On the road to victory

17 November 2023

ADF cyclists secured back-to-back championships at the ADF National Cycling Carnival (NCC), held at Mount Stromlo in Canberra.

It was the biggest carnival to date, with more than 130 riders from across Australia competing in all disciplines from October 18 to 27.

The top riders belonged to Army, with Corporal Sean Smith the overall male winner for cross-country and road categories, and Corporal Kym Lynch won the women’s cross-country and road categories.

Despite some stiff competition, Corporal Smith took gold in each of his races, including short and long-course cross country, criterium, road race, hill climb and a time trial.

“The road race was pretty tough. There were three of us off the front and then one of my main competitors. Unfortunately, his chain snapped, so I came away with the win on that one,” Corporal Smith said.

“I like the social aspect of cycling. There’s a great community in Wagga and I ride with a couple of guys from the base and it's a great form of low-impact cardio.”

Corporal Smith competes on the national circuit for Criterion Racing as a Defence elite athlete, and is training for the Road Nationals in 2024.

Riding in his first ADF NCC, Private Jarrod Hughes won the downhill race by seven seconds, but bad luck in the gravity enduro race meant he took third for overall gravity category.

“Thirty seconds into the first stage I got a flat tyre on both the front and rear wheels, and that took me out of the running,” he said.

Air Force cyclists defied gravity to bring home gold in the enduro and downhill events.

Flight Lieutenant Anita Webb placed first in gravity enduro and second in downhill to win the elite women’s gravity category. However, the highlight of her competition was trying BMX for the first time, and winning.

“Some people had ridden BMX in the past and they're actually quite good at it, they just haven't done it for a while. And then you had people who had never done it before,” she said.

“Everyone gets in and gives it a go.”

As a women’s advocate for the sport, Flight Lieutenant Webb thinks the carnival is a great opportunity for women to compete, regardless of their skill level.

“All the girls that came along this year loved it. There were a lot of beginners that hadn't done much mountain biking in the past and now they're hooked,” she said.

On October 26, the association held the fallen rider’s memorial, to remember ADF cycling members who have died.

Each year since 2013, after the death of Chief Petty Officer Kane ‘Dutchy’ Vandenberg, family and friends of the fallen have been invited to the top of Mt Stromlo for the memorial.

A new name was added to the memorial this year: Warrant Officer Class Two Joseph ‘Phil’ Laycock, who died in the MRH-90 Taipan crash earlier this year.

ADF Cycling Association president Squadron Leader Aaron Pyle said that while it was a sad occasion, everyone was encouraged to look up and admire the view during a minute's silence, and reflect on their fondest and happiest memories.

“Following this, we ride down the mountain in one big train, where you can hear the cheers and fun echo through the hills,” he said.

This year, seven members of the New Zealand Army flew across the ditch to take part for the first time, an invitation Squadron Leader Pyle would like to keep open, making trans-Tasman participation a regular occurrence.

“It was great to get some of the cross-pollination of cycling experience between the New Zealand and Australian defence forces,” he said. 



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