Southland Times cycling writer Scott Donaldson talks to 26-year-old Southland cyclist Kirstie James before the 2016 Oceania Track Cycling Championships starting on Thursday in Invercargill.
Which events will you be involved in?
I am competing in the team pursuit, scratch race, points race and the individual pursuit.
How long have you been riding?
This November 2015 I will have been riding for three years. Prior to that I was an elite rower.
What are your best career results so far?
So far my best result was eighth place in the Cali Track Cycling World Cup in Colombia in January this year. That was also my first ride for the New Zealand Elite team.
How have you gone in recent events in the lead up to the Oceania Championships?
So far this winter has consisted of racing in Belgium for a road cycling team called Autoglas Wetteren. I was based in Aalst, and raced in Belgium and the Netherlands. I made some good improvements on last year and my best result was seventh place. Following that I flew to the USA where I met up with my Kiwi Track team mates in Trexlertown, Pennsylvania. This was a very successful campaign for all of us as we were able to train and race together at the World Series of bicycling. My best result there was third in the omnium and first in one of the scratch races. James also finished third at the national omnium championship last month.
What are you hoping to achieve from the Oceania Championships?
Our goal as the New Zealand team is to win the team pursuit. This will help us gain qualifying points for the World Cup and World Championship season that lies ahead. Personally, I would also like to improve my time to my personal best in the 3km individual pursuit and additionally I would like to do well in the scratch and points races.
How do you prepare for such an event?
Since arriving home on August 5, we have been training together as a squad both on the road and on the track, aiming to improve our endurance, strength and power. We do this with a variety of sessions, including some gym work and some training on the ergs and rollers. Currently we are doing more team sessions on the track, focusing on working well as a team, pace judgement and a few more technically focused aspects. Upon arrival in Invercargill, we will try to complete the finishing touches to the team pursuit and get ready for race day.
What are your aims over the next year and how will the Oceania Championships fit into this?
Oceania champs is really the start of the international season and the start of our points accumulation that will help the New Zealand team to qualify for the World Cup, World Championships and the Olympic Games. My personal aim is to ride my best with our team and to do my job as best as I can. We hope to improve as a team together and get some results that will ensure selection for the upcoming international events. Personally as well, I aim to continually become a better bike rider by improving my skills and tactics in bunch events and improve my times in the timed events.
Have you raced in the Oceania Championships before and how did you go?
Yes this will be my third time racing at the Oceania Champs. I raced in Invercargill in 2013 at my first international cycling event. Then I raced last year in Adelaide and was glad to improve on all of the timed events. My best results were within the omnium of third in the flying lap, fourth in the pursuits and eighth overall in the omnium.
What are you looking forward to the most about the Oceania Championships?
I am really looking forward to racing in the new team pursuit combination. We have been doing a lot of team training and I really look forward to how it will all come together against the competition. I am also really looking forward to returning to Invercargill where I started cycling. The cycling community there taught me everything from scratch and I really have a lot of gratitude for the people of Southland.
Where are you usually based?
I was born in Auckland before moving to the Waikato, followed by Dunedin then Invercargill, and now I live in Cambridge.
What will it be like for you to ride in Southland?
I am really looking forward to riding at the SIT Velodrome again because this is where cycling began for me. A lot of people who are there have really helped me accelerate my career when I transitioned from rowing to cycling a few years ago.
Article courtesy The Southland Times