Peloton Watch
  Josie Talbot returns home for Australian summer of racing but enjoying life in the US  
  February 18th 2016  
  Josie Talbot in action in the criterium at the 2016 Road National Championships © PelotonWatch
  As a junior Josie Talbot's talent shone through as she claimed a world title in the team pursuit in 2014 as well as two bronze medals in the points and scratch races. In addition to national titles in the omnium, scratch race and team pursuit and an Oceania omnium title. Post the World Championships Talbot made the decision to take a break from the sport.

After close to a year off the bike Talbot returned at the International Track Series in Adelaide before she moved to the Missouri to study at Lindenwood University. The move to the US has limited Talbot's ability to ride in Australia and gain selection for Track World Cups.

For Talbot who is home on the coast at the beach the move to a landlocked state has been an interesting one but it has presented her with new opportunities and experiences.

A return over the Australian summer presented Talbot with the opportunity to line up at the Australian national championships for the first time. With limited preparation her expectations were not high but the opportunity to gain experience against some of the best was an opportunity she could not miss.

After just missing the podium in the under 23 criterium an event highly suited to her quick finish Talbot tackled the infamous Mt Buninyong course for the first time. While Talbot didn't finish she understands the experience gained will be important for the future.

Talbot returned to Missouri after several days at home to start her first full year of university where she will race with ISCorp Cycling p/b Smart Choice MRI team. With a busy year ahead of her Talbot is still in the planning stage of deciding where her future lies with potentially representing Australia on the track again. A potential return at the Australian Track National Championships in 2017 is something that is on the cards.

Moved to the US last year to study at Lindenwood University what are you studying and how have you found the move so far?

I'm majoring in psychology. The move has been interesting. There's no coast nearby so it's so far from what I'm used to but that's why I moved. To challenge myself in a new environment. I've made some great friends here also.

What has it been like living away from home in another country without your friends and family?

At times it's been hard. On the days when the degrees get into the minuses and indoor trainer sessions are on the cards I get a little homesick. And in terms of being away from family, the time goes so quick that I donít have time to miss them too much. Although it is difficult to communicate with the 17 hour time difference. It's always a case of; they've got work while I'm free and I'm about to go to bed or I'm in class when they're available.

What has been the biggest challenge you have faced and what do you most enjoy about it?

The biggest challenge has definitely been trying to get quality training in. Where I am in Missouri, it is dead flat and full of cornfields so the scenery gets old very quickly. The best part about being here has been the American experience. Having my American friends for example, host me for their thanksgiving holiday was such a unique experience.

There is a lot of criterium racing in the US how has it gone?

Yeah they love their fast crits over here. Unfortunately last year I arrived right at the end of the racing season so only got to compete in one major crit series event so I haven't had too much opportunity to race. This year though I'll be riding on a team called ISCorp Cycling p/b Smart Choice MRI and so over the spring/summer I'll be living and travelling with them, which Iím super keen for.

Raced Collegiate Track Nationals not long after arriving in the US. Not something we have in Australia how important an opportunity is it and what is the level of racing like?

The championships were in Colorado Springs, which was pretty cool to explore. The best part of the trip was when we blindly hiked up the Manitou Incline (a very steep set of stairs), once the racing was finished.

© Josie Talbot

The racing was very different. Australia's track program is one of, if not the best program in the world so it's always going to be hard to compete with that in terms of quality of racing. You'll find a lot of the college students will compete in nearly every cycling discipline so there is a wide mix of abilities competing.

No I did very poorly in the races but back in September track racing was still the last thing on my mind. In great 'Josie' style I competed in every single event and so that mixed with the high altitude we were racing at, tired me very quickly.

Entered your first Road Nationals in January what was your preparation like and what were your goals and expectations?

Preparation was average and I definitely wasn't ready enough to be expecting any big results. I'm not a big fan of entering a race knowing that I'm most likely not going to get any results but the national championships are one of those events that you get so much out of just going there and being in the bunch because you're able to learn so much having all the big girls racing with you. For the road race, honestly the first thing that crossed my mind before starting was please don't get dropped in the first couple of laps. I struggle a bit on the hills so all I could do was hang in there as long as I could.

Lined up in the criterium finishing fourth in the under 23 category happy with your ride?

Criteriums are sort of my thing so a fourth place isn't something to cheer about, although with where my fitness was at and how hard I found the first 13 laps of the race I can't be too disappointed. At one point when the gas was on (which was almost the whole race), I looked over my shoulder to get some bearings and realized I was last wheel. At that point I thought, oh well at least I'm still a part of this race.

Josie Talbot competes in the criterium at the 2016 Australian Championships. © PelotonWatch

First time lining up in the road race up Mt Buninyong how did you find the course?

I actually really love the national's course. Although I'm not physically ready for a course like that it's so much fun. Each lap I would start the climb at the front and sandbag my way back. Once we were over the climb I would make my way back to the front on the fun decent. It's nice to race with a bit of a crowd watching as well.

With living and studying in the United States you had a limited preparation but do you think the course is one that suits you and you would like to target in the future?

There would have to be a lot of specific training for that course to suit me but anything's possible I guess. Targeting the national road race has never been a thought for me but after competing for the first time this year I had a lot of fun so it is not something to just push to the side anymore. I'm unsure if I would ever focus on that yet.

Lined up in your first ever UCI race at the Santos Women's Tour in mid January going in what were your expectations and how did you find racing against some of the top riders in the world?

I was super excited to race with all the big girls. I obviously wasn't expecting anything results wise but just a bit more experience. I loved being in the bunch and watching and learning from everyone else. It was such a valuable experience and I found myself up the front a fair bit just working on keeping position.

Finished seventh on the final stage criterium happy with the result? Good way to finish your time racing in Australia?

Yeah I was happy not to crash out of the last crit. I love crits and was able to stay up the front 99% of the race, which always makes life a bit easier. It was definitely a great way to end racing in Australia and it got me super excited to head back to states in prep for their racing season!

You have headed back to the US to start the next disappointing to miss Track Nationals?

Not really. It's probably a good thing I wasn't able to stay for track nationals. It could have been a disaster. I haven't competed in a senior track championship yet, which I am now hanging to do so hopefully next year.

When we spoke ahead of your move to the US you had just returned from taking a break from the sport and you said "I'm in a position where I have to prove myself, wave my hand in the air to remind everybody that I'm back on my bike and here to race." With studying in the US and the schedule you have unfortunately not been able to compete in the latest track season. Where does that leave your ambitions on the track?

Just before I flew back to the US I had a brief conversation with my coach about plans and goals for the coming year and I think we're still in the draft stage. This is such an exciting year being the Olympic year but it will be over before I know it, so I've got a lot of choices to make about where I want to be in the next couple of years.

What are your goals both on and off the bike for 2016?

I just want to have a solid racing season with my new team over here in the US. The girls on ISCorp Cycling p/b Smart Choice MRI seem like a great bunch and we should have lots of fun this year. Off the bike I just want to live this experience in America up as much as possible whilst trying to stay strong and fit on the bike. It seriously has been the most rewarding experience to try something so different from the norm so I need to make the most of it.
 © 2016