Australia’s Georgie Howe has an interesting story. She’s represented her country in rowing, she studied Classics and Medieval Studies at Princeton University, she worked at EY for several years as a management consultant, and as of 2023, she’s been a WorldTour bike racer, part of the team now known as Liv AlUla Jayco.
In her brief time in the sport, Howe’s won an Oceania time trial title, represented Australia at the World Championships, and become a crucial part of the Liv AlUla Jayco engine room.
In 2024, in her own words, Howe has “an appetite for an intellectual project again”. And so she’s started penning her thoughts for Escape Collective. In this first instalment, Howe takes us through her experience of the Australian summer of racing with Liv AlUla Jayco, in the form of journal entries. From the outside, it seemed like an up-and-down month for her team, but what was it like on the inside?
This iconic line comes from my favourite book, “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams. I turn to it at regular intervals, mostly around racing, to pull myself out of the serious and get slapped with a healthy dose of comic perspective. Short and sweet, this novel never fails to remind me that dolphins are the most intelligent beings and mice may indeed rule the universe.
But, I hear you ask, what does this have to do with the Aussie summer of cycling? Well, it is a disclaimer. The following commentary does discuss racing, tactics, and tech. However, it also lifts the veil on all the weird and wonderful experiences of January 2024 in the WorldTour.
I keep a regular journal, so much of the following stems from my recollections. Enjoy as I paint a picture of January on Tour:
January 5, 2024 – Slippery Dippery
‘Twas the day after race day. Sun was out, but pleasant. Bronze and a podium [in the Road Nationals time trial] but hungry for more. No matter how we exceed our own expectations and are intrinsically motivated, we are racers. The extrinsic allure of the top step nags constantly.
Grace [Brown] and Brodie [Chapman] with ripping rides, but now all eyes turn to Sunday [the Nationals road race]. Georgia Baker and I set to welcome the remainder of the Liv AlUla Jayco Australian contingent for Sunday’s battle.
January 6, 2024 – Housing prices
House for sale on Lydiard St, Ballarat. Investment? Maybe. Am I priced out? Probably. Keep an eye on it for when Nationals return to Buninyong.
January 8, 2024 – How good!!!
The green and gold returns! Yesterday’s ride [in the Nationals road race] was textbook. No radios, no worries. We rode as a collective with all our faith in our plan. Communicating on a telepathic level, and the trust in each other ensured the jersey returned. Ruby [Roseman-Gannon] raced out of her skin. I may have shed a tear for the first time in years. Fired up for TDU.
January 11, 2024 – Grammatical corrections
The trusty TDU village has air conditioning. Thank God. Mechanic and part-time fast bowler Pat Ryan is not so trusted as an authority on sayings. Wet or whet your whistle, Pat? I doubt it’s ‘whet’, as you so assert. [Sorry Pat, Georgie is right. You might be getting mixed up with “whet your appetite”. – ed.]
January 12, 2024 – How many demerit points?
I hope the Adelaide police do not know where to post those 100+ speeding fines the peloton got for descending Gorge Rd [on stage 1 of the TDU]. Top speed of 88.6 km/h. All in the name of an exciting sprint finish.
I led out too early. Too keen. Need to rein my horses in. Georgia and the rest of the team did a great job to secure a second place for the stage. Stirling tomorrow.
January 13, 2024 – More real estate
Mechanical for a rider in neutral. Get dragged up the first hill for a little longer, and a little slower, almost to a track stand. Joking around with Yaya [Lidl-Trek’s Ilaria Sanguineti] and Ruby. But the flag drops and we’re on.
The Stirling stage promised more fireworks than it delivered with a large bunch sprint for the line. Chased breaks, rode as a team, and we nearly got there for the end. But what a kick from Cecilie. Also, what are the housing prices in Stirling like? Bugger. Still priced out.
January 14, 2024 – I’m no chemist …
A little sleep-in today, with 900 metres from the hotel to race start. My last day of white rice and Coco Pops. Bliss. The race starts, I’m feeling alright until I’m not. Georgia too. It turns out we performed a science experiment in our stomachs. Slurpee + sodium bicarbonate = stomach volcano. Something to note for next time.
The unease subsides after one hour – in time for the threatening crosswinds. Echelons, let’s go! Too much tail, I’m in the 54/11 for much of the section before Wilunga. Thankfully not so when a dog threatened to bring down the peloton along the beachfront.
We turn to the long drag towards Willunga. Georgia at the head of our train, jostling for position. Ella [Wyllie] delivered after a great team effort. Willunga eludes the team and TDU continues to entice. We will return next year.
January 16, 2024 – Lincoln College
We move from the Hilton Hotel to Lincoln College in leafy North Adelaide. Nothing brings back university nostalgia like locking yourself out of your room on the way to the shower with only a towel.
January 20, 2024 – Swap or drop
How often do you see a safe bunch ride of over 40 people going 50 km/h+ on open roads on a Saturday morning? The SASI Swap Off is just that. You swap or you drop.
It starts. Cooking 60 km/h in the first five minutes. Ella rolls over full gas. Watch out for her in the fast and flat stages of tours. Ruby and I join the final gallop to the line, then it’s off to the hills for extras and efforts. To quote Ruby, “I love these days when you absolutely rinse yourself.” And rinsed we were. Koalas seen, coffee had, and as salty as a Kettle potato chip. Good day out.
January 22, 2024 – One hand, one bounce
Have you ever explained to a European how to play cricket? What about backyard rules? The Liv AlUla Jayco vs Lidl-Trek game attempted. Most importantly, we taught them sledging. Elynor [Backstedt] called out my kneepads (tanlines), Jess Allen didn’t walk, and Yaya caught a few out. I’ll let you guess the eventual victor.
January 23, 2024 – Mad Max
It turns out Cadel Evans is a keen movie buff. He was very knowledgeable about the original ‘Mad Max’ filmed on the old Geelong Road with a lesser-known actor named Mel Gibson. This discussion was had prior to the Welcome Wave dinner by the Cadel Great Ocean Road Race.
The whole WWT was treated to a traditional indigenous Welcome to Country by the last surviving Wadawurrung woman. A stark reminder of the original owners of the land and the atrocities of White Australia.
January 25, 2024 – “Time is an illusion, lunchtime doubly so.”
The biggest race of today was getting back in time for lunch. 2.30pm hard deadline for food. No time for coffee.
January 27, 2024 – Race time yet?
12.47pm is race start [in the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race]. Carbs are in. I’m lying on the ground doing final course research. Everyone is pottering about. Antsy to get racing. Lots of talk about crosswinds. Let us just see how the race plays out.
Block headwind on the lead back into Geelong. No doubt two times up Challambra will decide the race more so. (Note: it did).
January 28, 2024 – Curtain call
Herding cats is easier than coralling six women to the Regent Theatre for a showing of Moulin Rouge after a WWT one-day race! However, we managed. My main takeaway? Musical theatre actors and actresses are just as much professional athletes as myself and the five women seated beside me. They can hold a tune way better, though …
The Australian summer flies by. The WWT packs up and moves on from Victoria, leaving a void that can only be filled by a certain Taylor Swift and her Eras tour. The racing showed a standard above what we saw last year, plating an appetiser for a storming season ahead.
It is no secret we had big expectations of the Australian summer as a team. There were many questions from the media to that effect. However, we had success. And did we feel the pressure? Sure. But pressure to be the absolute best teammate for each other, nothing more.
A word to those curious about this topic: “Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it, too?” (Douglas Adams, “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”)
If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading my sporadic musings. Until next time …
What did you think of this story?