Posted by admin on 11/5/07 in Amy Gillett-Safe/AIS Cycling Team
Sunshine Coast Daily: Lorian overcomes deadly crash
For gutsy Australian cyclist Lorian Graham, one of the really good things about competing in Noosa – apart from the enthusiastic crowds that pull her along when her legs tire – is the lack of one particular demon. And that is the motor car. As Brisbane-based Lorian started yesterday in the first ever women’s Noosa Grand Prix, she did not have to worry about any four-wheeled menaces opening old mental wounds.
Noosa Parade was closed and her legs were pumping with amazing resolve, given what she has been through. Few people should have to be reminded of the nightmare crash, in Germany in mid-2005, which devastated Australian women’s cycling, killing road star Amy Gillett and taking down five of her team-mates, including Lorian. The sickening impact from a careening car came after Lorian had the world at her feet as the 2005 national road race champion.
Since then she has been quietly engaged in one of the most courageous comebacks in any sport – battling to rid herself of a leg brace and then putting herself through the tough demands of road racing. The Noosa Triathlon Multi Sport Festival, one of her favourite events, marked a bold step back last year – just about a month after her knee could bend enough to allow her back in the saddle. In 2006 she teamed up with swim star Duncan Armstrong and ironwoman Karla Gilbert to take out her event, even though she was riding on empty.
Yesterday she joined with marathon man Steve Moneghetti and ironman Dean Mercer in the fun Footy Legends Tri as a warm-up to the cycle race. “I always love the Noosa crowd – they are so enthusiastic and I think they were what got me through the four laps last year,” Lorian said. Her 2007 trip to Noosa comes after her personal triumph of making the Australian road team and heading back to Germany for the road titles, in which she came a creditable 39th. “My job as part of the team was to help another Australian rider, Oenone Wood, in the race and she came in eighth,” she said.
Lorian said it was a surreal feeling to ride alongside the world’s best, but then she checked herself. “I thought, well that must mean I’m one of those riders too,” she said. To be where she is – and that is eying off a crack at the Beijing Olympics – has meant early morning rises to try and beat the pervasive city traffic. “You are only human and you do think about it (the threat from cars on the road),” she admitted.
But Lorian has a motto – a positive mind makes for a positive body, even if it does now come with an arthritic knee. Lorian believes the Amy Gillett Foundation – founded to try make the roads safe for bikes and cars together – is making a difference. The Road-Right trial, launched by the foundation, is encouraging learner drivers to answer a series of web-based questions based around cyclists and motorists sharing the road. But Lorian also believes there needs to be more of what Noosa is pioneering – marked bike lanes.