June 26, 2010

Tour de France: How hard can it be?

The Tour de France is the toughest road race, and cycling is the hardest sport in the world, just ask anyone whose attempted a 200km ride.

No other sport in the world compares to riding a bicycle for 20 stages, except of course being dedicated enough to watch the entire tour… from Australia.

We can all agree the riders do a mighty fine job. Though let’s not forget that they at least get to race in a time zone that they have adapted to.

Australian fans will still have to go to work, make small talk with their significant other, perhaps even take a child to school, call their mother, do the dishes, cook dinner, wash the car, be alert at work, maintain a good working relationship with coworkers, not fall asleep at their desk, still meet monthly sales targets and be responsive in client meetings.

The riders in the TDF have it easy… right? Um… No

Lance Armstrong is playing down his abilities. Alberto Contador has said the race will be won in the Pyrenees, not the Alps… I had no idea there was a difference and since he’s climbed more mountains than me, we’ll take his word as gospel.

You’ll hear a lot about Cadel Evans and Andy Schleck along the way, expect big things from these men, they have power that us mere mortals only dream of. For those of you who don’t know when these deciding stages will take place, the Pyrenees start at stage 14 and for 4 days the riders will go up!

I’m not a huge fan of mountain stages. I’ve climbed some small mountains and it hurts so I don’t even want to know what these riders are going through. I feel sorry for the sprinters though, some of these guys are the heaviest in the peloton and it’s hard to push 70-80kg up a mountain.

While mountains are far from easy, any good cyclist will tell you, mountains build character.

To stop yourself from falling asleep before the start or end of a stage, I suggest getting a hold of an indoor trainer, the fancier the better. This device will allow you to ride ‘with‘ the peloton and experience their pain. When the peloton begins to climb, I expect you to throw on as many gears as possible, you must ‘share‘ the work and ‘feel‘ the pain.

Do expect your caffeine consumption to go through the roof and to keep your calories as low as possible, its best to switch to espresso whilst the Tour is on as it has fewer calories.

Taking a look at the sprinters, in particular and most importantly Mark Cavendish (Cav), Cav is reminiscent of a young Armstrong, which suggests he will chill over time, and he’ll get better with it. That’s what happens when you’re a champion.

Thor Hushdov is after his 3rd Green Jersey, the sparks flew between Cav and himself in 2009, and there is no reason why it won’t happen again. Mark Renshaw is Cav’s partner in crime over at HTC-Columbia; he could be the man for the Green if Cav doesn’t step up to the plate come July.

Truth be told, this writer only cares about Cav’s result and his journey for the Green Jersey.

As I’m sure you’re aware, Australian backpackers have infiltrated Europe, Asia, North America, South America and Africa and you can bet your bottom dollar that we’ve also got ’our people’ in the Tour, not just Cadel Evans.

You should all have at least three Australian riders that you will support, during the Tour, you should learn all their statistics and know exactly where they are at all times, and whether or not they receive support from their team.

Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!

Be prepared to experience some backlash from your loved ones. They may not be as interested in the Tour de France as you.. strange, but to make it easier, carefully prepare a list of appropriate discussion topics for your loved ones, these topics should be simple, the simpler they are the less long winded the conversation will be and that means more sleep for you.

Phrases like, "I love you", "You’re the best" and "I’m glad I married you" will be beneficial to your relationship, use them.

Thou shalt not commit to any evening activities.

If you have no alternative, you should declare that you have a migraine and must go home, this will make you look soft in front of friends and family. Suck it up! The Tour only comes around once a year and there are 343 other days left in the year to see family and friends.

Special thanks to SBS Television for once again providing fascinating commentating from Phil Ligget and Paul Sherwan. Phil and Paul probably know more about France than the French. If you’re looking at travelling to France in the future you would be advised to record the Tour so you can take Phil and Paul with you on your travels, especially if your plan is a cycling holiday. They will be there to push and motivate you on your journey through the Pyrenees.

You can watch Mark Cavendish riding the Tour on SBS ONE, Cav will start riding on the 3rd of July and hang up his bike on the 25th of July. The prologue (stage 1 for the uninitiated) is being broadcast at 2:30am, you’ll need coffee for that and your trainer. Two days of rest have been scheduled, if you need more then you’re advised to reconsider your abilities as a cyclist.

On a more serious note, if you can’t hack the pace of watching it live, SBS ONE has provided a soft option with daily updates at 7:30am and 6:00pm, SBS TWO will have highlights at 8:30pm every day and if you’re a real cyclist you will watch all the updates and the live broadcast... anything less than that just isn’t good enough.

I don’t know who’s going to win the White Jersey, the King of the Mountain Polka Dot Jersey, or the Yellow Jersey, but, I suggest you all eat well, drink plenty of water, dress warmly and sleep through your lunch break.

June 22, 2010

Sisters of Spin... Hallelujah Socks!

I've said it before and I'll say it again... I LOVE SOCKS. The feeling of putting on a brand new pair of socks has got to be the best thing ever... okay perhaps not THE best, but it’s coming in a close second.

I received a pair of socks from online clothing label Après Vélo and they are my definition of perfect, they have a little bit of extra fabric at the back, that makes them a bit higher than your usual ankle sock, my foot tends to rub against my runners and some other shoes a fair bit, I was surprised when I saw this… and delighted.

Performance wise these socks feel good in cycling shoes and runners, they’re not tight at the ankle and they don’t go too far up your leg either, they absorb sweat well, the fabric in this sock unlike some bounces back well which means the sock wont slip back into your shoe, you’ll need to wear them a few hundred times before that happens.

The top of the foot of the sock is a lot more breathable than the bottom as expected and the fabric is great, the socks are pink, white and black, they've got the words, "Sisters of Spin," written on them and I'm looking forward to pay day.

I have washed these socks every night for a week and they've come out as good as new each time... have some faith ladies, for only $19.95 AUD these socks are worth the postage!

I was about ready to go join a gospel choir when I realise these socks already have the word 'Hallelujah' on them.

Après Vélo gear is available online and you will find a range of casual and cycling wear: http://www.apresvelo.com/.

June 20, 2010

Climbing Mountains with Tiffany Cromwell

Sunday 20th June 2010

We all want to climb better, even those of us who ‘hate mountains’, we want to climb faster, we want to dance like the professionals. Tiffany Cromwell, Australian Professional Road Cyclist, is one woman in the peloton who’s got the style and the pain threshold to keep moving forward… and up!

Tiffany is about to ride the Giro del Trentino, a hilly three day course in Italy. There’s a few thousand meters of climbing and this race is an excellent opportunity to gauge her physical and mental condition before July’s ten day Giro d’Italia.

As the only cyclist still riding from a group of potentials selected by a talent ID program, this aggressive rider is focused and is putting all her energy into the Giro d’Italia. Tiffany is in a position to achieve her goals, she knows how to keep herself future orientated and her eyes are on the best young rider’s jersey and the King of the Mountain Jersey.

You where chosen by a talent ID program, one of 15 selected and the only one to still be racing, what made you stick at it?

I don’t know really, I think it was the fact that it was a sport more suited to me and I discovered it would actually take me places and see the world. In my first year of cycling I travelled more then I ever had.

I played basketball for many years and the only place I had travelled whilst playing basketball was various places throughout Victoria. For a while there I found it really hard to leave Basketball so I was playing that and Cycling for a while but then I started enjoying Cycling more and eventually focused just on that and I think it is addictive, once you get into it you’re hooked, the social factor, the thrill, tactics, etc.

Also I’ve never been a quitter; I need to have a very good reason to give something up so I just stuck with it!

Does ‘pain become pleasure?’ You've said before that you like a tough race?

I guess you could say that. I think I have a higher pain tolerance than others so if it is a hard race I can a lot of the time fight through the pain and keep on pushing harder where other people who don’t have as high thresh hold would probably blow and not be able to keep up any longer.

Your main discipline is climbing mountains, how do you train for mountains?

Firstly some people like myself are born with the right body type to find climbing easy then others (generally smaller riders). To train for them, however, to get stronger and faster it’s just a matter of climbing as many mountains as you can.

I also do various efforts depending on the particular climbs I am racing. To get base strength I do a lot of strength and endurance which is generally big gears, low cadence and performed in the seat. I also do race pace efforts which is going as hard as you can for a certain time or distance to simulate racing.

Another effort I also use are surging / hill sprints to simulate racing once again e.g. 20/40’s for an allocated amount of time so that is 20 seconds at about 90-100% and 40 seconds about 50% as this helps your lactate threshold increase so you can go with the change of pace in races.

I have a friend who is looking to climb Mt Hotham and she'll be rewarded with a Bianchi if she makes it, do you have some useful advice for her and every other person who is looking attempt a mountain of that magnitude?

Wow that’s fantastic, a great incentive to go and climb Hotham.

It’s lucky because I know that climb but the key is pacing yourself and not going too hard at the start as you might not make it all the way as it gets easier in the middle then hard again at the top.

The key is starting small and building, if you’re going to climb a mountain but are not use to it or never done it before you don’t want to go out and find the biggest climb you can first up. I would say start with smaller climbs; get the feel of what it is like to go up a hill as you work at a higher heart rate then riding on the flat.

Then continue building, gradually finding longer climbs until you work up to a climb like Hotham. Persistence is the key, never give up just keep at it as hard work pays off.

When you identify a goal, what process do you go through to achieve it?

Firstly I try to set myself achievable goals, not ones that are way out of the ball park. Once I have my main goal, I set smaller ones to target to give me something to always work towards as I build up to the ultimate goal instead of setting a big goal and then losing focus of it as it is taking too long to achieve.

There's been a lot of talk in regards to women's racing that women's races need to be backed onto men's events, what are your thoughts on this? Do you think that this is a positive step towards getting more sponsorship and exposure?

I agree 100%, I have been lucky enough to do La Fleche Wallone Feminine and Ronde van Vlaanderen this year and they are both on the same day as the Pro men’s race and seriously is such a bigger race for the women as we rarely get crowds that big and the hype all around it.

They do it in America quite often and the women’s side is much closer to the men’s side over there. With more Women’s races combined with Major Men’s races it would be better for sponsorship and exposure as you will get more spectators, more live races screened on TV etc. and that’s what sponsors want, TV time = money for sponsors.

All this is easier said then done as there is a lot of work that goes into the production of races with logistics etc. so trying to combine more would be difficult as the women don’t do anywhere near as long stages as the men but it would be great if we can see more of it.

We've mentioned previously that women's cycling in Australia needs more sponsorship; do you think it’s a case of company's being willing to take a risk? Or is there more to it than that?

I think that is a starting point, the biggest problem is the profile of women’s cycling.

Sponsors want something for the money they put in. The problem is that you don’t get a lot of coverage of women’s cycling on main stream things such as television, radio, billboards, advertisements etc.

The major exposure you’ll generally get are just things within the industry such as cycling related magazines or websites so it isn’t as enticing for a company to invest money into it in an area that isn’t related to the company.

Unlike you AFL, Cricket, Tennis, etc. there is a lot more coverage on it in all areas. It is a combination of companies willing to take a risk but also trying to get the sport to grow and become more recognized throughout the country, it is slowly happening and even on the men’s side it has a much bigger following in Australia due to the growing success of Australian cyclists but is still considered a small sport within Australia.

Tell me about the support that you've received along the way?

I have had incredible support the whole way, first and foremost my parents, they’ve always supported me 100%, when I was a junior they took me around the country to compete in the various events to be able to compete with the top level competition out there.

South Australian Sports Institute (SASI)/talent search were also a major support to me as they set me up completely with bikes, clothing, equipment, travel assistance etc, and then when I received a full SASI scholarship they assisted with travel funding, support services, coaching, training facilities etc.

Then I moved into the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) and Professional teams and national teams and that’s another level again where you are supported 100% with all the equipment, support services, travel expenses, salaries etc. so you can make a small living

The AIS / Cycling Australia in particular have been a huge support to me especially when my professional team I had signed with for this year folded due to loss of sponsor, the national program picked up the pieces and supported me by still giving me a full calendar of international racing and everything else I have already mentioned.

Finally all of my past and present sponsors whether it has been product sponsorship, discounts at the local bike shop, or even financial sponsors, in the world of Professional sport and women’s sport in particular you couldn’t do it without them.

We wish Tiffany the best of luck for the Giro del Trintino and the Giro d’Italia, you can keep in touch with Tiffany through her website www.tiffanyjane.com.au.

Stay tuned for more information about Tiffany Cromwell as we discuss her family, the support she’s received and her clothing label.

June 18, 2010

Women's Giro d'Italia: Rachel Neylan

Having only been on the bike for two years, Rachel Neylan is a passionate sports identity in the Australian Women’s Professional Road Cycling Team; she’s flexible enough to go from National Runner, to 4th place at the Australian Road Cycling Championships Road Race in 2010.

Rachel Neylan will be the first to admit that she’s had a steep learning curve and considers that she’s had more embarrassing moments on the bike than she can remember; she’s inspired by the Olympic Games and considers Cathy Freeman to be one of her biggest inspirations, this 28 year old women is highly motivated and focused towards the future.

In anticipation of the Giro d’Italia Rachel took time out of her schedule to answer questions by Rowena Scott for Bicycles Network Australia (BNA).

BNA: You where a late starter in cycling, how old where you?

BNA: What’s your riding style?
Aggressive I’ve got nothing to lose.

BNA: Do you have a favorite race?
There are only a handful of races I’ve actually done twice. Probably the Mt Bunninyong Nationals, the harder the better I think!

BNA: What’s your best placing?
4th at Aussie Nationals 2010

BNA: Undulations, mountains or the flat, if you could only do one which would you choose?
Undulations and Mountains.

BNA: Do you have a pre-race song?
Stronger - Kanye West

BNA: What’s or who is your inspiration?
What - The Olympic Games/Green and Gold. Who - Cathy Freeman and Layne Beachley

BNA: What’s your most embarrassing moment on the bike?
Too many to count - I’ve had a steep leaning curve, put it that way!

BNA: How much coffee do you think you consume?
At least one daily, on a sunny day recovery ride stopping at more than one cafe is not uncommon!

BNA: What are the worst and the best things about training?
Worst = raining and cold. Best = the feeling of a good session that is achieves my goals

BNA: Best place in the world to be a cyclist?
Australia, we get to race in Europe summer then return home to have down time in the Aussie summer!

BNA: What would you like to see change in women’s cycling in Australia and/or over the world?
Women’s races alongside men’s - therefore sharing TV coverage leading to greater publicity and return for sponsors which in turn means more potential to sustain professional female teams with better lifestyle and support for female riders and in the end better racing.

BNA: What’s the best thing about being an Australian Athlete?
Wearing green and gold and the amazing respect, support and encouragement I get from people seeing me pursue a dream.

You can keep up-to-date with Rachel at her website http://www.rachelneylan.com/, we look forward to speaking with her again and wish her all the best for the Giro d’Italia.

June 15, 2010

Women’s Giro d’Italia: Kirsty Broun

Kirsty Broun (30) is a jack of all trades, cyclist and lawyer, the Tasmanian born athlete continues to go from strength to strength. She returned to cycling at the age of 26 after 8 years away from the sport and she held the title of Queensland’s Road Cyclist of the Year in 2009.

Her specialty is sprinting and the flat one-day races are her forte. Kirsty will be joining the Australian Women’s Road Cycling Team at the Giro d’Italia.

Kirsty took time to answer questions by Rowena Scott for Bicycles Network Australia (BNA).

BNA: Can you tell us your nickname?


BNA: How old where you when you started riding seriously?

26 years old

BNA: What’s your riding style?

Road Sprinter

BNA: Do you have a favourite race?

Flat one-day stage races

BNA: What’s your best placing?

4th in World Cup 2009, Nurnberg Germany

BNA: Undulations, mountains or the flat, if you could only do one which would you choose?


BNA: Do you have a pre-race song?

Any trance/dance music.

BNA: What’s or who is your inspiration?

Ina Teutenberg

BNA: What’s your most embarrassing moment on the bike?

Falling off at traffic lights.

BNA: How much coffee do you think you consume?

One to three cups a day.

BNA: What are the worst and the best things about training?

Worst thing about training: Up until I received personal sponsorship from Selle SMP saddles, the worst thing about training was how uncomfortable my bicycle seat was on long training rides. Now that I have a Selle SMP this is no longer a problem though. They are fantastic seats and solve all women's nightmares about riding.

Best thing about training: the feeling you get from riding around in the countryside, seeing the beautiful sights and experiencing the world from a cycling perspective. It is also very rewarding when you complete a hard training session and feel exhilarated from the experience.

BNA: Best place in the world to be a cyclist?


BNA: What would you like to see change in women’s cycling in Australia and/or over the world?

More social awareness of women in cycling and general public acceptance of cyclists on the roads.

BNA: What’s the best thing about being an Australian Athlete?

Representing your country and flying the Australian flag with honour and pride. It's great to be an Australian and there is nothing more honourable than to represent your country in the sport that you love doing.

You can keep in touch with Kirsty Broun on her facebook page.
We wish Kirsty the best of luck for the Giro d’Italia and her future goals.

June 10, 2010

Women's Giro d'Italia: Tiffany Cromwell

Thursday 10th June 2010

Tiffany Cromwell can be described as young and enthusiastic, yet, she’s an aggressive rider who wants a tough race, she’s determined to work hard as an athlete and her dedication is reflected in the results that she’s achieved.

Tiffany is not shy to admit that she wants results, this entrepreneur and fashion designer is a leading member of the Australian Women’s Road Cycling Team, at 21 years of age the future is certainly bright.

Tiffany was kind enough to answer questions by Rowena Scott for Bicycles Network Australia.

BNA: You go by a few names?

Tiffany Cromwell, Tiffy, Tiff, Tiffinator, TJ, Cromo

BNA: How old where you when you started riding seriously?

13 years old (2002)

BNA: What’s your riding style?

I'm an aggressive rider who prefers a tough race, I am a bit of an all rounder but my major strength is in climbing I like a breakaway.

BNA: Do you have a favorite race?

I have a couple, Tour de Flandres (Belgium), Philadelphia Liberty Classic (USA), Giro d'Italia Femminile(Italy).

BNA: What’s your best placing?

2009 stage 2 Time Trial, la route de France feminine - Winner

2008 & 2010 Australian Road Cycling Championships - 2nd

2009 Sea Otter Classic - Winner

2009 Montreal World Cup - 7th

BNA: Undulations, mountains or the flat, if you could only do one which would you choose?


BNA: Do you have a pre-race song?

Not really, before time trials I normally just have a warm-up play list with upbeat tunes and dance tracks.

BNA: What’s or who is your inspiration?

I get inspired by other people’s success whether it is fellow athletes or other elite athletes and Australians.

BNA: How much coffee do you think you consume?

Zero, I don't like coffee, Chai on the other hand have at least one a day many times more when I can find it, it hasn’t really made it in Europe yet.

BNA: What are the worst and the best things about training?

Worst would have to be rain and bad weather, I'm not a fan, and best thing is the social aspect, finding new roads, cafe stops, being in the outdoors in the sunshine, pushing yourself past limits that you didn't know was possible.

BNA: Best place in the world to be a cyclist?

Australia!!! Slightly biased for Adelaide as it has great training and weather, Boulder-Colorado is also awesome and Girona, Spain!

BNA: What would you like to see change in women’s cycling in Australia and/or over the world?

I would like to see a lot more exposure throughout the world, get women's cycling on a much bigger scale, I would like to see more sponsors come on board to increase the salaries closer to the men. I would also love to see more major men's races teamed up with women's races like La Fleche Wallone and Flandres.

BNA: What’s the best thing about being an Australian Athlete?

Everything! To have the opportunity to represent my country on a world scale is pretty amazing; to wear the green and gold to race world championships and on the right track to one day represent Australia at Commonwealth and Olympic games is pretty special. I think it is just part of the Australian culture too, to take part in sport.

We wish Tiffany the best of luck with her future goals and endeavors; you can follow her progress and view her range of women’s specific cycling clothing at http://www.tiffanyjane.com.au/.

June 7, 2010

Womens Giro d'Italia Profile: Lauren Kitchen

Monday 07th June 2010

Lauren Kitchen is the youngest women in the Australian Women’s Road Cycling Team. The bright young 19 year old rider from Port Macquarie considers her mother and brother to be her greatest inspiration. Like most cyclists, she doesn’t like rain, because training inside is boring, and although she’s not a fan of mountain passes; Lauren has a King of the Mountain (KOM) jersey to her name.

Lauren "Loz" took time out of her schedule to speak with Rowena Scott for Bicycles Network Australia before she heads to the Giro d’Italia Femminile in July, where this motivated young women is sure to give it everything she’s got!

BNA: How old where you when you started riding seriously?

I was 14 years old when I started riding. I was picked up through a talent ID program I attended for the North Coast Academy of Sport, NCAS.

BNA: What’s your riding style?

I’m more of an all-rounder, I don't mind the hills and prefer it over flat as it makes the races more interesting, but I’m not that much of a fan of racing up mountain passes. I love the classics the most and can see that part of the year being my focus in future seasons.

BNA: Do you have a favorite race?

I really liked Flanders, I would love to win it one day.

BNA: What’s your best placing?

Well recently I finished 2nd overall and won the young riders and KOM jersey in the Tour of Bourgogne in France. Last year I finished 2nd in Stage five of PEI, UCI 2.2 which is also up there. I have also won U/19 nationals and have placed 7th at Junior Road worlds.

BNA: Undulations, mountains or the flat, if you could only do one which would you choose?

Undulations for sure as it suits a break-away.

BNA: Do you have a pre-race song?

Nope not really, I like to mix it up, whatever comes on really.

BNA: What/who is your inspiration?

For me, my major motivating factor is my hunger to join a top pro team. My mum and my brother are a great inspiration as they have been there since the start and I want to do well for them as well as for myself.

BNA: What’s your most embarrassing moment on the bike?

Probably a gumby crash.

BNA: How much coffee do you think you consume?

Not as much as Rach! Haha, nah, I drink coffee when we stop at cafes, which is pretty often... so probably a strong coffee each day on average.

BNA: What are the worst and the best things about training?

The worst thing is when it’s raining, if you go out you get wet and cold, if you train indoors, it’s boring. The best thing is catching up with mates and the beautiful scenery that you pass, plus how could I forget: Coffee shop stops.

BNA: Best place in the world to be a cyclist?

Australia. No doubt about it. Aussie bike riders get a continuous summer. We have October to February and a majority of March in Oz generally, before heading to Europe for their summer. My goal is to not experience a full winter anywhere for the next 15years.

BNA: What would you like to see change in women’s cycling in Australia and/or over the world?

(I just asked my brother and he said "have it removed…” It’s because he misses me and that everyone asks him about it and he can't remember which country I’m in, ha-ha!)

I would like to see and what I'm sure the other girls would like to see, more sponsorship for the women's pro circuit. To do this I would love to see more media covering our competitions from all over the world, that’s the only way the sport can grow globally and at a national, state and local level.

BNA: What’s the best thing about being an Australian Athlete?

Being an Aussie Athlete is something that means a great deal to me. I think Australia has a strong sporting identity and to be a part of that is something I have always dreamed to achieve. The support from my local community, Port Macquarie, is something I find pretty special.

We wish Lauren the best of luck in the Giro d’Italia and her goals for the future; you can follow Lauren on her website http://www.laurenkitchen.com/.

June 5, 2010

UCI World Cup: Rachel Neylan

Rachel Neylan, member of the Australian Women’s Road Cycling Team is headed for the GP Ciudad de Valladolid in Spain this weekend, it is the 6th installment of the UCI Women’s World Cup. The Aussie Women's team will field 5 women riding Bianchi T Cube 928.

The course is 129.8km, it’s out and back instead of the normal circuit styled course that’s seen in most Women’s World Cup races. There are undulations and some quick sharp climbs; we are prepared for a tough race but it is likely that without long climbs it could come down to a sprint for the finish.

Rachel sat down and answered a few questions for Rowena Scott for Bicycles Network Australia about the upcoming event, the Australian Women’s team and her preparation; it’s fair to say that this cyclist is motivated and ready to ride!

BNA: Tell me about the preparation that you've done for the Women's World Cup?

I have had a fantastic 3 weeks of preparation - mentally and physically I’ve recovered from a lot of racing and travel in April. I’ve had a small break from racing and have really enjoying a solid training block in Lucca, Toscana. Specifically, I have been working on strength and power climbing but also maximizing my power on the flat. I have also maintained some volume in preparing for the Giro in July.

BNA: This is your 1st year riding the event what expectations do you have of yourself?

This is my first season in Europe and my 4th World Cup race of the season and I am proud to start in the Green and Gold. I understand the requirements of a hard one day race - preparing mentally and physically to get the most out of yourself and push your body beyond where you think you can go. It all goes on the line and when there is nothing left in the tank at the end I’m happy.

BNA: Can you tell us about the course and the sort of rider it will suit?

The course is new and never been raced before, it is out and back as opposed to the normal Women’s World Cup 'circuit' style so this could possibly make for some potentially different racing. From the reports and profile it is undulating with some short sharp power climbs, this can always suit a breakaway to stay but without tough longer climbs will more than likely end in a bunch sprint.

BNA: Have you been able to have preparation time with the Australian Women's team and what was that preparation?

I arrived at the Australian Institute of Sports (AIS) cycling base in Castronno, Varese, to join the girls on Monday - this has given me time to settle in with the team and most importantly time to ride together. This week has involved some tough motor pacing and power climb efforts but most importantly rest and recovery.

BNA: Most teams ride for one or two specific riders is this the case in the Australian Women's team?

Yes we will have a team plan that is devised, but of course not to be spoken about publicly before the day.

BNA: Who will you be riding with and what are their roles?

The riders are Amanda Spratt, Carlee Taylor, Tiffany Cromwell, Lisa Jacobs and I. Our roles will be devised and spoken about on Saturday in our pre race meeting once we arrive in Spain.

BNA: What can you tell me about your bike set up for this event? Any special gearings, ratio's or wheels?

We are all racing Bianchi T Cube 928 with Shimano Dura Ace, Celeste of course! We will ride with Dura Ace carbon wheels and no special gearing just standard 53/39 front chain rings and 12/25 rear.

BNA: How are you feeling going into the race?

Feeling very positive, physically strong, excited, motivated and ready to step up!

Bicycles Network Australia would like to thank Rachel for her time and wish the Australian Women’s Road Team some great racing weather, we look forward to catching up with Rachel after the race to find out exactly what unfolded and more about those tactics! Rachel also keeps her fans up-to-date on her blog: www.rachelneylan.com

Review: Tough Chik Cycling Jersey

I had been expecting a Tough Chik jersey in the mail, I'd checked the mail with enthusiasm every day, though when I unpacked the jersey I wasn't so sure. It was HOT pink! There's no way this jersey was going to hide in a crowd.

I headed out on my Sunday training session down Melbourne’s Beach Road and the best comment of the day was from a bloke who came up beside me, “wow, you’re really doing that jersey justice!”

On the front of the jersey are the words, "Tough Chik Performance," and on the back, "tough chik; this is what tough looks like."

I've gathered feedback from co-workers and friends, we’ve all given a big thumbs up for the black and white checkered pockets which are very cool and although I can’t guarantee they will make you faster, I’m 100% positive they made me faster.

The sizes are on par with standard sizing guides, if you think you'll squeeze into a large its probably best to get the next size up so you're able to wear a base layer under it in the Autumn, the elastic in the arms is top quality as is the stitching.

The fabric feels good against your skin and for approximately $78.00 AUD ($65.00 USD) you can't go past this jersey for value for money, not only does it look great, it magically gives you that little bit extra that we all need on the road!

Try telling the boys who wear the maglia rosa in the Giro d’Italia that pink doesn't make you go faster!

Check out: www.toughchik.com

Getting a job as a courier!

Freedom for most cyclists is a crisp early morning start, so fresh that you can smell winter and can feel the calmness around you. There’s barely a car on the road as I leave my apartment each morning. This winter, for my commute, I can think of only one thing… How do I get a job as a bike courier?

Hitting the pro circuits in Europe or riding track for Australia isn’t a dream that’s reachable for me, I’m not thin enough, or light enough or even young enough. I am however, trying to keep the dream as realistic as possible, I want to ride my bike all day and I want to do it every day and be paid for it!

I wanted to find out more about being a courier, the job, the people and the lifestyle. Is this a job that I could actually do? Is this a job that anyone could do? And if so... When can I start?

On my mission, I tracked down Andy White of fyxomatosis. I’d been told that when it comes to being a courier, he’s the man to talk to in Melbourne; he’s been doing the gig for close to 10 years and still going strong, either that, or he hasn’t actually grown up.

Regardless of whether you consider them to be law breakers or a bad example for the rest of the cycling community, you do have to admire their ability; they ride with such finesse and confidence. Andy makes it clear that although it’s an unskilled labor job at the most basic level, a good courier has a highly developed sense of skills specific to their job, yet anyone can do it.

Can I do work experience?

No, as it turns out nobody wants a courier for a week. They especially don’t want someone who’s out to try before they buy. It’s all or nothing in this job. Take the weather for example; unlike the building industry, couriers don’t get to go home when the mercury hits 36 degrees. In winter, if you’re anything like Andy you’ll dress for the occasion, just as though you were going skiing.

I’m beginning to get the feeling that Andy is going to keep telling me that this isn’t a good job. However, the look on his face tells me otherwise. When he talks about the friends he’s made, I think they’re considered family more than friends. I have to ask the question, how many friends have you lost on the road? Three, I’m told, though none during his time as a courier in Melbourne.

Andy is direct about the job, it’s highly over glamorized and the pay isn’t great, I wanted to know if it was really as cool as I thought it was? Apparently not. I’d been doing a lot of thinking about the courier gig, trying to find the underlying factors that give this job the appearance of New York glamour when it occurs to me that it isn’t to do with the job description; it’s much more about the person and the bike.

I agree with Andy, this isn’t a glamorous job. Sure its en vogue, it has been and probably will be fashionable for a long time, especially in Melbourne as we have a fixed gear culture second to none, however, it’s the people doing the job who are chic, not the job itself.

If you’re a bike commuter who won’t commute when it’s raining then don’t bother as this isn’t the job for you. If you’re the sort of person that commutes even when you’re sick then maybe you have what it takes.

Think about the bike you will ride when you take on this job; it is not mandatory to ride fixed gear without brakes, you can ride fixed, single speed, a mountain bike or something inbetween. I would suggest you keep the carbon fibre just for Melbourne’s Saturday morning hell ride.

A good courier shows up to work every day and obeys the law. You don’t need to prove to everyone that you’re the best by being the fastest or by running red lights. You will however score more points by being the smartest, knowing there are regular jobs in a specific location everyday will get you further quicker.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you are a hot shot when you start this job, just like any other job, there is a hierarchy. Someone has to scrape the bottom of the barrel and if you’re the new kid on the block, then that someone is you. Expect to do the hard work until the others have decided that your okay or someone new comes along.

As a courier however you have an amazing opportunity, you can travel the world. In Andy’s case he started in London and was welcomed into the beautiful world of couriers by one of London’s iconic double decker buses. Oops! BANG! The one moment you expect a little bit of sympathy from the dispatcher at the other end and all you hear is, “do you have another wheel?”

If you want glamorous, then head for New York; for the organic look at life, try London; for weather as consistent as Melbourne head for Vancouver and for fond memories check out San Francisco, which is how Andy describes the places he’s been to. I am ready to pack my bags for New York before he tells me that Melbourne is the best city in the world to be a courier.

This job will take you where you want it to, there is no limit, Andy is born and bred in Melbourne and considers that we have the best cycling culture in the world, we are so lucky.

“Patient, dedicated, determined, able to put up with a lot of crap, you get to ride a bike… there’s a lot of sitting around doing nothing, dealing with customers that are horrible to you, car drivers that are horrible to you, pedestrians that are horrible to you, sometimes it does feel like the world is against you so if you don’t have a thick skin or you get angry easily I don’t think it’s the right job for you,” Andy White.

If you still want that courier job, try the companies on a rainy day…

Interview: Belinda Goss

Tuesday 4th May 2010

She has been on a bike since she was 13, and there is no doubt this girl from Tassie wants to dominate the next World Championships, the Commonwealth Games and 2012 Olympics.

Belinda Goss has won bronze three years in a row at the World Championships and at just the slightest mention of the Rainbow Jersey her face lights up. It’s easy to see her eyes are firmly fixed on the Rainbow Jersey and Goss is one girl who has the focus to follow through.

Those who’ve ridden with Goss speak highly of her. Those who’ve raced her on the track not only speak highly of Goss, but, silently admit defeat to themselves before the race has even started, she’s got the meanest legs on the track and is destined for amazing things.

Melbourne pulled out all stops with glorious blue skies for an afternoon discussion and photo session at the newly refurbished West Beach Bathers Pavilion in St Kilda. Rowena Scott chatted to Belina Goss for Bicycles Network Australia (BNA).

BNA: I understand you’re originally from Tasmania, how are you finding Melbourne?

Melbourne is great, there are so many more bike riders here, there’s always someone to go out riding with. I do miss Tasmania sometimes, because I’m still part of the Tasmanian Institute of Sport (TIS), it would be nicer to have them closer so we could work closer together. It can be hard to find the time to go down there, even though it’s not far.

BNA: You’re studying at Swinburne University; can you tell us what you’re studying and how it’s going for you?

I’m studying a Bachelor of Business Marketing through Open University. It is ok I’m near the end of my degree and I do all my studying via correspondence. After cycling and in the future it is something I would like to pursue. The field of study is very broad however, I may move towards media more, I’m not sure yet.

BNA: Do you find it difficult to balance a social life, cycling and study? How do you cope?

At times it’s difficult. I love what I do, I’m really lucky that cycling has become my social life, but I also like to have friends outside of cycling, so my whole world isn’t cycling and you do have time away from the sport. You just have to be committed and manage your time. I like having study as well as cycling, when we go away, you do your training and then you have a lot of time where you need to recover, it’s nice to have something else that you can do in that recovery time.

BNA: You are considered to be the next best competitor after Anna Meares in Australian Women’s Track Cycling, how do you feel about that?

I don’t know about that, I guess I’m just doing what I love, hoping to get out there and achieve half of what Anna (Anna Meares) has achieved would be quiet satisfying, I’m not going to be cycling forever, there are some girls in the peloton in their 40’s, personally I don’t see that being me, I really want to have a go and see what I can do now, I’ve been doing this since I was 13 and I’m 26 now.

BNA: The women’s events have increased from 3-5 in the name of gender parity, which consequently meant the scrapping of the Madison, individual pursuit and points race at the 2012 games. What are your thoughts on this?

Originally I was really disappointed with the decisions that they made for the Olympics, but having another look at it there are still opportunities there for me to try and make the team in the team pursuit, the Omnium, or the endurance. I can’t change what’s gone on so I just need to readjust my goals and my events a little bit to still make the games, which is my ultimate goal.

BNA: Do you think that these changes will cause future track cyclist to head towards road cycling?

There’s been a lot of talk about that, it will be interesting to see if it does happen, I think it will do a little bit, because there’s not so many opportunities now with track endurance cycling, track endurance is like if you can’t ride a team’s pursuit you don’t really get selected. It’s a priority event that you need to be able to ride well and if you can’t do that a lot of people would choose the road in that case.

BNA: You crashed with 7 laps to go at the World Championships, how did it feel to finish third, for the third time?

I was pretty disappointed when I crashed with 7 laps to go. I was caught up in the bigger crash and having come third for the last 2 years in a row I was really hoping to win the Rainbow Jersey. In the end it was a great result to make it to the podium.

BNA: How did you recover from last year’s crash?

It was difficult because when I broke my wrist I also broke my elbow, it wasn’t initially diagnosed, it took a lot longer than I would have like, it’s all healed up now and just needs routine maintenance.

BNA: Last season was an excellent season for you, what were some of your favorite moments?

My win in Manchester at the World Cup and my podium at the World Championships. Winning the Scratch Race and Points Race at the Nationals, which had been such a major goal for me was an excellent result

BNA: Do you have any aspirations to join the women’s pro cycling tour on the road?

Once upon a time that was a massive goal of mine, but at the moment I’m really focused on the track and if something was to work out where I could combine a road career with what I want to do on the track that would be awesome, but track is my number one focus.

BNA: What are your goals for the future?

The Rainbow Jersey. I’d like to win a world title, that’s definitely a big goal of mine and then moving forward to the 2012 London Olympics and the Commonwealth Games.

BNA: Training wise, how many hours are you on the track?

I’m not on the track at all at the moment, after the Worlds I had two weeks off the bike and since then I’ve just been doing some road training and maybe a few ergo’s between now and next month till we go to Adelaide, we have a camp on in Adelaide and I’ve been told that there might be a bit of track involved. We have quite a big amount of time away from the track, because the track season is so intense.

BNA: Can you tell us a bit about the camps?

It depends on what sort of camp it is, I think someone did mention that this one would be mainly road riding and a little bit of track. When we were doing the pre Worlds camp its track four or five days a week, those camps are pretty full on training, whereas this one is in the off season. We’ll also be setting up bikes and making sure that’s alright before we start.

Belinda Goss

BNA: What sort of bikes are you currently riding? Which one is your favorite?

BT Track bike and Bianchi Road Bike. There are great advantages to having both, it’s great to get out on the road on a nice sunny day and racing on the track for me provides a great adrenaline rush. On the track there is always something that you have to be aware of which is what I like, tactics are involved and a lot of thinking is required.

BNA: Do you have any other sports that you do in the off season?

Um no, once upon I time I went for a run, a few runs and that resulted in compartment syndrome in my shins, so I just try to keep it pretty main stream, bike specific.

BNA: What advice do you have for other female riders wanting to get into cycling?

Just enjoy it I think would be the main thing, it makes it so much easier if you just have fun doing it, join a local club and make some friends, makes training a lot more fun when you’ve got people to do it with.

BNA: Can you tell us about the Knicks you’re wearing?

I’m switch between Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) Knicks which are Scody and Tasmanian Institute of Sport (TIS) Knicks which are Santini. The Scody ones are women specific, to me I don’t find a huge difference between the men’s and the women’s cuts, Scody have done a great design with the AIS race kit this year, they’ve made it really specific with shorter arms and the jerseys are fitted more.

BNA: How did you get into cycling? Were you just given a bike and that was it?

Pretty much, a friend of the family had encouraged me for a few years to try cycling and I had always done gymnastics constantly so I didn’t have time to try the bike, but then I finished up gymnastics and I got the bike and all the gear and thought I better try it.

BNA: It seems to me you were winning from the beginning?

Things did come early on in my career I guess, I won a lot as a junior and took some time off between 19 and 20 just to work out what I actually wanted to do, I think that’s a very… I wouldn’t say hard, but the transition to seniors can be difficult, so you need to work out what you want to do with it.

BNA: You did the Hell Ride this morning, how was it?

It was this morning, I think the weather had a little bit of a part to play in that, it was a lot smaller group, when it’s a smaller group it is easier to control in the way of traffic and red lights and things like that. It was quite well behaved and civilized.

BNA: How fast is the Hell Ride?

It sort of varies, when its fast its 48km/h-50km/h, I think I looked down a couple of times at my Speedo this morning, that was in a tailwind of course, headwind home it was a lot slower.

The team at Bicycles Network Australia would like to thank Belinda for her time and wish her all the best. We look forward to seeing her in the Rainbow Jersey.

Thank you to photographer Stephen Brammer. Photos © Stephen Brammer

Interview: Rachel Neylan

Wednesday 07th April 2010 - Rowena Scott

Relative new comer to the women's peloton, Rachel Neylan has bridged the gap from Nationally recognised runner to Professional Road Cyclist. She's placed 4th in the 102km Road Race in Ballarat and 7th in the women's time trial at the beginning of the season as she prepared to race in Europe with the Australian National Team and Team Fanini/System Data where she'll mix it up as a sprinter, general classification rider and domestique.

Neylan is the current recipient of the Amy Gillet Foundation Scholarship and says she is, "passionate about road safety for all users." At 28 years old she may not be the youngest recipient of the scholarship but she certainly has the leadership and confidence to be an ambassador for the AGF. On the 24th March, shortly after her arrival in Italy, she had her best international result, placed 13th at the Cittiglio World Cup race.

Rachel Neylen has generously taken time to answer questions from Rowena Scott for Bicycles Network Australia (BNA).

BNA: What made you change from a National runner to one of Australia’s leading female road cyclists and how did you find the transition?

I have always been driven by a passion to become an elite athlete, competing for Australia and ultimately being an Olympian. Life as a runner was not satisfying my athletic desires, so I went on a quest to find an optimal sport, one i wold be most physiologically suited to.

I knew I had the passion and dedication I just needed to match that to the right discipline which suited my physiology. After a short stint as a rower the next thing was to try cycling. The timing was perfect as an NTID program was beginning in Adelaide looking for female athletes looking at becoming cyclists!

The transition was total - sport, lifestyle and career as I moved interstate to train under the SASI / NTID program. I would not have been able to make such a transition without the support of this program which an amazing source of support, encouragement and guidance during the super steep learning curve that was my first 2 years not only as a cyclist but as a bike rider!

BNA: We're a couple of months into the racing season now, you placed 4th at the 2010 National Championships (Ballarat) in the 102km road race, and 7th in the Women's Time Trial, how are you enjoying the beginning of the season?

The early year was focused on preparing for the European season, in particular the Spring classics I have just arrived in Europe and after training in Lucca and riding in the Cittiglio World Cup, I am now over in Holland preparing for the 3rd WC of the season Ronde Van Drenthe (Sat 10th). I love Italy so am enjoying all it has to offer - I am taking advantage and immersing myself in the culture... eating, speaking and living Italiano!

BNA: 2010 will see you racing with Professional Team, Team System Data and the Australian National Team who are located in Varese, Italy, how is racing in Europe compared to here in Australia? How are the team dynamics and what’s your role within the team?

With the National team I will be a domestique for the GC rider / or sprinter for that particular race. The type of race - terrain etc and who the lead rider is determines the team dynamics and tactics. In my italian Team Fanini / System Data I will have the opportunity to be the GC rider in the more hilly races and tours which is a fantastic opportunity during my first full Euro season.

BNA: Do you think there is much difference in the women peloton compared to the men’s?

There are a few differences, one being women’s peloton is smaller, the other being our races are shorter and the third being that most men can earn a very good income from their professional contracts. The lack of TV coverage hence sponsors and financial investment in women’s cycling on a world stage means no ‘real’ paychecks. The race dynamics (i.e. tactics, aggressiveness) are not always, but can be of equal nature.

BNA: The camera's are obviously polite enough to not show it, and it’s easier for the men to stop on the road and have a toilet break, what about women in the tour?

Usually we don’t really need to stop as our races are on average only about 3 hours in length. However in a longer stage at times a key woman may call a quick toilet stop but this is pretty rare.

BNA: What are your goals for 2010?

World Champs and Commonwealth Games Selection. The criteria of which involves a podium performance in a UCI race.

BNA: 2010 will see you racing with Professional Team, Team System Data and the Australian National Team who are located in Varese, Italy, how is racing in Europe compared to here in Australia?

Everything is different in Europe and it is taking a lot of learning and understanding of all the elements involved. The peloton is larger, faster and more aggressive, there are more structured teams hence the races pan out according to team tactics rather than individuals, the roads can be quite narrow, there are cobbled roads, the corners are tighter, the hills are longer and it actually rains at times!

BNA: How do you find it fitting into a new team, and what’s your role within the team?

I know all the National team members well, a fantastic group of exceptionally talented women who i am so excited and privileged to race with. Essentially I will be a domestique in the National team this year. The type of race - terrain etc and who the lead rider is determines the team dynamics and tactics.

The girls in my italian Team Fanini / System Data I am meeting and getting to know. Racing on a foreign team is a great opportunity to get to know girls of other background and learn about other cultures. I will have the opportunity to be the GC rider in the more hilly races and tours which is a fantastic opportunity during my first full Euro season.

BNA: Tell us about the bikes your currently riding, are they custom designed for you and how do they perform?

I am currently riding a Bianchi who are a major sponsor of the AGF scholarship. My 2010 Bianchi is super light, responsive, rigid and looks great!

BNA: There’s a lot of discussion out there amongst first time riders that says women’s specific design is the way to go, what are your thoughts?

An optimal bike fit is extremely important for comfort, performance and injury prevention. I don’t think it’s absolutely essential but think in most cases a women’s specific frame will generally provide a better fit for most women.

BNA: I know that chaffing can be a sensitive issue for beginner cyclists, especially women, I understand that Aussie Butt Cream is one of your sponsors, can you tell me how the product shapes up?

I have not used anything better. I like that it uses natural and optimal ingredients for skin health and is largely preventative. I have had some hours in the saddle in preparation for Europe and have been extremely impressed with Aussie Butt Cream. ABC is the best I’ve used and I don’t travel without it!

BNA: You’re in the position to inspire a whole generation of young and older female cyclists, how does that make you feel?

Thank you. What an honor to hear this. It is a privilege to think that by being a cyclist, following my passion and achieving my best in sport that I can inspire health and fitness in the lives of others.

BNA: What advice do you have for women in cycling and women who want to ride but don't know where to start?

Make sure you align yourself with a good local bike shop. The cycling community is close knit and everyone is always willing to help. Join a local cycling club or look for local group rides to join. Buy a good bike, get it set up correctly by a professional and practice stopping and starting in a park or quiet streets before roads. Select the correct saddle and purchase a quality set of knicks to prevent saddle discomfort!

BNA: I know some days I'd rather ride straight to the coffee shop, is there any part of your training that you'd rather avoid?

Traffic lights.. that means stopping!

BNA: What motivates you to train and race?

The desire to physically achieve the most optimally I can.
Green and gold.
The Olympic Games.

BNA Congratulations on receiving the 2010 Amy Gillet Foundation Scholarship, what does it mean to you being the recipient of the scholarship and an ambassador of the foundation?

I am extremely honored and proud to have been awarded the Amy Gillett Foundation Scholarship. I have been inspired during my introductory years on the bike by the life of Amy Gillett so it means a great deal to me – she is a talented and courageous Australian.

Receiving the Amy Gillett Foundation sports scholarship is a huge honour. It places me in the league of some remarkable female athletes to have benefited from this. I relish the challenge of living up to expectations and standards of their collective legacy, and the opportunities it now provides me with the AIS. It also allows me to become an official Ambassador for an organisation that is very relevant to my sport and the safety of all those who cycle. I am passionate about riding but equally passionate about road safety for all users. I look forward to spreading the Amy Gillett Foundation message at home and abroad,

As an elite cyclist I look forward to developing a community leadership role as I progress through my cycling career. I am extremely proud and prepared to be an ambassador for the AGF, cycling road safety and women’s cycling within the community.

In essence, I am simply honored to for the opportunity to further develop my confidence, leadership and sportsmanship onward to becoming a successful Australian cyclist and truly live in Amy’s footsteps.

We wish Rachel the best of luck with the European season and her future goals.