TWELVE months ago virtually to the day, Manning cyclist Portia Rennie finished fourth in the NSW under 19 women’s road championship.
However, she’d been unwell for weeks leading into the race and her condition deteriorated during the 76km journey.
“I virtually threw up all the way,’’ she recalled.
“At the end I knew there was something wrong with me. I'd been fatigued for a long time and all I wanted to do was sleep.’’
Tests later confirmed Portia had the debilitating Ross River Fever. Portia thinks she caught the illness while training at the criterium track at Taree Recreation Centre – an area known as mosquito central. Recovery took the best part of a year and Portia had only completed two races before lining up in the 2018 under 19 road race. However, Portia proved she has made a full recovery by scoring a stunning win.
She is the Manning River Times-Iguana Sportstar of the Week, earning a $50 open order at Iguana. Manning Cycle Club nominated her for the award.
Portia described the course as ‘hilly and perfect’.
The game plan was to stay with the elite riders as long as possible. Gradually the under 19s started to drop off the bunch. Eventually there were only two 19s left and when her main opponent suffered cramps Portia had the gold medal in the bag.
While there were only four 19s the field did include last year’s winner along with a recent national final medalist. Portia will now ready for the upcoming Canberra hill climb – an event she favours, for the hillier the course, the better it is for her.
“It’s a time trial on a 7km course – I’m looking forward to it,’’ she said.
However, Portia admits there were some dark times in the last year as she recovered from Ross River. Lacking in energy, bike racing was just about the last thing she had on her mind.
“I wasn’t sure if I’d every ride again,’’ she said.
However, that’s behind her now. Portia is now looking to make up for wasted time and is back to fulltime training.
“I train every day of the week,’’ she said.
She basically stumbled into competitive bike riding about five years ago when an injury stopped her from running.
Portia had shown promise as a long distance runner and still competes at cross country. She’s also previously dabbled in triathlons.
She’ll graduate from the under 19s in October and move into the elite grade. Portia was previously coached by the Ireland-based Garry McKeegan and Ireland is at the forefront of her plans.
“I’d like to go over there and compete in an international women’s race,’’ she explained.
This, Portia hopes, might also open the way to her racing in Europe.