Iâ€™d watched the hit 80â€™s cycling film `American Flyersâ€™ several times before I took off for my first AIS camp for 2007. So as you can imagine I was totally pumped at the prospect of heading off to a sports academy possibly similar to the one in my favourite movies of all time. On the flight down to Canberra I was dreaming of hanging out with a bunch of top level athletes in gyms, wearing sweat bands, knee length socks and experiencing 70â€™s and 80â€™s sports psych of being screamed at to go faster and harder in training, and to lose more weightâ€¦. the only real shame was the 80â€™s have long gone so I couldnâ€™t look forward to athletes in fluorescent lycra aerobics wear and I definitely had no chance of seeing Kevin Costner riding a bike and/or sporting a huge 80â€™s Mo (moustache). My only hope of that was if a fellow athlete in the AIS accommodation happened to have a copy of `Dances with wolvesâ€™ on them.
Life at the Institute, much like `American Flyersâ€™ is never boring. Actually thatâ€™s not quite true, life within womenâ€™s cycling is never boring while life at the Institute is actually ridiculously boring. The Institute is found in the middle of what appears to be either a lunar landscape, or a desert, itâ€™s hard to escape and you feel like youâ€™re in your own personal reality show or a test tube. Either way it feels like someone is always watching and at any moment some professional lurking in the bushes would love to jump out and stick a needle in your ear lobe or finger to draw blood for another test. Funnily enough itâ€™s hard to totally relax around the Institute.
During the week we had appointments with doctors, psychologists, nutritionists, bio mechanicâ€™s, Coachâ€™s, ASADA (Australia Sports Anti Doping Authority) , sports scientists and stacks of other appointments which I just canâ€™t remember. I spent most of the week clocking up miles walking to these appointments, which was lucky as there wasnâ€™t much time to clock up many miles on the bike.
My dream come true!!! *This photo may have been re touched by Kimble Huch.
One of the nights when I did actually manage to clock up some miles on the bike with my fellow AIS cycling buddies, we all returned to our temporary homes at the Institute to be greeted by some random people from the search and seizure part of ASADA. For the next 3 hours our rooms were searched with a fine tooth comb and nothing was left untouched or unturned. We felt like common criminalsâ€¦excited, terrified, embarrassed and helpless all at once! The search and seizure guys lifted and felt around couches and every other piece of furniture in the apartment. They pawed through our dirty washing, underwear, and tampon disposal units all in the name of catching drug cheats. It was a weird experience because as an athlete you never really want to race a drug cheat so you have to accept these deterrent and capture methods, though you canâ€™t help but feel that these measures are brought in simply because the urine and blood testing done is simply not good enough to catch the real cheats.
Oh wellâ€¦. at the end of the day you choose to ride and therefore have no choice but to accept all that goes with it. On a positive note it makes our lives resemble some crazy movie and gives us something to talk about.
Well, after a week of Institute excitement and womens cycling dramas it was about time to depart Canberra for Geelong where my AIS team of 6 would compete in the Geelong Tour and World Cup. I would miss the food hall with no cooking or cleaning up and the billion white bread rolls and trillion tubs of yoghurt it held. Apart from the billion white bread rolls, the pics of 80â€™s AIS sports stars and the one of John Farnham the food hall held, there were no longer any other traces of the `American Flyersâ€™ 1980â€™s sports attitude I was hoping for. Yes, sad to say that itâ€™s fairly cutting edge in a government department type of way.
PS- I think the `American Flyers' DVD can be purchased for around $15 at K-Mart.Â A worthy investment for all! Go Muzzin'!
Candice and I relaxing in AIS team kit