When she was seventeen, Georgia Whitehouse was t-boned by a car while on her daily ride home from school in the northern NSW town of Taree, leaving her with chronic pain, fatigue and memory problems.
Determined to not allow the incident to dictate her quality of life, Georgia underwent daily rehab specific strength training and weekly physiotherapy.
Six years after the crash, Georgia made a triumphant return to her bike. Less than two years later, she started racing with NSWIS and stunned the women’s domestic racing scene when in her maiden NRS Tour, the Tour of King Valley, she claimed her first stage victory in a sprint win over Macey Stewart and Rebecca Wiasak.
In 2018, riding for the rebranded Sydney Uni – Staminade Women’s team, the 27-year-old has turned heads on the international scene following an epic breakaway in the 2018 Evans Great Ocean Road Race and is fresh from her first international race abroad.
Take us through your journey from the accident, and the steps you took to ensure you could ride again.
Mentally and physically the crash rocked me but I made it my duty to return to cycling. The legal aspect was confronting, so initially I was motivated to return to cycling by anger and dogged determination.
I tried to rush my healing and start training again but my body and medical practitioners protested. After failed attempts to ride I accepted my fate and focused on study, being a teenager and learning how to manage chronic pain.
Although I was never quite convinced my situation was a dire as doctors had said. I slowly started to reintroduce exercise into my life. I did yoga and started to rebuild myself though daily rehab specific strength training and weekly physiotherapy.
I remember sobbing when my physio told me she believed I would eventually be able to run. That was the hope I needed and I worked so hard and was able to do an ultra marathon.
Then she said I would be able to ride and we made that our goal… and here we are!
What about that moment you finally got back on your bike
Returning to cycling was hard! People think they feel unfit after a two weeks off, try six years.
My legs trembled and ached for days after two sets of five minutes on an indoor bike. I couldn’t believe how strong I was at 14 years old and questioned if I would ever be back to that level of fitness.
With small steps and a lot of supportive people in my life I slowly built a base and joined SUVelo and found encouraging bunches to nurture me back into cycling.
Returning to cycling has brought so much joy into my life. I forgot (or made myself forget) how ecstatic it feels to be on the bike. I am so grateful to have my health and to be able to race with my team all over Australia.
To your comeback to racing in 2017, how was your first race back?
It was both thrilling and intimidating to return to racing! I had a lot of learning to do and having had such a long break I was not well versed in the NRS style of racing.
King Valley was a massive surprise. I had no expectations for myself other than to contribute to the team and learn. Coming away with a win was a delightful shock. It felt very special and gave me a well-needed confidence boost.
2018 has begun in spectacular style with an epic effort in the Cadel Race in a star studded field, a win in April’s B2B, and a stint racing in China.
This year has been full on! I had my first taste of UCI racing in January and then my first international race a few months later! I’m stoked with the once in a lifetime opportunities I have been given.
Being able to race against the best female cyclist in the world is honestly beyond a dream come true. I am very happy and feeling confident heading into the 2018 NRS.
NRS18 – Looking ahead, a new name and kit for your team, do you have new goals personally and for the team?
It’s been extremely exciting seeing the team transformation – I had no idea how much went into forming a team and have been blown away by the generosity and passion that goes into getting NRS teams afloat. The end product has been awesome! We have a vibrant new look and a great selection of athletes.
I would say the team’s main objective this year is to provide all of our riders with the best opportunities for them advance their skills, race experience, fitness and get them closer that end goal of being a full time professional cyclist. We hope to win as many NRS stages and tours as possible and to be ranked as one of the best teams in the NRS to secure invites into UCI events. Another goal the team is focused on is promoting a pathway for female athletes that combine cycling with excellence in tertiary education.
As for my goals, obviously the team’s goals are my goals! I’ve also got my eye on Nationals. An unfortunate crash late last year, along with doctor’s orders prevented me from competing at Nationals, so I am looking forward to getting amongst it next year!
My goal is also to learn as much as possible, I am excited that Vicki Whitelaw is the newest member to our team and look forward to her mentorship.
Originally published by Cycling Australia. Republished with permission.