SHANNON Malseed can see cyclists riding adjacent to Perth's Swan River from the comfort of her high-rise hotel room.
People sunbake beside the pool below while others simply go about their daily lives. Malseed can't leave her room, but her gratitude for life is at an all-time high.
The former National Road Championships road race winner, who grew up 28 kilometres north of Portland in Narrawong, is almost halfway through a mandatory two-week hotel quarantine period after returning from Belgium.
She's not in Perth by coincidence. Her presence in the west is the result of a gruelling decision - retirement.
Shannon Malseed the professional cyclist is no longer.
Shannon Malseed the person, however, couldn't be more at peace with her decision. But that doesn't mean it came easy.
You think: 'what's my purpose here in my time on earth?'.Shannon Malseed
"It's a decision that took a long time to come to. Especially this year with the coronavirus where we've been locked in self-isolation for a period," she tells The Standard.
"I had to consider even if I was able (to get to Europe) was I willing to do two weeks in isolation in coming back? I think that's a large mental strain for anyone, being in self-isolation for that long.
"It's just a huge commitment, let alone the financial side of it. But I've had a thing in the back of my head - what's it all for? We all go through those big questions in life. "You think: 'what's my purpose here in my time on earth?'.
"I think cycling really took me through that personal journey of finding who I am as a person and what my true values are."
Malseed's Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank teammates hold a special place in her heart.
She's grateful she did venture overseas for the final three months of her professional career, but is now content watching friends conquer European cycling on the small screen.
"I'm not sure if it's the jet lag at this stage or if I'm just not doing much but I'm just not sleeping very well. I was up quite early (on Monday) watching the Tour of Flanders on TV," Malseed says.
"I was watching my team race and I was just absolutely loving watching the team tactics play out.
"There were some really interesting tactics in the women's race from Boels Dolmans and the Mitchelton-Scott dynamic as well.
"I have some great friends on the Mitchelton-Scott. It was cool watching my teammate Lauren Stephens and then there was (Camperdown's) Grace Brown and Sarah Roy, my Aussie mates.
"My heart was racing watching my friends from Mitchelton-Scott in the finale. I still really love watching. The team aspect of it is my favourite part."
Reflecting on her career, two achievements stand out.
First place at the Australian National Road Race Championships in 2018 is one, while riding teammate Chloe Hosking to victory at the Commonwealth Games is on par.
"That was such a special team in my heart. Wearing the green and gold was just incredible, that whole experience was... everything about it was amazing," she says.
"There are so many moments when you're racing that are special because it's people just working selflessly for each other.
"I've experienced that from the start, when I began with the Holden Women's Cycling Team. That gave me the bug to go further with cycling."
Above all else, it's relationships and camaraderie which turned that bug into an all-consuming passion.
When the desire started to fade, Malseed knew it was time.
"I wrote a pretty long message to my friends and I said (cycling) really filled my cup when I was 20," she says.
"But now, the sips are less satisfying. It's kind of like now, other things are really filling my cup and giving me energy and making me excited.
"Cycling just started to feel like it was draining my energy."
Career decisions are hard. Even more difficult for professional athletes who've given 100 per cent of their time and energy to being the best they can be at a particular sport for most of their adult lives.
But when asked what's next, Malseed doesn't miss a beat.
"I've had a lot of things swimming around in my head and I have a lot of time to put them on a page," Malseed laughs.
"I'm a creative person so I've had them up there making a nice story in my head. I've actually started a yoga teaching training course, which I'm doing at the moment. I'm really enjoying the philosophy of yoga.
"I'm loving it not only for the strength and flexibility it gives you - obviously I love exercise - but I'm a pretty spiritual person as well and that just speaks to me."
Starting mentoring is also high on Malseed's agenda. She expects athletes will be drawn more than any other discipline but isn't leaving it at that.
"I think with all mentors, they have their own spin to put on things and I can see I'd probably attract a niche of athletes," she says.
"Perhaps as I get more experienced, further down the track it can expand to all kinds of people.
"I think for sure my passion lies in the power of the mind, in mindfulness and spirituality as well as finding yourself.
"I'm really passionate that people can live their dream and they don't have to have dreams stay as dreams. It's about helping people understand it's OK to dream big and to chase those dreams."
Malseed expects to be back on a bike - albeit in a less formal way - shortly.
She's unsure if that means buying a gravel bike or returning to the highways for road cycling. "I'm based in Port Campbell now and while the Great Ocean Road is great, it's not great to ride on with lots of cars," Malseed says.
"(Professional cycling), as I said, is all-consuming. You think it'd be nice to go mountain biking, but you think: 'am I going to get injured?'.
"That's a bit scary. It's like, is it going to affect my road cycling? Now it's kind of like, stuff it, I'll go mountain biking and who cares if I fall off? It's going to be OK.
"There's a lot of those sort of things I want to experience with my partner and see if I can maybe up his cycling game a bit."
Port Campbell is a dream spot for Malseed, who is also a keen musician.
"We're like five minutes from the best sunsets that I've ever seen, and the best coastlines that I've ever seen," she says.
"Everywhere that I've been in the world has some absolutely beautiful places but to be able to say I'm going home to one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen is pretty incredible."
Malseed knows the role south-west Victoria played in her rise and she's thankful for the helping hand. Portland, Port Fairy and Warrnambool cycling clubs all played a role.
"I had some really great mentors and support," she says.
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