Now to be clear, running has not been a big part of my life, but, it did contribute to where I am and to some extent, it placed me where I am right now. Cycling is by far my biggest obsession… and chocolate.
Day 2 Blue Dragon 2010 starting the long climb up the old river bed to Weldborough. Nick Morgan was out of shot just ahead. That’s James Williamson ex 24hr World Champion behind me. RIP Willow xxx
I was always active. As a teen, I became obsessed with body boarding. I was State Champion a bunch of times. Made it my life. I was a surf coach on Philip Island, Victoria for 2 years. Worked in surf shops. Living the dream for someone of that age. Surfed every day for about 5 years. I actually thought that would bode well for me. Low impact as opposed to football or skateboarding etc… When that dream ended I jumped on a plane and moved to Tottenham in North East London.
It was there I started playing tennis. I loved tennis as a kid and as there was not much else on offer in Tottenham… tennis it was. I played a lot. After 2 years in the UK, I moved home and played several times a week, often on hard courts at the Domain Tennis Centre in Hobart. I loved it. I played A Reserve so a pretty high level but I wasn’t an exceptional talent compared to the real deals out there. Once tennis died away for me, I noticed that I started to get a bit chubby….
Hard courts. I loved them. ‘Not anymore!’ Shot taken at the Domain Tennis Centre in beautiful Hobart.
It was in a house that I was sharing with Hobart’s finest, Heath Griggs and George Bailey (Yes, Australian One Day cricket captain) that I started ‘weighing in’. I believe I peaked out at 86kgs. Now I am 179cm tall so that qualifies as stocky… Basic math tells me that given I was 74kgs 10 years prior that I was on a trajectory to obese-ville. A place I was very familiar with given that as a 10 year old boy, I was the fattest kid at school. There was no way I was going back to that dark place. A place where pleat pants rubbed together, where custom cut wetsuits were ordered, where shoes didn’t fit and where girls were ‘your friends.’ So I started riding mountain bikes. Why wouldn’t I, I lived in Hobart. We have some of the best trails in the world!
On Hobart’s waterfront. Me, George Bailey and the one and only, Heath Griggs.
I think I went from 85kgs down to 78kgs in about 6hrs. Well, after my first Mountain Bike race which was a 6hr race… that’s what I lost in fluid. Interestingly, even as a rank beginner, I thought I was a chance at winning that race. Dion Shaw won it. The legend himself. Dion was obsessed with MTB racing. He was the SRAM rep. Rode heaps. Won heaps of races. Got people addicted. He was tops.
Half way through my first Mountain Bike race. 82kgs Wearing a Camelback and zero sock! #sadface!
My growing obsession with bicycles escalated quickly. I was all of a sudden riding a lot. I had a really cool hardtail XC bike. It was a bit of a slalom bike, but I didn’t know the difference at that stage. I rode it everywhere, but mainly up to Junction Cabin via the notorious Old Farm fire road. 14minutes of ‘let go of me’. I’ll post some Strava stats in the LINKS page but believe it is around 20% most of the way and loose. Anyway… I loved it. I loved climbing. I still do.
Basically how i’ve looked for the last 5 years. Excluding the depths of winter!
I was getting lean and fast. Again, I wasn’t rocking up at Le Tour but hey, I was 33 and had a full time job. My new weight was, all of a sudden… 73kgs. Now that’s a great turn around from 86kgs. I was pretty chuffed. Cycling was a brilliant thing for me. New friends and a community I felt part of. Sarah, Dunk, Emma, Adrian, Burf, Burf and Morgs… the list was long and good. xx.
So 2009 came around and I decided I wanted to be the National Marathon Champion for Cross Country. Now I had been racing for 6 months. Riding for 12 months, so winning elite was perhaps a bit of a tall order. I entered the ‘Veterans’. Now… 30+ didn’t feel like veterans. I trained to Lance Armstrong’s program to a tee. Oh my god those 6hr rides at low endurance were so hard to do… I just wanted to smash it haha. I trained for 20hrs a week for 6 months. Rain, hail or rain… or rain. No Strava. No Kickr. Just what now seems like old school, KMs and Zones. I went alright that year…
Proud moment after grabbing some fake gold.
I won the National Mountain Bike Marathon Championships in Bendigo. ‘The Golden Triangle’ course. 105kms. It was brutal. My old best mate, Daniel Todd’s mum had just passed away from cancer. I thought about her and him a lot on the ride. I cried so much during the race. I won. It was amazing. My now dead dad watched me come over the finish line. The look on his face. I’ll never lose that. It was… it was fucking excellent. To note, I was pretty bloody close to the Elite guys. I certainly felt part of it. Of course I wouldn’t have felt part of it if I hadn’t listened to Adrian Van-loon re: hydration. I didn’t have a plan for hydration. He did. Life changing advice once would assume. You capture a certain amount of confidence that life requires when you win a National title. It’s pretty handy.
That season I had a blast racing. I won the Launceston 6 Hour solo in 35 degree heat. Dion Shaw finished second. I won the National Multi-sport pairs race with my brother Mick at the Freycinet Challenge. Mick is the real athlete in our family. He paddled and ran. I TT’d and MTB’d. It was awesome. The next race was The Blue Dragon. My favorite race of all time. A two day stage race. Nick Morgan and I won elite men’s. It was SO MUCH FUN. It was a real war. Also, held at Tasmania’s (and one of the worlds) premier Mountain Bike destinations, Derby on Tasmania’s North East Coast.
There was a bit of a slow demise after 2011… I was still racing. I raced the brilliant Launceston to New Norfolk one day classic and a day later raced the Tour of Tasmania. After that, I had a long break. Focused on work, renovating my new house, starting a family. All very rewarding stuff! 2011 through 2014 was a bit of a blur. I stayed quite fit but certainly wasn’t being pulled toward some purposeful outcome. It was good old motivation keeping me away from mediocrity.
The Launceston to New Norfolk. Smashing it on the front with Nathan Hass third wheel, FlyV, Lawson Homes and the Russian National Team there too. Best road race of my life.
This is where multi-sport joined my life in the solo sense. I’ll leave that journey for my next post…