Forget the five-hour rides and the leg-burning, lung-busting hills – Courteney Lowe’s cycling secret this year could well be chocolate.
The Tauranga 25-year-old is heading back to the United States next month for another professional stint, hoping to shake an injury-ridden couple of seasons and get back to the form that made her the 2013 New Zealand road race champion.
To get there and compete, she’s been baking up a storm. Chocolate, choc-mint and caramel-flavoured cookies have been flowing out of Somerset Cottage – the restaurant owned by her parents Anne and Rick – with the key ingredient supplied by local chocolate producer Solomons Gold.
“I’ve always loved to bake – I’m not much of a cook but I think at least the baking ability might’ve filtered down from my family!” Lowe said. “It’s a cool way to fundraise because everyone likes chocolate, it helps promote a cool new local company and it’s a great way for me to wind down and relax when I’m not training.”
Somerset Cottage customers have been a key market, with excellent support from Tauranga Cycling Club members. The fundraising is especially important this season, as Lowe has decided against joining a professional team – at least, not immediately. Instead, she’ll pick and choose the races she wants to ride, then hope to produce the results which will see one of the big teams pick her up.
Until then, she’s focused on her comeback, following hip surgery on both sides of her body to clear blocked arteries.
“The last three or four years have been really frustrating. I’ve had two lots of surgery and they really knocked me around, mentally and physically. I’ve had a good break since November and I’m feeling better than I’ve ever felt. Coming home and training with Dad has been a breath of fresh air, because he helps out a lot and the club has been really supportive.”
Part of that comeback included skipping the New Zealand championships last month on advice from her coach, former British cycling Olympian Rachel Heal.
“My coach and I decided it I want to race well in America, I can’t peak in January, which is hard because I love nationals. But it’s actually been so good because I’ve had no stress and it’s been mentally refreshing.”
To order cookies and support Courteney’s cycling comeback, click here!