South Australian Peter Varricchio has a long list of achievements, he is the reigning Masters State Team Trial Champion. He is a member of the Norwood Cycling Club and enjoys training and racing 15 hours a week, while still finding time to be a husband, father and podiatrist.
We spoke to Peter about his history in the sport, his love of Masters racing and his goals for the 2019 Masters Road National Championships.
Did you grow up cycling?
No, I grew up playing Soccer from the age of 12. I ended up playing at an elite level and representing the South Australian State under 14 and 15 team and I was involved with the South Australian Sports Institute (SASI) when it first started for about two years.
I represented Campbelltown City and Croydon in the South Australian Premier League where my highest achievement was being selected in the final 25 players for the Australian under 17 Soccer Team for the World Cup. My brother Olivio, introduced me to cycling after I had 2 knee reconstructions on each knee and an arthroscopy.
Tell us a bit about Norwood CC and how they support their Masters riders?
I’m involved on the committee for the Club, I manage and direct the Chesser Chemicals Elite and Masters teams. We run weekly criteriums and races throughout the year, it’s such a great way to keep up your fitness, race hard and have some fun against your mates and competitors.
We support all riders all the way from juniors and elite riders to master’s level of both genders whether they are slow or fast.
Masters racing is fantastic, it’s a great way to meet new people especially as I came into the sport at 31 years old. Everyone is really driven to train and be fit to race and finding the balance between family and work is the key.
I think it's awesome especially on our training rides and races that I get to meet up with people like Rohan Dennis, Sam Welsford and race with fellow Masters riders like Steve McGlede who was a World Champion back in 1990.
Recently we even had Stephen Lane (HPTek Coaching) race as a guest rider in our current Super Series 2019 Team Time Trial Edition. Masters cycling gives me flexibility to train outdoors or on the ergo if the weather is bad, it also allows me to race whenever I like. Cycling doesn’t have to be lonely, we can ride with mates or competitors on bunch rides and team racing is fun and gives a sense of purpose for all riders. Everyone gets to feel like they have contributed in some way to achieving great racing results. Riders have their own strengths; and applying these can be tactical but immensely fun!
Why are you racing at Nationals and what are your goals for 2019?
I personally like being fit and healthy and being a good example for my family and kids is important. Setting goals and training for a purpose is also important to me.
For 2019 I would like to finish on the podium in the time trial as I feel it is my strength and is definitely my favourite event. It’s just me and the bike in a race against the clock which in my opinion is the hardest form of cycling and even if I just get a personal best then I will be super happy with that. I have also entered the road race and criterium to support this great event coming to SA.
Why Masters cycling?
I’m 41 years old and just racing for fun these days, however, I still enjoy racing A grade in our state and club races. I still love the competitive vibe and energy amongst the other Masters riders who share a common experience in our daily lives with family and work.
It’s fantastic to associate with different types of people (riders and volunteers) from all walks of life. We all share the same passion to train and race hard but most importantly have some fun along the way. And helping teammates make the most out of life and living through riding is rewarding. The camaraderie and coffee conversations are always enjoyable, to me It’s not always about winning!
Meet the Masters: Diane & Chris Otley-Doe
What makes cycling even cycling better? When you race with a mate, or in this case, your spouse.
Husband and wife Diane and Chris Otley-Doe will be tackling the 2019 Cycling Australia Masters Nationals in South Australia this October.
After competing at elite levels when they were younger, the pair stepped away from the competitive sports landscape to raise their beautiful family and now that their kids are growing up the pair have decided to get back on the bike.
We spoke to Diane about her husband’s decision to start racing again, what that first step back into the competitive scene was like, last years results and more.
How and why did you decide to race Masters?
Chris and I met through triathlons when we were both in the RAF in the UK in 1996. We have both raced for the GB Team - Chris at Half Ironman and Duathlon as an Age Group athlete and myself at Duathlon as both an Age Group and an Elite athlete.
We both competed in the World Championships together for a number of years and I also did the European Champs. During that time we became hooked on Individual Time Trial racing as it is a much bigger sport in the UK than it is here in Australia with races most weekends and mid-week too.
My best result was a Silver Medal in the National 10 Mile Time Trial.
As we began to have a family, the racing had to take back seat and we now have three children - 18,17 and 13 who have all grown up as competitive swimmers so lots of time has been spent ferrying back and forth to the pool at ridiculously early times in the morning and sitting at swim meets as the support crew.
My eldest son, James, finally passed his driving test early last year and suddenly I had much more time on my hands so after watching various friends competing on the bike through Facebook, I asked Chris if he fancied racing again! We have always kept fit and ridden the bikes for pleasure so it was a nice move for us.
What was it like when you started competing?
Two weeks after we decided to give racing a go again, despite the onset of a cold, we were on the start line for the first of a four-race time trial series here in Queensland.
With a new pair of aero bars strapped to my old road bike and, apart from leaving my lungs somewhere out on the course, I very happily finished second in the C Grade.
Unfortunately, the cold developed into a persistent cough which had me sitting on the sidelines cheering Chris on in the second race, but for the third race, I entered the B Grade and came second again.
The last of the series was the Qld State Champs so I was really fired up by now and my loving husband bought me a new time trial bike and we upped the training regime. I entered the A Grade and had a great race to take out first place at the age of 52.
Our 2018 Nationals
I decided to try my hand at the Masters Nationals and with lots of support from my husband and my old coach, Bob Addy I managed to finish second.
I also gave the Elite Nationals a go in January this year and finished 14th. Both Chris and I were going to do the Bathurst Gran Fondo in March but unfortunately, I started to have lower back troubles and couldn’t race, though Chris had a great race and finished 54th/187.
I tried physio for my back but every time I tried to get back on the bike it came back. I’ve since put it down to an over-optimistic bike fit (our bodies are less flexible and forgiving as we get older!) Luckily, my local Trek dealer, Chris Moore kindly offered me a bike fit at his shop and after some chiro treatment, plus pilates and RPM classes I have been able to slowly build up my cycling again.
I did the third race in the Qld ITT series in August and came second in the A Grade so I’m now aiming for the State Champs in September and having another shot at the Masters Nationals in October. If that goes well then I will probably try to improve on my Elite Nationals result as I would love to get a top 10.
Our favourite event is definitely the Time Trial as we love the fact that it is an individual effort and all down to your fitness and mental toughness on the day.
I certainly would not be able to race as well as I do without the love and support of my husband Chris. We train together and race together when we can and are very competitive, we’re always trying to beat each other on Strava!
How does Gold Coast CC support Masters riders?
The Gold Coast Cycling Club has been very welcoming and they hold lots of crit racing for masters though we haven’t been able to race them yet due to work and family commitments.