The McGrath Chronicles

Tell us about your first road bike and your first ride in the Dandenongs?

It was 1976 on a white Peugeot 10speed with Mafac brakes and Suntour gears $180- from Dandenong Cycles (my parents kicked in half). The maiden voyage was a 120km jaunt around the base of Mount Dandenong with my mates Sean, Ricky and Tony McGann. (I finally caught up with Tony again last year at the Warny) I did it in trackie dacks and Dunlop Volleys and received my first dose of road rash. I loved this bike and I’d still be riding it today if it hadn’t been stolen!

If you absolutely had to….choose one:

  • Road/MTB: that’s tough but it would have to be road, less car driving required!
  • Tofu/Tempeh: tempeh
  • Beetroot/Bananas: bananas
  • Nuts/Fruit: fruit
  • Flouro/Black: fluoro
  • Dandenongs/Kinglake: Kinglake is closer to home and has some outstanding riding but the ‘nongs is where the training happens!
  • Listening to Lee talk about Campagnolo/Climbing Humevale in the driving rain at 5am in the middle of winter without gloves: On Humevale Lee is drowned out by the mating cries of lyrebirds.

Having been in the game for a while, you obviously understand your body quite well. Can you give us a chronological summary of how your body (and approach to training it) has changed through each decade of your life?

  • Teens: Lots and lots of riding, a rough approximation of training
  • 20s: Rockstar in training, ciggies: a pack a day, bikes for transport only although I did do a short stint as a courier. I was a strict vegetarian so maybe that got me through with my health intact?
  • 30s: Got myself a MTB still commuter kms only but I did give up the smokes when I was 32 after a couple of failed attempts,
  • 40s: Moved up to the country for a couple of years and started to do a lot of trail riding with my dogs. Then one day I heard Johnny Topper was doing a RRR trail ride in Daylesford and that introduced me to a whole new world including Dirt Crits at Westgate, Enduros, XC and then finally about 4 years ago, road racing. For all of this the single biggest step up in form I’ve ever made was doing a regular 1hr ergo class per week. I do mine at Ridewiser with Rob Crowe, I can’t recommend it highly enough.
  • 50s: Only just got here but I would say I need to do more short, high intensity training and stretching to maintain flexibility. Endurance is easy when you get older.

I know it’s a boringly predictable question, but I have to raise the vegan issue. When did you catch this debilitating illness? Is there anything we can do to help you through this difficult period in your life?

I’ve been a vegetarian since 1982 and a vegan since 1994. I was finding it difficult to give up smoking and I thought that an ethical vegan couldn’t possibly smoke because they’re tested on animals. It worked and I haven’t looked back! I should say though that I do eat honey so some may not consider me to be a true vegan.

You may be vehemently opposed to everything about fast food chains – but you are still human.  Surely, SURELY the smell of KFC deep fried chicken skin invokes some sort of primal, animalistic reaction that you simply can’t deny?

Urgh, no way KFC smells like wet feathers, bacon also smells disgusting.  I ate a Big Mac in 1978, it left me unmoved. On the other hand, a BBQ can smell intriguing. I may be a vegan but I haven’t discounted the prospect of cannibalism entirely.

What’s the worst job you’ve ever held?

A knackery! But it was at the top of Abeckett Rd in Harkaway so the commute to work was a nice warm up to a day for lumping offal about! I became a vegetarian during my time there.

Speaking of horrific things, what’s with your love of Mt. Baw Baw? It just doesn’t seem rational.

I can’t really explain it, although I love climbing I’m not really a climber. It was my first road race and it’s tough reputation fascinated me. The original course went right past the house where dad grew up in Rokeby so there was that connection and I love the roads leading out to the final climb, they’re the most beautiful in Victoria. Now if only I could resist the urge to do the last 6km….

What ten things can always be found in your fridge/pantry?

  1. Tempeh (Tally Ho Farm)
  2. Tahini
  3. Bananas
  4. Linseed
  5. Oats
  6. Fruit salad
  7. Soy milk
  8. Honey
  9. Pumpkin/sweet potato
  10. Quinoa

What’s going in your blender post-ride these days?

Banana, tahini, vanilla, vegan protein powder, water…. anything else not bolted down

You choose to live on the wrong side of the Yarra – can you please provide some explanation for this?

Northside has much more stuff going on, closer to MTB trails, CX, velodromes and great back roads to get out for a training ride (nongs are a battle to get to and from)…and my lovely girlfriend Cassandra lives there!

The best cafes and restaurants are obviously on the Southside, but can you provide any alternate recommendations if our readers should find themselves inadvertently trapped in the North?

Southside is a dining desert, come to the light people!

  • Pearl Oyster: great coffee
  • Rays: great coffee
  • Piccante: early coffee
  • Vegie Bar: big servings,fast
  • Fox Hotel: a pub with a vegan menu
  • Naturally on High: best fruit smoothies
  • Ici: scrambled tofu!
  • Las Vegan Bakery: calzone
  • Natural Tucker Bakery: great bread
  • Soul Foods: vegan with a bogan edge
  • Ceres: hippy food
  • Bean Counter: banana bread

Thanks Tim


2 thoughts on “The McGrath Chronicles

  1. Love your answers Tim! Still remember how excited and proud we were of our big bro when he got his ‘grown up’ bike (and how upset when it was nicked) Jane xx

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