Hello everyone! I wanted to summarise my year but decided that it was just too big and the blog might be too long once I got typing, so I will list my highlights, my challenges and the lessons I’ve learned in my career so far.

2016 Highlights:
– Winning the first stage of the Mitchelton Bay Series Crits and managing to win the overall title
– Becoming the first Aussie woman to achieve a podium in the new Women’s World Tour at Drenthe (and my first top ranked UCI podium)
– Consistent results in the Spring Classics
– Back-to-Back victories at Gooik-Geraardsbergen-Gooik
– Top 10 overall GC at The Women’s Tour of Britain
– An important mid season trip home to Aus to recharge my batteries
– Having my husband Stu Shaw visit for 5 weeks to help me train at altitude
– Making the Rio Olympic Team for the road race
– Racing to my limits in Rio
– Spending the whole three weeks in Rio and experiencing as much as possible
– Supporting team mates for their own results for the rest of the season
– Representing Aus at the World Champs in Doha and supporting favourite Chloe Hosking
– Receiving messages from all over the world from friends, family and supporters during my season. My favourites are from school kids who have been inspired and let me know!

2016 Challenges:
– Managing the feelings of guilt of taking away another rider’s opportunity when I want to do well or get a result. This can be a toxic way of thinking for many athletes.
– Wanting to win nationals again. Luckily it was my close friend Spratty who claimed the title!
– Making a few poor choices in early season racing that cost me podium results
– Trying to stay at my peak for the whole Olympic selection period
– Crashing three times at the Tour of Britain
– Working on my climbing to qualify for the hilly Olympic course
– Dealing with an appeal against my position in the Olympic team
– Going back to Europe following the Olympic Games and struggling to feel good for the rest of the season
– Heat acclimation training for Doha. There was a lot of time spent on the trainer!
– Extended season and not many races to fill in the time before Worlds
– Homesickness from a long season
– Hot conditions in Doha and not feeling at my best on the day
– Emotional lows following Rio and the season

Lessons Learned:
– Pick your battles with yourself. It can feel overwhelming when you are trying to be the perfect athlete. Sometimes you have to cut out something to make sure you can sustain the rest in order to keep moving forward. Being good at something shouldn’t mean you’ve had to be miserable to get there.
– It’s ok to feel unhappy. It’s normal to have off days and not feel good or motivated. Go with your natural flow and take some time to yourself, but make sure you don’t over indulge yourself by letting it drag on. Put a timeline on mood so you don’t get stuck in a rut.
– Don’t let others (or yourself) pigeonhole you as an athlete. I went from being on of the weakest climbers to making the Olympic team on a very hilly course. I had belief in myself and slowly chipped away at my weaknesses over time.
– Say what you want out loud. Women can be particularly bad at this. Don’t be afraid to say what you want or tell people your goals and dreams. Once it’s out there you can find a pathway to action it and the right people will want to be involved. No one is a mind reader!
– Be open to advice from everyone. It’s not just people older or more experienced than you who can change your perspective. I’ve learned plenty of things from my peers and younger teams mates. Everyone has a story and a lesson to offer. But…
– Take all the advice given with consideration and make sure you can make your own decisions that are best for you. Some athletes ask everyone everything and get confused and overwhelmed about what they should be doing too. Stick to your plan!
– Build a strong support network. Who are the people you can trust and turn to at any time of your career? You will have rough seas at some point and these people will become your lifeline.

These are not exhaustive lists but standouts to me right now. Thank you all for sharing my adventure so far and showing so much support. I still have a lot left in me and I am so excited to keep improving as a rider and a person. Stay tuned!