From Great Wall to Grafton as Evers steps out of saddle
CYCLING: After enjoying his best season in the saddle racing on China's domestic scene, Grafton cyclist Craig Evers has made a shock decision to step away from competition.
Evers has lived in China for the past two years, and was part of the highly successful Panda CCN Cycle team which was predominantly made up of Mongolian cyclists.
Affectionately referred to as the wàiguórén (Chinese for foreigner) while on tour, Panda claimed several major victories across the year, including the Yunnan Gran Fondo.
But with one eye on settling into life with his girlfriend Anna Yuan, and a chance to return home to the Clarence Valley, Evers has given up competitive cycling for the forseeable future.
"We are looking to settle in Australia for the short term and get a bit more organised here,” he said. "We do want to look more long term in Australia, but once I have got everything settled, then I will look at getting back into the cycling.
"I do love the cycling, it is really enjoyable, I love the competition and I like to win. But I also would like to have a bit more time with my partner.
"I want to focus more on my relationships, have a bit of time to recover and relax and further down the track we can do more.”
Evers said the decision was only made harder by the fact he had grown so much in the past cycling season.
From altering his highly aggressive racing style, to working as part of a strong cycling team, Evers said he felt he had matured in the saddle.
"I had bigger results in 2015 with two UCI stage wins overseas, but this year has been successful in a way that I have become a better cyclist both mentally and physically,” he said.
"I would consider this my best year in the saddle by far.
"That change is driven by the fact you race for good prizemoney and I have been forced to try to outsmart other riders.
"I am pretty easy to spot in races over there, and they are all looking for me and following me so I have had to learn to adapt and outsmart them on the bike.”
Evers also enjoyed life experiences while racing in China that he said would stay with him for a long time to come, including racing over the top of the Great Wall of China, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
While he has sworn himself out of competitive cycling for the time being, Evers said he has enjoyed getting back involved in the Grafton Cycle Club and will likely become a weekly feature at the club.
He also hinted that he may get involved in local racing events, including the Mauri Kato Memorial time trial and Jacaranda Criterium.
"I always have these plans that I am going to step away and I am not going to be doing this race or doing that race but I always end up back on the start line,” he said.