Mountain biker working hard ahead of world titles
WHEN Michael England changed from road racing to mountain biking 18 months ago, the national title was the biggest race on his radar.
All of a sudden, the national team has launched itself into England's path.
Not expecting the chance to be thrown his way, the Gladstone rider and member of the Rockhampton Mountain Bike club is shocked he will be racing in Selva, Italy, come the end of the month.
He will be on a plane on Sunday, July 21, to race on Saturday, July 27, when he expected to be settling back into easier training and work.
"This year was to see how I fare against the guys you see doing it all the time," he said.
The fact England is not training as his full-time occupation, when so many of his opponents are, was the leading factor behind his expectations not extending to the national squad.
But now he will be taking on a world-class field, most of whom are full-time riders.
Not knowing the track or having been at the level before, the trip will be a tough ask.
England sees no reason why he won't finish the event though, even if it is not in the elite part of the field in which he usually finds his name listed.
"To finish I am confident of. I know my commitment and endurance can do that. It is where I finish I don't know," he said.
"If I was to finish mid-field, bloody hell, that would be great."
The course is an 87km ride at high altitude,
including an incredible 4700m total of vertical rise (this is not calculated on the rise from start to finish, but the total climbing height without taking into account the riders going downhill).
International riders will already be making their way to Selva to acclimatise, while England has only five days once he arrives.
To compensate, he is putting in extra work on the bike in Gladstone before going.
"I am maintaining endurance and doing more training in the intensity of the heart rate that hills put you in," he said.
Regardless of result, England is ecstatic to have the chance at the world titles, as it may not come calling again.
"It is excellent. We trained for six months for the nationals where I came fifth," he said.
"This is a bonus and I am so grateful to get there."