For the past three weeks while most have been tucked up in bed, Goulburn Cycle Club member, Mike Navybox, has been pedalling the highways and byways of Italy.
Navybox has completed each of the 21 stages in the Giro d'Italia. The Giro is the first of three Grand Tours, with the others being the Tour de France and the Vuelta a Espana, and Navybox plans to conquer them all this year.
Setting out a dawn each day, Navybox rode ahead of the pro-peloton and only on a couple of occasions did the professionals catch and overtake.
The northern hemisphere may be moving into summer but the conditions in Italy have been far from ideal. There have been cold and wet days, strong winds, clear blue skies and sunshine, and snow in the high mountains. One stage was shortened due to the threat of avalanches.
Navybox has battled through all of the testing conditions to complete the 21 stages - a superhuman effort for an amateur rider.
As his family and friends know, getting to the start line for this epic adventure has been a major challenge in itself.
In 2011 Navybox's world was turned on its head when he was diagnosed with Renal Cell Carcinoma - Kidney Cancer. Navybox underwent emergency surgery to remove the cancerous malignant tumor as well as his right kidney.
Following surgery, Navybox sought treatment both locally and Internationally. He threw everything he had at this challenge which included numerous trips to Paris for cutting edge ISET blood tests, an amazing blood test that identifies circulating malignant tumor cells. Navybox maintained a courageous and positive can win attitude throughout this very testing ordeal for both he and his family.
Upon returning to driver training work in 2013, Navybox was involved in a very serious accident while in the passenger seat of a high performance car. He sustained bleeding on the brain and serious neck injuries, which needed major surgery and three vertebrae being fused together to fix.
If that wasn't enough, tragedy struck again with the death of his father in 2013 and sudden death of his dear sister Deborah in 2015.
Not surprisingly, Navybox was clinically diagnosed with depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
From this adversity Navybox came up with the idea to raise public awareness of the importance of early detection, intervention and prevention of cancer, depression and PTSD by riding each of the three Grand Tours in one year and on the same day as to professionals.
Ride with Mike was born and the first stage of this challenge has now been completed.
Completing the Giro involved:
- 3,350kms with an average of 170km per day
- 56,000m of climbing (or six climbs of Mount Everest)
- Three individual time trials
- Six flat stages
- Seven hill stages
- Five mountain stages
Speaking at the end of Stage 19, Navybox said that he has "turned myself inside out and smashed myself to pieces both physically and mentally to get this far but my body is responding remarkably well.
"Today I felt very strong on the bike, so fingers crossed this will continue and tomorrow we will climb these final mountains, spreading the word about the importance of early detection and intervention in cancer, depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder."
With the Giro now completed, Navybox can rest up and recover before the next big challenge - the Tour de France.
His adventure, daily reports and updates can be followed on the Ride with Mike website, Facebook and Strava.
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