Paralympian Michael Milton doesn’t do things by halves, and this year he’s set his sights on The Redback mountain bike stage race in Alice Springs. Milton lost a leg to bone cancer when he was nine year’s old however it hasn’t stopped him from doing what he thinks is fun.
Michael Milton is one of Australia’s best-known athletes. His four-gold-medal haul at the Salt Lake Winter Paralympic Games in 2002 endeared him to this sport-loving nation and earned him the title of Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability.
He represented Australia in skiing at five Winter Paralympic Games and his ski racing medal count stands at eleven Paralympic medals (six gold) and eleven World Championships medals (six gold). He also went on to be the fastest Australian skier ever, clocking a staggering 213.65km/hr. Wow!
Then, he decided to up the ante and pursue a new challenge: cycling. After six months of intense training, he not only won a gold medal at the Australian Track Cycling Championships in 2007 but also broke the Australian record. He was then named in the Paralympic Cycling Team to compete in Beijing in 2008; his sixth Paralympic Games and his first as a summer athlete.
Since then Michael has taken up more sporting interests including adventure racing, triathlons, marathon running and mountain biking. This has led him to The Redback mountain bike stage race in Alice Springs.
The Redback provides four days and six stages of some of the most inspiring mountain biking Australia has to offer, racing along the jaw-dropping trails around Alice Springs, Northern Territory.
Michael said it’s the combination of exploring new places and taking up new challenges that first sparked his interest in the event.
“I love riding my bike and using it to explore new places. I spoke to some friends who have ridden in the event and read about the trail network there, and I am always interested in a challenge,” he said. “The idea of getting away from Canberra mid-winter to some warmth was appealing as well as having a training goal to get me out on cold winter mornings,” said Milton.
Alice Springs is surrounded by over 200km of hand built single track made for mountain bikes by mountain bikers and The Redback makes full use of these quality trails.
The six stages of The Redback are extremely varied, offering up stunning 40-50km cross country stages through to a 22km night race and a 300m climb up Alice Spring’s Anzac Hill.
“I love riding at night so I think my favourite will be Stage 4 (the 22km Cyclecover Night Race). The whole idea of a mass start is appealing and I think the atmosphere with so many riders with lights on will be great,” said Milton.
Michael says his training in the lead up to the event won’t be ideal as he’ll spend much of winter at Thredbo or riding in the cold in Canberra.
“I think you always arrive at the start line wishing you had done more, it is just a fact of life with a family and work commitments. Still, I was an elite athlete for many years so at least I have some history that I can lean on a bit. At the same time this event is more about having fun with friends and being a weekend warrior not an elite athlete, so if there is a dinner that goes late or a party then I won’t be too stressed about missing out on some sleep,” he said.
The Redback will be held from Thursday 20th to Sunday 23rd August 2015, with the event based from the Chifley Alice Springs Resort.
Register for The Redback 2015 or find out more at theredback.com.au