They didn't plan it but somehow it seemed only fitting.
As Michael Navybox's family filed out of Sts Peter and Paul's Cathedral, holding his ashes and a framed photograph, members of the Goulburn Cycling Club formed a guard of honour in the aisle.
Earlier, the bike on which he almost completed three European tours, and his bicycle and motorbike helmets had been loving placed at the altar in memory of a sporting life that touched so many.
Michael died suddenly on September 2 in Andorra, Spain. He had completed 8500km of the 10,400km distance over the Giro d'Italia, the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana when he was found deceased in a hotel room. His family confirmed he died of a heart attack.
He was attempting the three-tour feat in one year, only completed by one other man, to raise awareness of and funds for early detection and prevention of cancer, depression and post-traumatic stress, all of which he suffered himself.
That selflessness wasn't lost on his family and many friends. The cathedral was almost filled to capacity on Friday as Father Joshy Kurien celebrated his memorial Mass.
Michael's brother, Chris, told the congregation that Michael achieved much in life but his greatest challenge was defeating kidney cancer in 2011.
Part of his treatment involved the National Institute of Integrative Medicine, for which he travelled to France. But when NIIM set up in Australia, he wanted to help the organisation promote its groundbreaking blood tests for early cancer detection. Michael volunteered his time as NIIM ambassador and decided to embark on the 10,400km 'Ride with Mike.'
"He accepted the solitude, leaving loved ones behind to take on the gruelling ride in 63 days covering all three grand tours," Chris said.
"Mike not only managed to raise awareness and donations but was absolutely successful (in) lifting the spirits of many who followed his ride through social media."
Chris told of a happy family life with parents Darrell and Peggy, and sisters Debbie (deceased) and Brenda. They were known as the 'Von Trapps' of ballroom dancing.
Michael didn't talk much about his dancing skills with his school mates but told his brother it "gave him an advantage at school dances." Later, he volunteered as a dancer at the 2000 Olympics opening and closing ceremony.
But his sporting prowess also extended to rugby league, union and cricket. Motor sport became his passion, inspired by his uncle, Glenn, who raced at Goulburn speedway.
"My memory is one of Mike's deep knowledge of Formula 1 racing at an early age and that his hero was Ayrton Senna," Chris said.
Then followed a motor racing career spanning many classes, including Supercarts, which he raced at the Australian Grand Prix in Adelaide. Michael later turned his hand to driver training, which he was still doing before he left on the cycling tours. His good friend, Tony Palmer, for whom he worked, told The Post that Michael was one of the most accomplished driver trainers in Australia.
"We were in the process of building a new facility at Lake Macquarie and he was going to be the lead instructor," Mr Palmer said.
Twelve years ago he met partner Melissa Wanschers and lovingly accepted his stepfather role to Emily and Ben.
"I believe there are many lessons to be learnt from Mike's life: his support for his mother and father; his remarkable resilience, 'never give up and always have a go' attitude; always putting others ahead of himself; and his bravery to be open and share his personal experiences that have helped and motivated so many others to improve their lives," Chris said.
"We will cherish his memory and give thanks for his life with us. He will remain forever loved and in our thoughts and prayers."
A true mate
Paul Kruger knew more than many about Michael's, or 'Box's' positive outlook.
They met as preschoolers at Lady McKell in Goulburn, where Peggy Navbox had secured a job.
He came to make us feel good about ourselves and did this exceptionally well.Paul Kruger
"By the start of 1971 Michael was ruling the roost," he told the congregation.
"As a newbie I was swept away by his knowledge, his suggestions on where to play, sleep and to eat, which was the best swing and the best games, who were the nice teachers.
"Michael, with his wonderful smile and perfectly styled hair, took me under his wing and showed me the ropes of McKell Place and this was something I noticed early about (him) - he always wanted people to feel good about themselves. He sought to genuinely include them in whatever was going on."
They went right through school together, first at Saint Joseph's Primary and then Saint Patrick's College. Mr Kruger witnessed his friend's cricketing prowess and then in Year 10, his aspirations to play in the College's First XV. He didn't make it but it was no surprise that 20 years later, 'Box' played in a NSW rugby team with the likes of Simon Poidevin.
"'Box' always dared to be optimistic; to dream big. But he didn't lose sight of who he was - the boy with empathy and the most welcoming smile," Mr Kruger said.
"Box lived better than almost anybody I know by the Saint Pat's motto - Age Quod Agis - whatever you do, do it well. He came to make us feel good about ourselves and did this exceptionally well."
Off and racing
Tony Palmer described Michael as a "unique and beautiful soul" whom he met eight years ago. Michael was employed by his family's motorsport company as a driving coach and instructor.
"In so many ways, Mike was a stalwart of grassroots racing (and) was always willing to help anyone who needed it," Mr Palmer said.
Michael loved Wakefield Park and the people who congregated for races. He was most proud of 'Mike's Manor' on the Braidwood Road, which he established to accommodate the motor racing fraternity. Mr Palmer said it had "all the antics of a college frat house and the hospitality of a Goulburn Hilton."
He spoke of his friend's genuine qualities, deep interest in others and ability to listen. Mr Palmer said Michael was the bravest and toughest man he'd known.
Goulburn Cycle Club president Adam Lambert said 'Box's' drive and determination "won many hearts and friends."
"It wasn't just his relentless drive that made 'Box' so special; his interest in his friends and caring nature shone through with every interaction," Mr Lambert said.
"...We will miss your smile, we will miss your attention but we will never forget you. Till we ride again!" he said.
Keen cyclist and Hume MP Angus Taylor was among the congregation.
Michael's sister, Brenda Gill, said Friday's gathering was "beautiful."
"It's very comforting to see how many people loved and appreciated Mike," she told The Post.
"It's another example of Mike bringing people together. I'm sure he was looking down and smiling and wishing he was here," she said.
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