IT’S been a long road to recovery for Warrnambool cyclist Matt Lane, almost as long as the one he will ride on Saturday.
In April, Lane was caught up in a horrific race fall in Footscray.
It smashed and crushed his teeth and broke his jaw.
But the physical injuries were just the surface.
The crash also shattered his confidence.
This weekend the 18-year-old will aim to vanquish his mental demons when he hits the road for his first 262-kilometre Melbourne to Warrnambool Cycling Classic.
“When I had the crash, I thought my year was over, I didn’t think I’d ride another race all year,” Lane told The Standard.
“I still haven’t got my confidence back fully, but I’m getting there.
“Each race builds it up a little bit more.”
Lane said that after the crash, he considered never getting back on the bike.
However, the support of the south-west cycling fraternity was what drove him to return to the sport he loves.
“The hardest part wasn’t getting back on the bike, or competing in races,” he said.
“It was getting back into the routine of training.
“But there were so many people that helped me get back to where I am today and I think I’m back to where I was fitness wise.
“Because I had so much time off I wasn’t doing the long hours on the bike.
“That was the main reason I wanted to do the Warni — to push myself.”
Lane is a member of the South Coast Cycling team.
He said being part of a team environment had been a positive experience.
“It’s been really good, we have been developing more as a team and I think it will only get stronger as the guys are together for longer,” he said.
“This weekend, Nick Squillari and Daniel Herrewyn are riding the Warni with me and even though we are in different grades we will look after each other. I’m down to do the Shipwreck Coast Classic on Sunday as well, but I will just see how I pull up from Saturday,” he said.
His father Des rode the classic seven times, but Lane said his father wasn’t able to offer much advice.
“When dad rode it, it was still a handicap race, so it’s completely different now,” he said.
“But other people I’ve spoken to have said the strong cross-winds between Lismore and Camperdown is where you get knocked around a bit.
“I’m just aiming to stay with the bunch for as long as I can and to see what the race is like so I can come back and have a better crack at it.”
Lane predicted that riders from teams Drapac, Genesys and Budget Forklifts would be the ones to watch in both the Melbourne to Warrnambool and Sunday’s Shipwreck Coast Classic.
This weekend is also Lane’s last race in Australia for at least 10 months.
He is set to board a plane for Europe next week.
“I’m heading over for a minimum of 10 months, possibly more,” he said.
“But I won’t be completely off the bike.
“I’m going to race in Belgium for a couple of months.
“I’m really look forward to it.
“It will be great to experience racing at an international level.”