When you see your bike in the break at Worlds

15 minutes (or so) of fame, for your bike.

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Most of us will never have the chance to line up at a UCI World Championship event. Aaron Keeffe and Mark Eedle, two members of the Australian cycling industry, haven’t had that chance either, but at the recent Road Worlds in Wollongong, their bikes did.

A week ago, Ukrainian riders Daryna Nahuliak and Marina Varenyk landed in Sydney to learn that their bikes weren’t in tow. It’s a common story for many people who have experienced travel in the new world, but it surely hits differently when you’ve travelled to represent your country in one of the year’s biggest races. Thankfully, it didn’t take long to find an answer. 

“Word got out through the Sydney cycling scene and someone called on Trek to see if they could help,” said Aaron Keeffe, who was working at Worlds for Trek. 

“Monday evening we’d finished a 12-hour day working at the event and were back at the Trek house. A call came through – it was Trek’s marketing manager, Mark Eedle … asking to help find two 52 cm road bikes to be raced in the elite/U23 women’s road race,” recalls Keeffe about the situation where no stock was available through local stores. The answer was right in front of his eyes: “What about ours?” Keeffe suggested.

“We had a team that swung into action straight away to make it happen. One of the guys was even double-checking that a 54 cm wasn’t needed, hoping that his bike would be selected instead,” said Keeffe with a laugh. “Everyone at Trek wanted to be involved. The team at Trek Wollongong were fantastic with getting the bikes ready. Dave, Nic, Aaron and Steve at that shop all banded together.” 

From there, things happened quick. And it wasn’t long before the handover of bikes. “It was 9:30pm and we’re handing over these bikes to two Ukrainian coaches on the side of the road in Wollongong. Strangest experience in my life!” 

As for Keeffe’s bike, that’s a Trek Madone SL 7 (previous year model), “It’s a stock bike but I had changed to Pirelli Zero tyres with gum walls,” said Keeffe, the manager of Trek Essendon in Melbourne. “I texted Mark asking how our bikes are going. And the response was a simple, ‘yep, yours is in the break’.

For some time, Nahuliak was off the front and adding some animation to the earlier parts of the race. Unfortunately for Eedle, it looks like his personal bike was used as a spare and didn’t get any race action. In the end, the two Ukrainian riders didn’t finish the race.

“It’s a real pity that KOMs/QOMs don’t travel with the bike,” Keeffe said.” I rode those same roads earlier in the week and it certainly didn’t go that fast. The bike has certainly gone faster than it has ever been before.” 

Certainly, the whole experience has left Keeffe and Eedle with a lasting memory.

“It’s got the race number on which I’m proud of,” Keeffe said. “I’ll be happy with a photo of it in use. And I did get a lovely Instagram message from Daryna who rode it. I didn’t ask her to sign it but I might have to if she becomes a huge champion one day. Not selling this one; it’s a keeper.” 

A version of this story was first shared in the VeloClub members’ Slack channel. Photographer and VeloClub member Mark Geary provided the photo used.

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