Competing in her 10th BMX World Championships since 1995, Australia’s Caroline Buchanan finally raced to victory this year at Auckland’s Vector Arena. After leading the race from start to finish, she was barely able to hold back her tears of joy as she crossed the line.
“I have come so close for many years so it was definitely a relief and an amazing experience I will never forget,” explains the woman who the year before was World Champion, Olympic Champion and World Cup winner in the time trial. “In the past I have been known as a time trial specialist but I wanted to break that streak and win the main event. To me, the racing title is much more prestigious.”
Not just a BMX specialist
Her latest world title proves she is not just a time trial specialist. And now she is out to prove that she is not “just” a BMX specialist. In one week she will compete in the downhill at the UCI World Mountain Bike Championships in Pietermaritzburg (South Africa), followed by the Four-Cross World Championships in Leogang (Austria) three weeks later.
“My major goal is to dominate cycling and be more than just a one-trick pony, just a BMX racer,” says Buchanan, who already has two four-cross world titles to her name (2009 and 2010).
So how exactly does she manage to combine training and racing in three disciplines?
“It has been a huge stretch for me to be able to compete at the highest international level in two sports and three disciplines. But it was always a plan of mine after the London Olympic Games to jump back on the big wheels and have some fun on the mountain bike scene.”
In working out a racing schedule that was both physically and logistically possible, it soon became clear that she would have to sit out the UCI BMX Supercross season in favour of the three World Championships, various mountain bike events and the USA BMX Nationals.
Continuing the hype
“I believe the mix of all the racing, having fun on my mountain bike again and competing in the USA BMX national series really prepared me well for the Worlds. The entire year has been non-stop and I love a good challenge so it’s been really nice to continue the hype (from the BMX Worlds) and carry that high into the Crankworx Whistler MTB Festival (2nd place in the pump track challenge– ed) and two more mountain bike events. When one event is over, the box is ticked, it’s a new chapter, new day, new races and the next goals are waiting.”
The next major goal is the downhill World Championships, a title that has eluded her until now.
“Mentally, I am going into this race really happy after winning the BMX title. Physically I know my capacities are more suited to a BMX racer but I will focus on my strengths.”
After the downhill… four-cross
That means attacking the course, giving it all on the pedals, and enjoying the big jumps. She will pull out all the stops, do her best, have fun and then turn to the four-cross Worlds in Austria. Her goal is to claim back the title that she hasn’t won since hanging up her mountain bike to concentrate on BMX for the Olympics. It’s a tough call. Three World Championships in three disciplines that involved different bikes, different tracks, different race formats, different competitors and different energy systems. But, as the experienced champion explains, “at the end of the day it is all about riding bikes as fast as possible and aiming for gold.”
Photo: World BMX Champion Caroline Buchanan would like to add more rainbow jerseys to her collection