What have been your sporting highlights this year so far?
Regaining the NZ National Cyclocross Champion title was a great feeling. I won the event back in 2012 then had to sit it out the following year while I was concentrating on endurance racing. It was fun to be able to mix up the two this year. March seems like a long time ago but the feeling of smashing it down the gorge on my way to setting a new Karapoti course record still crosses my mind while I'm out training. Karapoti will always hold a very special place in the calendar for me!
What have been your biggest challenges in the past 6 months? How have you dealt with those?
Trying to balance full-time work with training is always a bit of a challenge but I think it teaches me good self discipline, makes me appreciate the time I have available and prevents me from overdoing it in just one area of my life. More recently, I had some uncertainty to deal with surrounding some niggling hip symptoms I have been persevering with for a few months. It's all turned out well in the end but it taught me the importance of talking to people who can help you figure things out rather than hoping it will just go away if you keep pushing through it. It's also given me a whole new appreciation of the benefit of having sponsors who really work with you - I'm lucky to be able to say that I have that sort of relationship with all the people who sponsor me but sometimes you don't quite realise the degree it extends to. It's been a good reminder that there's a heap of people behind me who enjoy being part of this whole journey too.
Do you have any goals for 2014 which you still want to achieve, and what are they?
I have a habit of setting myself three major goals a year and now there's just one left to tick off for 2014. In two weeks time, I'll be lining up for the World 24 Hour Solo Championships in the Scottish Highlands. I grabbed the silver medal at last year's event in Canberra and I'm fired up to go one better this year. My silver medal winning ride consisted of 386 kilometres and 8,000 metres of climbing off road so you've gotta be prepared for a big day on the bike.
What events do you have coming up in 2015, and what are your goals for each of those?
I'm mixing things up a bit next year and moving back to endurance rather than ultra-endurance racing. I'm really excited about some of the challenges ahead of me in cross-country and marathon racing. I'll also throw some road and cyclocross racing in, no doubt! One of my major goals for 2015 will be the World Mountain Bike Marathon Championships in Italy, which will be held on an 84 kilometre course with 4,000m of climbing over three big alpine passes. I'll also want to give my Karapoti PB a nudge again. I've ridden every Karapoti faster than my last since 2011 but it's getting harder and harder to take chunks of time off!
Who is your sporting idol, and why?There are a number of incredible female cyclists who I admire. I have a particular soft spot for people who take a less traditional route into racing and succeed. It was fantastic watching former Wall Street investment banker, Evelyn Stevens, kicking ass at the World Road Championships this weekend. On the dirt, the LUNA Pro team are an incredible women's team who balance their own elite sporting goals with a strong ambassadorial role in our sport. Racing with Catharine Pendrel in Canada then watching her win the World Mountain Bike XC Championships two months later is certainly one of my biggest highlights of 2014. Who or what has been the most influence on your sporting career so far, and in what ways have they influenced you? Absolutely and without doubt, my coach. I was a handy junior a really long time ago and struggled to transition to elite racing. It took me moving to New Zealand to really start again from scratch. It certainly wasn't planned and, when I move here five years ago, I would have never expected to be racing the way I am now. A chance meeting has turned into a successful partnership and by working consistently together and taking lots of small steps we have achieved far more than I would have ever set out to. I'm looking forward to the next few years - it seems anything is possible and I'm hugely grateful for having another chance at a sport I love. How do you deal with those days when you just don’t feel like training, or if an event hasn't gone as well as planned? Chocolate is the answer. Seriously, we all have tough days. I think working towards goals and imagining all the hard effort paying off really helps keep me going. Pancakes the day morning after a tough day's training also help - it's important to reward yourself too! And on those rare occasions when I really, really, really don't feel like doing something, I know I can count on my partner to help me get on the bike and do what I need to do.