(from the musashi peeps)

Here we are again, only three hundred and five days til the Olympics, and two days into our massive training schedule, or at least our broken up interview with Anna Meares.

Not surprisingly, although medals surely look nice, people also had questions about Anna’s experience more generally as a cyclist both in the professional and personal sense. Clearly, it’s not all beer and skittles, in fact it’s probably hardly any beer and only occasional skittles.

I believe we were looking for something in common with Anna, which, considering she squats more than double my weight and sometimes I have trouble getting my own weight out of bed, I think is a hard ask for me.

Here’s what Anna had to say about life on and off the track but still on a bike…

You are in your late 20s now, and you’ve been racing on the track at the top level for 10 years. How do you find motivation to keep training? is there enough financial reward in it to make it worthwhile? How do you make gold medals pay the bills?

Motivation for me I find is different to Inspiration. Inspiration makes you want to get out there and have a go at something. It gives you that spark. Motivation is what comes from deep within to ensure that spark never dies. For me I love what I do. I love to feel fit and strong and I love competition. Competition is what I train daily for and it doesn’t come around very often. Things that I draw motivation from are things like what it felt like to break the world record in the 500, what it felt like when I crossed the finish line this year to win the world sprint title for the first time, what it felt like to be beaten, I know how hard I work so how hard would my opponents around the world be working….. things like that. The desire to constantly improve and seeing improvement is also a big motivation.

Financial reward….. You certainly don’t do track cycling to become rich. To win a world cup you get $800 and to win a world title you are looking at around $2000 in prize money. We are not a high profile sport in Australia but it is certainly on the improve and the Olympics and Commonwealth Games help as do races like the Tour Down Under. If you are elite in the sport of track sprint cycling you can gain an AIS scholarship which provides rent and meal allowances each week. Jayco coming on board to create the pro team on the track again boosts some income. For me I rely on my sponsors whom I have had for 5-6 years being Toshiba, BHPbilliton, Uvex and Musashi. Previous to having these wonderful companies on board I worked as a bank teller on my days off and in the canteen at the hockey and soccer stadiums at night with my husband working also. If we fell short it was leaning on mum and dad that got us by. It certainly hasn’t been an easy road but maybe that makes me appreciate the help and support I get now from my sponsors and the AIS.

(HRH: Okay, that just took the glamour off right there. At the very least, you’re doing your part to raise the profile of cycling in Australia!)

What kind of cycling do you do for fun?

Not much :) I have a dragster bike my husband bought me for our wedding anniversary and I run my beagle on it but otherwise I don’t do anything else like mountain biking etc which I would love to so as not to put myself in a position to crash and cause unnecessary injury.

(HRH: Don’t worry, Anna, by the time I’ve learned to pop over a log without scraping my shins, you might even have retired and you can come mountain biking with me!)

Or what other kind of outdoorsy things to do you do for fun?

I love gardening! Can spend all day in my garden if I could! I also love to participate in JKA, Japenese Karate which I did when I was little. I love art and craft, sometimes Mark and I have a hit of tennis and I walk my dog every day.

(HRH: ooh…crafternoon anyone? Would you like to come to the Tour de Gina next week? There will be customised craft helmets.)

Can you still cycle for fun?

Yes but I am a bit competitive and things seem to always turn into a race :)

(HRH: arguably, this is an occupational hazard. I have a pretty big problem with commuter cup, but I’m seeing a sports psychologist to help with this. I don’t think you should worry about it.)

Can you do a wheelie?

Does a wheelie for a second or two count?

(HRH: It does on a Brompton.)

What do you think of the fixed gear culture?

I think it is great but people need to be mindful of all road users especially motorists and not create bad names or images of cyclists. I see some people weaving in and out of cars in the city and chopping lanes etc, thats not cool and not good for the sport as a whole. If they were mindful of road rules and other road users then I thnk its fantastic! More people should ride bikes…

(HRH: *in my best Nanna voice* Anna, you are 100% right. Bad bike manners is bad bike karma.)

Hear that folks, ride nice, or cars will feel justified in dooring you. It’s totally bizarre logic, but just remember, we were all car people once. Well, most of us anyone. Sometimes the cars carry the bikes, so it can’t be all bad.

By Eleanor Jackson

Eleanor Jackson is a Filipino Australian poet, performer, arts producer, cyclist, writer, gal about town, feminist, freewheeler, and friend.

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