Storey's mountain bike success an accident
HE is the accidental elite athlete who in the space of sixteen months has gone from being the butt of jokes to kicking butt out on the toughest mountain bike trails in Australia.
Kuluin's Craig Storey never knew he had it in him - to be arguably the hottest new kid on the block in biking's rugged endurance events at the age of 33.
The stay-at-home dad heads off for the Coffs Harbour 100km marathon ride to be raced Sunday knowing he won the first 24 hour race he ever entered - lapping all the solo riders. He has come in a close second in a two day event to Australia's best, Chris Jongewaard, despite a broken chain and three flat tyres.
Less than two years ago, Storey was an unknown quantity even to himself, having competed only on motorised bikes through super bikes and motocross. But there were clues to his incredible capacity to endure what others cannot. He used to play AFL, has done martial arts and when he was 19, ran a four-minute mile.
"I should have done something about it (his sporting ability) back then, but I didn't," he said
"I always knew I was fit."
The key to unlocking his cycling speed and endurance came when a Mooloolaba cyclist invited him to ride with their group on the weekly "coffee grind" one day.
"I was riding my brother's cheap comfort bike wearing footy shorts and sneakers and beat a fair few riders. Everyone had a pretty good laugh," he said.
But despite all this, Storey had fallen in love with cycling and he started pursuing his passion with the blessing of wife Melanie, who now works to support his budding sports career, which quickly diverted to off-road..
"Someone said to me that I should enter the Noosa Enduro because I could win a new bike," he said
"The guys I rode with were pretty surprised I could keep up despite the fact I fell off every two minutes. I knew the guys were waiting for me to give up, so I made sure I kept going no matter what."
He ended up covered in bruises, blood and sweat.
"I loved every minute of it." He finished fifth in the open event - the cycling equivalent of a weekend jogger coming top five in the Noosa Half Marathon.
"My second race was pretty harsh, I dislocated the same finger three times...I kept riding until I couldn't hold the bars any longer," he said.
The first time he raced at night was in the Dusk to Dawn 12-hour finishing second.
"I was just two minutes off the lead for the first six hours until my lights stopped working properly. I must have crashed about a dozen times. I had fun though."
He has a new Cannondale race bike on the way thanks to Cycle Zone Mooloolaba and is preparing for the Australian Marathon Championships in March.