In Chloe’s words: how it all started
I was one of those kids who couldn’t sit still. In primary school it was a never ending logistical nightmare for my parents to arrange how I was going to get to tennis, swimming, rock climbing, hockey, basketball, little athletics or cycling — and then home again.
“…more than ten years on I have represented Australia at the Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games and World Championships.”
When I was 12 shin splints brought me to cycling. Dad was an enthusiastic club cyclist and my sister and I would go and watch him race almost every weekend. When I got injured playing field hockey I asked my Dad if he could set me up on a bike; and as the saying goes, the rest is history.
Dad set me up on my first bike — a Giant TCR compact frame with illegal wheels for juniors — and I started getting around Canberra on two wheels, first with Dad by my side and then by myself.
Dad would take me down to the lake and we would have one leg sprints, skill sessions, and mini races where he would offer $20 if I beat him; but he never let me win.
A great cycling community in Canberra, combined with the competitive element I obviously craved, and a little bit of adrenalin turned out to be the perfect mix and now more than ten years on I have represented Australia at the Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games and World Championships.
How I got to Europe:
As a junior I was never anything special, my Dad said to me once, “I never thought you were a world beater”. But I always enjoyed weekend trips to Wagga Wagga or Sydney with my parents for racing and enjoyed even more coming home with a bronze medal or a little bit of prize money.
In 2008 when I was in the U19 division I was selected to represent Australia at the junior world championships in South Africa. While it would be easy to say I had a fantastic race and everything fell into place from there, that’s not what happened. I had a less than impressive international debut and finished well down the field.
“It’s important to me that young Australians know that there is more than one way to get to Europe.”
After returning from South Africa I turned my attention away from the bike and onto my studies.
I think a lot of people thought my cycling career was done. Fortunately, I had a coach that wasn’t prepared to put up with my laziness and helped me make the long trek back to form after I had completed college.
It wasn’t pretty; I still remember traveling to a criterium in country Victoria with my family and getting lapped in the first five minutes of the race.
Obviously, when the Australian National Road Cycling coach was selecting riders to take to Europe in 2009 I wasn’t in the picture – I mean I couldn’t even finish a criterium.
I continued to work hard though, juggling my first ever job — waitressing at a local restaurant — and training. When my parents bought me a return airline ticket to Europe for my 18th Birthday I knew exactly what I wanted to do.
With the Australian national team not an option, I made the decision to travel to Europe myself. With the help of a friend who had raced in the Netherlands a few years earlier I organised to race with a small Dutch club team, Moving Ladies, for six months in 2009.
Before my set departure date however, an opportunity presented itself that I couldn’t turn down. In February, funded by my parents (again), I traveled to New Zealand to particpate in a three day tour and a separate one day race which had some of the best Oceania talent on the start list including Rochelle Gilmore and the Australian national team.
I rocked up to the start line with my composite team, intimated and with few expectations. I went on to podium in two of the stages and win the one day race. My results catapulted me into the top 100 in the world rankings.
From this I was invited to compete in the Tour of Chongming Island in China by a domestic Australian team a few weeks later. I once again jumped at the opportunity. Surprising myself, and probably many others, I won two stages and the overall classification.
The two impromtu trips helped give me much needed confidence leading up to my European adventure.
In late March, 2009 Mum drove me to Sydney airport and loaded her 18 year-old daughter onto a plane bound for Amsterdam. I didn’t know what to expect and just hoped that there was someone to meet me at the other end.
In my first two races in Europe I finished 4th and 6th against strong international fields and I instantly fell in love with European racing.
In 2010 I signed with one of the biggest teams in the world, HTC-Columbia and stayed with the various incarnations of the team until 2013 when I signed with the Norwegian professional women’s cycling team, Hitec Products.
It’s far from a fairytale, but I wouldn’t change how I got to Europe or the path my cycling career has since taken.
Too many young Australian cyclists believe that there is only one pathway to the European peloton; through the Australian national program. I hope that my story can act as an example of another pathway and inspire more young cyclists to give it a go.