TWO Cycling Australia Road Nationals gold medals, conquering an infamous climb for the first time and then racing in a UCI event to cap it off – hand cyclist Emilie Miller certainly enjoyed her time in Ballarat.
Heading into nationals as a dual road world champion, Miller said her hope was to do the rainbow jersey proud. The Bathurst talent did just that.
Her campaign began on Saturday as she took part in a first for Australian Paracyclists – tackling the Mount Buninyong course.
While 2018 saw Paracyclists join the able-bodied riders in a combined road nationals for the first time, they used a different course for the road race.
This year they had to tackle the same Mount Buninyong Road climb as that which tests the legs of the under 19 and elite riders.
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Miller not only had to do so using just her arms to power her way up the tough ascent, but given her body position she was unable to draw a visual cue on when she would reach the crest.
Still, with a rainbow jersey and a vocal crowd armed with horns and cow bells motivating her, Miller made it up the climb. She went on to claim women’s H1 gold in a time of 1:19.29.
“It was a long push, I think it was about an hour to the top of the climb then we came back down in 18 minutes,” she said.
“It was quite a long climb, but I had a coach out following me on the road which was awesome to have.
“The mechanics are a lot different. If you’re on an upright bike you can get out of the saddle and put your weight behind it a bit, but obviously hand cyclists can’t do that which makes the climb that bit tougher as well.”
On Monday Miller tackled a 12km time trial course which saw another a green and gold national jersey up for grabs. Having missed the event 12 months earlier, she was determined to conquer the challenge.
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The first half of the course was on an incline, but that meant after reaching the 6km turnaround point Miller faced a tough ride to the finish line. She covered it in a time of 1:07.42.9 to win her second gold.
On Tuesday morning Miller took part in the Ballarat ParaCycling Classic individual time trial. While not part of the national road titles, it was a UCI event and attracted 31 starters.
She raced on the same course as she did for Monday’s time trial and managed to go more than two minutes faster, clocking a 1:05.32.55.
“I am super happy, stoked – I just rode a bit smarter and came back a bit quicker,” she said.
“It made today a lot easier after doing the course yesterday. I hadn’t ridden it in training and I didn’t actually race the course last year. So today knowing the course it was easier to pace yourself and know what you had to do.”