Date: Friday, 16 May 2014

Well it's been a crazy start to my cycling career. I am already 1.5 years into it and a lot has happend! 

For those of you who don't know, I used to be a rower. My last campaign was in Kazan, Russia at the World University Rowing Championships where we placed 5th in the coxless four. Unfortunately for my team and I, this result was not even close to what we were aiming for, and there on the finish line of that race I came to a turning point in my career.

Leading up to Russia, a few doors had already closed in the rowing scene and I was advised by a few people to give track cycling a go. So in the months before my last rowing campaign, I had some testing done on a cycling ergometer and came out with promising results. So when things didn't work out after Kazan, I thought I might just take the risk and switch codes. 

I had done a little homework on this topic, and found that the physical demands of rowing and track cycling have some crossover, but I didn't own a track bike, nor did I have any idea that the required equipment goes well beyond just a bike! Nor did I really have any idea about cycling fullstop, but I was hopeful that something would work out and determined to give it a shot. 

So I sold what I could from my flat in Dunedin and moved to what was at the time, the centre of track cycling in New Zealand, Invercargill. Home of the SIT Zero Fees indoor velodrome, and many of the best cyclists and coaches in the country. This was certainly a move in the right direction. 

I started racing at the club nights and progressed up the ranks and decided to give nationals a shot. I came away with a couple of fourth places and top ten finishes, and I was stoked. The atmosphere on the track was incredible. The racing, unlike rowing, was fast, tactical and unpredictable. 

I was hooked and I haven't looked back. 

To read our blog on my last rowing campaign click here:
Rowers to Russia, Coxless Four

Continuing on from that, I have started to get the wheels moving! Time really does fly by when you're having fun, and here are a few flash backs from the last year or so. 

Looking back to 2013, my first national event was the Omnium. This event is made up of six track races; three timed and three bunch races, in which you score points. I was happy to come away with 4th place at my first one. This event was then followed by New Zealand National Track Cycling Championships, where I got 4th in my first Team Pursuit, and gained a whole lot more track experience by competing in all of the sprints and almost all of the endurance races. 

Following nationals, it was time to hit the road. Here is the start line of my first teams road race: Benchmark Homes Elite Series; Soul Star Racing 2013. 



After spending a few more months training and racing in Dunedin, NZ, I set off for my first overseas campaign, which was made up of sunny days and hot nights of racing at one of the best velodromes in the USA; Valley Preferred Cycling Centre -Trexlertown Pennsylvania. When I arrived, I was pretty intimidated by all of the international riders and the speed of the racing, but lucky for me, there were a few other kiwi friends at the track too. Whom I must say, really helped me out a lot. Thanks kiwis!
 

It was here that I earned my first flower bouquet for winning the 'Golden Wheel Race'. For this race, riders are scattered around the track for a standing start, and are given a handicap based on their previous racing results. Basically the idea of this event is to give it 100% gas right from the start, to try to safely manoeuvre around anyone in your way to the finish line, and keep ahead of the riders behind. A close finish lunge right on the line won me this race, and I was so exhausted I felt like I was going to throw up! Someone handed me a bunch of flowers and demanded a victory lap, which I only just managed before collapsing on the ground. Some victory I thought! Anyway, once the burn in my legs wore off, it was quite a good evening. 

I also scored my first TV studio interview on Service Electric's Channel Two and a write up in the local paper. Read the article here:

www.mcall.com



After a few months of hot summer racing, it was time to head home and prepare for my first international competition in New Zealand; Oceania Track Cycling Championships. This competition had some really great races, and with a couple of top tens, and more experience in my back pocket, I was looking forward to more racing. 



Southland Track Cycling Championships was next on the cards, and after some very close racing I came away my first lot of cycling medals, three silvers. I was pretty stoked. 



I was enjoying the track racing, but it was time to hit the road again to get a few base miles in. After placing 2nd in one of the last road races for my NZ season, I hit the fields for some carnival style grass-track racing, which was great fun, but much harder than it looks, I'll tell you that for free!

Back on to the track and nationals preparations started. I travelled with my team; Cycling Southland, to the home of New Zealand's newest velodrome; the Avantidrome, Home of Cycling, in Cambridge, North Island, NZ. Here I raced in the Points, Scratch, 500m Time Trial, Individual Pursuit and the very first National Team Pursuit with the new rule of four riders and four kilometers (prior it was three riders, three kms). My best results were; 4th Scratch, 5th Individual Pursuit and 2nd in our Team Pursuit. 



And I was proud to stand on the podium with some of New Zealand's best cyclists and be awarded with my first NZ National Track Cycling medal.

Most recently, I have travelled to Europe to try my hand at a bit of road racing with my new Dutch team; Endura Lady Force, who race in the UCI races in Belgium and the Netherlands. Here is our website:

www.enduraladyforce.nl



And lastly here is a photo of team mate; Daniella Verstraten and I, warming up for my first race in Belgium. 

That's all of the 'firsts' I can think of for now, I am sure there will be many more. Check back soon for an update.

Thanks for your continued support, and thanks for reading!

- KJ