Everyone leaves Jack Trickey’s house charged with a mission. You’re to scour every garage sale and op shop for 1956 Olympics memorabilia. Collecting is almost as big an obsession as the cycling that took him as a competitor to the Melbourne Olympics. Almost …
It took him two years delivering papers to pay off his first bike. He slung a bag over the cross bar and loaded the bike with 144 papers. Then he took the same bike racing on the weekend. In his first race at 14 he came second, which has never been good enough.
“Second is the first of the losers” has been a motto all his life. A natural sprinter, Jack raced track and road. There were a few good track riders around, so he decided to concentrate on road racing because he had his eye on the Olympics.
“I started training in January 1956 and trained all through the summer. Come to the first road race in that winter, I was ready to roll -I was wired.” He came second with the fastest time. The bike he rode is still hanging in his shed.
Then followed the 12 test races in the Olympic selection process. “The Melbourne boys thought they had it over the country boys,” he remembers. Jack showed them what country boys were made of. He won seven, placed second and third in two, and punctured in another. He made the team.
It was the continuation of a successful amateur racing career. Even now he can boast that he’s the only Bendigo-bred cyclist to win an Australian road title and to make the Olympics. Everything was looking good.
The race circuit was a hilly route outside Melbourne in Broadmeadows. Some of it was still unsealed. All was going well until something went through his front wheel at the feeding station. With some bitterness, Jack will show you a photo of himself, chin in the dirt, bike skidding behind him. It was the end of the race for him.
He gave up racing soon after and “went into the wilderness”. Jean had been following him around to races since she was 16 and now they settled down to raise five children. Jack looks back and sees a bleak period of aimlessness. “You weren’t that bad,” Jean reassures him. At 40 his father gave him £500 and he set up Trickey’s Diesel at Huntly.
But his health wasn’t good and he’d put on a lot of weight. In his 50s, a naturopath told him his lifespan could be measured in minutes. “So I bought an old mountain bike. I rode 300m to the shop and was completely stuffed.” But he’s adamant that “the best cure for something is just go out and do it.”
Now he dumps a plastic shopping bag full of medals on the kitchen table. There’s another full of sashes. Most of them he’s won since he started out again on his bike. He’s competed around Australia and in the Masters Games in 2002. Every weekend finds him racing with the Central Victorian Veterans Cycling Club – still winning at 72 and Jean still accompanies him.
“If I stop that’ll be the end of me. I only ride to keep vertical,” he states wickedly.
He declares he’s not a sheep either. He sold his last bike because he discovered someone else had one. The new bike lives in the study and he’s confident it’s the only one of its kind in Australia. So is he.
One of his daughters bought him a fitting jersey. It’s bright red and across the back it reads: Recycled Teenager.