Each issue we track down a couple of Australia’s elite racers for a quick chat about life on and off the bike. While not everyone wants to race, we know you’re keen to get the best from your time on the bike and so we endeavour to bring you a broad range of information that will help. These top riders have usually gathered, sometimes even in a relatively short career, a wealth of experience to share. This time round we get to know Alex Edmonson.
BICYCLING AUSTRALIA: Since this column is mostly about the National Road Series, can you tell us what your NRS experience has been?
ALEX EDMONDSON: This year was the first time I had the opportunity to ride more than just one round. I found the NRS to be of a very high standard and very well organised. It’s great that here in Australia we are able to put on such high quality cycling.
BA: Where are you now (while answering these questions) and why?
AE: I’m actually currently lying on my bed in the hotel room in Aguascalientes, Mexico. We’re here for the second World Cup of the 2014 track season qualifying valuable points for a hopeful selection to the 2014 World Track Championships in Cali, Columbia in February.
BA: Where do you call home?
AE: A nice little town called Bridgewater in the Adelaide hills. I live with my mum and dad, and sister Nettie while she is back in the country.
BA: How did you get into cycling? Were you involved in other sports prior to cycling?
AE: I have always been mad about bikes since I can remember. I used to race downhill mountain bikes and play club soccer and cricket. But when my sister got selected to try cycling through the South Australian Talent Identification Program, I thought I would go out and see what road and track cycling was all about. From that session I raced my first novice race at the age of 11 which I managed to win, and won a cool 100 bucks, and for any 11-year-old that’s a heap of money, so from that day on I haven’t looked back.
BA: Do you have a job other than cycling?
AE: Nope, I have a pretty cool life at the moment being able to do what I love; ride my bike in the sunshine, sit at coffee shops, wear the Green and Gold and get paid to do it all!
BA: Single, married or other?
AE: At the moment I’m single but I would say I spend enough time with my bike to be able to call it my girlfriend.
BA: What is your home cycling club?
AE: Ever since I first started cycling I have been with Central District Cycling Club. They have always been so supportive and helpful to me through my short career to date.
BA: Sprinter or stayer?
AE: I’m not actually too sure what I am to be honest. I have managed to win a few sprint stages but also a couple of lumpy stages, but I like the hard races with a bit of everything and when the weather gets pretty foul!
BA: What was it like to be the second ever youngest Australian Olympic team member? Did you feel like the baby of the team? What was your Olympics experience?
AE: The Olympics for me was a mixed bag. Being able to make the team and be the second-youngest was such an honour, I really didn’t see it coming. When you think of the Olympics you normally think of success and medals but for me it was a little different. Making it all the way to London and not actually stepping foot onto the boards at the velodrome with a number on my back was bloody hard to take. But I had full belief in the coach and if that’s what he thought was Australia’s best way of winning a medal then that’s how it should be. Watching the boys win silver was such an unbelievable experience; to have tears running down my face not knowing if it was from not getting a ride or seeing them become Olympic Silver medallists. Those boys did me and Australia proud!
BA: Have you left track behind to concentrate on road or do you plan to do both?
AE: I concentrated on road for a short time before getting back into track at the end of 2012, before the World Championships in Belarus where we managed to win the Team Pursuit. Rio is my goal and my motivation to get on the bike in the pissing down rain and cold. With that said I am still going to give the road a decent crack at the same time.
BA: When did you join your current team?
AE: This year I was part of the AIS World Tour Academy under-23 team, which is based in Italy. I didn’t spend much time over there racing with them though because of my track commitments. While I was back home in Australia I raced with the new South Australian NRS team, Euride.
BA: Had you been on other teams previously?
AE: Not to date. When I came out of the juniors in 2011 I spent all of 2012 on the boards getting ready for the Olympic Games in London.
BA: Do you have a sponsor?
AE: Yes, Oakley sunglasses. They have been fantastic towards me with plenty of product and support. If anyone is in need of some new sunnies I highly recommend getting a set of Oakleys.
BA: How about a coach?
AE: Tim Decker. It’s a name which is very, very big in Australian endurance cycling. He is the man who is behind the Australian track endurance program. I have been working with Timmy now for just over four years and to see where I have come from is mainly because of him. The biggest thing he has taught me is that nothing is impossible, if you have the hunger and dream, you can achieve it.
BA: Do you think it is important for a bike rider to have a coach, even juniors and masters?
AE: Yes. Then you have some direction and know that what you are doing is going to benefit yourself. At the same time when you’re young you need to make sure that training isn’t becoming a chore, and it should be something you love to do, so you need to find the happy medium.
BA: What’s your favourite riding discipline?
AE: I would have to say at the moment, on the track. That’s mainly because of the speed and the amount of concentration you need to have all the time. For example in a team pursuit when you’re averaging over 60kph, centimetres always from the wheel in front, the adrenaline you get is crazy!
BA: Some of your favourite rides?
AE: I think when we won the Junior World Championship in the Team Pursuit with a new world record in Moscow, Russia in 2011, that meant a hell of a lot to me. Up until then I didn’t really have any results to my name, so this gave me a little bit of a belief that I had some potential in the sport. Also it was an incredible feeling when we won the Elite World Team Pursuit in Minsk.
BA: Any particularly terrible or poignant memory from your riding career to date?
AE: Missing out on making the Australian Junior World track team in 2010. But I think that was a blessing in disguise as it gave me a point to prove and something to chase for the following year.
BA: What does a typical day of training look like for you?
AE: It always changes, no day is the same. I am either at the gym, out on a long road ride, at the track doing TPs on the ergo, or if it’s a recovery day you will see me at the coffee shop.
BA: How old are you?
AE: Still 19 years young. I was born in 1993 in Malaysia of all places.
BA: What are some of your best results to date?
AE: For me the ones that stick out are the 2012 Olympic Team Representative, 2013 Team Pursuit World Champion, 2012 Team Pursuit London World Cup which was my first time riding with the A team only three months out of juniors and riding 3:54, in 2013 winning six stages of the NRS and the 2011 Junior Team Pursuit and World Record.
BA: Do you have a life outside of cycling?
AE: Not really. Every day revolves around cycling. But for me that’s what I love so I don’t mind. When I do get a bit of time off I love to spend it with my family and friends and try and be a normal 19-year-old (laughs).
BA: What bike and components do you ride? Your choice or the team’s?
AE: My road bike is a Scott Foil with Dura-Ace. And my track bikes are a BT Blade for the team pursuit and a BT Edge for bunch racing.
BA: Have you raced overseas?
AE: Yes, I have been lucky enough to race in a lot of different countries for both track and road. Some of the ones that stand out are Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Mexico and Tasmania (laughs) nothing against Tasmanians though!
BA: How is your program for the year looking?
AE: At the moment it’s not 100 per cent but it’s mainly based around two key races, Track World Championships and the Commonwealth Games. I still have to gain selection to both but I’m hoping to be able to put my hand up and get a position. In between these there is time for a bit of road both here and hopefully in Europe. There’s a long road of hard training between here and August next year.
BA: What makes you a better rider? The gear, the training?
AE: It doesn’t matter if you have the best bike with the best components, it doesn’t mean you’re going to become the next Chris Froome. What does get you there is the commitment, dedication and sacrifice of the small things. It’s getting on our bike in the rain or shine, when the alarm goes off at 5am, missing that party or gathering.
BA: How do you stay motivated, especially when you can’t ride due to illness or injury?
AE: For me it’s that feeling of wearing the Green and Gold, standing on the top step of the podium listening to the Australian National Anthem. For me there isn’t any better feeling. So if I’m sidelined for a bit, I just think of that feeling so when I can ride again I push myself just that little bit further.
BA: Where do you think cycling is at in Australia, especially compared to other countries?
AE: I think it’s really good. I think the NRS has come a long way in the last couple of years. There are around 12 tours a year, covering everything from the hilly mountains in Tasmania to the flatter races in the Tour of the Murray River.
BA: Do you think the NRS is a good thing?
AE: Of course it is. Hopefully it will continue to grow to help develop Australian cyclists to transition off to Europe and be on the big stage.
BA: Do you think the NRS is a platform to the pro peloton?
AE: There’s no question it is. As we have seen over the last couple of years with the likes of Richie Porte, Nathan Haas, Steele Von Hoff and this year Nathan Earle.
BA: Have you ever crashed?
AE: I’ve had my fair share of crashes this year both on the road and track and lucky for me, none were very serious. It’s cycling, it’s going to happen and you just have to try your best to stay on two wheels.
BA: Any heroes or riders you admire?
AE: Ever since I started cycling I have looked up to Shane Kelly and Jack Bobridge. They both always had so much time for the young kids like me coming through. That’s why when I rode the London World Cup with the A team and road with Jack it was such a weird thing to be there with him in the same team!
BA: Any plans for after cycling or are you going to pedal off into the sunset?
AE: I hope to one day make it to Europe and be a road pro. After that I think I will always be involved in cycling. My love for cycling is so great I couldn’t see myself not riding a bike or something to do with one like coaching.
BA: I know you are desperate for me to ask this question: who would be on your dinner guest list and why?
AE: It would have to be with my family and grandparents somewhere nice; preferably Norberto’s Buenos Aires in Adelaide, which is a steak restaurant my family loves. We don’t get to see my grandparents often as they live in Scotland and with my brother moving out, and Nettie and I always away travelling, it’s hard to find a time to all get together.
I would just like to thank a few people who have helped me out enormously through the last few years. Firstly my family for always being there for me. My super coach Tim Decker who is unbelievable. My manager Darian Lobb through MVP Management and Oakley sunglasses.