I have had a number of set backs over the past six months, but I have let none of them stop me from doing everything I can to follow my dreams.

 

I haven’t done an update since September when I competed at the Junior Road World Championships in Florence, Italy. Apart from being able to say I achieved my ultimate goal for 2013, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for me at my first ever world championships. After a solid two months racing all over America and Canada, I was able to use all the racing fitness and experience that I had gained through the trip to build up for the Junior Worlds only a month after I returned back to New Zealand. Over those weeks leading up to the championships, I trained harder than ever before. Every training session I did, the closer I came to being in the best form of my life for the event – until a few days before the time trial.

 

It was just my luck to come down with what I thought was a flu virus just before my time trial at road worlds; luckily I was able to manage it for that day. Apart from feeling a little under the weather, riding a time trial at a World Championship event equipped with a team radio, a lead motorbike, a follow car and screaming spectators lining the streets, it really is one of the most thrilling experiences you will ever have.

 

Being bed ridden the day before a Road Race is not exactly the best preparation I had in mind for a race that I had been dreaming about racing since I started cycling. There was nothing else I could do except hope for the best.

 

Warming up, I was not feeling great but I tried not to think about how I was feeling and wanted to just focus on the race ahead. The first two laps of the race up the climbs I knew something was not right, I couldn’t even push myself to get up the front on the climbs. It seemed like my body just wouldn’t let me push past that pain barrier. I just didn’t have the fire and drive of determination that I usually race with. I was pretty disappointed with how the race went for me, after knowing that I was capable of doing better if I had been in my proper race form that I had trained for.

 

After a bit of time off the bike, I was back into training and doing some races for fitness. My next target was Elite Road Nationals in my home city of Christchurch.

 

After only a few weeks of training, I seemed to be getting extremely tired every afternoon and having to have a nap of two hours everyday to get through the afternoon or else I would feel like a zombie with no energy at all. I thought maybe this was because I was training reasonably hard and doing some longer rides.

 

It wasn’t until I was racing Tour De Vineyards over New Years, that I had the same feeling in the racing as I did at Worlds, minus the flu virus. It wasn’t long before I was barely hanging in on the stages and having absolutely no energy afterwards. I made the decision to not do anymore damage to my health and pull out of the Tour on the second to last day. This was highly disappointing for me as I didn’t know why I was feeling the way I was. I took a few days off the bike and got back into some efforts for the nationals the following week. Again, I had absolutely no drive and energy to push myself in any efforts that I did. I’m normally a very determined person and I never need any pushing to do my training or efforts to the best of my ability. I knew that this wasn’t just the usual tiredness from training, so I decided to get some blood tests done.

 

Two days before the Elite Nationals I was diagnosed with Under Active Thyroid Syndrome, a lifelong condition that can be managed with a synthetic hormone medication. Its basically a condition where your Thyroid gland has been attacked by a virus that has caused it to stop producing the hormone that controls your metabolism causes fatigue and weight gain. I was un-aware that I had this condition since mid 2013, I had still been pushing myself through training despite feeling these symptoms to cause a state of Chronic Fatigue that I thought was a flu virus when I was at Worlds.

 

To be honest, although having this condition is not a positive thing, I was relieved to finally have answers. It was definitely frustrating not knowing why I was so fatigued all the time and gaining weight to be the heaviest I had ever been right before Worlds, despite a strict diet and loads of training!

 

Since the diagnosis, I have been taking it step by step to get back up to full training, so far its going good and I’m getting closer to being able to get back into racing and goal setting. Onwards and Upwards!

 

Until next time,

 

Maddi

I have learnt over the past few weeks that the pathway to success is infact, one step forward and two steps back. Although I can now say its character building and that I am a better person and cyclist from these experiences, I’m not going to put icing over the cake and say the journey is easy.Image

  

I arrived in Vancouver, BC to race BC super week as an individual. Here’s a brief report on how I found the intense racing to say the least:

 

The nerves were skyrocketing as I lined up at the start line of the first criterium as part of the Tour De Delta. Lets just say I was introduced to the Pro women’s racing the brutal way. I was suddenly a small fish in a big pond and I was going to have to race the hardest I had ever raced in my life if I wanted to survive.  Positioning and cornering became the key to survival because once you were at the back of the peloton, no amount of watts would get you up to the front and it was only a matter of time before you got shelled out the back.

 

Every race I was seeing improvements in my performances and I had some good bunch finishes which I was happy with given the strength of the field. Although there were moments when I questioned my abilities, I never once gave up without a fight. The biggest night of racing was the Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix; thousands of spectators lined the streets of a 1.2km cobbled criterium circuit. Spectators had their cameras out and were asking to take photos with me warming up before the race start. I have never experienced such an awesome support crowd on the sidelines, cheering like crazy while we raced around the circuit. It made me feel privileged to be racing with such a classy field of talented athletes and their teams.

 Image

After BC Super week, Leah, Laura (My Colavita Teammates) and myself road tripped to Bend, Oregon in the USA where we would spend the next week racing in one of the hardest stage races there is on offer called The Cascade Classic Tour. I was lucky enough to be taken on as a guest rider for Colavita/Fine Cooking Women’s Pro Team. This stage race was full of brutally tough stages. The hardest was a 120km road race including a 30km climb and a 15km climb to a hilltop finish. My race plan became race smartly and hang in there for as long as I could, especially on the hills. Over the days I was seeing improvements in my performances and I was feeling stronger. It was an inspiring experience racing on a pro team and being able to see what its like being a professional cyclist.

 Image

 Near the end of the week of racing, I was suffering from an Abscess in my wisdom teeth causing a lot of pain and sleepless nights. No amount of pain relief was helping and when it came to the final stage, I knew the infection was taking its toll when I didn’t even have the strength to push myself, I knew I had to do the feared and pull out from the race. This wasn’t an easy decision but I had to do what was best for my health.

 

A few days later back in Colorado Springs I went into surgery and had my wisdom teeth removed. This was a risk as it was less than a week before I started racing in the Tour de la releve Internationale de Rimouski in Canada. But it was a risk I was wiling to take if it was going to stop the excruciating pain I was in.  And sure enough despite being told I would be only able to eat liquids for a week, I was able to eat a proper meal that evening and was back into training the next day. The receptionists at the dentist thought I was crazy arriving for my surgery after a 3 hour early morning training ride with no food or drink in my stomach and then turning up the following day after the surgery in my lyrca halfway through a ride.

 

After focusing on recovery for a few days it was time to head back to Canada to join the rest of the Giordana Pinarello team for six days of action packed stage racing.

 

I found out the day that I was leaving that I had been selected to represent New Zealand at the Junior Road World Championships in Florence, Italy. This news brought a whole new level of excitement and emotions; I don’t think I have ever had so many happy tears at 4.30am in the morning! It was a perfect way to start of the next week of racing!

 

The racing kicked off with a separate UCI Junior road race and then was followed by the tour de la releve de internationle de Rimouski. Being part of team Giordana/Pinarello was an experience that I’ll never forget. I would like to thank all the sponsors and our team manager, Andrew for making it all possible! I was happy to finally find some race form and take away seven medals to end a highly successful week for Team Giordana/Pinarello!

 Image

 

My Results:

 UCI road race: 6th

Team Time Trial Prologue: 2nd

Stage One: 2nd

Stage two: 2nd

Stage three: 6th

Stage four: 2nd

Stage five: 2nd

Over all General Classification: 2nd

Sprint Points: 2nd

KOM jersey: 3rd

 Image

ImageAfter the Tour, it was back to Colorado Springs for my last block of Altitude training before heading back home to New Zealand to prepare for Junior Worlds. I climbed the famous mountain ”Pikes Peak”. A 5-hour return trip which has an elevation of 14,200ft. It was a 35km steep climb right up to the top. The other tourists thought I was crazy and wanted pictures with me at the summit!

 

 

A few days later and I was not so lucky enough to get up close and personal with Americas wildlife. Coming down a fast decent a Raccoon came running out from the side of the road and straight into my front wheel, causing me to flip right over my handlebars and go sliding on my face along the road. After a day in the hospital and a trip in the ambulance, I was lucky enough to escape with only a deep cut above my eyebrow needing gluing, concussion and a whole lot of road rash! The sympathy vote ends as soon as the word Raccoon is mentioned, at least I can laugh about it now too!  

 

Despite the highs and lows, my trip to America/Canada has been one I’ll never forget. I come away from this trip with a whole new set of life skills and some great racing experiences to further my cycling career.  A HUGE thank you goes to Jeff and Jo Kiesanowski for all their help, guidance and hospitality. With out you both, this trip would have not been possible, I really appreciate it.  Also another big thank you to everyone who I have met along the way making my experience enjoyable and all giving me all the opportunities that I have had. But for now its time to fly back to NZ and spend a few weeks training hard for the Junior Road World Championships in September in Florence, Italy! I can’t wait to race for that rainbow jersey.

 

Image

 It seemed that leaving the wintery single didget temperatures and rain behind in Christchurch to welcome the high 30’s would make training even better because hot weather makes everything easier, right? This was not the case! 

As soon as altitude training  (more like suffering from the lack of oxygen) is added to those 40 plus degree-days, it does not make riding the bike the easiest of tasks. Luckily I had Jo show me some pretty awesome rides. I soon discovered that Colorado Springs isn’t at all flat… 

 Image

 Image      Two days in and I found myself training with Sarah Hammer.

Image An 11km climb up Crystal Mountain, 2500m high!

 

Image

Us Kiwis needed to be near water, so the first purchase from Target was a $30 inflatable pool plus a $3 Turtle to accompany the back yard.

 

The first test came on Saturday where there was a fast paced bunch ride/race around the outskirts of Colorado Springs. Going into this ride, I was not expecting to even hold on to the bunch but as the sprint came up I found myself taking 4th place behind some men. The next day was an even harder bunch race around the hills of the air force base. This had me struggling for oxygen and the reality of the altitude kicked in, it was not easy.  I was still happy with my efforts as I had only been at altitude for 5 days, and I was starting to see some improvements.

Image 

Day trip to Denver, Water World! 

 

Image  First Cactus plant I have ever seen, which seemed to be in the middle of nowhere!

 

Image

 Exploring in the mountains!

Today, I climbed the Manitou Incline hike with the Cole Family, definitely an experience I will never forget. 1mile straight up a never ending steep staircase and then 4 miles down the mountain through switchbacks.

Image

Image

Image

So all in all, I have been loving Colorado Springs and the riding here is nothing I have ever trained in before!  I definitely love America!

 

In the next few weeks…

I fly to Vancouver, Canada on the 3rd July for a week of action packed racing in BC Super week from the 5th to 11th. This will be my first international experience racing in the pro women’s category. I know it wont be easy racing, that’s for sure!

 

The races that are included are:

– Tour De Delta (5th-7th) three timed events including, two criteriums and a road race to finish.

-UBC grand prix on the 9th.

-Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix on the 10th

-Giro di Burnaby on the 11th, a 1.3km fast loop around the streets.

 

After BC Super week, I will travel to Bend, Oregon where I will race The Cascade Classic Tour. As of yesterday, I found out that I will be riding for Colavita/Fine Cooking Women’s Pro Cycling team! This is an amazing opportunity for me and I am so excited to be on their team as a guest rider for this tour!

 

After Cascade, I will fly back to Colorado Springs for a week before heading back to Canada to race the Grand Prix cycliste de Rimouski on the 31st July, which is a UCI 1.1 sanctioned event for junior women. The Tour de la Relieve starts the following day and is based in Rimouski as well. This tour is a junior U19 tour that attracts teams from all over the world.  It is a chance to race other international U19 women, which will mean hard and fast racing!  I will be riding for an U19 Canada based team for both events.

 

Thats all for now, I will keep you all updated on my journey!Image

 

I thought I would start a blog to keep you all updated wherever you are in the world, on my first big international cycling trip to America.  And what it took to get here.

Being only 17 years old, this was a big ask. Turning a dream into reality is no easy task, and I was only going to find out how much work and dedication was required once I had done it.  My dream of racing in America as a second year u19 started months ago and that initial dream grew quickly as I began to brainstorm ways I could make it come true.  And as I got closer to this dream, no matter how much others or myself doubted it wasn’t financially possible, the harder I worked to make it possible.

One idea to raise funds was with my friend Cassie we decided to ride non-stop for 20hours or in my case, for as long as I Physically could and get sponsored per hour. That quickly turned into reality and before we knew it, it was the middle of the night and we were riding in the middle of nowhere with only a visibility of 3meters ahead and complete darkness behind us in the cold autumn night. This would have to be the most mentally challenging and the most physically draining thing I have ever had to do.  I managed to ride all through the night until dawn before hitting the wall in Sumner. Cassie kept soldiering on and managed to complete 24 hours! I would like to thank all the generous people who helped Cassie and myself to fund our trips to the USA. We really appreciated it!

Image

Hydration at the ready for our massive ride ahead

So in the weeks leading up to my big adventure I had to balance hard work and even harder training. I worked two jobs. When I wasn’t at the supermarket in Christchurch scanning groceries, I was 45minutes drive from the city at Dads lifestyle block where he has his own airfield and an aircraft hanger where his business, Campbell Aero Classics specialize in building aircrafts and selling his original war bird leather flying helmets. After I had done my early morning training I traded in my Lycra for a pair of baggy overalls where I was scrubbing the paint off aeroplanes with thinners, wearing a mask to help with the heavy fumes. I vigorously sanded down wings and small aeroplane parts for hours on end covering myself in dust. I filled 1000’s of rivet holes all over the planes with a grit-like paste that somehow managed to even get in my mouth.  Some days I became an avionics technician in the office and assembled the avionics systems in the helmets. After weeks of working my way up, I began helping Dad do some spray painting on the Aircrafts. This was new and exciting but I quickly worked out that the paint doesn’t wash off my hands very easily!

Image
                         All layered up spray painting in the winter air
Image
                                                  Action Shot
 I got into a routine and soon saw the bank account growing which was relieving. I realised that there is more cost to an overseas trip than just the flights! There is insurance, visas, accommodation, race entry fees, food, internal flights and the list goes on! I managed to pay for all the initial trip costs myself and have saved enough money to live off while I am away. All in about two months of working.

So here I am, writing this in Dallas international airport, Texas.  Waiting for my domestic flight to into Colorado Springs, which has been delayed 3 times and is now 3 hours late due to Tornado’s and lightning storms! I will spend the next 2 weeks living with Kiwi Olympian and very successful cyclist, Joanne Kiesanowski training and doing local racing. I then plan to fly to Vancouver, Canada and race in the BC Superweek consisting of many one-day races and tours in and around Vancouver. I will then travel back to Bend, Oregon for the Cascade Cycling Classic Tour. As for the rest of my trip, I have yet to confirm where I will go and what races I will be doing.

Image

My first experience in a 2 hour long customs line

This experience has already taught me the value of hard earned money and shown me that there are a lot of people out there who are supporting me while I endeavour to follow my dreams. I would like to thank all my family for all their love and guidance especially my mum and dad who have both supported me from the start. My Coach Hamish Ferguson who has shown me that anything is possible. And Andrew and his team at The Hub cycles for all their help and always having my bike race ready.

But for now its time to leave winter behind and explore Colorado Springs and experience training at Altitude (6,008ft), which I know is not going to be easy.

Keep an eye out for my future blogs as I follow my dreams in America.

Maddi Campbell