It’s a pleasure to be given the opportunity to write for the guys at VeloVeritas, with my new Peter Smith Blog and hopefully this might give a little insight as to what it’s like for the lesser-known riders, trying to establish a career in such a cut-throat sport.
But before we get to all that it seems appropriate to sort out the who, what, where, & how.
My name, well you know that much, but the rest goes like this.
Just on 25 years ago I was born in Perth, Australia but have lived 24 of those in Melbourne, which I consider home.
As a young man I did what the majority of young men do in Melbourne; I went to school, played Australian rules football in the winter, cricket in the summer, and ran around an athletics track in between.
Fresh out of school, it was more of the same. Weekdays spent in a university lecture theatre, enrolled in Property Management & Construction, and weekends on the field as a regional footballer.
As fate would have it, during an Advanced Construction 2B tutorial I found myself seated next to a keen cyclist and was introduced to a sport I knew literally nothing about.
And as they say, the rest is history.
Professional cyclist. That’s what I want to be writing on my Customs Declaration Card. Or any administrative paperwork for that matter.
It may not have been the passion I grew up with, but ever since I first threw my leg over a road bike, just over five years ago, it was clear to me what I wanted to be.
So after a couple of seasons’ racing in Australia, and then having safely tucked that Uni degree in my back pocket, Europe was calling.
So here I am, having a crack at working my way up the ranks in order to establish a career in the sport, which is mind-boggingly unforgiving.
Villeneuve Saint Germain. A small village that buts itself onto the bigger city of Soissons, in the top-right corner of France.
The beauty of being based where I am is the vast majority of the national, and international, racing is up here in the surrounding regions. And being nestled halfway between Paris and Belgium, there is never a shortage of ‘difficulties’ to spice up any particular race.
Cobbles, crosswinds, climbs so steep they make your eyes water.
These types of things mean there’s never a dull moment, and granted the long mountain passes of the Alps or Pyrenees are not particularly ‘my thing’, it suits me just fine.
W’s. “What’s a W?” It’s a Win. And wins are the sole currency of the cycling world. Plain and simple.
You might be able to make a good story out of it at the time, but sooner rather than later nobody is going to remember that without “that puncture” you would have been there sprinting for the win.
Or that “for sure” you would have been in the front crosswind split if “that idiot” hadn’t dropped the wheel in front of him.
Or that you were “just about” to launch the decisive attack when your chain got jammed.
So you came 12th? 5th? 2nd? Frankly, nobody cares. But cross the line with your arms in the air, and that’s money in the bank.
So there’s a little intro.
As far as the season goes though, we’re a bit beyond ‘Square One’. I make it just over a month since I kicked off my European season, with varying levels of luck and success thus far. A ‘mixed bag’, if you will.
Having scaled the podium a couple of times, supported by several top-10s, it’s not been a disastrous start to the 2012 campaign.
But arriving with the objective, however lofty it may sound, of winning a race each month, it’s not been entirely satisfying either.
Though somewhat succumbing to the banality of the phrase “the season is long”, it does ring true. And with a big May programme on the horizon, confidence is high and the ‘motivation tank’ is still full. Just as well I suppose, because I best start clearing the back-log of missing monthly W’s.
Or simply come back to VeloVeritas each week to catch up on wh