AUSTRALIAN cycling legend Steele Bishop was lucky to survive his maiden bike ride in Lesmurdie.
But his miraculous survival at the tender age of six taught him an invaluable lesson: it hurts when you crash.
In his soon-to-be-released autobiography, Bishop said despite the cuts and bruises from that moment he was hooked on the adrenalin rush.
“For a family that couldn’t afford new shoes a new bike was out of the question,” he said.
“I started to search the Carmel rubbish tip and after a week of hard work and scavenging I had my very own bike.”
Bishop said it was while he was reading the results of the Tour de France on the outside step of his childhood home in Kalamunda that he first dreamed of becoming a world champion cyclist.
He won his first state championship at 15 and at the age of 19 became the youngest Olympic cyclist when he was selected to represent Australia at the infamous 1976 Munich Olympics.
“Little did I know I was wandering around the Olympic village while members of the Black September Palestinian terrorist organisation were holding nine Israeli athletes, coaches and officials hostage,” he said.
“We were kept in lockdown as the Israeli police and later the international response team tried to deal with the terrorists.
“After 18 hours of negotiating the terrorists’ request for a helicopter to the airport was granted and they along with their terrified hostages were transported to a waiting plane.“Before the terrorists could take off there was a final attempt to free the hostages but it was a tragic failure.
“The desperate terrorists panicked and murdered five athletes and six coaches from the Israeli team.
“It was a tragic and sad end to an event designed to bring the world together, not tear it apart.”
Bishop continued to race after the Olympics but retired from the sport at 21 and became a full-time firefighter.
But the lure of racing remained strong and he returned to the sport at 30 and become world champion in the individual pursuit, track racing’s toughest challenge and a race where you break or are broken.
In the final of the 5000m pursuit in Zurich in 1983, he caught his opponent, Switzerland’s Robert Dill-Bundi (the 1980 Olympic pursuit gold medallist) three laps from the finish, a feat almost unheard of in world-class cycling.
“What a fantastic career I’ve had, from a young boy with a dream of being the best rider in the world to representing Australia at the Olympics and being headhunted to race as a professional,” he said.
Now, he is once again competing on the Masters Cycling Tour, exhibiting his trademark discipline, commitment
and will to win.
He will compete in the Australian Masters Track Cycling Championships in April and the World Track Cycling Championships later in the year, aiming to be national and world champion yet again.
Wheels of Steele: The Makings of a World Champion will be released by Rockpool Publishing on March 1.