After a long 20hrs of travel to the other side of the world we were greeted with a warm welcome in Milan. Coming from a Queensland winter to an Italian summer – the dream has continued. From the moment we arrived we hit the ground running; busy with organising and preparing equipment for our first tour in Germany.
If you have never been to Europe, it’s definitely an experience worth experiencing. As a child, our family continually moved around and I considered myself as being quite cultured however these life experiences couldn’t quite prepare me for life in Italy and it’s taken some time to become accustomed to this new lifestyle! I have quickly come to realise, accept and fully immerse myself in reality – that things get done very differently here and… that nothing gets done quickly in Italy – everybody seems to run on Italian time!! The local’s seem so calm ALL the time and no one is rushing yet somehow, stuff, eventually gets done! Which is unlike our busy schedules in Australia. It all seems to be in s l o w m o t i o n.
Being my first time in Europe and experiencing its envious lifestyle, I am slowly adjusting my routine to run on Euro Time. Apparently sleeping in til 8am does not quite make the cut… And I would also like to use this time to mention that Siesta is a real – current, day thing. I had heard about this quasi routine of the Europeans but very much thought it was a part of historical times. But for those of you like me, who had been naïve and had not heard of siesta up until now, it is a very integrated part of an Italian’s lifestyle where, sometime, during the afternoon, the whole town will shut down for several hours so everybody can take a nap. And it always happens when you need to go to the shops… F**king siesta.
We allowed a couple of days to recover from our laborious trip before we found ourselves headed for Germany – a short 8hr car trip traveling through three countries before our final destination… A scenic journey to say the least. The only downfall to all this city-hopping (in a short amount of time) would be that it has made it very difficult to pick up and learn a language. Just as I was getting the hang of the Italian lingo we were off and in the land of beer and bratwursts. As a consequence, the whole communication thing has gotten a whole lot confusing and has more than often conversations have ended in, Ci! Wii! Yah! You know what I’m trying to say…
Our first race with the newly formed Subaru High5 Women’s Development Team also coincided as the most difficult tour we will experience all season – Thuringen Rundfahrt. Of course there is no easing into it… The quality of the riders was top notch due to the timing of the Giro Rosa and the girls brought their very best form. And Holy mother of god was it hard, it was quite a shock to system and every stage was an overload of new information… And you had to learn quick because racing in Europe is NOT for the faint hearted.
In hindsight this was not the ideal race to begin the season with… In a perfect world we would start with a couple of races in America and then step up to some local races in Belgium and then maybe, if you’re ready – a UCI race in Europe. But this was an opportunity we could not (and did not want to) turn our backs on.
I have also found there are some large distinctions between racing the NRS in Australia and competing in Europe. To start with – the bunch size and how many more riders can fit into a very skinny road. Any skills that you are not 100% sure of – whether it be cornering, descending, climbing, riding on something other than road (dirt, pave, cobbles) are magnified and exaggerated in a top quality field, there is nowhere to hide. The speed of peloton, overall, is a lot faster compared to racing within Australia. And when you are trying to improve position whilst going around a corner and trying to avoid hitting the gutter, it can be a little bit too much to process. Talk about information overload!
Although, racing in Germany was probably the most grueling seven days of my life (still not as hard as AIS Selection Camp) taken as a whole it was a positive experience. And I know for a fact, as a team we would of crumbled without the support from our staff!
We currently have about a week to recover and train for our next tour – Route de France. And maybe enough time to learn another language!