13 Sep 22 | By pp-admin | Cycling tips, Pedal Power
By Linda Laker
Have you been hiding under the doona, excusing yourself from getting on your bike because of this long, grey, wet, Canberra winter? Well, you will definitely be inspired to get out there and have fun riding after reading our latest member profile of Lachlan Lewis.
Lachlan rides a road bike and always has. In his country childhood, he had a five kilometre walk to school in the morning and the same back in the afternoon … up a hill… and quickly had the smarts to ride to school instead of walk. His bike had no gears and not very good brakes and no clip-on pedals. But on the upside, there was no traffic. Even as a five year old, he remembers riding a tricycle to family picnics – before he could ride a bike. This would be a round-trip of around ten kilometres. Even though Lachlan characterises his upbringing as tough, he’s glad of that and feels it’s always stood him in good stead throughout his long life.
Okay, you say. Lots of us rode throughout our childhood.
His bike had no gears and not very good brakes and no clip-on pedals. But on the upside, there was no traffic.
Earlier this year, he did the Cole Ocean Swim Classic at Manly Beach. He has also ridden Canberra’s Five Peaks challenge in the past. He’s got a few bikes but only rides one or two of them. His favourite is his second-hand racing bike which he happened to pick up at the Rotary Bike Exchange. “It’s an old bike, but it does its job” says Lachlan. He then goes on to say he thinks he just needs “a new body to push it” … perhaps this might give you a clue as to why Lachlan’s member profile is so very motivating.
Lachlan’s run 63 marathons and 39 world triathlon championships. He’s ‘pushed the envelope’ in his sporting adventures, running an 84km ultramarathon in the permafrost near the North Pole in the early 1980s. The first year he did it, there were only 5 competitors and he came third; the second year, there was an Everest expedition team using it as a training exercise with about 20 competitors and he came sixth. He modestly says that, back in the old days, “he wasn’t too bad”. I think by now you might have twigged to what makes his story so interesting?
Lachlan’s run 63 marathons and 39 world triathlon championships
In June this year, Lachlan won the bronze medal for his age group at the 2022 World Triathlon Sprint & Relay Championships in Montreal. The ride course in Montreal was very technical – that’s putting politely that it was very challenging! Lots of brakes and gears – up hill and down dale, with tight turns and watching out for other competitors. Notwithstanding his impressive 3rd place, Lachlan sheepishly admitted to not having done enough training … because he was too busy! The weather also wasn’t conducive to a lot of bike riding as the risks of spills on wet roads was too great.
Lachlan almost didn’t front for his medal. It was in the evening after the race in the morning and he was a bit tired and admits to being a bit shaken up in the bike race leg as it was a very challenging course on a 38 degree day with high humidity. About half an hour before the ceremony, he was told he’d got a medal and to make sure to be at the awards ceremony. Unfortunately, there was no Australian flag for the podium as the team manager had it with her and was with another competitor who’d landed in hospital. Montreal is, of course, a French-speaking province, so his knowledge of French came in handy. He was able to thank the crowd in French which went over really well and was proud to wear his Australian green-and-gold jersey.
Notwithstanding his impressive 3rd place, Lachlan sheepishly admitted to not having done enough training … because he was too busy!
He takes his own bike for competitions, even overseas. Lachlan makes the point that when coming up against the unexpected (in race conditions), you need to be able to react instantly, and it helps if you know your bike. Otherwise, you finish up with broken bones… and when you get older, you take longer to heal. Fortunately, having had 11 fractures from sporting events (including the frontal bone on his skull when only 15 years old, in the days before helmets), Lachlan does heal fast… but not as fast as when he was younger.
Lachlan got into triathlons when an injury was preventing him from marathon training and enjoyed the cross-training benefits of triathlon sports. As you get older, your body won’t take as much and you have to be content with going slower, but you need to keep doing it. You’ve worked it out haven’t you?
Lachlan is a very young 85 years of age. He feels he’s getting a bit old and cranky but then reflects one has to be thankful for small mercies – with many of his friends in aged care or dead.
You’ve worked it out haven’t you? Lachlan is a very young 85 years of age.
His memories of childhood are coloured by the fall of Singapore in 1942 and what he calls his ‘8th birthday present: the end of World War II with VP Day (Victory in the Pacific) celebrated on 15th August 1945. He practised air raid drills at primary school, squatting in trenches at the back of the school yard. But then, later as an exchange student in Japan, he found himself with the extraordinary opportunity of seeing Emperor Hirohito open their Parliament.
After qualifying as a dentist with post-graduate studies in London, Lachlan lived in Canada for 20 years running a large dental practice. He moved to Canberra in the mid-80s and ran his dental practices in Civic and Red Hill. The fact that he has a little knowledge of twelve languages came in handy with his many clients from the diplomatic community.
After twenty Canadian winters, he’s pretty happy with Canberra winters!
‘No matter how well or how poorly you do it, just damn well do it. And do more. And enjoy it’
Lachlan thinks Canberra’s cycling is “tops”, with comparatively smooth roads. He’s not fond of riding on bike paths due to the uneven surfaces. This is one concession he has made to live within the constraints imposed by age. He tends to be much more selective where he rides now to manage risk.
With a long and active life and many years of cycling, what tips has Lachlan for other Pedal Power members? Lachlan’s philosophy is that he doesn’t do anything particularly well. What he finds important is to do it, rather than watching other people. So the last words come from Lachlan:
“No matter how well or how poorly you do it, just damn well do it. And do more. And enjoy it. If it’s fun, you’re more likely to be doing it. And keep positive too. Appreciate what you have.”
You know what you have to do. Whether you’re training for Fitz’s, riding to work or just cycling to the shops, just get out and enjoy your ride!