Smile because it happened

It is with a mixture of sadness and excitement that I announce that the chapter of my life as a professional cyclocross racer has come to an end.

The past three years of racing CX have been some of the happiest of my cycling career. It has been an honour to be national champion and a privilege to work with the best people and equipment in the world. The CX community around the world has been like a family to me. All these things make the decision to leave professional racing a difficult one. This announcement is the end of a long decision making process that I made in consultation with my sponsors and the A-team. It hasn’t been easy, and I want to thank them for their understanding and support during a challenging time.

It’s no secret that I’ve been struggling with my health for the past few months. After failing to recover from my last European season I’ve realised that my body is no longer able to cope with the demands of a full CX season. In the past two years especially, between working full time and trying to train full time, I have been pushing my body beyond what is sustainable, and it has simply hit its limit. I have been through more tests and seen more specialists in the past few months than I’d care to relate. At the end of the day, what my body needs is time to recover fully. It is frustrating, but my health needs to take priority.

While I’m sad to be leaving this level of sport a year earlier than I’d have liked, I am excited as well. I cannot tell you how much happiness cyclocross brings me, and once my health is back on track, I’m looking forward to racing domestically and for fun. I’m looking forward to adventures with my mates, to sleep-ins on rainy mornings, and to spending time with the people I love. Standing on the sidelines for the next few months is going to be tough. But seeing cyclocross flourish and grow, particularly in Australia, gives me great joy, and I plan to be a part of that for a long time to come.

My elite cycling career has spanned almost ten years, first on the road and then CX. I never expected to start an elite cycling career at 25, and I never would have imagined I’d still be here at 34 in an entirely different discipline. This journey has been unexpected and brilliant. It has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it’s given me some incomparable moments. More importantly, it’s brought lifetime friendships and experiences that will stay with me forever. The women’s Giro d’Italia, the 2011 AIS survival camp, my VIS family, racing on the Australian road team, and those bloody ergos Donna dreamed up before my first CX national champs win… these memories stick with me like a hook that I can hang onto at times when I need strength. Likewise, the people I’ve been privileged to work with have taught me more than they’ll ever realise. There are too many to name them all here, but I need to give special thanks to the Supercoach Donna Rae-Szalinski, Neil Ross, Harry Brennan, Nick Owen, Wendy Braybon, Dr Andrew Garnham, Ryan Moody, to my Belgian crew of Christian, Frank, Dirk and everyone at Hof Ter Kammen, to the Fields of Joy crew, to DC Cunningham, Paul Larkin, Scooter Vercoe, John Groves, Murray Fenwick, Marcus Speed, and to Gary West and Ben Cook from my SASI days. I also want to recognise my awesome sponsors: Rapha, Focus, Curve, SRAM, FMB, Kask, Salice, Tune, Feedback, Horst Spikes and SQlab, and to those who have supported me in the past, particularly VIS, SASI,, Apollo, Perfect PIlates, Fitzroy Revolution and Swiss Eye. These people have given me the freedom and opportunity to race at the highest level with the finest equipment in the world. I am extremely fortunate to be able to choose who I work with and to be able to work with the best. Every time I jump on my bike I remember how special that is, and how much fun it’s been. I’m looking forward to the next chapter.

Ride happy.

Pic: Okamoto

Pic: Okamoto

Pic: Okamoto

Pic: Okamoto

Pic: Mark Gunter

Pic: Mark Gunter

Pic: Jarrod Partridge

Pic: Jarrod Partridge

Pic: Pim Nijland

Pic: Pim Nijland

Timing is everything

So today I woke up sick. Not something you want to happen two days out from a world championships! So instead of heading to Zolder to do course practise today, I'm in bed, dosed up with cold & flu medication and trying not to think too much about the weekend. It's terrible timing, but these things happen in racing and there's not much you can do once you're sick - just wrap yourself in cotton wool, watch terrible daytime TV and try to get better.   

I'm hoping I'll be well enough tomorrow to go to course practice but that's a decision for tomorrow. In the meantime, here's a picture of Cipo showing what exceptional luft looks like. 

Ride happy.

(PS - the cover image is by Marc Deceuninck, who is always a friendly face at CX races here. Thanks for the shot Marc!)

Lisa's Mum presents A Culinary 'Cross Guide


It should come as no surprise to regular Ride Happy readers that Lisa's Mum, while waiting patiently for SBS to respond to her petition to replace Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwin on their Tour de France commentary team, has many things to fill her day. Being on call for the Tour Down Under, for example, means that she can never be far away from her computer and long-range binoculars. Should Lisa's Mum receive the call up, her fans deserve the benefit of knowing exactly how many Weet-Bix Rohan Dennis has for breakfast, or the brand of tea that Richie Porte buys in the supermarket. Mum is nothing if not meticulous in her research.

A fan has recently written in to ask Lisa's Mum her insights on a typical CX rider's diet. The query is fortuitous in its timing, for Lisa's Mum is currently serving as adjunct professor at the School of Dietetics at New Hampshire University while completing her PhD in exercise metabolism of waffles in off-road cycling athletes. The PhD has taken slightly longer than anticipated on account of the School's strict ethics policy of using mice as subjects, meaning that Lisa's Mum spent the first two years of her studies teaching mice how to ride tiny cyclocross bicycles. However, with the bulk of her work now behind her, and a fleet of competent bike-riding mice, Lisa's Mum is well placed to advise on the ideal diet of CX riders.

 The diet of a typical 'cross rider can change depending on the season. Given that CX is a winter sport, the end of the racing season (often an opportunity for post-season blowout) also marks the start of bikini season. One cannot indulge in too many frites if one wishes to be bikini-ready by Summer. Many riders, therefore, choose to join road teams in the summertime so as to retain the right amount of peer pressure required to keen one's skinfolds low. 2014 CX world champion Zdenek Stybar, for example, recently announced that he would not be contesting the 2016 CX world championships, choosing instead to focus on his bikini ambitions with Etixx-QuickStep. The exception to this rule is Antipodean CX athletes, who craftily avoid summer by moving from southern to northern hemisphere as soon as the weather gets nice, thereby ensuring maximal frite gains.

Niels Albert looking bikini-ready

Niels Albert looking bikini-ready

Leading into race season, a rider's diet varies depending on their season goals. Before Cross Vegas became a World Cup, riders targeting this race would focus specifically on beer-hand up repeats, which are broadly similar to hill repeats but with a bit more vomiting. Those focused on a strong performance at Koksjide incorporate a lot of sand-eating into their diet, particularly those expecting to fall outside the top 10.

This is delicious. It just doesn't have your best interests at heart.  

This is delicious. It just doesn't have your best interests at heart.  

In Europe, a typical pro rider's diet in race season looks like this:

9am: Wake up. Espresso and muesli (the boring muesli, not the chocolate one).

10am: Consider riding. Wait for rain to clear while drinking espresso.

11am: Still drinking espresso.

12pm: Ride a little bit.

2pm: Spaghetti (no cheese), recovery drink. Pangs of espresso regret.

6pm: Spaghetti (no cheese), de l'eau petillant, one segment of orange.

Occasionally, riders slip up and find themselves rapidly approaching race season being very much bikini-unready. This may be because their diet has looked like this:

Breakfast (9am): Muesli met chocolade. Croissant with speculoos.

Speculoos: the Nutella of Benelux

Speculoos: the Nutella of Benelux

10am: Consider riding. Wait for rain to clear with spoon and speculoos in line of sight.

11am: Dispose of empty speculoos jar.

12pm: Ride a little bit (to waffle store).

2pm: Pick up some Belgian chocolate ('for the kids'). Eat chocolate on way home, dispose of wrappers under car seat next to empty speculoos jars.

6pm: Celebrate the end of the day with a couple of Belgian beers to wash away taste of chocolate. Kebab on way home. Extra cheese.

Tyler Hamilton's pre-tour meal

Tyler Hamilton's pre-tour meal

For those riders, the days immediately leading into race season follow the Tyler Hamilton Grand Tour Weight Loss Plan (TM) of 6-hour rides followed by de l'eau petillant and 2x temazepam. Lisa's Mum has limited data on these riders, who when contacted for interview declined to respond to emails, answer the phone or admit they were home.

Lisa's Mum hopes this answers your query, dear reader, and thank you for taking the time to write in with your question. Further insights will be published in Lisa's Mum's PhD thesis, entitled Waffles, waffle regret and Niels Albert, due out soon.


Ride happy.


The Belgian Study Tour Begins

Wow, you just had a lucky escape, because I started writing this blog post and it was full of nostalgia about Belgium and about how my visits here had punctuated (nay, MILESTONED!)  my life, from my days as a lawyer in Brussels to racing with the Australian national road team, to CX worlds last year, blah blah... and then I deleted it all because no one likes nostalgia, really, unless you were there. Phew. You can thank me later. I'm here in Oudenaarde, Belgium, for 3 weeks on a Tour de Mud. The mission is to get a block of quality CX racing (6 races over 3 weekends) in the Belgian mud, to build some skills in preparation for 2016 world champs in Zolder, Belgium. We don't get mud like this in Australia, so Mohammed has to go to the mountain to get rad mud skills.

I have yet to get myself a campervan. Campervans, as the CX cognoscente will appreciate, are de rigeur for the serious CX racer. Indeed, the quality of the racer is directly proportional to the size and flamboyance of their campervan. Svenness, for example, has a small mobile village which follows him around to races. You can tell Svenness is in da hood by the size of the crowd assembled outside campervan #1 (next to the giant trailer emblazoned with 'Have a Nys Day' and a picture of Sven choking out the suggestion of a smile). The Telenet-Fidea team, surely the leading Belgian CX presence, has a fleet of identical campervans, each helpfully catelogued by huge photos of the rider promised within.

campervan photo

The Telenet-Fidea Fleet (part of)

Garry Milburn and Fiona soon-to-be-Milburn are the Aussie pioneers in CX campervan territory.  I've been enjoying Fiona's updates on the Australian CX Magazine blog, and those two roll like proper CX rockstars.  I did not see any giant pictures of Garry on the sides of their campervan, but that man lets his legs do the talking. Where was I? Ah yes, cyclocross...

Belgium pic 1

I'm staying at Hof Ter Kammen in Oudenaarde, home to the loveliest couple in the CX universe, Christian and Hilde, and their family. Christian and his friend Dirk have been my pit crew at races and I've been looked after extraordinarily well.

And the racing? The first 2 races - BPTrophee Lille on 7 Feb and Superprestige Hoogstraten on 8 Feb - were a matter of survival. I finished in 24th and 17th place respectively. Fresh off the plane, it was certainly a wake up call. Lille featured frozen sand, a bit of mud, and a generally hard and fast course (normally a bit better for me, were it not for my spectacular crashing). Hoogstraten had every single feature I could have thought of - lots of mud, a sandpit, stairs, flyovers, ditch crossings, barriers... It was a cram session extraordinaire for the Belgian Study Tour.

belgium pic 5

Hoogstraten: Pic courtesy Ladies On Wheels

This week after extensive counselling from SuperskillsCoach Neil Ross I'm working on getting out into the mud more, and using words like 'donkey-kicked' less. Today was a #skillsdoping session with a mate from CX China, Bruce Dalton, who's based in Britain but staying in Oudenaarde for some end of season racing like me. The CX community is pretty cool - already I've been riding with some supercool people who are based in Oudenaarde who have accommodated my strange accent and propensity to get lost with an air of friendliness you wouldn't see in a lot of other sports (or disciplines).

Belgium pic 3


I don't pretend to be a technical specialist, but dammit, this technical shit be HARD. It's what I'm here for, but it's surprising how mentally draining it is to ride in such different conditions. There's no quick win in sight. I finish a race or ride and it's hard to focus on anything requiring mental energy for a while. If you can understand when I say that racing is like sitting an exam, then racing in the Belgian mud is like sitting an exam when you haven't studied.

I'll sign off for now, but a quick thank you to the people who have made this trip - and my racing life in general - possible: Rapha, Focus,, FMB tubulars, SRAM, Neo Pro Imports, Kask, Perfect Pilates and the A-team of Donna Rae-Supercoach, Neil Ross, Paul Larkin, Pat Fitzpatrick, John Groves, Allister Payne, James Maebus who are the glue keeping this whole operation together. Thanks guys.

Belgium pic 4

Ride happy.

New year, new team

As I blow a thin layer of dust off the keyboard and retrieve forgotten login details, it occurs to me that it's been a while since I've last checked in with Ride Happy. Clearly, some things need updating… 2014 was a big year. It included some great adventures, professional opportunities and most importantly for me personally, some good results overseas. The challenge for Cross riders in Australia is that it's very hard to work out whether you're any good. World champs last January showed me what I already knew: that racing in the Belgian mud required a totally different skill set to Australian CX racing. It wasn't until I raced in China and the US in September that I got to race against an international field in familiar conditions, and was pleasantly surprised to discover that I wasn't crap. Finishing 2nd in a C1 event (the Qiansen Trophy in Beijing) - C1 is the level below World Cup - was a career-best result out of any discipline I've raced. Cross Vegas wasn't the race I wanted it to be, but 17th in that field while sick was encouraging. I'm a long way from chucking in my day job and running away to Belgium, but I'm excited about stepping up some more and, hopefully, continuing to put distance between myself and crap.

2015 is looking really cool. I've signed with a new team, Rapha-Focus, which is a professional dedicated CX team and means I'll be able to spend more time doing what I love. Both Rapha and Focus have been great supporters of CX in Australia from the beginning and I'm excited about all the cool stuff we're going to do this year, including racing domestically and overseas, riding awesome bikes and and wearing lovely gear. I'm being coached by the best in the business, including the Supercoach Donna Rae-Szalinski, and skills gurus Neil Ross and Pat Fitzpatrick (trust me, I need all the help I can get). And the amazing Paul Larkin is back and we're planning all sorts of adventures, which makes me happy.

I'm not racing world champs this year. I'd have liked to, but work commitments had to win this time. Instead, I'm heading over to Belgium for 3 weeks in February to catch the end of the CX season and, importantly, to get 6 UCI races-worth of Belgian racing in the same mud that we'll get at 2016 world champs, which is a big target for me. The last couple of weeks have been challenging and I've been struggling with fatigue and health. I'm hoping that's behind me now, but the reality of my life now is that I cut things fine, and that every so often I don't get the balance right. When I get it wrong, I don't have the same recovery mechanisms that I'd have if I were a full-time athlete. I had a great block of training over Christmas but it was probably too good, and I went into road nationals carrying more fatigue than I expected. The result was that I pulled the pin pretty early, which was disappointing but a better option than riding around digging holes and making up numbers. It was really touching to get so many messages of support, so thank you, it means a lot. I got some tests done last week and things are looking up, although I need to recognise that coffee and retail therapy are not legitimate forms of recovery.

So, in case my vomit of enthusiasm hasn't spilled onto you yet, I'm excited. I never expected that my racing career could extend beyond road cycling and I feel super lucky to have found a sport that is unquestionably rad and brings me so much happiness. Most of this is due to the great people I have in my corner, so thank you to Rapha, Focus,, Neo Pro Imports, SRAM, FMBPerfect Pilates, Kask, Bike Gallery, and in no particular order to Donna Rae-Supercoach, Neil, Pat, Paul, Grover, Allister, Nadine, Pikey and Bowie. And thank you to my Mum, whose enthusiasm for cowbells is matched only by her bemusement at my pre-race warmups.

Finally, if you'll indulge me, I'd like to take a moment to share the radness of Cyclocross. If you haven't tried it, you should. There's something about riding around in the mud that unleashes your inner child and creates a happiness that I've not found in any other type of racing. It's family-friendly, time-friendly and regardless of your ability you will have fun. You will find it a great opportunity to bleed from your eyeballs if you are so inclined, but if you aren't, that's OK too. You may even win beer, and if you don't win you will probably be offered one during the race. The pros are nice. The bikes are cool. I promise you that you will like it.

Ride Happy.





Cold beer and file treads

20140907-143744.jpg We're on the road again, this time driving from Sacramento to Las Vegas for Cross Vegas. Yesterday was the inaugural West Sacramento CX Grand Prix, and all three of us had a roll. Pete opened his international racing account in style, Paul put some guys into the tape, and I tried not to eat grass.

California has blown us away. From coffee in San Fran to trails in Tahoe and the friendliest people we've ever met in Sacramento. If you are going to Cross Vegas next year, drop past the West Sac CX Grand Prix. Do it.

This pic is from the Bike Dog Brewery, which hosted the launch today of Squid Bikes. Some of our Sacramento buddies who we met yesterday insisted that we couldn't leave without some jars of home made pickles and jalepeno jelly. I love California.

Enter the Dragon: A mostly true account of China CX

Best auspicious greetings honoured reader! This post be welcoming in heart and hope for longtime forgiveness of not earlier posting. Be that I have faced many adventures and much happiness in past week; no facebook make hard work of updating you my beloved reader. But fear not the iron instagram curtain, for today I write to you from aeroplane on way to USA, where much tweeting is welcome. So it follows, an account of Qiansen Cyclocross, UCI Cat 1 event, Beijing, China.

A lot has happened in the past few weeks, including a new national title, a new team, and the beginning of a new CX adventure. National champs went well, mostly thanks to all the people who provided help, support, and occasionally counselling: the Supercoach, my skills coach Neil Ross, and the A Team of Paul Larkin, John Groves and Steve from Apollo in Adelaide who kept everything running smoothly. As far as I am aware, no marriages were harmed in the post-race celebrations.

Winning national champs led to invitations to a couple of great early-season races: Qiansen Trophy CX in Beijing and Cross Vegas in USA. With work commitments ruling me out for world champs this coming January, these two races offered a great way of draining my annual leave balance whilst also building on my international CX racing experience.  Racing Cross Vegas in the national champ colours happens also to be at the top of my bucket list, by the way (although to be fair, the list also includes Eating My Weight In Salted Caramel and Marrying A Swedish Prince*, so may not be a great reflection of my life goals).

*Could also be a Baron; I haven’t looked too closely into the Swedish nobility nomenclatures.

Last year, I raced Qiansen Cyclocross and broke my wrist with a suspected ACL in the first 5 minutes of the race. I finished 14th, because it seemed like a good idea at the time and Grover was yelling out from the pits that prize money went down to 15th. This year, the race was upgraded to a UCI Cat 1 event (one level below World Cup), and apart from more UCI points and a stronger international field, offered the chance of redemption over last year’s disaster. I thought it was a great idea. My parents, who had spent the week after last year’s race driving me between x-ray appointments, were less enthusiastic. Fortunately, the only person I really needed to convince was Paul Larkin, whom I consider to be the World’s Best CX Pit Crew and whose support at world champs and national champs this year has been nothing short of brilliant. Paul, having returned from last year’s Qiansen CX race 6.5kgs lighter after a particularly nasty bout of Beijing’s Revenge, went back on his promise never to set foot in China again and agreed to be part of the adventure.

After having been a road racer for so long, one thing I’m learning about CX racing is the unique demands it places on a rider’s pit crew. On a muddy course, you can be changing bikes twice per lap (every 10 minutes or so), and you rely on your pit crew to catch your bike at speed, blast it clean and fix whatever is broken while you’re out on the course. Even on a good day, mechanics work as hard as the riders to prep equipment and fix bike niggles under pressure. Having a good pit crew that is organised, calm and good at working on the fly is essential. You rely on them not just to fix your bike, but to know which pit position is best, what tyre pressure to run, bounce off ideas for race lines and strategies, and help calm your nerves. Fortunately, not only is Paul one of the best, he is also happy to bring single origin coffee beans and put up with riders with OCD tendencies. So we make a good team.

This year, the Qiansen CX ‘event week’ comprised 2 races: a CX race on the Saturday, followed by a demonstration road race in a neighbouring province on the Monday. The CX course was a repeat of last year: fast, twisty and brutally bumpy, with some technical parts that could bring you unstuck if you lost concentration. To add to the excitement, the event organiser had asked Paul and I and a couple of the other riders to take part in the CX amateur race held a few hours before the elite races. Our job was to stay at the front ahead of the local riders for the opening lap, then peel off and let them finish the race. Apparently last year staying ahead of the local riders was quite easy, but no one had told us that those riders had then spent the next 12 months training the house down on that same course. The result was a very effective pre-race workout and a new job for Paul as a human shield, protecting me from getting T-boned by a couple of enthusiastic locals who hadn’t been briefed on the race script.

The CX race itself went well, with nary a broken bone in sight. I’d chosen a spot on the course right after a hard pinch, where I knew everyone would be knackered, as my point to attack if I needed to. In the first lap, I had chased up to third spot and was behind a French girl, Le Fevre, who had come 4th at world champs this year. I could hear her breathing hard so attacked hard just before that point and got a small gap. By the next lap she had caught back on, so I did the same thing and managed to drop her. Ellen van Loy, a Belgian who is ranked 6th in the world, was in a class of her own and won 22 secs ahead of me. I came in 23 secs ahead of former Danish national champion Margariet Kloppenberg who was in 3rd. I was absolutely stoked – it’s a career best result for me, certainly in CX, and maybe for my whole riding career. All those skills sessions paid off Neil!!

The road race on Monday was fun (especially on a CX bike with road tyres). The 11-hour bus trip was less fun, but still better than a broken wrist or a 6.5kg weight loss program, so Paul and I proclaimed this year’s China trip a success and set sail for USA.

If Northern Californian CX racing is synonymous with file treads and cold beer, Qiansen CX was characterised by SSCs and an oversupply of all-you-can-eat buffets. Of the 5 nights we were there,  there were 4 banquets, one featuring a Chinese version of the Spice Girls miming to traditional Chinese instruments. We felt very welcomed, if slightly overfed, and the hospitality of the event organisers reflected the region’s enthusiasm for growing CX and cycling in China. Next year they are talking of making it a world cup event: if it happens, it will give Aussie riders access to the highest level of racing in the world without having to endure 30 hours of travelling to do it.

Phew! That’s enough for now. I started this post on the plane from Beijing to San Francisco, and now Pete, Paul and I are in a log cabin at Lake Tahoe, getting excited for some CX riding tomorrow on the trails here. Next race: Sacramento GP on 6 Sept, then Cross Vegas on 10 Sept.

Ride Happy.

2013 Australian CX championships

Phew! Sorry it’s taken me so long to write this up. If it weren’t for the horrendous conditions today at Falls Creek you’d have been waiting another week to read this. So hurray for global warming (anyone? Anyone??). Last week was the 2013 Australian CX championships. You can read more about them here, here and here.

Last year was the first year Australia had run a national CX series, and it was loads of fun. The series generated so much happiness that this year we had not only a national series, but a national championships as well. This meant that not only could we all wear onesies for an extra day in the year, but that we could fight it out for the honour of wearing a national champion's onesie as well. In onesie circles, this is quite something.

Cipo: The benchmark for lovers of onesies

My hopes of defending the national series title from last year were curtailed somewhat following [what I optimistically reflect on as] an ambitious estimate of my ability to manage responsibilities. I got run down, sick and missed the first national rounds in Adelaide. Turns out you can't work full time, study, take on corporate governance roles AND train as much as a full time athlete. Who would have thunk it?

Fortunately, the Supercoach is well accustomed to my spectacular form implosions and we put together a plan to aim for the CX national champs instead. Luckily, my neighbours are tolerant of 6am ergo sessions and the Pirate is tolerant of 9pm bedtimes, so the plan started to get traction. And there's nothing quite like the prospect of finishing out the hoop as defending national series champion to incentivise you to work hard. So I worked my ass off, got some race strategy ideas at the Sydney national CX rounds, and sent a few post-ergo hate emails to the Supercoach, which pleased her greatly.

Amongst all this, Apollo in the background were putting together a super-fast CX race weapon - a carbon-framed, disc-braked, race-wheeled machine that was a dramatic step up from the $1,500 rrp model I'd raced the national series on the year before. It was all very hush hush, mostly because none of us really knew whether it in fact existed. Rumour has it that NASA noticed a missing engineer and a shortfall in their carbon supplies one day, and the next day my bike was in production.

CX Holding bike facing camera

It wouldn't be a good race story without an exciting lead-up, and there was excitement aplenty. Because  the bike was super dooper special, it was off getting the rockstar treatment at Apollo's trade shows and it wasn't until 2 nights before the national champs that Apollo Production Manager Murray Fenwick was able to bring it back to Melbourne. VIS supermechanic Ryan 'Diamonds' Moody and John Groves came to the rescue, with a bike build that finished around 11pm on Thursday night and involved multiple trips to the servo for compressed air (but none for ice cream, to Grover's disappointment). I think pretty much everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. I won't say I was entirely relaxed during the process, but it may have been the sound of the tubeless tyre exploding off the rim at around 10.30pm that put me on the edge. (As a side note, WELL DONE Grover for suggesting we pump up outside. I am still cleaning sealant off my front door.) The excitement continued the next day with an emergency rescue and some creative mechanicing from Paul at Adrenalin Cycles Ringwood during his lunch hour... and finished on Saturday morning with an offer of a wheel lend and a last-minute race tune from Paul Larkin. It's fair to say, without any exaggeration, that without any of these blokes I'd have been toast. The day belonged to them.

CX holding up bike Andy Rogers

So the bike's first ride was the national champs, and it was pretty freaking awesome. I'm lucky to have guys like Simon and Murray at Apollo who do so much to support VIS riders and to support me personally, and it's a privilege to be able to race such beautiful bikes and to be able to repay their faith with a good ride on Saturday.

On race day, everything seemed to come together, which doesn't often happen in racing. In 2011 I devoted 6 months of my life to trying to win road nationals. I've never worked so hard for anything in my life, and when it didn't work out it was a huge disappointment. This time, my year has been a big year, but not on the bike. It's been a year in which I've been given some awesome opportunities in my career and in sport, and training has become something I fit in where I can. I worked bloody hard, but with the sole purpose that whoever was going to win CX nationals would have to freaking earn it. When I crossed the line I was pretty emotional. It was a response to the stress of the previous week, but also just that I had worked so hard, and been written off by so many people, that to turn it around was immensely satisfying. I don't usually go that crazy, but after the season I'd had, and the build-up leading up to the race, it was impossible not to celebrate.

So thank you - to Apollo for a beautiful race bike (which you too can own for 2014), to Moody, Grover and the Pauls, who each saved my ass on separate occasions, to the Supercoach for being the brains of the operation, and to the people who continue to back me despite their better judgement: VIS, Perfect Pilates, Neo Pro and Swiss Eyewear,, and the indomitable peloton of TE.

2013 Cyclo Cross Nationals

Ride Happy.