Well, here I am back in Invercargill, after a really phenomenal Oceania campaign, and I have to say it is good to be home! We do it well down here team.
Thanks for all the feedback on the reports. I got a few hurry-ups on getting this final one completed (apologies for the delay!), so here it is!
There is quite a bit to catch up really, and I am struggling to know where to start, but here goes ...
Our 6th day over there (the 4th day of racing) was certainly full of action and drama. The morning session started off with the Elite Women Sprint Qualifying and with Tarsh and Stephie qualifying right up there in 3rd and 4th respectively behind two of Aussies finest.
Next up were the U19 & Elite Men Keirin heats, with the U19s lining up first. Nick was ready to go and feeling good, even after a full on three days of racing. With the bell sounding for the last lap, the pace was on ... Nick was making a move around the outside following a good quick wheel, before the riders in front of him got tangled together, came crashing down and poor Nick was left with no-where to go. Aaarrrgggg! He came catapulting off his bike and landed very heavily. However, he was straight up again ... Much to our relief. It turns out the standing up bit was just adrenaline and bravery ... because by the time Cathy and I had run across the track centre to meet him coming off the track, he promptly sat down, lay down and stayed down!
Although he had track burn all over him and a torn up skin-suit, it was soon apparent that the worst injury was his shoulder. Although he was being exceptionally brave, he was in a lot of pain enough to make him sick. The medics did a great job taking care of him, and an extra special thanks goes out to Mark (Princess) Matthews, from BikeNZ, for taking control of the situation, assessing the injury and helping look after Nick. Much appreciated!
It soon became clear that our Nick was going to need an ambulance ride to the hospital. It was decided that I would accompany him, which would leave Cathy in charge of the other six Southland riders who were all competing in the session. This was obviously a fairly big job (especially given that the three Southland sprinters were all in the same Keirin Repecharge!). And this is a good place to interrupt the story to say some thank yous to some very special people who helped us out during the week, and also came to our rescue during our emergency. We cannot thank enough Stu MacDonald. The reality is, Cathy and I would have really struggled on our own if it hadn't been for Stu. Thank you Stuey (let's get married!).
Also a big thank you to Ross Machejefski, who was incredibly busy with all the NZ Juniors, but still found time to help us out ... much appreciated Rossco! Huge thank you also to Chris O'Connor, Dale Hollows and Ben Rowell - the BikeNZ Mechanics. Rockstars! Also to Mark Matthews, who is simply a fantastic and very helpful guy. Cheers Princess!
We should also thank Cycling South Australia, for lending us rollers and trainers, which saved us lots of excess luggage, and of course, for running the event!
Also, this a good time to publically pass on all the many, many thank yous and positive comments I received from people for the coverage that Cycling Southland gave of the event, as well as the awesome job Cycling Southland does in the event arena. The coverage part of it was a result of Nick Jeffrey our leader - scouring the internet for information, or from my text messages with results (cringing already about my phone bill!), from which he then conjured up all manner of fantastic articles and updates to keep everyone in the loop. It is a good example of what an exceptionally talented and supportive guy we have leading us all here at Cycling Southland. The event part of it is due to the absolutely top notch crew of volunteers and staff we have here in Southland. Yes, that is all of you! I honestly received so much feedback about what a great job we do, that I can't really do it justice in this paragraph, but I hope you all know how appreciated you are in helping us run this club and all our events.
Anyway, back to the racing. From this point on, I didn't see the rest of the enormous afternoon session as I was away at the hospital with Nick, but I know everyone was kept in the loop with results (thanks Stu for keeping Nick informed!) and by all accounts, the sprinters rode really well in a very classy Keirin field, again gaining important experience and getting in some top notch racing, with Stephie also through to the Sprint Semis and the Omnium boys making their way through their Individual Pursuits before the last of the Omnium events night.
Back at the hospital, x-rays confirmed poor Nick's collarbone was broken. From here, we had to figure out the next steps and get on top of the pain. But after a few hours, a very brave Nick was settled and we were ready to go. Cathy and the Sprint Boys came directly from the end of the session to pick us up from the hospital, and we had a quick stop at the accommodation to get Nick's skinsuit off with a pair of scissors, and for the smelly sprinters to have a shower (ha ha), and then we were back to the track, just in time for Brad's Omnium Scratch Race.
Again, I am sure everyone is up to date with the results of the final session so I won't go into detail, but it is definitely worth mentioning that the Men's Omnium finished off with two Southlander's on the Men's Podium, in Piet and Cam who showed some outstanding form, and also Sequoia securing the bronze medal in the Women's Omnium. A tired Sequoia then backed it up with the Elite Women's Points Race gallantly helping her NZ team mates to 2nd and 3rd, with Aimee also lining up for her last race of a successful championships.
Stephie ended up 4th in the Elite Women's sprint taking triple Junior World Champion Tayla Jenning to three rides, with Tarsh taking out the 5th-8th final, Laura Heywood taking a brilliant silver medal in the U19 Women's Points Race thanks to a fantastic team effort by the NZ girls, and Jeremy Presbury an awesome silver in the U19 Keirin. To cap it all off, Piet and Cam then rode the Madison, Piet with Dylan Kennett and Cam with Brad Evans (to secure 4th), which was a very exciting finale to the Championships.
By the time the racing was finished it was late, and after getting home, getting Nick showered (we let Stu help with that one!) and propped up in a semi-comfortable position in bed, it was 1am and we were exhausted! The next morning we trekked back to the Superdrome to pack up our gear, got most of the big stuff boxed up, then headed for a bit of a look around Adelaide! What a treat! We ended up at Glenelg Beach, and it was awesome to relax in the sun, have a nice lunch and enjoy some time outside! It was also about 15 degrees cooler than it was for most of the days we were racing, which made for a pleasant 20 - 25 degrees. A really fun day for a tired out team.
The next day was travel day, with Doddzy (who was off on an adventure to Tazmania), Cathy, Brad and Steph leaving earlier, it meant there were only five of us left. The trip home was a long one, and we arrived in Christchurch at 4.45am having had no sleep, and it was a weary Southland five who arrived back to Invercargill to a very enthusiastic welcome home!
Cathy and I would like thank all the Members of the Southland Team - an awesome crew to take away, and we had lots of fun and laughter, along with some fantastic racing (and plenty of bravery!). You did Southland proud and we were proud to be affiliated with you!
Finally, on behalf of the team, I would like to extend a huge thank you to all those who helped us to get to Adelaide, primarily Cycling Southland, Cycle Surgery and Miriam from Mocha Rocka Coffee. Not to mention the partners, parents and family, and all Cycling Southland members for their awesome support. THANK YOU ALL!
Now, let's bring on Southland Champs in the weekend!