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Back in the saddle

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.

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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