I am writing while sitting at a bench in my apartment in Adelaide, Australia. I am here to enjoy and embrace all that is the Tour Down Under Cycling Race.
This morning, along with approximately 1000 others, I participated in a 107 kilometre ride through the Adelaide Hills and surrounds. A ride that entailed nearly 1800 metres of climbing and that inclusive of stops for red lights, traffic, water and food, I completed in 4 hours and 27 minutes.
I am here in Adelaide and cycling each day due in no small part to a Gentleman who passed away yesterday aged 81.
In 6 weeks time, I will embrace 10 years since I had open heart surgery to repair 4 blockages in arteries. The date was 3 March 2008 and I was not yet 50 years old.
In 2004 I started cycling and a year later was introduced to Hamilton Wheelers Cycling Club where I started some local club criterion and road racing.
I was graded C Grade and was a perennial finisher in the main pack. I never troubled the podium.
The Handicapper was a “no nonsense” hard nosed veteran cyclist and was an expert at dealing with the many competitors trying to convince him they should be dropped a grade.
He was equally welcoming and supportive of new cyclists and always ready with a tip. He also remembered everyone’s name.
A few weeks after my surgery, I went and watched some races and he enquired as to why I wasn’t racing. When I explained why, he revealed he had had the same surgery some 8 years before.
He encouraged me to keep cycling and to race again suggesting I have a quiet word to him when I am ready.
My Cardiologist was a former racer and in giving me the go ahead to race, added the proviso that it is to be no higher than D Grade.
I was graded in D Grade however after a few months I managed to win a few races. Our handicapper approached me saying he needs to look at putting me back in C Grade however on checking with my Cardiologist, the answer was no.
He called me and said I could stay in D Grade however I would have to “soft pedal” and not win too often. We discussed how this may work and for the next year I did a lot of work at the front of D Grade races and chased down any breakaway.
Being able to keep participating in Club Races was important to me re-gaining my physical confidence.
I have often reflected on his kindness and understanding in negotiating a way for me to keep cycling.
In no small way, he has a great deal to do with me being in Adelaide today.
If it wasn’t for him, I may never have made several European Cycling trips nor run the New York or Berlin Marathons.
I have not seen him for quite a few years however I sit here today both pleased and relieved that I took the time to tell him how much I appreciated what he did for me.
It is a reminder to me how important it is to acknowledge those who make a positive difference to our life.
Thank you to a fine gentleman and someone who was proud to his last day to call himself a cyclist.
If there is cycling in heaven, it is about to be better organised. If there is not, there soon will be.
Rest in Peace Terry Bourne.