Olympic gold medallist and track world champion Brad McGee is a legend on two wheels. The Southern Highlands track and road cyclist began his competitive career at age 16 in 1993 when won his first junior world title. He later went on to win five Olympic medals and five Commonwealth gold medals and became the first Australian to wear the leader’s jersey in three Grand Tours. Today, when Brad is not mentoring his charges as head coach for NSW Institute of Sport Cycling Program and coach for Cycling Australia’s National team for the Tokyo Olympics or spending time at his Fitzroy Falls home, he lycra- ups and hits the open road.
My name is … Brad McGee
My life in five words is … Loving. Diverse. Thoughtful. Satisfying. Physical.
We moved to the Southern Highlands in … 2010. My wife Sharni and I bought here in 2005 and moved from Europe to raise our kids here.
I love the Highlands because … The green space, the seasons, the people, the cycling and the sense of community
My favourite thing to do here is … Roll out into the Morton National Park on my single speed and enjoy the endless tracks and trails in complete solitude.
Followers of my Instagram see piccies of … My gardening and cooking, cycling, friends and family. I would like to start including my actions and aspirations on permaculture living.
When it comes to cycling, this is one truth I know … The pain is worth it.
I started cycling when … I was 10. I followed my older three brothers into the sport.
Being the youngest quickly taught me …To push hard on the pedals if you want to keep up!
When it comes to being a cyclist the thing that has always driven me is … The freedom. As a teenager growing up in the suburbs of Sydney I felt free to roam, go fast, have my own time to think.
The first thing I always say to kids who tell me they want a life in competitive cycling is … It hurts. If you don’t love it, need it, then find something else.
Winning Olympic gold and Commonwealth gold was … Fulfilling.
These days I keep my medals and winning jerseys in … Ahh. They are around somewhere. A mate has one in France as a souvenir. I’m thinking of hanging them in the ‘pool room’ but it’s not a priority.
The hardest cycling event I ever competed in was … Giro d’Italia 2004. Three weeks and three and half thousand kilometres racing over all the biggest climbs of Italy.
World cycling has evolved since I last competed in 2008 because … Business and accountability. Everything is measured and predicted and therefore expected. Ouch.
Being national coach for the Tokyo Olympics is … Suitably challenging with a sense of national service. I’m grateful for the opportunity to give back to the sport I gained so much from.
The things I hope to achieve include … Enabling our best cyclists to fulfil their journeys in a way that will benefit our communities and culture. This calls for the goal posts to be moved beyond the medal ceremony to transitioning to whatever their next role will be.
The young Australian riders to watch out for at Tokyo include … Rohan Dennis (SA) and Amanda Spratt (NSW) medalled at the most recent World Championships in 2018 and 2019. Kaarle McCulloch (NSW) is also a medal hopeful along with our men’s and women’s Team Pursuit squads on the velodrome.
The biggest threat to success at the Tokyo Olympics is … The heat! It’s very hot and humid for outdoor cycling that time of year. Beyond climatic conditions, the Danes and the Dutch are consistently performing very well.
The things cycling gives its riders and fans is … Connection. Riders and cycling fans are in an open environment on public roads in close proximity. A challenge in these COVID times but something that is unique and highly valuable to the sport.
My favourite route in the SH is … My road loop is Fitzroy Falls to Wildes Meadow and back via Avoca. Throw in a detour to Moonacres Kitchen in Robbo and it’s a cyclists dream ride. Feeling adventurous after a second strong flat white? Swing back via Tourist Road and take the ‘cardiac’ climb up out of Kangaloon.
The SH is a favoured cyclist destination because … Mostly quiet roads and respectful local drivers mixed with challenging climbs and endless loop combinations. Let’s not forget what cycling is really about; the coffee stop. Again we have endless options.
When we have friends visiting we always take them to .. The many waterfalls, our secret spot, Bernie’s Diner, Moss Vale and either the Robbo or Burrawang pubs.
The most precious piece of cycling advice I ever received was … Be selfish. The great Bruce McAvaney passed on these wise words during an Atlanta Olympics celebration in Sydney and I’ll never forget them as they had huge impact. All these years later, I feel I took that advice in the healthiest of ways with a right time/right place appreciation.
The most precious piece of advice I can offer anyone looking to achieve cycling success is … Never give up. Success is being able to hold on for five minutes longer.
And finally, please finish this sentence .. Old cyclists never die, they just … Allow the stories to flourish.