A daily reminder on the back of her bedroom door is all the inspiration Lauren Perry needs in her quest to return to the pinnacle of cycling.
Having battled through health and motivation issues, Launceston’s former track champion is back on the bike and keen to add to the two world titles she won as a junior.
“The rainbow jerseys hang on the back of my door and every time I look at them I want to have that feeling again,” Perry said.
“That year I got to wear the rainbow jersey skinsuit every time I did an individual pursuit was really cool. Whenever I got it out of my bag I would think ‘Is this really mine’.”
Perry was part of the golden generation of female Tasmanian cyclists that claimed two national team pursuit titles and is keen to copy the successful transition to senior ranks of her fellow multiple junior world champions Amy Cure, Georgia Baker and Macey Stewart.
Watching Cure and Baker achieve their own Olympic dreams provided the impetus and after battling to overcome chronic fatigue, six weeks training with the army reserve helped add the perspective Perry needed to regain her passion for the pedals.
“I did not really know what I was doing with my life,” said the 21-year-old.
“I went to join the army reserve to have a pathway after cycling and do feel good that I’ve now got that to fall back on. Cycling is now not the only thing in my life.
“But I also began to realise how much I was missing it.
“In the army you are on the go from 6am to 10pm whereas training on the bike back home I thought all I have to do is thrash myself for three or four hours not 16 and I would much rather be doing that.”
The former West Launceston primary, Riverside high and Launceston College student won the individual pursuit at the 2013 junior world championships and added the team pursuit a year later.
As a senior, she claimed an Australian scratch race title plus World Cup gold in the team pursuit in Colombia with Stewart, Alex Manly and Elissa Wundersitz.
“That was pretty much my only international as a senior. I got a taste for it, enjoyed it and would love to go back and do it all again.”
Perry said she barely had an immune system for nearly 18 months and after eight months off the bike went to the US to compete in assorted track and criterium races.
“That helped me get on top of my health and I’ve had no issues this year.
“It was awesome racing and I would go back in a heartbeat. It was very motivating for me because I was racing most days. There was one period of 10 days when I raced on seven of them which was great fun and I was in my element.
“I won a few of the smaller races and had some placings in the crits including a fourth place in Harlem which was helpful because it had good prize money.”
Returning home, Perry embarked on six weeks training with the army reserve near Wagga Wagga.
“It was really good for me. It’s part of the army training to see who can mentally stick it out and that really helped put everything into perspective and made me realise how good I did have it.”
Back home in West Launceston, Perry returned to local club nights and races, caught up with Tasmanian Institute of Sport coach Matthew Gilmore and again teamed up with dad, Jamie, who had been her coach for six years as a junior.
Her immediate goals are the national track championships and joining Stewart at the International Track Series in Melbourne but long-term targets are further afield.
“I have pretty big goals,” Perry said. “I want to go to the Tokyo Olympics, that’s what I have in my sights. I don’t know how realistic that is at the moment, but we’ll see what happens and where it takes me. I also want to get back to the world cups and world champs.
“I’ve really enjoyed getting back on the bike. I’m beginning to find a lot of the speed I had lost. I’m still lacking fitness but that will come.
“It’ll be good to get some hard racing in and see what sort of shape I’m in.”
Perry said watching state teammates Cure and Baker at last year’s Olympic Games provided all the motivation she needed.
“It was very motivating and I was wishing I was there too. It’s pretty inspiring. I would love to do everything Amy has done. She’s a great role model for us and Georgia overcame her own health issues to achieve her Olympic goal.
“It’s quite inspiring seeing what they’ve done because it makes it more realistic coming from the same place.”