It’s almost 18 months since we last featured Armidale’s Sam Munday. At that time Sam had just returned from New Zealand and shared some stories of his life with the Team Novo Nordisk (TNN) Development Team. We caught up with Sam again earlier this month and he spent time to tell us about his 2018 season and give us further insight into his world and how he continues to prove that diabetes is no barrier to achievement and personal success.
Image © TeamNovoNordisk
I’ve been extremely fortunate to have spent the past 8 months of this year living and travelling the world racing my bike with Team Novo Nordisk Development Team. It has been a season full of highs and lows for me, but an invaluable one in which I have learnt a lot about myself as a cyclist and a person.
Arriving in the USA in early February was a bit of shock to the system. Leaving the perfect summer weather to days where the temperature barely rose above 0 degrees certainly took time to get used to. My racing season in the USA kicked off with the Vuelta Dominicana, a 5 day tour in the Dominican Republic. It was an incredible experience racing in a third world country and a huge eye opener. You realise how lucky you are to live in Australia when confronted in an environment like that and the extra challenges you face when racing, such as not being able to drink tap water or eat fresh foods.
After a solid opening race in the Dominican Republic, picking up a few top 10’s and finishing top 20 on GC, it was back to the USA to continue the season. The USA race season has a big focus on criterium racing. Based in Atlanta Georgia, we were constantly on the road doing 10hr + road trips to get to races throughout the country. This gave me an appreciation for just how big the USA is! It was fair enough to say I was quite tired of the endless hours spent travelling in a van on highways with a view of nothing but billboards. The USA racing was successful and as a team we were rewarded very well, especially with the generous prize money up for grabs at even the smaller local races. Earning numerous podiums and race wins, we were happy to feel like we were able to race effectively as a unit, regardless of the race situation.
My favourite race in the USA was the Athens Twilight Criterium. The atmosphere is something unlike any other race, with thousands of spectators lining the streets and 150 cyclists racing through the barely lit up 1.2km circuit. Using the USA racing as a good block of preparation, I headed over to Eastern Europe for some UCI2.2 stage races in Hungary and Romania. It was a welcome relief to be in Europe after some months in the USA. The change in culture was definitely a booster for the morale and motivation. After a good start in Hungary, I unfortunately crashed and sliced open my leg after landing heavily on someone’s wheel spokes. It wasn’t until after the stage I realised my leg was even cut and needed multiple stitches. Our team doctor wasn’t keen on waiting around in a Hungarian hospital, so within a matter of minutes he was suturing it up on the roadside! Definitely a moment I won’t forget.
The countryside in Romania was incredible. The race was really tough and the roads were some of the worse and roughest I’ve ever experienced! At times it felt like you were riding a MTB through a rock garden just trying the keep on top of your power. It was very cool to experience the unique style of racing in Eastern Europe. From stopping at literally every railway crossing on the first stage to finishing on a 12km climb on what you could barely call a ‘road’ on the penultimate stage. I didn’t get the results I wanted from the race after still recovering from my leg injury and having some untimely flat tyres, however it was none the less a great experience.
Image ©Justin Keck Photography
The remainder of the season has seen me back in the USA and over to Europe again for a short stint of racing before returning home. Throughout the year I’ve seen some amazing countries, met some wonderful people and proudly represented the mission of my team- to empower, educate and inspire those living with diabetes. I’m excited to see what the future holds and hope to continue to have the opportunity to pursue my cycling goals abroad, proving what is possible with diabetes.