The Weekly Rider - Travis Davis

Travis Davies is the Weekly Rider! As a divorced dad with an 8yo daughter, prioritising and finding time to ride is never easy. Many would understand this.

My parents have been wonderful in helping out over the past couple of years, but most importantly I know I'm setting a good example of being fit and healthy, whilst helping others in need. To have my little one acknowledge that, and say one day she would like to join me on Mercer SuperCycle...that's a bit of a heart tweak moment.

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Name: Travis Davies - Lives: Bayswater/Victoria

Dream Bike

Well I'm pretty sure anything touched by Peter Sagan would be high on the agenda...but in reality, that depends. If I'm in the hills, for sure something light with excellent braking - those descents have to be attacked, right? But if I'm on the flatlands give me stiff and aggressive, nothing beats going full gas and getting bang for your buck!

What is your favourite local ride

I'm kind of lucky to live only 7km from the base of the 1in20 climb, and having rediscovered the Dandenongs in the past 4 years (after a near 20 year hiatus) there are a couple of loops I 'borrowed' from some of Tom Leaper's training rides.

The first is a 100km option which has about 2,000m of climbing up to Olinda, down 'The Wall' to Monbulk, then cruises out back roads past market gardens and vineyards towards Yellingbo, before turning south on an awesome rolling climb up to Emerald, and finally back home via The Patch and Kallista.

The second is also about 100km and heads out via Emerald to Gembrook, using Paternoster Rd (including a couple of aptly named monster pinches), before coming back to Emerald...then I figure out how I'm feeling before heading home via whichever way I want.

Both of these rides are brilliant because they give great scenery, quiet roads, long climbs and descents - test the legs and mind and in my opinion show some of the best cycling greater Melbourne has to offer.

What is your current cycling goal

Five years ago I set myself the goal of riding le Tour de France for my 40th birthday. Well that is this October, and I've signed up to ride Tour de Force in 2017 - which is a fully supported ride, going one week ahead of the pro peloton, and riding the entire route exactly as the pro's. Am I nervous? Heck yeah, but I'm also pretty excited even 10 months out!

For the past 3 years I have become more and more involved in cycling to give back to the community - it began by helping raise over $1,000 for Shane Crawford, when he rode from Melbourne to Perth for the Breast Cancer Network, and has continued with Mercer SuperCycle, a 1000km in 7 day event in South Australia each year.

This will be my 4th time riding in 2017, and we ride to raise funds for country cancer patients and their families - specifically the Under Our Roof project with The Hospital Research Foundation, which builds city based housing for patients and their families to utilise whilst undergoing treatment. The ride attracted 69 riders last year, and each of the past three years I have acted as the local 'marshal' to coach and train people over 6 months to get them ready. People literally buy bikes because they want to be involved in the cause!

With over $1.6million raised and two homes currently built, I'm been truly humbled and blessed to have met with some of the patients taking advantage of the housing...it hits home that while I'm still young and able, I'll put myself through some pain and sacrifice to help out however I can.

So I might have my personal goal, and Mercer SuperCycle has clearly given me a good reason to train, but it is the satisfaction from the cause and helping others achieve success in participating that drives me.

  Flash Photography - Nate Chan

Flash Photography - Nate Chan

When I am on the bike I....

Like nothing more than a great ride with good mates with a can of coke and vanilla slice. I'm kind of on a vanilla slice mission. Sampling as I go. Feel free to send me some tips! But I do like to go fast.

How did your love of bikes come about?

Ten years ago my eldest brother nearly lost his life - it's a long story, but he was fit as a fiddle as a runner but also training for Around the Bay at the time. Well, he never made the start line (don't worry, he's still with us!) but after a couple of years I decided I wanted to finish off what he set out to achieve. 

As a former track and field sprinter/jumper my body had taken a bit of a hiding, so the low impact nature of cycling whilst still being able to set decent challenges was attractive to me. I'd grown up riding, but never really grabbed it by the horns. I even spent a couple of years being exposed on the MTB scene thanks to good mate Anna Baylis. But it was this trigger of my brother that got me going. 

I got myself a second hand hand built Hillman alloy bike - canary yellow, with bullet proof Campag Atlanta 1996 rims on it. I began commuting, and loving it, getting stronger all the time and as a result more enjoyment.

The day after Cadel won le Tour in 2011, I upgraded to a Jamis with Dura Ace Di2, and it was this bike that really helped me catch the bug. I've nicknamed this one 'Jesus' (pronounced Heyzeus, of course) because of the number of times it's been resurrected from the dead. This same year I rode the 210km Around The Bay for the first time.

Big deal, I hear many say, but coming from a long jumper? Anything over 75 metres was 'illegal'! 
So I was pretty pleased, and in that same time even more pleased (and to be fair, emotional) because I had ridden alongside my brother in the old Hanover-ConnectEast ride down Eastlink - 75km and we could tick that box.

From there? Well 2012 I did my first Amy's Gran Fondo, and this was when I rediscovered the Dandenongs as part of my training. I also started hearing talk of this thing called 'compact cranks'...meh, I'll think about that later! Amy's was incredible. Training on my own through winter, having no clue really what I needed to do, and to reach that finish at Benwerrin - cramping from most of the back half of the event - I was again pretty proud, but more determined than ever.

In 2012 I also took on the 250km Around the Bay, and started to feel like a strong rider for the first time. Knowing I was pretty inexperienced, but seeing that bunches formed behind me as I pushed into headwinds was kind of gratifying, and also that tiny little bit of ego boost that everyone loves! 

So 2013, I was getting out a bit more, but looking for something else - and that's when I decided to help out Shane Crawford. Wasn't much, but I got people to sponsor me to ride. Simple. Over $1000 I raised, and I was pretty chuffed. 

Then a colleague of mine was discussing this charity ride that our company was the naming rights sponsor for, and after a couple of drinks one night she basically had me signed up before I knew it! But as it turns out, it has been exactly what I was looking for in life. The opportunity to give back to those less fortunate than me, by doing two things I love - riding bikes and helping others succeed.

As I said I've ridden three editions of Mercer SuperCycle - 'Jesus' took me on the first two, and his replacement 'Brooklyn' (a 2015 Giant Defy SL0 who everyone wanted to ride, hence the name) got me around last year.

Share a cycling memory

Australia Day 2013 - I was out on a solo Port Melbourne to Mount Martha return run. I was pushing nicely, ticking along at roughly 30km/h average which I was happy with. I was starting to bonk though just before Brighton, and knew I just needed to get back those last few km's to the car.

What happened next though changed my perspective on cycling for good.

As I was heading through the lights at the BP Servo/St Kilda Marina, a group of bikies - probably 30 odd - were heading south, waiting to turn right into the Marina. As that lead rider took off, looking over his right shoulder at all his crew behind him, I could see he had no idea I was there and he kept throttling up as his mates were waving like crazy at him. If I hadn't bunny hopped my wheel left I don't know what would have happened...but all I know is I looked down at my back wheel to watch him miss me by less than an inch. And he was moving pretty quick off the line.

I was pretty shaken up, but swore that I needed to get faster. Get stronger. Change colours - a wise mate said "Wear a colour that you don't see around on the roads much. So it has a great chance of standing out". Back then, that was orange...probably why orange is EVERYWHERE these days!

But for the next four weeks I spent four mornings doing Mordy return - hooking in with bunches where I could on the way down, but smashing myself on the way back. Just holding on as long as I could at full gas. In those four weeks I took my solo pace from 30.5km/h on the return to 39.5km/h. Those four weeks taught me how to ride.

I love to ride because....

It allows me to break the trends and be a clown, like wearing outrageous kit/shoe/sock ensembles - when I grow up I aspire to have half the awesomeness of SKCC el Presidente Hollywood Turner!

If you haven't figured it out yet, I do pretty much everything with tongue planted firmly in cheek.
But I have found it is a great way to have thinking time, to see and hear stuff you can't in a car. Like going up long Alpine climbs and having nothing but birds, waterfalls and Foo Fighters songs in your head for company. I have a house down at Anglesea and the rides down around Geelong and Great Ocean Road are very serene and peaceful as well.

I can still test myself physically, but with a recently diagnosed heart condition (Paroxysmal Atrial Fibriliation - not THAT uncommon I am finding) I have to be careful in managing my effort and stress. Funny, but cycling helps...in measured doses.

On top of that, the wonderful crew I have met along the way (and I remember how family like the MTB world was back in the 90's) who are all supportive of each other. When you have people just say g'day from SKCC, or The KingsMen, or Hells500 crew...whoever it may be, it's kind of like a little bit of respect and acknowledgement. Not just in Australia either!

The instagram world simply magnifies tenfold the number of friends who share common interests, and sometimes they crossover to the real world as well, and that is pretty special.

So if you see me out there, feel free to say hi - that's what of the ace things about being on a bike!

I have to take this time to thank Baden Cooke for reaching out to me last year not long after he had taken over Factor bikes. Having had one of the 2015 Vis Vires, I have been saddling up on the 2016 Factor One (I call her "Mystique" - sexy, blue and powerful!) and it's a real treat to ride. To have this support is fantastic, but to also be a part of their development as the brand is taking on more and more (this year being the bike of OnePro Cycling on the Pro-Continental tour) is pretty cool.