About 27 years ago, my friend Greg Tarrant turned up at my place in Mossman, in Far North Queensland and asked if I wanted to go for a ride. He had an idea for a mountain bike race for our fledgling club, the Cairns Mountain Bike Club. His idea was a race from Mt Molloy to Port Douglas down the infamous “bump track.”
We went and explored that track and later he introduced it to the Cairns MTB Club. Peter Blakey, Glen Jacobs and the Cairns MTB club brought their vision and creativity to the subsequent races on that track and it is now world famous. It is the RRR MTB Race– the oldest point to point mountain bike race in Australia.
It must be something like 25 or 26 years since I last rode in that race and 20 years since I rode a mountain bike but yesterday I registered to compete in the RRR again. My flights from Sydney to Cairns are booked, along with my accomodation, transfers and race registration. I am incredibly excited to be racing in this event again. It is definitely not for the faint of heart though. 70 kilometres of track featuring Rural, Rainforest and Reef, finishing on the beach at Port Douglas and negotiating the super fast, root strewn descent of the bump-track- this track has teeth. It has bitten me before.
It will be an absolute thrill to revisit this track even if I am now much slower than I was then.
In 1985 I purchased a mountain bike that I set up for touring. I rode it about 3500 kilometres around New Zealand and that is how my (first) cycling life began. I returned to Australia, purchased a new better quality mountain bike, then a road bike, then a track bike and began racing. I raced in all three disciplines for about 10 years. I also worked as a photojournalist, covering mountain bike World Cups, World Championships and track events leading up to the Olympics.
Now after 20 years off the bike, I have begun riding again. In between times, my life was dedicated to my career and then building a successful training and tourism business, to my marriage and our life together. Unfortunately it all began to come apart at the seams about 3-4 years ago when the secret I had been hiding all of my life caused a mental health crisis. I came out as transgender. By the time I acknowledged this, my life and that of my wife was in tatters. I moved to Sydney, with $400, a suitcase and a guitar and began my life again.
As things improved I wanted to stay fit and enjoy some of the things I had previously enjoyed, I saved what little money I could and purchased myself some bikes. It is not easy beginning life again at 54 years of age, some weeks the bills meant I barely had enough funds for food, but I have a fantastic job and wonderful friends. Staying active and pursuing sporting goals helps to keep depression and anxiety at bay.
I work in the field of LGBTI Inclusion, helping organisations to be more inclusive of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people. I wanted to use my cycling as a way to draw attention to the need for inclusion in sport. I also wanted a goal that I could use to motivate me to continue cycling. I chose to set a target of completing one of the most gruelling mountain bike races in the world- The Crocodile Trophy. Not only is the Crocodile Trophy a gruelling race, it is expensive to compete in. It will cost me at least $4000 just to enter. It will cost me another $5000 to get my cycling up to standard through other competitions. Like many trans people, I don’t have those funds. Since I needed to raise funds myself, I decided to use the event to raise funds for LGBTI Inclusion is Sport- more about that later. Please follow my journey towards the 2018 Crocodile Trophy.