Remember 1973? I know I was still in school shorts and sandals, had long hair and was listening to Pink Floyd. The English rugby team beat the All Blacks 16-10 at Eden Park and Norm Kirk was the Prime Minister.
Cycling was not on my horizon back then but here in the mighty Manawatu there was a dedicated group ( as there are today) who had a vision around providing a multi stage event that would appeal to 15 and 16 years old boys.......a mini Dulux Tour of NZ! Many of our well known and highly successful cyclists have ridden this tour over the ensuing 40 years.
It has historically been run over the same weekend of the NZ Secondary School Champs an event also instigated locally. More recently the Tour has included an U17 girls division.
I flew down to Invercargill on Friday the 15th, and made my way to my accommodation, where I would be spending the next 3 nights with fellow WCNI rider Cassie Cameron, and travelling Scotsman Gus Gillies.
Saturday was day one of the UCI tier one event, which we started off with a 30 minute ride/crawl to the Velodrome. My Keirin was first up, however while racing I had a small mechanical. I still managed to finish a respectable third.
Later that night I competed in the scratch race but unfortunately the mechanical repeated itself, and I was forced to pull out. Due to this, I decided to enter the points race the next day. After lapping the field with a couple of NZ riders, and picking up a couple of sprints, I finished up 5th overall. I was very happy with this, as the points race is an endurance event and by nature I’m a sprinter. This 2 day event was a huge confidence boost, as I had proven to myself that I could kick it with the best of them.
I arrived in Invercargill on Friday to a surprisingly beautiful day, to join the Bike NZ under 19 Track team for a camp over the time of the Festival of speed and the Oceania track cycling championships. This camp is a huge learning experience on and off the bike, with a lot of racing and having to shop, budget and cook together within our teams, which for me is the girls sprint team.
The Festival of speed is a Tier one UCI event, which attracted riders from six nations. There weren’t many races for us under 19’s over this Saturday and Sunday of racing, which meant we had a lot of time to watch and learn from the elites racing. On the Sunday afternoon session of the festival we pulled on our black skin suits with the white fern across our back and rode a 7.5km scratch race. My teammates raced an aggressive race, with many attacks throughout the 20 laps. In a lunge to the line I finished fourth, behind my teammates Olivia and Nina, and Auckland’s Bryony Botha.