If you just looked at the results sheet from last weekend’s NSW Elite Track Championships, you wouldn’t think much of Finley Moutter.
Slowest in the Flying 200m (11.806), last in both his Keirin races, second to last in the Kilometre Time Trial (1:12.896) and DNFs in both the Scratch Race and Points Race – objectively, these aren’t outstanding results.
But for young Moutter, who turns 19 this year, competing in the event was an important step in his nascent career. In only his second year in the sport, the inexperienced Moutter went up against the big boys, including multiple-time state champions Kai Chapman and Ben Harvey. He learnt a lot from it – humility, for starters.
“I don’t really get to race against that level of competition that often,” says Moutter. “I felt pretty good coming into it, but I got brought down to reality in the actual racing.”
“I never really practised super-long races against that level of riders, and my gearing was too big.”
Moutter used to race BMX as a junior. During that time, he ventured onto Merrylands Oval’s cycling track every now and then for cross-training. It wasn’t until he went for a ride around the Australian Alps that he became addicted to the drop-bar stuff.
“I’d done BMX for ten years before this, actually,” he says. “I got really motivated, really found a love for the sport about a year ago when I was on a holiday in Bright. I brought the old road bike out, loved riding mountains, and I haven’t looked back since.”
Finley completed a full track and road season last year as a member of Parramatta Cycling Club. Even though he just finished his HSC, he’s learning a lot. Every race – and especially, every loss – teaches him new lessons.
Take his time trial, for example. Most athletes would say the state championship is not the time for trying new things. Ideally, a rider would have trained for many hours before putting together a well-rehearsed performance. Not so with Moutter, whose state championship time trial was the very first time he’d ever ridden a one-kilometre race. That might explain his naïve approach.
“On paper, four laps doesn’t sound too long – one kilometre,” he says. “Instantly, like one lap in, my legs blew up. I was like, geez, these four laps… they’re going to take forever. It felt like my legs were slow motion.”
They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and an indefatigable Moutter is already planning his next assault on the kilo.
“Gotta love the pain, you know? I didn’t really practice for it, so that’s what happens when you don’t practice for it. Next year, I’ll come back with some practice under my belt and definitely improve it.”
Moutter’s positive attitude speaks volumes about his motivation to succeed in his chosen sport. He has a rare and highly desirable quality for a cyclist: a love of suffering.
“I just love the disciplined, hard training of it. I like having something to build my life around, if you get what I mean? It’s the toughest challenge you can do, mentally and physically, training all the time, just the suffering of the races and the rides, and I just love the challenge. I just want to succeed, be the best I can at it.”
For Moutter, his reality-check at the Elite Championships taught him another important lesson. It confirmed what kind of rider he wants to be.
“I wasn’t really sure what I was going to focus on because I keep on switching between endurance and sprint. I have a little bit of sprint background from BMX, obviously, but I’m more built towards endurance, and I’ve been doing road cycling as well. It really confirms what I really want to focus on, which is endurance.”
In just one short season of competition, Moutter has already attracted plenty of attention. This summer, he won the A-Grade point score in Bankstown Sports Cycling Club’s track series. He’s also picked up a spot on a local NRS development squad, the Mainpac Cycling Team (MTOSS).
What are his goals for the future? Again, perhaps with the exuberance of youth, Moutter is optimistic about improving at the Elite level.
“It’s still going to take me a few years, given I started so late. The plan is to finish uni in a few years, and then I’ll hit my prime, mid-to-early 20s or so – that’s when I’ll be finished and I can really focus on it.”
“My real long-term goal this year is the state omnium on the track. That’s what I want to do well in, and I think trying to gear up for that. But there’s the Worlds in 2020 [UCI Road World Championships in Wollongong, 2022] on the road, so that’s a really long-term goal.”
Lao Tzu once wrote, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Wherever young Finley ends up in this beloved sport, he seems to be setting his feet in the right direction.