chipping a windscreen thanks to an oncoming truck, just as I realized the petrol money wouldn't last all that long!

I had a tough week or two recovering from the racing, and from having not done enough recovery kilometres, as well as the heat, the driving, and maybe a bit of a bug as well. Now I am back on track, ready to fire up for the Geelong Tour and World Cup and the NZ tour and World Cup in Wellington (and a trip to see my grandmother!). More news soon, from the best of the Australian international racing.

Emma warming up on the rollers.

Mayhem in Melbourne

Cycling News
January 12, 2005, 0:00 GMT,
April 22, 2009, 20:23 BST

Day one in Williamstown had been a good start with a fourth place for me, finishing between the main...

Jayco Bay Classic - NE, Australia, January 5-9, 2005

Day one in Williamstown had been a good start with a fourth place for me, finishing between the main field and the break of three riders (Oenone Wood, Skye Lee Armstrong and Kate Nichols). Skye had done well, attacking from the start and then sprinting confidently against Oenone to win.

Day two saw an impressive show of force from Oenone. She finished solo on the tough course at Port Arlington, with slippery, wet conditions on off camber corners. Kate Nichols had again been in the winning break of three, but a crash saw her out for the lap where Oenone put the pressure on midway through the criterium. Kate still finished second ahead of the main field, the sprint for third won by the Victorian Jenny MacPherson. I was planning a late attack... but left it all too late as '5 to go' turned in to the bell lap! It wasn't a great day for me, but a good reminder not to let the race go up the road.

Day three was the national criterium championships, down on the waterfront hot-dog circuit at Geelong. Last year, I won the race on this circuit, and I was keen to race well. The race was fast, with lots of attacks from various riders, all covered by sprinters hoping for a bunch kick (particularly Oenone). Rochelle was attentive and quick to go with the moves. I was disappointed that there were not better timed attacks - counter moves to strong attacks, but it seemed to be a night for the sprinters. Coming into the final corner a few riders showed their complete lack of bike handling skills. I didn't see exactly what was coming from behind - but it was ugly and fast and out of control. I was knocked to the ground from a messy collision on the right. One of the bikes involved flew through the air and smashed into the windscreen of a car parked just off the circuit. These girls have not quite worked out how to judge gaps and what speed to approach a corner with any hope of getting around it (I will see to it that they are educated over the next two races). I have a nasty bruise and a bit of gravel rash on my right side and a lump on my left chin that I have no idea about. I was in a mega-foul mood and very disappointed to be brought down when I was in a decent position coming into the last 300m of the race. I had no broken bones or serious injuries and luckily my beautiful new Cervelo was not damaged - which is always important! (bruises and gravel rash heal faster than broken equipment!)

Day four was at the Botanic Gardens circuit at Geelong. A break of five riders got up the road just before the first sprint, 15 minutes into the 45 minute race. The pace had been on, and I was suffering a little when it went. Amanda Spratt (NSW), Oenone Wood, Emma Rickards, Jenny MacPherson and Belinda Goss were the five who managed to hold the gap to the finish, with Jenny MacPherson taking the win. The next bunch of between 6 and 10 cyclists all blocked well for team mates up the road - so a rather negative 'not chase group' rolled around with no serious hope of getting back in the race. I tried to bridge across at one point - but did not have enough juice in the tank to really power on the tough circuit.

The last day was in at the flat Docklands hotdog circuit in Melbourne. Again it was fast, and with a few spectacular crashes for good measure. I had assistance on the sidelines in getting the full details of the view from the spectator. Quite incredible stories. I only heard the noise of the crashes behind me (luckily), but the visual was supposedly remarkable! Helen Kelly was attacked by the tram lines that crossed part of the circuit along the finishing straight. Somehow, as she was riding in a straight line, her bike came out from under her, and she came down in the middle of the field, but her bike slid out "like a downhill skier sliding into the spectator barricades on the ski slopes". It was particularly remarkable as three spectators were standing on the wrong side of the barriers, and were cleaned up by Helen and her bike at 40km/hr! At least one spectator had to be taken away in an ambulance!

The other notable crash was where a rider punctured and just hooked right into the pits, taking out the rider behind her who was (quite reasonably) expecting the rider ahead to continue along the back straight with the rest of the pack. There was a spectacular panic for a spare wheel - with no consideration for the poor rider who had been sent over the bars and into the gutter by the other rider's total panic, inexperience and stupidity. The rider who had punctured then had every man and his dog out in the middle of the circuit (in thongs with riders squeezing past him) to give her a good push start a couple laps later to rejoin the field.

All this excitement kept the crowd entertained. I had a stab, but had countered a move attacking just before the final sprint which still had points up for the green jersey competition. I held the strong chase off for a few laps, (good time trial practice), but conceded a lap before the sprint.

Oenone rode well to take out the final criterium in the sprint, and win the series easily, many points ahead of the next rider overall.

So the National Championship Time Trial and Road Race are next on the agenda, in just a few days, over in Adelaide. I'm looking forward to the action there! Plenty more stories I can guarantee... Pain and suffering (at least for myself) I am certain of. It will be some good hard racing.

Jayco Bay Classic home

Back in the saddle

Cycling News
January 06, 2005, 0:00 GMT,
April 21, 2009, 11:56 BST

This year will be a good one. A bit of normality in my life. Adrian. A home. Sydney friends. NSW /...

Australia, January 6, 2005

This year will be a good one. A bit of normality in my life. Adrian. A home. Sydney friends. NSW / Australian racing! A job - and good money hopefully. Racing at Heffron and doing 'Dawn Patrol'. Beautiful training rides through Bobbin Head, Akuna, the Royal National Park, and Sommersby…. What more could I ask for? I'd settle for a good block of racing in Australia in January and February, and New Zealand in March. After that I'll see where the wheel tracks take me…

I have a new club to race for, Randwick Botany, supported by FRF Couriers, complete with a women's team for the Australian racing. It is about time I found out what is going on in Australia in winter.

I started my training after a really good break in October with tourist travel in France, Greece, Italy and Finland (Thanks Dominique, Eli, Luca and Tiina!). Getting back in to shape was harder than I expected. Scary suffering and wondering if you will ever get some sort of form back. Then my Cervelo P2.5 carbon road bike arrived. Mmm. So good! I am not joking - it seriously made me ride 5km/h faster, and it all seemed so easy. That caused my training partners a bit of stress… but gave me motivation and grrrr that I needed for the January races!

Bay Series 2005

Lining up for early season racing in the Aussie summer has become a bit of an institution. A hard jolt from the long slow kilometer training that many recommend for base preparation for a big season, but a heap of fun, and stacks of riders all getting in a good week of training and racing together. I have a bit of déjà vu going on, returning to the same accommodation that the NSW Institute of Sport has been in for the last few years, and generally the same friendly faces to catch up with. It is not all bad to be familiar with the circuits and to know how it all works.

The first criterium was at Williamstown, just to the west of Melbourne, and a solid hour drive from Geelong where we are staying. I am in the Mercure Hotel Geelong team with Hayley Rutherford, Brigit Evans, Tiffany Cromwell and a replacement for Meredith Miller who was hit by a car in New Zealand just a few days ago. We had storm clouds building as our race time approached, and the rain dumped just as we were called to the start line. They kindly delayed our race start, and gave us five laps of fast neutral to settle into the course (and roughly grade the riders with those most likely to stack it at the back). Sky-Lee Armstrong went from the gun and got a good half lap lead before the pack seemed interested in chasing. Eventually a few moves went, and Kate Nichols (NSWIS) got the gap with Oenone Wood (Mercure Swanston) with her. The three of them had a handy lead, and the rest of us were looking for fourth place. I was watching to see who would attack. I went with a few efforts, and with four laps to go, took a good opportunity to launch and held off the field by taking it ultra careful in the wet corners and hurting myself on the straights. Nice to be in the points and be motivated for a few good days of racing ahead.

Emma James

Emma James (Randwick Botany/FRF) is proudly sponsored by: Welcome to one of Cyclingnews' up-and-coming female talents, Australian Emma James. After two years with the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) team based in Italy, and riding in 2004 as a professional with Team S.A.T.S. then Bik Gios, Emma is back in Australia, concentrating for the moment on the domestic scene before seeing where the wheeltracks take her later in the year. "I want to achieve as much as I can in this sport, tactically outwitting the opposition to win. I want to time trial as fast as I can physically go. I want to be a key member of a strong team that can ride aggressively and win and make other riders suffer in pursuit." — Emma James, April 2002