By Dede Demet Barry, T-Mobile professional cycling team
Being in Australia this week has been a stark contrast to the past few weeks I spent training at home in Boulder. One week ago, I was Nordic skiing or riding my bike in sub-zero weather, trying to avoid ice patches in the shady sections of the canyons West of town. On Friday, I was riding along the Great Ocean road southwest of Melbourne watching the surfers along the coast. It was 40 degrees Celsius, the sun was beating down on us, sweat was beading on our faces, I had sunscreen spread all over my body, but was struggling cover the one spot I missed on the back of my neck with the collar of my jersey, as I could feel it burning red.
I arrived in Melbourne with my T-Mobile teammates five days ago and we will be starting the Geelong Tour this on Sunday. It is rare that our team arrives so early before a race; normally we are in the day before and out the night of the last race. We came early so that we could adjust to the time change, preview our race courses and do some long rides on the bike. Our first ride after having arrived felt a bit odd; we were jetlagged while also trying to negotiate riding on the left side of the roads. It was a strange sensation, but after a good night’s sleep, riding on the left no longer felt like a challenge.
Our T-Mobile team has six riders here – Kristin Armstrong, Kimberly Bruckner, Lynn Gaggioli, Amber Neben, Stacey Peters and me. We will be racing the four-day Tour of Geelong, which consists of a time trial, a criterium, a circuit race and a road race. The tour will be followed by a few days of rest and then we will compete in the Geelong World Cup. There will be several teams from Europe competing, but I think some of the toughest competition will come from the Aussies. They should be flying fit, as it is the end of their summer season of racing. The tour will give us an opportunity to do some racing miles and open up our legs before the World Cup.
We are staying in a couple of townhouses, which are quite nice. I feel as if I am in a sorority, as all the girls are in one townhouse, while our male staff is across the road in another. There has been loads of giggling in the evenings, as stories are told and pictures are shared. We have been preparing meals together some evenings and going out to test the local cuisine occasionally as well. Since we are near the ocean, the seafood is fresh and tasty, but the bakeries are loaded with Australian meat pies as well.
I tried to take a dip in the ocean after a riding a couple of days ago, but was scared away by the number of jellyfish washed up on the beach. I know how much it hurts to be stung and I opted not to take the risk…maybe I’ll get my nerve up after a long, hot race this week.
Stayed tuned for the coming events.