What do we count as the biggest sporting day in Australia? Is it the AFL grand final? Maybe the NRL grand final? What about Melbourne Cup?
So few of us get the opportunity to live out our dreams and, sadly, too many who get the opportunity to do so waste it. This is not the case with Adam Semple.
Semple’s early form in the National Road Series has been impressive, finishing on the podium at the Battle of the Border.
While not unhappy with the result, the Satalyst Giant rider has set the bar very high for himself.
“At the Battle of the Border, I was feeling good but wasn’t producing the sort of results I was in the past,” he said.
The 23 year old West Australian has shown enormous tenacity in fighting back from a crippling injury that effects the nerves through his lower back. After being let go by Drapac Cycling, he is now making the most of every opportunity.
“Riding with Satalyst Giant has been crucial to my recovery because after an injury no one knows what you’re doing. No one trusts what you’re doing and no one knows whether your mind or body is in it.
“It’s important to have a team that allows you to take your time and get ready. I’m finding some form so I think everyone is happy at the moment.”
The road back from injury has not been without its challenges. Semple moved East to Melbourne for an intensive treatment schedule of pilates, yoga and physio at a time where he questioned whether he’d ever ride again.
“For the first two to three months I didn’t know how well I was going to be able to recover.
“I definitely questioned (riding again) a lot, but after a while the desire comes back and the more you train the stronger you become.
“Cycling’s like a drug. The more you have the more you want.”
For Semple, this addiction and love affair with cycling began with the then 15 year old watching the Athens Olympic.
“I saw it (cycling) on the Olympics in Athens. I saw the track and I thought it looks fun. I was just obsessed.”
When talking about cycling, Semple’s voice animates and his love of the sport is impossible to hide.
His introduction through watching cycling at the Olympics eventually led him to spending three years in Italy with the Australian National Team.
This time was vital for developing as a cyclist and formed fond memories for him.
“[Italy was] The best experience I could have had. The racing was so hard. It’s the best. Everything, the culture, everything you learn from the [other] riders.
“Riding through Ponte Tresa was the highlight. It’s a loop around Lago Maggiore. It’s so hilly, tropical and is on the most beautiful lakes you can imagine.”
Semple’s passion for the sport and for this time in his life emanates down the phone line, fuelling his goal of one day turning pro in Europe.
“I would like to race in Europe and become a pro. I love riding so much. Most days I love getting out there and training.”
2011 was arguably his most successful year to date, riding with the Drapac Cycling team.
Semple has happy memories of his time with the Victorian team, especially his 2011 Tour of Taiwan, where he won two stages and had a couple of top five finishes.
“The Drapac environment was friendly and accommodating to study, to having a life outside of cycling.”
The experience of riding in a peloton is essentially esoteric to those who have been fortunate enough to compete as cyclists. This makes it impossible to not ask a cyclist just what it feels like to ride in a fast moving peloton.
“It’s kind of like if you take a super zoom camera and zoom in on one person. It’s nothing like watching. Everything is still around you but people in front are braking and to the left and right of you people are moving.
“You’re hyper sensitive all day. At any moment someone could crash. There is a constant squeezing of people pushing in, people getting squeezed back.
“It’s the washing machine effect. It’s a nervous situation in the bunch all day but it becomes second nature to be hyper attentive.
“It’s draining just to stay upright.”
After long days in the saddle, it’s easy to see how maintaining a life outside of cycling is so important. As a result, Semple crams as much as he can into his time away from the bike.
Speaking to him, it’s hard to imagine Adam Semple doing anything other than riding a bike. The self-confessed “Jack of all trades, Master of none”, is a multi-skilled young man indeed.
He is a real estate agent, barista and writer on The Roar as well as an Economics and Creative Writing student. In some ways, it’s hard to imagine how he fits it all in but on the other hand, it’s hard to imagine him doing anything else.
The future is looking bright for the young man from Western Australia and there is no doubt his opportunity to race bikes will not be wasted.