Hope everyone has been keeping safe and healthy. Today I am writing my first Voxwomen blog from Europe after spending the first 7 months of the year home in Australia. I feel extremely fortunate to be over here in Europe, as from what I understand, Australia has some of the toughest travel laws currently. Rightly so, as being an island, it is easier to enforce rules to keep my country safe!
Getting the tick of approval to travel was a big relief, however travelling through Covid times is a lot more stressful than previously. In Australia, the region I was in had next to no Covid cases, and life was pretty much back to ‘normal’. Checking in at the airport was eerily different, with my flight leaving the normally bustling Brisbane international airport. We were all asked to form one long line and from there began our first border security check. A few more checks and it was time to head though the departures gate. As much as I was beaming with excitement, the harsh reality that we are in a world-wide pandemic hit, and returning to Australia may prove to be a great challenge. Travelling Internationally definitely further cemented just how real this virus is. I really hope people continue to take it seriously through social distancing, wearing a mask and using good hand hygiene!
I arrived in Girona for the first time in early August, meaning I had a week to do a little bit of exploring on the bike and setting up before heading off to my first European race with Canyon// Sram racing. It had been a long time coming!
I was fortunate to get two local club criterium’s in back home, although both under an hour, my first races back had been completed, so it did take a few nerves away.
But this was on a totally different scale, first race with my team in Europe. I was rather eager, as I had put in a lot of hard training over the break and just genuinely stoked to be racing my bike again. I also got the opportunity to see some of my teammates who I had raced with in January and others who I was only starting to get to know at the Zwift academy finals in December.
A week after arriving in Spain, we set off for the 5 hour drive into southern France, where we would be racing La Perigord. An uneventful trip apart from noticing how fast the cars drive here in Europe, definitely don’t see this back home!
A big difference to pre Covid racing is the mandatory pre race Covid test and the wearing of Masks at races. I am grateful that there are measures in place to protect the riders and staff, although I really hope that everyone follows these protocols seriously.
The race itself started at 1315hrs on Saturday afternoon, just enough time for the nerves to build throughout the morning! I have to say I found the race a little bit hectic. I did take me a little bit to get back into race mode. I felt extremely fortunate to be on my lovely Canyon aeroad race bike with Sram components – it handled like a dream and makes you feel fast and safe!
As the race went on, I was able to flick back into race mode and things got better. We had a strong team featuring in the intermediate sprints with Tanja taking out the overall sprint classification.
Then coming into the 3.5 laps of the finishing circuit, the team was positioned well, with Tanja going up the road on the second lap. Tanja rode very strong to come in at 3rd place. A great result and a good opportunity to learn from all of my very knowledgeable teammates.
A quick turnaround and it was on the road back to Spain. It was so great to race again and leaves me very hungry and motivated for my next race. For now, some quality training in the Spanish sun!
On a concluding note, I just want to once again mention our amazing nurses, doctors and healthcare workers. You are all incredible, and we are extremely grateful for your hard work. Thank you!