Prequel to “The Ambulance Ride”

Chapter 1:  My cycling history.


For this story I need to take you back.  Way back.  Back to my dark ages.  Back to a time when I still lived at home with my mother.  The year was 1988.  A time when I was no longer a teenager, but definitely not an adult. 


I had been cycling competitively for 6 years on the road and about 2 or 3 years on the track and progressively improving.  After breaking into A-grade at the beginning of the track season which began in October 1987, I had a patchy run with most weekends ending in not enough prize money to pay the petrol, let alone the accommodation costs of the trip. 


At the state championships in February 1988 I entered everything.  After such a mediocre debut in the big time, I proved I belonged at the bottom of A-grade with a raft of dismal results at the championships.  20k scratch race – DNF.   Point Score – DNF.  Individual Pursuit – out in the qualifying round.  Kilo – 14th, 9 seconds off the winner.  Sprint – 4th.


What was that?!  Where did that come from?!  4th.  My mother was there and she was unbelievably proud.  Embarrassingly proud.  Get me a lawyer and get me an AVO proud.


But I had not been exposed to Zig Ziglar or Dale Carnegie or Og Mandino or Napoleon Hill.  I saw myself, not as my mother saw me, but as the first loser.  The first guy that doesn’t get a medal.


Chapter 2:  The flawed logic training program™.


This was the first weekend of 3 weeks holiday from a good paying government job that I only left in 2001 after 15 years.  Remember I was still living with mum.  If you are thinking “disposable cash” you are spot on and this meant just grabbing a credit card and leaving on a monster road trip was very do-able. 


Having inexplicably achieved a fourth place at the state championships in the sprint – the shortest, fastest, and often roughest event on the program – but failing horribly at every event that involved more than 400 metres of effort, I decided that I needed some miles in my legs before the next weekend.  


It was a knee-jerk reaction from someone with no understanding of physiology, but I had a week until the next race carnival and I wasn’t about to waste it when my weakness was so glaringly obvious.  Stamina.  Stamina is fixed with endurance training.  Lets hit the road. 


Chapter 3:  BIG Mike does 24 hours of MOAB (Mike On A Bike)


The next track carnival was 350 miles away.  I packed the track bike and spares in a box and put it in the care of the gorillas at the railroad, then set off on a 4 day 350 mile solo ride to the venue.  Along Highway 1, no less.  Yes THE highway in Australia that links 6 of the 8 state capitals and represents 8500 miles of continuous blacktop.  This thing is thick with semi-trailers 24 hours a day.  So I just got on the bike and rode, no support vehicle, just a credit card and a change of clothes in a bonk bag.


Day 1 (Monday): was a straight forward 121 miles averaging over 19.5 miles per hour.

Day 2 (Tuesday): was supposed to be a relaxing 65 miles but it started with 2 punctures in the first 10 miles.  I had 4 spares but didn’t like my chances so I took a detour to a town that had a bike shop of known quality.  Total 104 miles at 18.5 mph.

Day 3 (Wednesday):  I woke with tendonitis in one ankle so re-scheduled my big day and did the minimum to get to the next clean accommodation.  68 miles at 16.5 mph.

Day 4 (Thursday): 101 miles. Long, dead, lonely miles.  But this was March weather (think Texas in September) and my knick tan was coming on a treat. I arrived at my destination at 6pm having struggled all day but still managing 17mph.


My 4 day tally was 21 hours and 48 minutes in the saddle.  Thus, BIG Mikes (21.8) 24 hours of MOAB.  Near enough.


Day 5 (Friday):  I was where I needed to be and my body knew it.  After a leisurely 394 miles in 4 days I couldn’t turn the pedals better than 12 mph on a dead flat road with no wind.  Which was lucky because my track bike needed a lot of love to recover from it’s journey at the hands of the heathens.


Day 6 (Saturday):  Race day.  Come and visit again tomorrow to find out how it ends.



Footnote:  fatty, I know you are a bit apprehensive about the whole track racing thing and my comments over time have only added to your anguish.  We moved house earlier in the year and photo albums are a bit scarce so I can’t find photos of my injured self.  But I warn you in advance that tomorrows post will contain a photo of my first track bike that will bring tears to the eyes of anyone who appreciates a thoroughbred racing machine.

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17 Responses to Prequel to “The Ambulance Ride”

  1. AO says:

    Aaauuuugh… MIKE you are such a tease. Don’t leave us hanging like this… Do to the time difference isn’t it our tomorrow there? So, come on man, post the rest of the story all ready…Okay, I’ll wait (impatiently), but will check back so often it will definitely pad your hit stats.

  2. Zed says:

    Inspirational. I’d LOVE to take a vacation like that (so far), but, alas, I think my spouse would kill me. That’s wicked rad awesome, though.

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