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Army September 17, 2009
THEY had only been in the
country a few months, but the
challenge of cycling 450km
over the rugged mountains
of East Timor in tropical heat was
enough to entice three members of the
International Stabilisation Force (ISF)
to enter the inaugural Tour de Timor
OIC C Coy, TLBG 6, Maj Malcolm
Beck, his 2IC, Capt Lee Galbraith,
and Lt Craig Armitage took part in
the five-day race which started in Dili,
and passed through the main towns of
Baucau, Loihuno, Betano and Maubisse.
The race was conducted as part of
the celebrations for East Timor's 10th
anniversary of Popular Consultation
held over the last weekend in August.
It attracted more than 250 adventure-
seeking competitive mountain bike rid-
ers, including some with world rankings
in the top 20.
The ISF trio trained on an exer-
cise bike and four mountain bikes for
the month before the race, in addition
to their normal physical training, but
approached the race in the spirit of fun.
"Lee trains for triathlons, but I main-
ly cycled to and from work before I
came here. We decided to enter a team
soon after we got here and heard about
the race," Maj Beck said.
A Townsville store lent them some
bikes for the actual race, and fortunately
these turned up a few days before the
"The hardest day was the first, which
was essentially a 130km road race with
three sharp hill climbs that never seemed
to end," Maj Beck said.
"On day four we were struggling for
four hours up 2000m of mountain over
60km -- we were all egg-beating our
way to the top."
He was delighted to finish, particu-
larly because of cramps in his hands at
the end of the race. "I don't know how
I'm going to hold a water bottle again,"
The team was overwhelmed by the
support of the Timorese for the event.
"They were amazing. In every town,
it was like the whole town had turned
out," Maj Beck said.
Other members of the ISF directly
involved in the race included Maj Geoff
Gaudry, who co-ordinated logistical
support, Leut-Cmdr Shane Firkin, who
provided logistical backup while the
race was in progress, PTI Sgt Shane
Bramley, who provided massages to sore
riders, and a medical team that included
Capt David Wong, Cpl Adam Smith and
Pte Damon Hastie.
Commander ISF Brig Bill Sowry
said the Tour de Timor was "great for
the country's confidence, and feedback
from the riders themselves has been
Report: Maj Kate Ames Photos: LAC Chris Dickson
Keen cyclists: C Coy 2IC Capt Lee Galbraith, OIC Maj Malcolm Beck and Lt Craig Armitage join
other cyclists for the Tour de Timor. The gruelling 450km five-day mountain-bike race started in Dili
and passed through the main towns of Baucau, Loihuno, Betano and Maubisse. Maj Beck (right)
powers home to complete the final leg of the event.
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