In 100 years, only 39 professional cyclists have completed all three Grand Tours, the Giro d’Italia, the Tour de France and La Vuelta, the Tour of Spain, in the one year.
Australian motor race coach Michael Navybox wants to be the second ever amateur cyclist to complete the three tours on the same day as each race, in the one year. It’s not hard, just a total of 10,400km and 150,000 metres uphill in 63 days.
Another Australian, investment banker Keith Tuffley, was the first. He was 48 when he did it in 2013. Keith has just become Australian and New Zealand vice-chairman of Citi. And it’s fair to say that, despite the grey hair, he is fairly active for a banker. He’s also skied to the North Pole, ridden a bike to the South Pole and climbed a few of the world’s highest mountains.
But Mike’s training has been more to do with kidney cancer, bleeding on the brain, fusing three vertebrae, PTSD and severe depression.
Michael is 52. Until 2013 his life was race cars. Serious racer, 16 years coaching race drivers and preparing cars. Eight years ago, on the night before Mother’s Day, he was at Wakefield Park preparing three Radicals to go to Phillip Island. “I had a pee and it looked like Coca-Cola.” The next day his pee was all red blood. “I went to Goulburn Hospital. The doctors had a look but said nothing else, just come back tomorrow for some ultrasound tests.” On Wednesday they found a 5cm tumour on the outside of his right kidney. On Thursday surgeons took out his right kidney and the tumour. On Monday he was talking about going back to work at the track.
“Of course, the biopsy showed there was a high probability of the cancer coming back so they said I had to have a scan every three months. I thought how can you live like that?”
Luckily his local GP had just attended a seminar and knew of the work of Florida specialist Mark Rosenberg, who uses an integrated approach to cancer treatment.
Dr Rosenberg put him on to the French-developed ISET blood tests that identify circulating malignant tumour cells. The only issue was he had to go to Paris to get the tests. Mike decided to work to have the tests available in Australia. “The only things stopping that happening were bureaucracy and money.”
In 2013 he began chemo. It was morning and night for two years. He planned to do the 2015 Tour de France solo to raise the money to get ISET in Australia.
“Seven months in I was in a serious car crash. I got bleeding on the brain, six screws in the vertebrae and my spinal cord was crushed. The surgery was too risky. But it meant I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t ride, ski or drive. The PTSD meant I couldn’t go to a racetrack and the depression went into overdrive. My father died in 2013 and my sister Deborah died suddenly in 2015.
“Half way through last year, I woke up and said to my wife Melissa: ‘Stuff this, I’m going to ride the tour and raise money’.”
So, he started ridewithmike.com to raise public awareness about the importance of early detection, intervention and prevention of cancer, depression, PTSD and The National Institute of Integrative Medicine, or NIIM. Thanks to Mike’s work, NIIM conducts ISET testing.
On each tour Mike has to leave at 5am. “The pros start at midday and I have to get to the finish line every day before them.” His sponsors include Goonoo Goonoo Station, keen racers Tilton Interiors and David and Stuart Pennells from Inland Building and Construction. How does he keep going? “I just have to be with people. I can’t be alone.”
You can donate to Mike at ridewithmike.com. (If you are depressed or know someone who is, contact Lifeline on 13 11 44.)
Meanwhile, last Monday’s Shannons Sydney auctions once again saw number plates star. Eighteen plates sold from $150k-$215k with numbers 317, 271 and 296 going for more than $100k over estimate. Top car sale was a 1960 Porker 356B 1600s at $160k, the low end of estimate.
And talking of supercars, the VW-owned Bugatti has just launched the world’s most expensive car, La Voiture Noire. Yours for $26 million, drive away, no more to pay. As Bugatti says: “None of the brand’s masterpieces reflect (our) values more impressively than the Type 57 SC Atlantic. Created by Ettore Bugatti’s eldest son Jean, the only four Atlantics ever created stand for pure elegance and sophistication. With its homage to the fourth, all-black Atlantic, missing since the Second World War, Bugatti is bringing the speed, technology, luxury and aesthetics of an icon into a new era.
“But the customised creation of La Voiture Noire is far more than a modern interpretation of the ghost of the gran turismo. La Voiture Noire is a tribute to Bugatti’s own history, a manifesto of the Bugatti aesthetic and a piece of automotive haute couture.”
Too late, La Voiture Noire has already been sold off the lot. I’m told the Bugatti salesfolk had the barbecue, balloons and free jumping castle for the kiddies to move the big one off the floor. Rumour has it that former VW chair, 81-year-old Ferdie Piech, slapped down a deposit and put the rest on his card. Imagine the frequent-flyer points he’ll pick up for $26m?