Sarah Storey's blog

 

With the World Cup coming to a successful end, Barney and I had some extra time planned down under to make sure we didn’t meet ourselves coming backwards after only 4 nights on the ground!

 

First stop was an engagement party for one of the former Aussie tandem pilots and Barney’s rival. Shaun Hopkins, nicknamed Hoppy, was having his engagement “barbie” west of the city and we were kindly invited and thanks to Aussie cyclist Jayme Paris and her family who ferried us around, we were able to enjoy a whole day of sunshine and banter with Hoppy and his family. It’s one of the great things about sport, friends in all corners of the world and the chance to put the worlds to rights off the competition trail. The biggest joke of the day was how much everyone at the party enjoyed finally meeting Barney, after hearing so much about him from Hoppy! Barney and Hoppy go back a pretty long way in terms of tandem racing and their racing record stands at something like 9-0 to Barney! Needless to say it was a fun day and we thoroughly enjoyed making new friends and taking the mickey out of old ones!

 

Sarah Storey competing in the TT at the Sydney Paralympic World cup

 

Next morning we left Olympic Park to head out to the coast south of Sydney and the beautiful town of Cronulla. The place has so many beaches and a long stretch of coastline with a high street of shops, bars, restaurants and plenty of great places for coffee and ice cream! It sounds like a bit of a holiday place, but we had our bikes in tow and were ready to head out each morning to keep the miles ticking over.

 

With Bundeena and the Royal National Park across the water to the south of where we were staying, we were able to cycle round to the park, do a few k’s in the beautiful rainforest and undulating terrain on the quieter roads. It was an ideal spot and with Bundeena itself hosting a few lovely café’s there was always time for a coffee before jumping on the ferry back across the water to our B+B.

One of the Aussie National coaches is based close to where we stayed and under his expert guidance we enjoyed the local restaurants and took a few trips into the city. Barney has a cousin living and working in Sydney, so we were spoiled with another BBQ at their place before our final evening on Darling Harbour and a stunning harbour-side fish restaurant.

 

I’ve spent some time in Sydney as a backpacker, but had always been travelling by myself and trying to survive on a budget of $20 a day for food! So this time it was nice to see the city with company and spend some time eating at tables with a view, rather than in the basement kitchen of a city centre youth hostel!

 

On another afternoon I jumped on a train to meet up for coffee with a friend, Shona, who has lived and worked in Sydney for almost 5 years. It’s a complicated but fantastic story how I know Shona, so to cut a long story short; we were introduced by a mutual friend, Katie, some 16 years ago.  Katie still lives in the UK and Katie’s parents sit with us at the footy every week. It was fab to reminisce about the old times and catch up on the latest gossip! We’d been sat in the latest shopping mall to spring up in Sydney, so after saying our goodbyes, I went for a little wander. The one thing that has changed a lot since my days as a backpacker in Australia, is how expensive it now is, thanks to the shocking exchange rate! I went into a few surf shops, but unlike previous trips where I’d be buying up the bargains, everything seemed extortionate and I left empty handed. Oh well there is a first time for everything!

 

SarahStorey competing in the road race at the Sydney Paralympic World cup 

 

Having an extra week after the racing finished sounded like plenty of time, but it really did fly by and the final training ride came all too soon. I don’t think I could have chosen a better location for my adaptation week from the previous block of hard racing and training! Whilst an adaptation week is very much about giving the body a chance to regroup and recover, this particular week was also about adapting to a new piece of equipment I’d been given for my road bike just a day before packing it up to travel.

 

Many people will be familiar with the specially adapted handlebars I have for the track pursuit bike and road time trial bike, but the one thing I haven’t had yet is something on the drop of the road bike handlebars to allow me to get out of the saddle whilst sprinting or attacking. My normal use of the bars, up until now, has been to use the drops with my right hand, but then leave my left hand on the brake hoods. On the left brake hood, I have a pedal toe strap into which I slide my left hand to help prevent it from sliding or bouncing off on rough ground or potholes. It’s been a pretty effective use of the bars, but this new attachment allows me a much lower and more aggressive body position over the front of the bike and as the World Cup Road Race showed, gives me an extra dimension for making an attack, or possibly sprinting to the finish.

 

It’s a simple adaptation and allows me to slide my left hand into the loop which is attached to the left hand drop of the handlebar. Once locked into the bar I can get out of the saddle, pull on the bar and generate more power than I could with the left hand just resting on the hood. Using it for the first time at the Sydney World Cup and successfully attacking the group to win in a solo break gave me the added confidence I needed and so during the rest of the time in Australia I did some additional testing and practice with it. Descending is more secure, taking my right hand off the bars to eat and drink is more secure [although I still have to do it when I know I’m not going to need to brake!] and being lower on the front certainly feels more aerodynamic!

 

I’m now sat on the plane heading towards Singapore [it’s the leg from Singapore I need to sleep on!] and I’m ready and raring to get on with the next block of racing, especially as I have some Crits to do which will be a great test of the new bar. We return home with 7 days to train before National 10 mile Time Trial Championships and then there is a series of 10 mile, 25 mile, Team Time Trial events before the Johnson’s Health Tech Tour Series races and the next big block of endurance training.

 

It’s a busy time of course, that’s the best bit about the road racing season!

 

Sarah x

 

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