Episode 6 - John Trevorrow

 

  

 

In this episode we talk to John Trevorrow, director of GTR Events which manages
the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic, Tour of Gippsland, Spirit of Tasmania Cycling Tour, MS Sydney to Gong & MS Melbourne Cycle & Conquer Cairns.

 

In this episode we cover:

  • John’s background and history to becoming a pro athlete
  • Memorable moments of his cycling career
  • Advice for young riders wanting to be pro riders
  • How natural ability and determination can help you succeed
  • The importance of listening to your body
  • The future of cycling in Australia
  • Grassroots that are in the works to help upcoming athletes step-up
  • Social media and its role in changing things for athletes
  • How streaming has and will change the landscape of sport

 

Links

GTR Events 

 

Transcript

FELICITY:          

This is episode six. Welcome to the ‘All Torque’ podcast, where each episode we interview an inspiring person to share their story with you. I’m your host, Felicity Dales, managing director of Body Torque. Let me welcome today’s guest, John Trevorrow.

I have here today, John Trevorrow who is a former Australian racing cyclist. He won the Australian National road race title in 1970 as a 20 year old and represented Australia at the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, Scotland; where he won the bronze medal. He also competed in the team time trial and the road race at the 1972 summer Olympics in Munich. John turned professional two years later in 1974 and won the Sun Tour three times, in 1975, 77 and 79 and was the Australian national road champion four times in 1970, 78, 79 and 80. John raced in Europe during the late seventies, and rode the Giro d’Italia in 1981.

He’s currently the director of GTR Events which  manages the  Jayco  Herald  Sun  Tour,  Mitchelton  Bay  Cycling  Classic,  Tour  of  Gippsland,  Spirit  of  Tasmania  Cycling  Tour,  MS  Sydney  to  Gong  &  MS  Melbourne  Cycle  &  Conquer  Cairns.   

Welcome John. You raced at pro level, been a race director, media at the Tour de France, created a film ‘Detour de France’ that featured in cinemas nationally and now with GTR Events. What haven’t you done? Your career has participated in probably just about every aspect of cycling; from being a pro rider to organising events, contributing in the media, promoting events, building great relationships with sponsors and more.

Which of those roles has given you the greatest satisfaction?

JOHN:  

That’s a lot of questions there, in one go.

FELICITY:

(laughs)

JOHN:  

How are you, Felicity?

FELICITY:

I’m good, John. How are you? Welcome.

JOHN:  

I’m really well, that’s an interesting one of course. Athlete at heart, so there’s all the exciting things there. I remember as a youngster, when I won my first Aussie road title, I was only 20 and went to Comm Games. But I can remember the whole town, I was a country boy from down Morwell in Gippsland, back then. I remember the town being excited that I was actually going overseas. Just as much as going to the Games, because back then country people didn’t get to travel that much.

I remember that and being excited about that and arriving and seeing colour tv for the first time, in 1970. Funny how things..

FELICITY:

Haven’t changed.

JOHN:  

That was a wonderful first trip overseas, to the Games, it was a brilliant Games in Edinburgh. So that stays in the mind.

FELICITY:

You would’ve been like a celebrity, already.

JOHN:  

(laughs)

FELICITY:

Going overseas and.. (laughs)

JOHN:  

All of that, yeah.

Actually, one of my first Australian road titles, so I was 20. That was in Geelong, I was a country boy. I remember being disappointed that I wasn’t in another state. You want to travel to Queensland and race. I was in Geelong, and when I look back it was fantastic and it was around eastern gardens in Geelong. Being a local, you’d know something of where that is. A hundred and twenty mile or 200km, rode around the gardens, so it was a lot of laps.

FELICITY:

(laughs)

JOHN:  

But that was pretty special, it was the first Aussie title I ever ridden in and I ended up winning it so that was pretty special. Going to the Olympics was special, winning my first Sun Tour, it was called then. Very special.

I think, because the Sun Tour is really important to me as a youngster. My dad had been a cyclist, we used to have the Sun Tour riders staying at our place because they were all billeted back in the old days. Even when I first started riding, when I raced Sun Tour. We were billeted in people’s homes.

FELICITY:

Oh yes.

JOHN:  

So as a youngster, to sit there as a four year old, five year old listening to the stories of these Sun Tour riders and then to actually get to race it and win it. And now to be the race director of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, yeah it’s pretty special.

FELICITY:

Absolutely, it’s got a lot of history for you. A big background, isn’t it? Growing up with it, then racing in it and now actually running it and organising it. That’s pretty amazing, not many people go from go to whoa, do they? With an event and a racing career in that sense?

JOHN:  

That’s true. I mean I’ve probably been very fortunate, I’ve never worked in my life. I mean I was a cyclist and now I put on cycling events, which is not work to me because I love it so much. I’ve never managed to work which my wife reminds me of quite regularly.

FELICITY:

Yeah (laughs). So your passion for cycling is really in your veins, it’s in your DNA and you’ve probably got the greatest satisfaction from that, that’s great to know.

What  would  your  advice  be  to  any  young  riders  today  wanting  to  become  a  Pro  Rider, John?

JOHN:  

I suppose you know pretty early whether you’ve got the ability to make it to the top. Amount of ability and of course what’s required. But what I have learnt is the actual, the will, the determination and the will to want to do it is just as critical as that natural ability. If you have got the natural ability and you’ve got that determination, you’ll normally get the real superstars out of that.

I was probably lucky enough to have a bit of the ability, probably didn’t take it quite serious enough. I used to like to play up a little bit but if I had my time back, you’d probably do it a bit more serious. What I did learn from that, is that I’ve seen guys who really did make it to the top because they were just so dedicated to everything about the sport.

You’ve got to have enough ability to be able to race at that level but if you’re really determined and want to do it, then go for it!   

FELICITY:

If you stay focused and have that prize at the end of, that’s your goal then they can do it.

JOHN:  

Yeah for sure, it’s great to get a mentor who can help you along the way. Someone who has been all the way or part of the way but also got to have the ability to listen to a lot of different people. Because you get some bad information but there’s lots of little pearls that will pop up in there and it’s up to you to really sort it out. And I’ve always reckoned one of the best bit of info I can pass onto budding young cyclists is to learn to read their body. It’s one thing my Dad, from a really young age passed onto me, learn to read those body signs. Dad had me, as a youngster, working on heart rate and virtually when you’re feeling good, you train hard and when your body’s telling you it’s not right, is when you back off a bit. If you can learn to work that out, it makes a big difference.

FELICITY:

Absolutely, I’m definitely a big advocate, I must say personally, for that. I think our body gives us a lot of messages and if you listen to that, then it stands you in good stead, basically. You don’t get fatigued, some people get chronic fatigue and I think that that’s possibly a result of not listening to their body and resting when they need to.

JOHN:  

Exactly, everyone is different, of course. You get some people, Stuart O’Grady is a perfect example. I’ve known Stuey since he was a youngster, I raced with his Dad and I watched Stuart as a 16 to 18 year old and he can do anything. Throw him against the wall and he’ll climb up it but not everyone’s like that. So you can’t really, they’re the guys who are bullet proof, Brett Aitken another one of those. And Cadel and these superstars, Phil Anderson another one. Superstars.

Most aren’t like that, most of us have to be a bit more careful and watch what you’re doing. I was lucky enough to race with Phil, who is a bit younger than me. My last year of racing in Europe was 81 and that was Phil’s break out year. We raced together in a few races and he got the yellow jersey in the Tour de France that year, I rode the Giro before that and you could just see he was something special. He was our greatest until Cadel come along.

FELICITY:

And he’s a lovely person as well.

JOHN:  

Yeah, great guy.

FELICITY:

How do you see the future in cycling in Australia, John?

JOHN:  

That’s a great question, Flick. I’ve gotta tell you, when I was racing in Europe back in the late seventies, early eighties, there was not ten English speaking guys in the European peloton with the pros. Not ten. There was, I think, one pom, one American I can think of and Greg LeMond came along that year. I remember racing against Greg when he was about 18, 19. He’d just turned pro, he was that special.

Just a hand, there was Donnie, Allen, Clyde and myself, we’re Aussies and then a couple of others come along right at the end. Then, if you had of said to me that English would become the language of the peloton, which it is now. I would’ve said, “You’re dreaming.”

FELICITY:

(laughs)

JOHN:  

And now to look at it, we’ve got an Australian team that’s actually number one in the world right now. And to have all these Aussies racing at the top level, it’s just staggering. Richie Porte could very well win the Tour de France this year, be our second Aussie. All these, Carla Buen, these superstars are the sport now. Just amazing, you ask where it’s going? Well, who would’ve thought that a few years back? So here we are on this wonderful, being one of the best track nations in the world for a long, long time.

That’s because Europe didn’t take track cycling serious as what we do. Okay there’s the six days and a few other things, we had, track side has always been important to us. But road cycling, to see how we’ve become one of the best nations is mind blowing.

FELICITY:

Yes, we’ve definitely got some calibre and it’s exciting to see because it could only inspire the juniors, I would imagine, coming up. Some iconic names there and I think that’s fabulous.

JOHN:  

I’ve been working with Cycling Australia as to where we go with the NRS and that’s been a wonderful event that’s grown over the last few years. To see that really flourish, should be important. People like John Craven have been very important to the birth of the NRS as a series a few years back and now it seems to have had some challenges just recently. I’ve just come out of a meeting where it’s going to go in the future. I think that’s exciting.

FELICITY:

So we’ve got some good grass roots happening, haven’t we? We’re getting more foundational pieces in the works so that people can step up.

JOHN:  

Yes, it’s been great to watch the growth of women’s cycling in Australia and the depth that we’re now starting to get, which is fantastic. And the quality of the racing at our NRS level is absolutely fantastic. Look at the recent World Cup races, where you’ve got Tour Down Under and the Cadel event, we’ve got Australian riders and Australian teams up there matching it. With Jayco Herald Sun Tour as well, match it with the best in the world. So that’s exciting stuff.

FELICITY:

It’s like an apprenticeship, it’s really great feeding ground for them to get that experience to start getting those challenges so that they can then get into the international platform. Hopefully be picked up by perspective teams.

JOHN:  

Yes, look Mitchelton-Scott have got, now right at the moment, number one team in the world. They’ve got a development team, you’ve got the Drapac team with their different levels, which is a great starting ground. And then you’ve got teams like Bennelong, who are world class but Australian based teams. We’ve got wonderful pathways for young cyclists to take that big step.

FELICITY:

And how has social media changed things for the athletes of today, John?

JOHN:  

Well I couldn’t get away with what I got away with in the old days with social media.

FELICITY:

(laughs)

JOHN:  

It’s changed it lots and it’s fantastic, I mean look at things like streaming. You can watch an event off a mobile phone around the world.

FELICITY:

That’s radical, isn’t it? Yeah.

JOHN:  

It is radical, it’s really the future for, let’s say a grass root event which can’t afford the hundreds of thousands of dollars that’s required for live telecast television. But it can afford with social media, streaming to get the word out there. And I think that’s one of the beauties of social media, it’s instantaneous. The old days of having to wait for a television show to come to air the next day, to see what’s happened. God, people want it then live, right now.

FELICITY:

It also makes it more accessible, doesn’t it? People can access it on their phones and you actually can touch other people that mightn’t necessarily normally, it mightn’t come along their path. But if you’ve got friends watching it or whatever, or being exposed to it I just think it gives the industry and cycling a broader reach.

JOHN:  

Undoubtedly and I tell you, it’s the way of the future. It’s going to change everything dramatically, over the next couple of years. You’re going to get much better quality of streaming, working with social media. It’s really going to put pressure on the normal way of broadcasting.

FELICITY:

Absolutely, I think it’s a different paradigm so it’s a changing landscape for all of us.

To finish up John, tell us one of the funniest stories that you’ve experienced in your life. Because I know that, (laughs) you’re quite a comedian and you certainly make me laugh. But I know that you’ve definitely had a fun life and so perhaps you could share with our listeners, one of your funnier stories.

JOHN:  

It was funny you say that because I’ve just come out of a meeting at Cycling Australia and they’ve got a young lady working in there who’s just on a travel holiday and she’s working with CA at the moment and I just said, “Hi”, and she’s from Belgium. And she comes from Ghent. And I said, “I lived in Ghent when I was a youngster.” And I told her a story about when I was racing there as an amateur and no mobile phones back in the early seventies of course. So once a week I’d go into the post office in the centre of Ghent and you have to book your call and it’s a, you have to wait for about ten minutes, go to cabin number three and then you can call home.

Because, as I mentioned, my Dad used to be a cyclist. He wanted to know how things were going, say hello to Mum, say hello to my brothers and then what’s happening with the race. At the time, there’s a famous beer festival called the Gentsefeesten which is very, very big beer festival. I always did like a nice ale.

I wasn’t doing much racing, I was busy at the beer festival but of course I said to my father, “I’m racing at the Gentsefeesten at the moment.” “Oh, how are you going?” I said, “I won the stage last night and I was right up there in GC.” That was just sort of a joke to my father but he rang the local newspaper so there’s a big story in the Morwell Advertiser that I had won the stage at this big race in Belgium.

FELICITY:

(laughing) Sprung.

JOHN:  

(laughs)

FELICITY:

Did they, did he ever find out?

JOHN:  

No, no Dad found out later on but not the news.

FELICITY:

So you got away with it?

JOHN:  

It was another world, back in those days they didn’t check those things. What they call iffy stories, my nickname’s Iffy because for lots of different reasons but it’s just another iffy story.

FELICITY:

That’s right, well I love nicknames. I’m a nickname person, myself. It’s fantastic.

JOHN:  

Really, Flick?

FELICITY:

Yeah, that’s right. (laughs)

JOHN:  

Funny, they say, ‘How did you get your nickname, Iffy?’ We were in the training camp, before we went away to the Munich Olympics and we all had nicknames but, no one ever beat me because they were better than me. I always had an excuse, “If I hadn’t punctured,” or, “If I hadn’t have done this” and it was Phil Sawyer who was in the team, who said, “bloody iffy.” And so, they started calling me Iffy and then it stuck.

FELICITY:

Fantastic.

JOHN:  

And I’ve lived up to.

FELICITY:

Yes, you have. (laughs) It’s an iconic name for you, you’re an iconic person and it suits you well.

Well, I’d really like to thank you for joining us today, it’s been a great interview and learning more about the cycling industry and tails as we do, of different people. I’d like to thank you, once again for joining us. It’s been fantastic and we might have to interview you again, John because you’ve got so many stories to tell.

JOHN:  

(laughs) Felicity, great to speak to you, darl.

FELICITY:

Thank you. Bye, bye.

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