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.
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).
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.
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.