I am very excited to have signed with the women’s professional team Ale-Cipollini-Galassia. After sending out countless applications to secure a team in Europe for 2016, to be honest I was a little surprised when Ale Cipollini-Galassia got back to me. If you had asked me what my plans for next year were a month ago – my options were looking quite dim. I feel very fortunate that a chance has been taken on a new face in the European Peloton and I don’t plan to disappoint!
My plans for 2016 are slowly starting to take shape and very shortly will be becoming a reality. Having only recently signed with the Italian-based team, it’s been a very busy period organising living arrangements, team equipment and in general, getting ready for the big move… Not to forget the Visa application as well! I am starting to understand the outside stressors many cyclists face when delving into the unknown of racing internationally, I truly underestimated how difficult this jump would be!
I give all credit to athletes who have been able to form their own pathway in pursuit of their dream career. And at the same time have gained a better understanding why so many athletes at this point say, ‘this isn’t for me…’ and it’s definitely not because they are weak!
It is at this point, certain aspects of life must be sacrificed for at least a good chunk of time. Commitments such as work will be put on hold for the majority of the year and finding the time to continue studies can be difficult to balance with a full racing schedule, and sometimes not possible via distance education. For many Australian athletes moving away from home, most miss the support from friends and family and find the idea of having to build a new network very daunting – which it can be.
Although it may seem like a lot to lose, in other areas of life I feel this is an opportunity with much to gain. And this was not an opportunity I was going to pass up! I feel very privileged that Ale-Cipollini-Galassia have given a new face in the International peloton the chance to experience racing in Europe – at it’s fullest.
Earlier this year I headed to Europe for the first time with the Women’s National Development Team to see what its like to live and race like a pro. This short two-month insight proved to be the exposure needed to gain a professional contract, however it came at a cost.
Before setting off on our big trip I had heard mixed opinions about how the program would run and I was surprised to hear that many athletes will either, “have a great time or an absolute terrible experience”.
It was either extreme and during my time away I was caught in the latter.
As 2015 closed, I have taken the time to reflect on what has been a difficult year but none the less another year of learning and growing FAST. If you had asked me what my plans for 2016 were a month ago, my options were far and few and for a period of time I was left at a dead end. I guess you could say I’ve worked my ass off to get where I am – sometimes you have to make things happen. Its exciting to know I have a little more control in the direction I want to take my athletic career as I feel I have so much more to see, learn and grow.
In preparation for the big trip there are still many necessary challenges to overcome. The Visa application for my new home in Girona, Spain has been a very confusing process so far making it quite stressful to organise in the very small window of time! I have also made it a priority to continue my studies in 2016; with a change in courses hopefully this will be better suited to continue overseas. And once again, the language barrier has been a small but foreseeable challenge so far (do I learn Italian or Spanish or Catalan (The local language in Girona?) Probably all three and more…). And 2016 – being an Olympic year, I feel very, VERY nervous of the form girls will have. It’s going to be fast!
As my flight dates draw ever closer I realise how much I am going to miss my friends, family and Lulu (my dog!). Come visit me !!!! However I also look forward to a fresh start in a new place I can call home (that will be three places now) with new people to meet and new experiences to be experienced. I am excited to continue racing in Europe with my new teammates and to see more of the world the best way I know – on my bike!
Signing with a professional international team is currently a big learning process and a lot of people have been very helpful and generous in their advice from their own personal experiences and I am very grateful for this!! For anyone who has done the leap, they are able to understand the strong feelings of confusion and not knowing what is to come. If anyone has any insights into surviving the European world… I would love to hear it !?