Road Trip

We started the car, I scrolled through my iPod, searching for entertainment for the next few hours. “Has anyone ever heard The 12th Man albums before?” No-one had. I hit play, unknowingly initiating a sequence of events that would lead us impersonating the Channel 9 commentary team for at least half a year. Or, more accurately, since The 12th Man albums consisted of a comedian impersonating fictional narrative of the Channel 9 commentary team, we were actually impersonating an impersonator. The tapes ran, and we started to drive…

It was a couple of training partners and I on our way down to Coffs Harbour for a National Series race, and enjoying one of the bastions of triathlon training and racing – the road trip. Over the years, the call of triathlon has required much travel, mostly by plane, sometimes by boat, and in the early days, in particular, lots of road trips in a car with a couple of training partners to the latest race or training location of choice. My fledgeling road trips were way back in the day, driving to swimming training as an early primary schooler (I’ll admit it, it’s a bit of a stretch to call that a road trip…). The glimmers of future time anagement skills were beginning to shine through from an early age

Within 10 minutes, our sides were splitting due to ‘The 12th Man’, which we listened to for 400km straight. 

I used to present myself at the family car, ready for the 25-minute car trip to the pool, in my togs, swimming cap on, goggles over my eyes. It’s a foggy memory now (as were the goggles, presumably, by the time I got to the pool), but I’m not sure why at the very least, I didn’t think I could at least relent and lift the goggles to my forehead until we got closer to the pool. Moving on to the later days of Dad driving me to either cycling or running training after the abhorrent unconscious intrusion of 4:27am alarms (more time management proficiency, I didn’t want to have to get up one minute more than absolutely necessary!). If it were cycling training, I’d usually fall asleep on the way there, the way home, and more often than not, first-period physics at high school as well. If it were running training, Dad would occasionally terrify one of my training partners by lurching, still half asleep and semi-zombified from the back of our station waggon after catching a quick nap while we ran.

Graduating to a licence, it was then that we could pile a few bikes and blokes into a car and travel to any races or training camps within striking distance. I drove from Brisbane to Jindabyne with a mate for an ill-considered six-day training camp, where we almost spent as much time driving to and from Jindi as we did training. It was a miss-match of musical stylings on that occasion, and so we resorted to listening to ABC talkback. After eight hours straight, we’d reached country NSW, and were semi-psychotic, but also experts on gardening, used car prices, and the best way to de-mould a bathroom, among various other topics worthy of country radio airtime. The next day, we decided to reach a compromise regarding our musical preferences. It was either that or call in to discuss the best time to plant geraniums. Since neither of us knew what geraniums were, we opted to listen to our one bipartisan Metallica album on repeat.

Back to the car trip to Coffs. Within 10 minutes, our sides were splitting due to The 12th Man, which we listened to for 400km straight. And again on the way back. Subsequently, this led to us attempting impersonations for at least the next six months, session after session. Even during short-rest swim sets. In the end, I’m pretty sure our coach wisely implemented a solid base phase consisting of long rides, purely to salvage a few hours bereft of terrible versions of Tony Grieg squawking at every available opportunity. It’s an unusual attribution to recognise a comedian as a big influence on creating a successful base phase, but we all ended up with a strong bike base build up that we capitalised on the next season. Probably the first and only time The 12th Man has been implicated in triathlon success, but coaches, take note. It won’t be fun, but it could be an effective way of increasing your athlete’s bike strength


Dan Wilson

Biomechanically denied his dream of becoming an NBA superstar, Dan Wilson has been racing the ITU circuit for over seven years representing Australia at Junior, U/23 and Elite level. His results have ranged from winning a World Cup to finishing only with the aid of glow sticks. When not “at work” training three times a day, he incompetently plays the guitar, competently sips short blacks, and fervently studies the underground metal scene.
Follow Dan at
Twitter: @dan_wilson_

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