Veteran competing with women half her age
At Invercargill a year ago, Megan Blatchford-Peck startled the two women who were sharing a podium with her.
Veteran Blatchford-Peck had just come second in the national sprint race, for elite women, the best in the country.
"I joked with them," she said. "I asked them, 'How old are your mothers?"'
They answered, 42 and 43. Blatchford-Peck was 45 at the time.
The youngsters shouldn't have been surprised. The Palmerston North woman, so beloved of track cycling, has won seven world titles, all in masters track cycling.
"I'm 46 now and it's getting too competitive; it's probably time to move on," she said.
With such a medal haul behind her, Blatchford-Peck was named Manawatu's first masters athlete of the year in November.
The world titles came at Sydney at the world championships in 2007 (one), 2008 (four) and 2009 (two).
"My goal now will be to get a masters world record," she said.
She can do that in New Zealand or Australia.
"I'm not expecting a lot but I will be attempting the standing 500m time-trial time at the nationals."
She has marked that down for Invercargill in March.
"It would make me the fastest woman in the world over 45 years on a bike."
As for attending future world masters championships, they'll have to wait until Manchester, England, when she turns 50.
When she won her first world masters title, the scratch race in 2007, she did it by beating former Olympic Games medallist Michelle Ferris, who was 12 years younger.
Blatchford-Peck began riding when she was 14. Her father Jim helped found the Palmerston North Pedal Club. He was tragically killed about 20 years ago while warming up for a Palmerston North club event.
Undaunted, Megan gave cycling away after two years, started again at 19, three months later won a national sprint title and kept at it until she was 22. Then came another break before she became hooked again, aged 39.
"My passion was track cycling but years ago there were no track events at the Commonwealth Games."
She'd like to help more women get on to the track.
Blatchford-Peck rides at the Feilding track, the only one in Manawatu, and hopes a national velodrome will be built at Massey University.
"It's another form of fitness anyone can do. I have never trained more than eight hours a week. It's a sport people don't think about because you need a separate bike.
"You can do it at any age and don't spend a long time on the road."
She enjoys the competitiveness of being close to her opponents, something she missed in her youth.
In her youth she won two national masters road titles, but didn't like the road, having to train for long periods.
Nowadays she coaches herself, works mornings at the Massey Recreation Centre and is an athlete in the afternoons. Husband Rory gave up cycling to support Megan.
"I'm absolutely spoilt. I don't even pump my tyres up," she said.
- © Fairfax NZ News