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Maccie’s year abroad


Maccie Carter has been coached by Kelly Cycle Coaching since Maccie was 15 years old.  He came to KCC as a raw inexperienced cyclist, keen to “make it further” in cycling.

After 3 years of learning how to train, Maccie started to apply race tactics and skills and experimented with learning how to race, with some success.  He was a late developer, so he was smaller than his peers and with less strength until he reached U23’s.  This meant that as a junior, he had to rely on holding a wheel and maintaining good bunch position, rather than muscling his way to the front by facing the wind.

We find that junior cyclists who are late developers have a greater sense of tenacity and determination. They have learnt to fight to hold a wheel, and they have experienced getting “dropped by the bunch” many times until their bodies mature. They have experienced many failures which ultimately teaches them how to succeed, in cycling and in life.


Year 11 was a big year for Maccie.  He finished 3rd in the Oceania Road Championships, attacked and won the State Road Championships solo, and was selected to represent Australia at the U19 UCI Road World Championships.  These achievements fired up his desire to go further in cycling, and the plan was hatched to apply for teams and try to race in Europe in 2018, after finishing high school.


Maccie finished his Year 12 exams in November 2017 and frantically started to get fit as news came in that he had been accepted to join a french team for the coming year.  So Maccie took a gap year from his university course and headed to France, two days after the National Road Championships, where he had spent 90kms off the front in a break of 3, before heat and fatigue caught up with him. This was a monumental leap for any young cyclist, fresh out of high school.

Maccie has now returned from his year abroad and we caught up with Maccie to ask him what living abroad was like.

1)      Firstly, congratulations on your European season abroad.  What was the name of the team you signed with and where was the team based?

Thank you Helen!! VCP Loudeac, they’re a french amateur team. 


2)      How many team mates did you have and were they mostly your age?

From memory there were about 15 or 16 of us and about 9 or 10 of us were U23s, so majority of them were around my age.


3)      When did you arrive in France to start your season?

I arrived at the start of January 2018 and into the harsh reality of a European winter, which was pretty rough to start off. But after a few weeks i was coping reasonably well.  


4)      What brand of bike did your team ride?

We were on Orbea


5)      Were you living with a French family between race events? And speaking of living arrangements, did your host speak any English?  Or communicate completely in French? 

Yeah so after each race i would go back and live with a french lady. Once i arrived i realized what i had gotten myself into, but i was chasing a dream so if i could train well and had a bed to sleep in i was happy! I was living with my DS’ mother, which was very lonely at times but she was very welcoming and kind and made my transition into life in France much easier. There was no English spoken, so I got very good at French very quickly. 

6)      How would you rate your French now compared to your high school French when you first arrived in France?

You can’t compare the two. Because in France you learn more conversational French than here. But is remarkably better there is no question about that. 


7)      Can you think of a funny misunderstanding when someone said something to you in French and you misinterpreted it.  (When I lived in France I accidently said I had eaten the horses, instead of saying I had given food to the horses).

Yeah when i first arrived i said “my key is in the garden?” instead of “I keep my key?”, which was quite funny. I realized as soon as I said it, so I was very quick to correct myself! 

8)      Did your DS do the team meetings in French or English? 

All team meetings were done in French, which took a while to get my head around, but by about  May i could understand about 80%. I was also very thankful that one of my teammates is fluent in English which i am forever grateful for!

9)      Was it difficult in the first few months to understand what was going on in team meetings?

Yeah it was but my DS and few teammates could speak enough English to get the message across, which im very grateful for!


10)   And did your team mates speak to you in French or English?

It was a bit of both, about 5-6 of my teammates could speak a little English, but by the time i had got the hang of it. We would communicate in French which was easier for them and made me think and i could master the language which i thoroughly enjoyed!

11)   So what was your first race in France and was it like anything you have experienced so far?  I recall you telling me it was more difficult than the U19 UCI World Champs in Duho!!

My first race in France, whats like nothing i had experienced before it was next level crazy. There was no neutral zone and it was full noise and there were never cruisy moments. It was junior worlds with way more intensity and just full gas the whole time. 

12)   How would you describe the aggressiveness of French racing?  Is it at all similar to our Australian racing?

Racing in France is like everyone is robots and can keep riding for 4 hours at 100%. The racing style was very aggressive, but the attitude in the bunch was gentlemen-like which was a surprise. 


13)   They say that racing your bike is the easy part of living abroad and all the off the bike stuff takes time to adjust to.  Would you agree with this?  What were some of the harder things to adjust to during the season?

I would agree with that 100%. Riding your bike getting out there and exploring new roads is the easiest part. Within 3 weeks i had 3 bike changes which wasn’t ideal but something I had to cope with. The hardest thing by far was always being isolated, not having friends around and going into town to make friends was extremely difficult due to the annoying and frustrating language barrier, the culture and adjusting to new life are also aspects that i really struggled with. 

14)   What were some of the fun aspects about this season?

The racing was just insane. Everytime i raced i got an extremely addictive buzz, something that i had never experienced before and finally getting the chance to race in Europe with a european team was a huge lifetime goal for me. I also did quite a bit of travel which was also amazing and I made some life-long friends. 

15)   With such a busy race calendar did your training need to alter to allow enough recovery between races, before starting the next block of training?  Did this take some time to adjust to?

Yeah, as soon as i got there i was shocked at how much they raced. In Aus, i would normally do a 6-8week build for a race and in europe you race every week so you recover during the week and then you have to go again. Also because the intensity of the racing is insane your recovery is extra important! It took me about 2-3 months to fully adjust to the intensity of the racing and the frequency of it. 

16)   Being in Europe means visiting many countries to train and race.  What different countries did you visit this season? 

We had a race in Belgium and Italy. But i went down to Girona for 2 weeks to check it out, which was rad. I also went to italy 2 weeks before Giro Valle D’Aosta which was amazing!

17)   What was your favourite race this season and why?

My favourite race was Circuit Mene, which is a very big espoir (u23) race in Bretagne which i enjoyed a lot because it suited me to a T. Classic Bretagne conditions, windy, wet and freezing cold which i loved!

18)   Where was your favourite training area this season and why?

Lake Como, was just amazing. Ripper views, good company and even better made preparing for races a lot easier!


19)   Were there other aussie’s living abroad that you connected with this season?

There were other aussie in Europe at the time, but i was living in the north and they were all in south and with my racing calendar changing every hour, it made it hard to catch up, but that is life as an elite athlete. 

20)   A little birdie told me that you’ve become quite the chef and frequently whip up one of Donna Hay’s recipes! Do you enjoy cooking? What are a few of your favourite savoury dishes you like to cook? 

Haha, I have enjoyed cooking since i was a little kid. Just gives me something to do and switch off from cycling. I really enjoy a eggplant parmigiana and a prawn chili pasta, but sweets are my go to!

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21)   Was there a favourite French pastry or treat that you enjoyed in France that we don’t have in Australia?  Do you prefer our Australian cuisine or you quite like French food? 

All of the French pastries are positively evil, but i did love the odd tarte aux frambroise. But then again you can’t go past an Aussie muff. I love the aussie cuisine, but the French cuisine is pretty hard to miss. 

Maccie Cooking a dessert

22)   So how was driving on the other side of the road?  Did you adjust to this easily or did you have a few scary moments?

It was funny to start off. When i first arrived Steve (my DS) essentially said “maccie the team will give you a car for the year”, my gut reaction was “shit not sure that this is a good decision” and it turns out my gut reaction was correct. So we went to the garage out the back of the service and there was ‘my car’ a 1998 peugeot SW. Long story short i jumped in the car (it was a manual and i had never driven a manual before), i got the car going in the garage and we are heading straight for this pole and we weren’t stopping, realizing i was pushing the clutch instead of of the brake we stopped half a meter before this pole. 


So this peugeot was no longer ‘my car’. A month later i sorted out a long term rental car and I had no issue with driving on the otherside of the road, which made life easier. 

23)   How important is the support structure of a rider living abroad?  And did you feel you had a good support structure around you to help you get through your first season? 

The support structure is everything. I had a very good support structure around, i defiantly felt like i was being supported and was always motivated so it helped a lot. In a sport like cycling living conditions and support structure is rarely perfect and if it is it all depends on the individual as well. 

24)   What would your advice be to someone who is about to embark on the same journey you took this year?  What could make a rider feel more adequately prepared?

Just to go over and enjoy living in a different culture and immersing yourself in that, and not really caring too much about the bike. Just to go with flow and expect the unexpected because your normal routine and what you normally in Aus will be completely different in Europe. Also don’t go over with huge expectations as living in another country where you don’t have much idea about what’s going on is harder than you realize. 

25)   On reflection of your first season abroad, do you feel changed by the experience?  Grown in maturity and independence? 

I am definitely a changed man now. I think i have grown in both but i also appreciate the sport much more now, because when i was at school i was a bit delusional and didn’t realise how challenging it is and how hard living abroad is. I also appreciate where i live and the crazy amount of support that i got to pursue a dream of mine. 

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26)   They say pursuing your dream is a bitter/sweet experience! Has your first year abroad, helped you understand there are sacrifices involved in pursuing your dream?  What things did you miss the most during your season away?

Yeah 100%, the sacrifices i made to go to junior worlds two years ago were big. But moving to France this year the sacrifices were huge, but when you have an experience like this and your dream comes true at the end of the day it is all worth it!  I mainly missed not having something else going on, whether that was uni, friends or another hobby so when i returned i made the most of that!

27)   Were there events or an experience this year that helped you understand the often bumpy road of racing full time?   

Yeah for sure. Mainly just the sacrifices that you make, and when you don’t fulfill your expectation or bad luck fell your way in a goal race you question whether if its worth it, to sacrifice this much and put your life on hold and move to Europe to pursue a childhood dream.  

28)   You’ve definitely had a big first season abroad, with many new experiences both on and off the bike.  You have coped with many new challenges: a new culture, a new language, different style of racing, a new team and the list goes on.  Are there any final thoughts or comments you would like to make about your season?

It sure was a season and a year i will never forget, and i am forever thankful and grateful to my support network both in Aus and in France. I couldn’t have achieved what i had if i didn’t have that behind me. 

29)   And finally, I hope you are enjoying your end of season break.  A chance to recharge your batteries, enjoy time with family and friends and perhaps whip up another Donna Hay delight.  Thanks for taking the time to talk to me today.

No worries

Airport Toyota

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Kelly Cycle Coaching is proudly sponsored by Airport Toyota.

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We wish to thank Pasquale Scaturchio for his support in our cycling team and coaching business.  We look forward to taking our Toyota vehicles to road races, mountain bike/CX events and other cycling challenge events throughout Victoria.

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Mike Edgar Hilux 3

Carter reflects on his U19 worlds experience


One of our Kelly Cycling athletes, Maccie Carter competed in the World U19 Road Championships in Doha in October, 2016.  We recently interviewed Maccie to ask him about selection process, how he prepared for this event, and what the experience was like.


How old were you when you decided to get coached by KCC and what level of cyclist were you?

I was 12 when I started cycling but didn’t start to take it very seriously until I was 15 which was when I started to be coached by KCC. I wasn’t very competitive either as a bottom age U17 rider, I was constantly getting dropped.


What were your aspirations when you started cycling?  

When I first started riding competitively my aspirations were to make to a high level in the sport, even though I didn’t think that was possible at the age of 14.

Finishing salute Maccie

Did you ever think you would represent Australia at U19 level?

Not really, but I always had it in the back of my mind, seeing a lot of my mentors represent the country at U19 level. I thought it could have been possible through a lot of hard training in the summer, but I didn’t really think about it too much.


So as an U17 rider, how strong were you relative to your peers at a State and National level?

In first U17s I couldn’t even compete against the top teir guys. By the time I hit second year I was a lot stronger so able to ride at the front at state championships and junior tours but couldn’t do that at a national level. At u17 nationals (2nd year) I was about in the top 25% in the country.


So about 12 months ago you made a goal to make the U19 worlds team.  When you set this goal, did you struggle at times to believe it would happen?

Not at all, I put my focus on the three selection races and to race well in each of them. I took them all race by race and they were my little goals within the big goal of making the team.  I didn’t find this season that hard and that I would struggle to make the team but there is always doubt.


What selection races were part of the worlds selection events?

The three races that were a part of making the national team were, Oceania’s Time trial and Road Race, Mersey Valley Tour and the National Time Trial and Road Race.


We decided to compete in the Oceania road race only.  This decision was largely based on the heat which was in the 40’s.  How did Oceania’s go for you? 

We made the call quite early in the piece as the TT was on a course that didn’t suit me and the heat would’ve made me tired from the following day, in my eyes I believe that we made the right choice. The heat on the day of the road race was insane, but it was expected. Oceania’s couldn’t have worked out any better for me as I didn’t really expect a whole lot.  I was very active throughout the day being in 3-4 man chase groups to bring back eventual winner James Fouche. I was pretty cooked by the time we hit the Mt Alexander climb so I didn’t expect a whole lot. I climbed well to stay in the main chase bunch with riders being dropped on the stretch after the climb to the finish mainly due to the heat factor but I thrived on it and so did my team mate Alastair Christie-Johnston. Then it was really all or nothing to the line to catch the lone leader (James).


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Mt Buffalo hill climbing champs were removed the from selection criteria but we decided to race it anyway to help build towards Nationals.  How did these events go?

National hill climb wasn’t great for me as I had no taper for it and coming off Oceania’s I had high expectations. But it was a good race to do to get some intensity and solid climbing in before Mersey Valley tour. Even though I was quite fatigued leading into the race I still placed 4th overall on GC


Next came Mersey Valley.  What happened there?

Mersey Valley was alright for me. It started off very well with a 7th in the ITT which I was very pleased about. Then came the first road stage, I was looking forward to this stage the most as it had the infamous Gunns Plains climb which suits me very well. With a very quick start to this stage with attacks up the first KOM only 10km in we knew were in for a hard with cross-winds and misty rain all throughout the day. As we were going down the descent leading to the bottom of the climb there were many crashes which just added more carnage to the day. As we hit the climb I was feeling amazing and ready to go with any moves, we were about 2km up the climb when the first attack went I immediately went with it and then when I tried a counter attack my back wheel slipped out from under me and I came to a complete stop which put me behind the two leaders (eventual winners) and in the main race bunch of 5.

Stage 3 had come around with storm warnings the night before it was sure to be another rough stage, with 1900m climbing on the cards with 3 times up Weegena rd (2.5k climb averaging 9%). As I got stuck on the inside when the winning break went 7km into a 109km stage as I was not going to try and spend the whole time bringing an 8-man break with Seb Berwick, it wasn’t to be my day finishing +4:05mins down on the winner. Overall the Mersey Valley was great racing. I had great form coming into the race I just had bad luck due to the shocking conditions.


And the final selection event was Nationals.  You chose to do the TT and road race.  How did you go?  Did you race aggressively in the road race?

The TT suited me very well as it was quite a punchy course with not many flat sections to sit on constant power, I ended up with fourth which I was very happy with. As road race course wasn’t as hard, myself and my team mate CJ went in with a radical plan, which was to light it up last time up the climb and win 1-2. I was aggressive from the 2nd lap attacking up the climb to string out the field. Being in multiple breaks during the race to make peoples legs sore was another tactic that we went in with. Coming around for the last lap CJ let go a stinging attack that only I could follow and we bridged to the lead two riders about 30 seconds up the road. The attacks I initiated early in the race took it out of me and I died about 3km to go as the field was closing in on our 4 man break. They caught us up the finishing hill with about 200m to go and i finished a very close 6th with CJ just missing out on the title.


So you get the “phone call”, that you’ve made the U19 team.  Describe how that moment felt.  

Very surreal, you have that goal for 12 or 18months and you know you have done everything to get there. But it’s such an emotional moment that I can’t really describe.


Winning the U19 State Champs before heading to the World Champs


Preparation for Worlds.  This was the hardest block of training you’ve ever done.  Was it tough both mentally and physically?  What kept you motivated during the days when your body was fatigued and you couldn’t find the power you wanted to?

It was so tough both physically and mentally, I was mentally fatigued from school and riding and I was just drained from going back to back everyday. I was kept motivated by the thought of showing people how competitive I can be in the world and and how much of an honor it is to represent your country. These are the things that kept me so motivated.


How many hours were you trying to do in these weeks?  

I was doing about 20 hours a week, which is a lot more than what I was doing leading into the selection races.

You headed to Perth for a final 2 week preparation camp with the other two riders, Harry and CJ.  Was this block also hard?    You did some heat adjustment training – did this help prepare you for Doha?

The training block in Perth was really heat simulation sessions and doing threshold tt efforts to simulate what the race would be like. This block very hard with double sessions most days with the heat chamber and with limited recovery days, we were well and truly cooked by the time we hopped on the plane to Doha. The heat chamber was a game changer, and this helped a lot for Doha as we knew what to expect when we arrived. We can all be very thankful for everybody’s work at WAIS to make this happen.


So landing in Doha must have felt like walking into an oven with a hair dryer in your face.  35-40C and just roasting hot.    How did you warm up for the TT and stay cool at the same time?  

The warm up for the TT was very well setup as there was a purpose built house with every nation having a room to warm up in, and inside the house it was about 24-25C. The soigneurs were putting my towels around our necks, ice down our skinsuits and giving us bottles of ice for us to keep our core temperature down which was very important in such a warm location.

How did you stay hydrated?

I was having a lot of water before, during and after warm up. I took a 500ml bottle for the TT and got about three big sips in which was great to keep your mouth wet.


The TT course had over 20 roundabouts and hair pin turns.  It was very twisty and hard to maintain any sort of rhythm.  How did you go in the TT?

I liked to the TT course a lot, it probably wasn’t a course that suited me but I felt that I could carry good speed through the roundabouts and it was relatively easy to kick out of them. I had a great rhythm in TT from the first roundabout, I finished 14th at the end of the day with an extended time in the hot seat. I was happy with my performance and gave it all my beans. I had nothing left at the finish.


Next came the road race.  Our most important advice was to get to the front and try to stay there.  Safer and less braking and accelerating.  How did you feel before the road race?  Nervous?  How did the first lap go?

I put a lot of pressure on myself before the road race as it was my last U19 race I’ll ever do and I wanted to go out with a bang. I was very nervous as Harry told us that it’s a crash-fest and very hard to get to the front early. We didn’t have a priority start, so we started close to the back of the 180+ rider field. The first lap went really well as me and my team-mate CJ moved up together and in the first 5km I was 6th wheel with the Slovenia-train riding the front at the time. After the first lap things settled down a bit but it was still very intense. I think we averaged nearly 47km/h for the first lap.


What was your hydration and fuel plan?

Cycling Australia had an amazing hydration and fuel plan which definitely gave us a leg up in the race. We ran 2L camelbak bladders under our jerseys to avoid the chaotic feedzones and two bottles of water in our cages. Then we would consume gels as needed throughout the race. This lowered the chance of the crash and we were more hydrated than a lot of other riders in the field.


What happened at about the 90km mark?

At the 90km mark I was moving up on the outside of the bunch when the rider in front of me clipped the wheel in front of him and I was down before I knew it. The rider behind had ridden straight into my hanger so my bike was unrideable. By the time I had a spare bike the field was already 2:30min up the road so that was race over. I was pretty gutted not to finish my last ever junior race, but that’s part of the sport. It was an amazing experience, and I really appreciative of the opportunity and the support that was provided by the Cycling Australia HPU.

And finally, I would also like to thank my coach, Helen, at KCC, having a great coach has been such an important part of my progression as a cyclist.


So congratulations on an amazing experience Maccie.  What is next on your calendar?  

Well, I have just ridden my first Nationals at Buningyong in the U23s and finished 15th in the time trial.  In 2017, I am juggling Year 12 as well as my cycling but looking forward to adapting to the next level of racing now that I am out of juniors.

Bec Stephens – Athlete Profile

Bec chatting

Kelly Cycle Coaching has been coaching Bec Stephens for 4 years now. She started with us as an entry level C grade rider. She is now the captain of our Pitcher Partners/Kelly Cycle Coaching womens A grade VRS team, and has been doing several NRS events this year.

We interviewed Bec to find out why she enjoys cycling and what makes here tick.

Name: Rebecca Stephens

Age: 31

Current occupation (if working): I work a head office job for ANZ.


Academic studies achieved or currently undertaking:

Completed a double bachelor degree, Media Studies and Law.


Age you got into cycling:

I was 27 when I started cycling.

Bec Michael Paddy

What type of riding do you do (mtb, CX, road, etc):

Just road. I’ve been on a pump track once…on a road bike, but surely that counts for something!

Your favourite efforts you like to do:

Threshold efforts in the hills with maximum effort surges/attacks thrown in. So painful but so, so satisfying.

Bec chatting

Your favourite place to ride:

For local training, I think at the moment I’d have to say the Dandenongs. The scenery is just so nice there and there is such a great variety of climbs, you can always find something to cover off the efforts you need to do. Kinglake and the surrounding area is an extremely close second.

Your favourite food after you’ve done a long ride: Ha, how long do you have?

OK, after a long weekend training ride I love scrambled eggs with sourdough multigrain toast, avocado, and maybe some haloumi or fetta. Plus coffee, always coffee. Everyone who knows me will know I’m fibbing if I don’t also disclose that I’m quite partial to a cake or pastry of some sort if the ride justified it!


What is your biggest cycling achievement so far:

This is a hard one because when I started riding I came from such a low base that I can still remember many ‘big’ achievements along the way which now don’t seem so huge. I can recall the first proper training ride I attempted in 2012 where I covered 25km and was totally spent and felt I’d achieved something pretty major! I used to think hill training meant going to the Kew Boulevard, not even kidding.

So I think I’d have to say the biggest achievement hasn’t been a specific race or particular outcome, it has been maintaining resilience and persistence and continuing to believe that if I kept working I would keep improving and the next level of competition would slowly come to be within my reach.


What used to be hard for you in cycling that you can do now:

I was terrified of descending or even going around any corner really when I first started out. With lots of practice and plenty of coaching I’ve been able to develop descending and cornering skills that allow me to keep up with the rest in high level races. Barring the occasional mishap, I actually really enjoy going fast downhill now!


What are things that you are still mastering in cycling:

My bike handling skills still have plenty of room for improvement. For example, I can’t bunny-hop very well and doubt I could get enough air to jump a gutter if push came to shove. In general terms my handling skills aren’t at a high enough level to give me confidence to always hold onto a tight spot in the peloton but it’s something I’ll be working on. Time trialling is another Achilles’s heel of mind that I’m working to improve.


What is it about cycling that you like so much:

Cycling works for me on so many levels! At the simplest level, the act of riding a bike is just so much damn fun. There’s something really exhilarating about the fresh air, the scenery passing by, the fun of using your own body to propel a fast machine, the whirr of wheels on road, and the simple pleasure of getting to the top of a hill or arriving at a coffee stop.

At a deeper level, I love cycling because it has taught me some serious life lessons. Cycling has allowed me to prove to myself that I’m not hopeless at all sports. People often ask cyclists who arrived at the sport later in life, “where did you come from?” meaning what sport did you transition from. When I hear this question, my answer is “the couch”. By tackling various cycling challenges of increasing difficulty, my brain has gradually cottoned onto the fact that I am actually a really capable person who can do hard stuff if I set my mind to it. Cycling has made me change quite a lot as a person.


One of my favourite cycling quotes comes from Christine Majerus (rider for professional team Boels Dolmans) who said “It doesn’t matter when you start. You don’t have to be impressed by the boys and girls that started at eight, nine, or ten. Just keep going. Everyone can start at the beginning and go somewhere.” That’s why I love cycling.


Your aspiration in cycling is to: keep riding at a national level and become competitive there. At a stretch, hopefully get to race my bike overseas someday.

Ally Rose’s adventures: 3 Peaks Challenge

Sunlight on the mountains

Kelly Cycle Coaching athlete Ally Rose Ogden has recently had her article published on the Bicycle Network website. 

For those who wonder what is involved in riding a LONG way in a day, here is how Ally Rose approached the day and how she coped with the challenge of the 3 Peaks Challenge.

Article by – Ally Rose Ogden

Pain, pleasure or persistence? Many have wondered, including myself at times, what it means to be a cyclist – or more specifically, what drives the hundreds of our kind, labelled by the community as no less than ‘crazy’, ‘obsessive’ or plainly ‘insane’, to spend whatever free time we have pedalling on a machine that 200 years ago didn’t even exist. It is a culture that cannot be explained to an outsider and it was not until I had completed the Three Peaks Challenge that I really appreciated that a combination of all these factors was essential for one to truly distinguish oneself as a cyclist.


Confession- I didn’t actually start out as a cyclist, but rather a runner and later on a triathlete. It was though my triathlon, that my passion for cycling was born when I realised through a school project, that it was in fact the cyclists who had the greatest advantage in triathlon and not the runners. As a result, I joined a cycling club and despite the many achievements following trips across the country to compete in athletics or triathlon events, I fell in love with the world of bikes.

Fast forward about a year to November 2015 where my mate Xabier, hill climber extraordinaire, mentions to me a ride he’s entered in March called the Three Peaks Challenge and asks whether I wanted to do it. I didn’t know much about the ride at the time, only the name really- which probably accounts for my inexplicable response of ‘Sure let’s do it!’. Albeit, when I actually went home and looked up what we were doing I almost fell off my chair. 235km is a VERY long way. Yet, the stupid and maybe delusional person that I was, decided to throw myself into it anyway. However, as it was only 3-4 months out from the event, all tickets were booked out. I soon found myself before Christmas, frantically scrambling on the Three Peaks Facebook Page for not only a last minute entry, but accommodation to go with it!


As the months and eventually weeks approached, I found myself overwhelmed. I would actually have to do this. This was no longer an abstract concept: a map on a website, a date on a calendar, a discussion on a forum. I was no doubt intimidated – the longest ride I had ever done previously was 130km, more than 100km less and in no way close to the elevation Three Peaks offered; however, I still couldn’t contain my excitement.

So the day finally arrived where after a night’s worth of fitful sleep, I woke in the dark to join another 2,000+ riders in which can only be described as a surreal moment. With our, Garmins, lights, fuel and bikes prepped and prepared, there was nothing left to do but sit on the start line and have faith for the forthcoming day.


Another confession- In the second half of 2015, I had found myself losing sight of what had originally drawn me to the sport of cycling. After a bad fracture in my wrist, and subsequently being off the road for close to 12 weeks in a period leading up to the World Duathlon Championships, I found myself chained to the wattbike/trainer for the duration of my recovery. I was soon caught in the trap of training for results rather than enjoyment; and even after my wrist had recovered, I still questioned if the stress was all worth it. The Three Peaks came at a time where I really needed to reconnect with riding for the simple love of riding, rather than for accolades, recognition or chasing a win. Even Xabier, my Three Peaks riding partner and fellow racer admitted it was almost refreshing to be involved in an event that didn’t require stressing about tactics, position and a sprint to the finish line.

Confession number three- In the two weeks leading up to the event, I was involved in two nasty crashes; both of which resulted in other people being taken off to hospital with very serious injuries. Although I wasn’t seriously injured, two of my bikes were and I had been left with rattled confidence. There was even some doubt, up to 3 days before the event, if I would in fact have a bike to ride on. I did make it however, and so did a bike. However, I was not prepared to take ANY chances in that first descent. Despite my wariness though, the descent of Falls Creek could only be described as a pleasant and almost surreal experience. Although congested, nobody was complaining about the first 30 km being downhill. With the ‘peak’ of Tawonga Gap soon following the descent’s conclusion, Xabier and I found ourselves constantly making jokes of Tawonga’s validity of ‘peakness’ compared to the other two that loomed. To be perfectly honest, we tried to not take the ride too seriously. Although we obviously ensured proper hydration and nutrition, and understood the enormity of what we were undertaking; our conversation less focused on the ride itself, but often consisted of debates over which of the bikes surrounding us deserved the higher appraisal!


It was during Hotham that I was able to really appreciate why people ride, without the need for a reward in crossing the finish line first. Maybe I had become delusional after 30km of uphill, but for the first time in a long time, I was climbing without stress of numbers and figures. I wasn’t focused on getting to the top, but rather enjoying the journey. That said, the last 10km too many times dashed my hopes; having me thinking I had reached the top before another 10% ramp awaited me around the corner!

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I had decided from the very beginning that it was not an option for me to fail to reach the finish line. This did not, however mean that I found the experience remotely easy, nor that I was always in positive spirits. Ironically, it was during the descent, not the climb of Hotham, in which I had started to doubt of my abilities. My body had started to feel the toll and although we had passed the 100 km to go mark, we still had a long way to ride. I can’t describe it any more accurately in that during that descent, in an almost altered state of consciousness, I had quite literally felt like falling asleep (pretty scary when you’re travelling at 50+ kph). That section towards the Omeo rest stop was probably my lowest point in the ride. Although ‘only’ having ridden 160 km, my mental strength was really starting to fail me, I’m not even ashamed to admit that I called Mum with the opening line of ‘give me some motivation’. We were at around the same pace as the 11hour group, so I knew we had some time, and at no point was I seriously considering quitting. I was going to fight till I could literally ride no further, but I was starting to question if I had eagerly bitten off more than I could chew. I knew though, that I had no choice to get back on the bike and continue the journey.


It was only later on, and by that I mean about 20 minutes down the road, that I discovered the Hydrolyte they were feeding us, really did have a purpose. Unable to eat at the Omeo rest stop, I had instead guzzled two concentrated drinks and had subsequently started to feel noticeably more alive. In hindsight, I had not adequately replaced the salts in which I had lost in the 7 hours I had been riding. Although I was hydrated and fed, I had only consumed one electrolyte drink in that time. My body had started to react to this lack of much needed salts in my system and coupled with the warm weather, I had not coped well as a result.


It’s truly amazing the connection the mind and body have with each other as there was a direct correlation with my body’s recovery and the return of my motivation after I had consumed the much needed electrolytes. To be honest, I think I had Xabier questioning my state of sanity for a while as I had quite literally gone from 0-100 in my energy levels. From that point, I found myself becoming vocally motivational at almost ‘personal trainer level’. For more than an hour I was like a high school cheerleader, chattering nothing but how far we had come and how comparatively little we had to go. Although this outward motivation was directed at others, I was partially using the opportunity to inspire myself. The excitement for the Three Peaks had returned and with this regaining of energy, I was starting to think that we could really complete this.

The Valley

The Back of Falls: It was the monkey on our back and the climb in which so many cyclists and cycling forums had eloquently described as ‘soul destroying’, even without 200km already in the legs. Keeping this in mind, I had beforehand told my super speedy climber of a riding buddy to go on ahead and complete the climb at his own pace considering he’d be needing all available momentum get up with his 25 back cog (I never had any doubts he could make it to the top with that gearing, but how he did never ceases to amaze me). Never have I been in so much pain for such a long period of time. Not only was the nature of the climb enough to push any cyclist to the limit, but due to the large amount of fuel I had consumed in the lead up, I was feeling inexplicably sick. Never in my entire life has every cell in my body screamed at me so loudly for me to quit. But there was only one way up and only one way to get there. I knew that the pain I had been in then would be nothing compared to the pain I would be in if I decided to give up. So despite my having to get off and walk at times, feeling as if I had to throw up, I still never stopped moving forward. Every 100 metres felt like an eternity and I subsequently have questioned the strategic placement of this climb. How many people (including myself) would surely decide that this hell wasn’t worth it if it wasn’t so close to the finish?

But with heavy legs, arms that could barely support my body and a state of pure exhaustion, I finally reached Trapyard Gap. 12km later I reached the summit of Falls Creek and ultimately the finish line of The Three Peaks Challenge; crossing it with the ever smiling Xabier who had come back to ride with me after already crossing the finish line himself. It was truly a moment I will never forget. The absolute joy of simply completing this challenge is one thing, but us to do it as two sixteen year olds made it all the more special and something that can never be taken away from us.

Sunlight on the mountains

Cycling is more than just a sport. It’s a lifestyle and a community in which only those who are a part of it can understand. The Three Peaks helped me to reconnect with my riding in a way that doesn’t relate to accolades or a leader’s jersey; but instead for the pleasure it brings along the journey. Pain, pleasure and persistence- one aspect alone cannot be attributed with the cycling culture because none can be achieved without the presence of the other. But most of all, cycling is not a lone sport, but one that needs be shared. I know that this ride, would have been a much less enjoyable on in my memory, if it hadn’t been shared with a mate.

The Three Peaks Challenge undoubtedly leaves a mark on all that strive to conquer it. It has certainly left its mark on me.

– Ally Rose Ogden

Representing Australia at the UCI World U19 Champs


Kelly Cycle Coaching athlete, Maccie Carter has recently been named as part of the 3 male U19 riders selected to represent Australia at the UCI World Road Championships in Qatar in October 2016.

Maccie started with KCC in 2013, with aspirations like any young kid, to get stronger, bigger and faster.


Maccie has worked hard over the past 3.5 years, consistently doing his training and gradually seeing the improvements.  And like many aspiring young cyclists, his results certainly didn’t happen overnight. He needed to learn to pedal well, develop some core strength and stability and understand positioning and tactics.  All these facets of cycling have taken a few years to develop.

It wasn’t until 12 months ago that some real strength gains began to show and then the results followed. And what is really pleasing is that his scholastic results have improved over these past 3 years also.  A real win-win outcome which shows that sport can be the catalyst for academic endeavours.


Congratulations on your achievement Maccie.  His fellow team mate and school friend, Alastair Christie-Johnston also made the team.  A great effort.


Andrews in Belgium


One of our Kelly Cycle Coaching athletes, Ben Andrews is racing in Belglium.  He is joined by former rider, Cyrus Monk.

Good luck as he does battle with the rain, mud and cobble stones.


Edwards treks the Kokoda Trail

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Kelly Cycle Coaching Year 11 student Jack Edwards has just returned from treking the Kokoda trail in PNG. Read all about his adventures here.


How did you get the opportunity to hike the Kakoda trail?

The opportunity arose through a Victoria Police project of which my school is involved in. The school runs multiple immersions and I was selected through a small interview process to be selected by my school to join the immersion.


What is the history behind this trail?

The trail was a local track connecting the remote villages of PNG to the large city of Port Moresby. during 1942 it was home to the battle between Japanese and Australian forces during World War 2. As the Japanese advanced towards their goal of capturing Port Moresby and positioning themselves in a more suitable and strategical position to attack the shores of Australia, Australians aged between 18 to late 30’s from the Australian Infantry Forces and Australian Militia Forces ( AKA Choccos) advanced towards Kokoda going to war for their country. The track was home to some of the war’s most brutal close quarters combat ever to be seen and cost the lives of 1,647 Australian soldiers but more so 13,600 Japanese Soldiers.


How many were in the trekking party?

I was one of 42 hikers in the trekking group made up of students, teachers, sponsors and police. In addition we had 28 porters from PNG Trekking Adventures group which helped lead the group.

What sort of training did you do for it?

The training consisted of a 20 week block to which every Wednesday we walked steep hills within Pascoe vale ( gradients hit up to 30% on these local streets ) and training at St Bernard’s College ( My school ) up the 101 stairs we have between the bottom oval and classrooms. In addition to this every second weekend consisted of 20km plus hikes around Macedon and Dandenongs. All the training was done with our packs that we weighted up with roughly 16 to 18 kg the same weight we walked the track with.

How far is it?  How many days did it take?

The calculated distance by GPS that we recorded was 112km over 8 days of walking. This includes small detours off the track to view old war grounds and historical sites as well as memorial sites.

What were the logistics with eating, carrying food and sleeping?

We all carried our own ration packs of food, maximum carried was the food for that day and the day to follow, these food bags consisted of dehydrated meals for breakfast and dinner which we would add boiling water to and for lunch was an assortment of snacks such as trail mix plus the handy 2 min noodles. The porters would carry our tents and assemble them at each camp site for us to sleep within. In the morning we would pack up our tents and continue with breakfast.

Did you get blisters?

Luckily for myself I only got one blister and that was on the second to last day of walking. For others blisters were on the daily haha

What did you wear for it?  Shorts? Pants?

We were given all the gear and included in this was short hiking shorts and breathable hiking tops, I wore compression shorts with my shorts and just the hiking top to which all worked like a charm for the 8 days.

So no shower the entire time?

There were showers but nothing like the ones at home, most of the time we would head down to the freezing cold rivers with some soap for a clean and recovery session. It was ice baths at every camp site

Was the most memorable part of the experience?

The whole experience was exceptionally great, the stories shared and the relationships made are amazing. The most memorable part for me though will be walking through the Kokoda arches at the end of the track and screaming at the top of my lungs while jumping around and hugging the group of boys from my school. Letting out all the excitement and joy of completing the track and celebrating with the boys who were there everyday to make it all worth while was great.

What was the toughest part?

The track itself was easier then I expected and I surprised myself on how well prepared myself and others were for this walk. But the one climb that was really tough was the second hardest one of the entire walk. The hike up Imita Ridge was brutal the mix of knowing how close you were to the end and yet the steep muddy track consistently made the time go slower and slower was a annoying play on the mind not to mention the unbearable amount of sweat felt like the ancient Chinese torture of the water drop on the forehead.

Were you physical and mentally challenged by this experience

Physical I was completely fine, I would get into the camp tired as usual but all along the track I could complete the days easily and have the ability to play ball with the local kids at the villages and lunch breaks. Mentally it was no issue until the days 6 and 7 these days were hard in terrain but the mind was beginning to get very tired from the rough nights of sleep.


Would you recommend it to others?  If so why?

I would easily recommend this experience of walking the Kokoda track to others. The scenery is quite breathe taking to see from the large ranges and deep valleys of the Owen Stanley Ranges, Each village erupts to life and the local culture is a whole lot of fun to be apart of with everyone having a smile on their face and a willingness to learn. The trekking itself through the terrain of Papua New Guinea is an amazing physical challenge and always throws a challenge your way on everyday of hiking. Mentally it’s amazing to throw the technology to the side and talk and joke with new people and the others you hike with. You learn so much about yourself both mentally and physically and it gives you the experience to tell yourself that you can really do anything because the only way out of the track was to KEEP MOVING FORWARD.

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Hellman races at Marathon MTB World Champs


Kelly Cycle Coaching mountain bike rider Chris Hellman competed in the Marathlon  mountain bike elite mens world championships on the weekend.

Chris works fulltime but has managed to juggle the demands of training and qualified for the World MTB champs by finishing top 20 in a world cup race last year.

Unfortunately, Chris got sick a week out from the biggest race of his career so far, but that didn’t stop him giving it his best shot and finishing 120th on the day.  A fantastic achievement to qualify and prepare well for this event Chris.  Sometimes the stars don’t align on the day but that is all part of being an elite athlete.


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Paddy on the podium

Paddy finishing

Kelly Cycle Coaching athlete Paddy Burt and Pitcher Partners/KCC team rider, made his first VRS podium fro 2016 at the Fred Icke VRS Raod race at Creswick, Victoria.  Fellow team mate, David Randall also finished in the top 10.

Well done guys.

Paddy Randall

Paddy finishing


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