For the last few years June has been a lonely month for me. The tours replace one day races and, for the most part, the racing migrates from the north of Europe a little further south.
Gone are the bike path wide roads and zero-meter altitude gain races of the Netherlands and in their place pop up the mountain passes and blistering heat of Italy and Spain.
In-between it all however, the Euros and North Americans jet off home for their nationals. I’m convinced that while the talk is about crowning a new national champion it’s really just a guise to confuse the Australians and Kiwis when everyone returns back to the peloton in different jerseys half-way through the season.
As an Australian, it has always seemed odd to watch my team-mates prepare for their national championships half-way through June. For me, whose Nationals are held during the ‘off season’, sandwiched between Christmas and the Tour Down Under and months before the first European race, it’s hard to comprehend the possibility of lining up on the start line of a national championships with any resemblance of form. However, it would seem that’s exactly what my team mates have done.
So far, only half-way through the week which makes up the large majority of national championships, Specialized lululemon can boast the new National Time Trial Champions of Canada, America, and the Netherlands along with numerous other medals in the time-trial and road races.
But what do the rest of us do when we have no national jerseys to fight it out for? Well for me it’s almost become tradition to return to Girona – which during this nationals period turns from a bustling cycling hub of activity to a ghost town filled with Dutch tourists – and hit the roads for hours of monotonous kilometers before planting myself in front of the computer screen hitting ‘refresh’ every minute monitoring cyclingnews.com for the latest nationals results.
Other Australian’s take the break in racing as an opportunity to come up for fresh air after generally going ‘full gas’ since as early as January and treat themselves to a mid-season holiday – think theme parks, beaches and futile attempts to even out tan lines. While more still go in search of the sun and head upwards, literally. Heading to high altitude cycling meccas such a Livingo, Stelvio or Sierra Nevada.
This year however hasn’t seen me do any of these things. While my team mates shipped off as did I, and I even had some company.
June may be the month of National Championships but July is the month of the Olympics and while most countries are waiting for their nationals to be run and won before they announced the squads that will be representing them in London the Australian women’s road team has already started some ‘team bonding’ activities.
A little over a week ago Amanda Spratt, Shara Gillow and myself jumped on a plane to London for a little bit of ‘recon’. And while we were really testing out the accommodations for the Australian road team (I’m not joking – we went to the same hotel we will stay at during the games so as to time how long it takes to get from ‘A’ to ‘B’, how long the food takes to come out when ordered and how reliable the laundry is) we did manage to get a bit of riding in on the now (in)famous course.
By the end of our time there we’d clocked up more laps around the Box Hill circuit than we could probably race in a four day tour let alone a one day race, Spratty was well and truly over dragging me up every hill and we’d heard more hilarious stories from past Olympics than I could possibly remember/
As far as worthwhile things to do while the Euro’s are off racing, I’d put our trip to London right up there, although the reduction of tan-lines is still pretty high on my list. But for now, despite all the Olympic buzz and Nationals hype my eyes are firmly focused on the Giro which kicks off on the 30th – nine days of pain in scorching heat. Maybe that theme park holiday isn’t such a bad idea after all?