LIKE fine wine, Bundaberg cyclist John Bryen is getting better with age.
The 62-year-old has been participating in the sport “for about 25 years” but he recently competed at his national titles debut in the Australian Masters Road Championships at Ballarat.
But he did not just compete, he finished a close second to Victorian Ron Jacobsen in the 70km Division 7 (60-65 years) race.
It was so near but yet so far, but Bryen was still delighted with his silver medal.
Another Bundaberg rider John Boylan, who has mixed it with the best at many national carnivals and who also lined up in the field of 32 with one other local, John Hampson, said that Bryen and Jacobsen took a gamble when they broke away virtually from the start.
“But the weather was terrible with heavy rain and the temperature at five degrees, and we lost about half the field at the first hill,” Boylan said.
“Twelve of us chased them but we just couldn’t catch them in the conditions – but we are very happy for John – gold would have been nice but silver is still pretty good and he did Bundy proud.”
Bryen said despite being fatigued, he gave it his all but that Jacobsen proved just a bit too good in the sprint to the end.
“Both of us were coming to the line together but he was just a little bit stronger – coming up to the line, we were neck-and-neck for 100m in the finishing stages, but he simply refused to give up the lead,” Bryen said.
“But I’m very happy – it was my first time at a nationals – I’ve been away to the states a few times, the first time being years ago, but this year I came second.
“I went OK at the states so I thought I would carry on to the nationals and see how I went down there, and coming up to them, I trained every day, a total of 400 to 450 kilometres per week so it was a lot of hard work, but it was all worth it.”
A technician at a large Bundaberg sports store, Bryen is always close to sport, but he enjoying a bit of a break from his bike and the hard roads.
“The road season is over now. It is now track season and I’m still contemplating whether to do it – I did it last year but I feel I might have a bit of a rest from racing for a while until the next road season fires up around Easter,” he said.
Bryen already has his sights set on next year’s Aussie titles and he hopes to go one.
Hampson narrowly missed a medal, winding up a close and very creditable fourth with Boylan 11th.
Boylan said Bundaberg was also well represented at the championships by Neil Sauer and Ted Trask who competed in Division 2 (35-40 years) and Division 6 (55-60 years) respectively but both found it tough going.