Coach: Martin Barras
Sponsor: Australian Institute of Sport
Career Highlight: Australian National Champion 2010 – Elite Women’s Criterium
Favourite event: Time Trial
Time in the Sport: Approx 1 year
Bike: Bianchi B4P 928 Carbon T-Cube (Shimano Dura-Ace)
Cycling Tribe: Carly, thanks for your time. Lets start off with your background. You used to be a promising junior steeplechase runner. What made you switch from running to cycling?
Carly Light: It was a combination of things, but it was mainly due to reoccurring stress fractures in my shins which I sustained as a runner, training constantly on hard surfaces. I enjoyed my time in athletics and competed in many national level meets up until the U/18 age group but after getting injured a few times, I wanted some time out in which I just ran casually to keep fit. Then, eventually in 2008 I decided that I wanted to get more heavily involved in sport again. I knew that running at an elite level wasn’t really an option for me anymore, considering my past injuries, but I had always thought that cycling looked like fun, (watching the Tour de France and Track Cycling events on TV etc) and that I might be suited more to it physiologically than athletics. I’d done a little bit training on the bike previously, as it was one of the few exercise activities that I was allowed to do while recovering from stress fractures, so it was an obvious choice for me.
CT: How did you go about getting involved with cycling?
CL: Well, as I enjoyed watching track cycling, I thought I’d like to give it a go. So in mid 2008 I rang up Cycling SA and found out the there were ‘novice track sessions’ on once a week at the Adelaide Superdrome. I started going weekly and got addicted!
On my way to winning the Crit at Nationals, Ballarat, Jan 7th 2010.
I already had a road bike at home, which I began riding daily, inventing my own training sessions based on what I had done as a runner. From there I joined the Port Adelaide Cycling Club, bought a track bike and upgraded my road bike so that I could start competing in club events. It was at this point where I started to wonder what I would be capable of if I had a proper coach. In January 2009 I applied for the ‘National Talent Identification and Development’ (NTID) program for women’s time trial. After some testing the program accepted me, and I started training with my first coach, Ben Cook (SASI/NTID) in April 2009.
CT: In your opinion is cycling a more realistic sport for young athletes to strive towards than running, in terms of the chance of the athlete actually making it to the highest of levels, being the Olympics or World Champs?
CL: I don’t know if that is necessarily true, I think it would depend a lot on the individual. In my case it was easier for me to progress as a cyclist probably because I am physically more suited to cycling that running, it just took me a while to realise it.
On the other hand, in cycling, in my experience, there seems to be a lot more support for developing athletes. For example, I came through the NTID program, which gave me immediate access to state sports’ institute coaching and facilities as well as guidance from some of Australia’s best sports scientists. I don’t know if a similar program now exists in athletics, but the support I received through this program was invaluable in getting me to where I am now, especially in such a short time period.
In terms of getting to the Olympics or World Champs, I think that any sport would require the same amount of dedication and ability, so I wouldn’t necessarily say that it is easier to get to the top in cycling, it’s all about the individual and the level of support you get along the way.
CT: So it was only April of last year that you started cycling seriously? You have come such a long way in such a short time. What do you put this down to?
CL: Again, I owe a lot to the support I received through the NTID program, who placed me under the guidance of SASI/NTID cycling coach, Ben Cook. As I mentioned, Ben began coaching me in April 2009, and together we worked out a plan for which races I would target, and how I needed to prepare for them.
Given this opportunity, through NTID, I was determined to succeed, as it was ‘now or never’ for me, in terms of becoming an elite sportsperson, and I knew I would regret it later in life if I didn’t give my all. I dedicated myself to my training and made sure I did everything I was asked. So I guess I owe my quick progression in cycling to the people who supported me early on (and still support me), and also a bit to my own dedication to achieving my goals.
CT: How do you find the cycling training compared to the running training?
CL: Both are hard, but rewarding when you get the outcomes you are aiming for. Even though the sports are different, the underlying training principles are the same, strength, power, sprints, endurance etc. The main difference for me, coming from running to cycling is the time spent training. To do a decent running session, you probably only need an hour or so, whereas on the bike a decent training session can go from 2 to 5hrs, so it’s alot more time consuming!
CT: Do you study or work?
CT: Do you study or work?
CL: I just finished a degree last year in Environmental Health at Flinders University in South Australia, and was working part-time in the field prior to completing the degree. However, since getting a scholarship with the AIS for 2010 I have found that the training and travelling requirements are too much to hold down a regular job. So I am not currently studying or working, but I will most likely pick up some form of study for next year.
Me (no.35) racing the crit in Stage 6 of the women’s NZCT Tour of New Zealand, Feb 28th 2010.
CT: You recently won the Elite Women’s criterium at the Scody Australian Open Road Championships. This win must have opened a few doors for you?
CL: Yeah, it was all a bit of a whirlwind for me, 2010 was my first cycling Nationals and to come away with two medals (3rd Elite Women Time Trial & 1st Elite Women Crit) was pretty amazing. I guess that winning the crit has given me a bit of exposure, being so new to the sport, I was relatively unknown in wider cycling circles, and this allowed me to get my name out there a bit. Going into the crit, I certainly didn’t expect to win, or even podium, but it was a fantastic way to start off my year with the AIS squad, and hopefully I can build on it during the year with some consistent results in Europe.
CT: You are leaving soon to head overseas. What are your race plans?
CL: First up I will be racing with the National team in the Spring Classics in Europe, including the Tour of Flanders. I will also be doing a few World Cup races in Belgium and the Netherlands, followed hopefully by the GP Suisse (an invitation only time trail), at the end of April, depending if I am offered a start. From there I move onto China in May where I will race the Tour of Chongming Island and the Chongming World Cup. In July I will race the Giro Donne (Women’s equivalent to the Giro D’Italia), which I have been told is probably the hardest tour I will do! Following this, I am unsure, as it depends on Commonwealth Games and World Championship team selections.
CT: Are you nervous about experiencing European racing for the first time?
CL: I am a little bit nervous, but also excited to be given the opportunity to race with the best women cyclists in the world. In planning out my season, my coach, Martin Barras and I concluded that although I come into these races with limited experience, this is probably the best way for me to learn and develop. So I am hoping to gain some valuable experience and knowledge off my team mates and competitors throughout this season.
The TT at Nationals, Buninyong, Jan 6th 2010 (3rd).
CT: What role within your team do you think you will take in terms of the Spring Classics?
CL: My role in the team is primarily to be the final leadout rider for our sprinter, Kirsty Broun. So she will be on my wheel coming into intermediate sprints, and most importantly, the final sprint, so it my responsibility to get her up to speed, and in a good position for the final kick.
CT: Thanks for your time.
CL: Thank you!