19,608 miles. That's how far I have flown over the last few weeks in going to Perth, Australia and returning, then heading to Bormio, Italy and returning. All in the name of cycling.
Lets start at the beginning:
A Bank Holiday Monday involved last minute checks, making sure everything was ready to travel to the other side of the world to race in the UCI Gran Fondo World Tour Series Final. A massive achievement for me and Ripcor and an opportunity to don the Great Britain kit (made by Paria) Finally off to Heathrow.
The flight was a long one, with a transfer in Dubai, finally arriving in Perth on Tuesday evening (in their coldest winter in 35 years) to the apartment we were staying at for a few days on the short visit.
Wednesday: Wake up legs:
A short spin along the coastline in Perth to start to try and blow out the cobwebs. Perth has a great network of cycle lanes along the seafront which allow you to ride relatively undisturbed.
Today was about resting and stretching out the legs, being on a flight for about 18 hours definitely does take its toll on these parts. So visiting a local food joint for a local beer and some food meant in the clear skies an afternoon could be spent resting and thinking about what lay ahead.
A real rest day was in order, visiting Perth Zoo to see the local wildlife that we didn't think we would see elsewhere and exploring the City. A short walk to the promenade and a boat across the estuary lead to the start of our journey.
As a city, Perth has a mix of many high rises around Murray Street and Hay Street which contrast with more of the old warehouses and factories if you head towards Fremantle (Or 'Freeo' to the locals.)
Friday: Race Reccy:
A race reccy. The total length of the race is 155km with just short of 2000 meters of climbing. The route took the freeway out to the hills on the outskirts of Perth, a location where the race would be won and lost on climbs such as the Zig Zag. Our age category undertook two laps of the hilly stage with an uphill finish at the crest of the Zig Zag.
The Reccy helped to settle a few nerves and allowed us to realise that it was achievable to compete with the rest of the world.
There is something incredibly special about the cycling community. No matter where you are in the world there is always some one who will want to go for a ride and show you around. A special thank you goes to Shelby, our Australian friend who acted as our tour guide for much of our experience. Casual rides and cafe hunting during the day with an attempt of an early night before the big day itself.
We were guided around the seafront, taking in beaches, Gelato, Coffee, great chat and food. A perfect resting day in preparation for the big day...
Sunday: Race Day
The day was upon us, a night of little sleep and an early start, rolling down to the docks for a 7am start. We were kitted up and out in our GB Paria kit ready to rock. There was obviously a heavy Australian dominance in the race but it was an incredibly proud moment to see so many Great Britain kits on the roads.
The race was a tough one, designed for climbers with it's undulating terrain. Sadly my race was over 80km in, with a puncture. I sat by the side of the road, and after some moaning and swearing, it was fixed and back on the road I went with the aim of just setting the best possible time.
Monday: The Return
After the race, the bike was packed up and prepared for the long return journey. The bonus of the Scicion AeroComfort 2.0 is how easy it is to pack the bike away. Simply you clip the frame into the supported shock absorbent base and slide the wheels in the pockets. You then just need to strap up the bike to hold it in place. The simplest bike packing bag I have used and means you can pack in roughly 5-10 mins, leaving you more time to get on with more important things.
Finally I landed back in the UK on Monday night...
Tuesday & Wednesday: A day back in London. Pizza
Feeling jet lagged but alive meant that the two days back in London were filled with catching up with people, cycling and eating Pizza before the next adventure...