On the road to the top
CLARENCE Valley athlete Aaron Watts has dreams of being a professional road cyclist.
The 22-year-old Yamba resident is in Tasmania for eight days for the latest National Road Series (NRS) stage.
He hopes his performances in the national competition act as a springboard to bigger and better things, with a spot in a professional team on top of the list.
It has not always been that way, with Watts revealing he only decided on following his two-wheeled passion three years ago.
"The only time I would ride was when I wasn't surfing," Watts said.
"It's probably the complete opposite now.
"My first year in the NRS was more about seeing if it was what I wanted to do. I'm now in my third."
Watts enters the eight-day Tour of Tasmania with a view to finish the season with a bang.
He will cover 650-700km during the race, which will run from Hobart to Davenport via Launceston.
"It's going to be tough," Watts said.
"I think it ends up being about 85-90km each day. In terms of mental preparation, all you can do is spend a lot of time riding."
Watts enlisted the help of endurance mountain bike rider and fellow Yamba athlete Morgan Pilley to finetune his preparation.
Pilley, who rides in the European circuit and recently won the Rome 24 hour, works with Watts when he is in town, and shares training regimes to help the youngster improve.
"He's a good young guy with the right attitude and talented," Pilley said.
"I've been training with him when I've been home for the last years but he's decided to focus a lot on his cycling this year."
Watts' 2013 highlight reel will include various NRS stages where he has tried to make his mark.
The Tour of Great Southern Coast was one event that stood out in his mind, as it was the first time he was picked up by a team.
He raced internationally earlier this year as well, with he and fellow rider Dion Wilkes competing at the Tour of Tahiti.
He will finish his season with the Grafton to Inverell next month, and is keen to finish on a high.
"My goal is to finish the season as best I can. It's been a massive learning experience and I'd like to continue riding in the NRS."
Watts thanked his workplaces Yamba Welding and Engineering and Yamba Bowling Club for their flexibility with his training and competitions, and Bill Fernance at Xtreme Bike and Skate for his support.