In the two years since claiming historic back-to-back national team pursuit titles, four Tasmanian cyclists have suffered enough slings and arrows of outrageous fortune to make even Hamlet question his mortality.
Crashes, bereavements and illness have embodied the heartache and thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to.
Independently of each other, the foursome chose to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them.
Fortunately, their coach is a bit more contemporary in his choice of literary references.
“I’ve told them: we're getting the band back together.”
The Blues Brothers fan is Matthew Gilmore and the cyclists are Amy Cure, Georgia Baker, Macey Stewart and Lauren Perry.
Together they won the 2014 and ’15 Australian women’s team pursuit titles – a significant achievement for a state the size of Tasmania to outgun the populous mainland states in a team event.
Individually, all four had been multiple junior world champions. Collectively, they demonstrated the strength and depth of Tasmanian women’s cycling, following the likes of Louise Yaxley and Row Fry and inspiring the likes of Madeleine Fasnacht and Anya Louw.
Since those 2015 national track titles, the quartet’s career paths have taken vastly different directions, fully justifying the cliched comparison with a roller-coaster ride.
“I’ve told them: we're getting the band back together.”Tasmanian Institute of Sport cycling coach Matthew Gilmore
While Perry and Stewart took extended breaks from the sport, Cure and Baker forced their way into the Olympic Games, only to see their campaign derailed by a high-speed training crash on the eve of competition in Rio de Janeiro.
Baker and Stewart both had to deal with the heartbreak of losing their fathers (Patrick and John respectively) while Cure and Perry’s dads (Graeme and Jamie) continued to support their daughters’ riding careers through officiating and coaching roles.
Perry endured 18 months battling chronic fatigue after which she went to join the army reserve.
“Cycling is now not the only thing in my life,” said the Launceston 21-year-old. “But I also began to realise how much I was missing it.”
After a series of heart scares, Baker was eventually diagnosed with supraventricular tachycardia, or abnormal heart-rate, which required a major three-hour operation to correct.
“I feel the worst has happened and I can only move forward so I’m looking forward to the next few years riding my bike,” said the Perth 22-year-old, who also crashed heavily at the Launceston Carnival last December.
Stewart suffered a training crash of her own, with hit-and-run charges being made against a motorist following the incident in her home town Devonport.
Six months later she was knocked unconscious after crashing on her senior debut in Belgium.
Having previously sustained fractures to her skull, a chipped vertebrae and bruising to the brain in a 2012 crash in Canberra, the 21-year-old posted a blood-stained selfie on social media with the message: “Just a solid hit to the head’’.
“I look at cycling totally different to how I did a couple of years ago,” Stewart said earlier this month. “As a junior, was I doing it because I wanted to or just because it was all I knew? Now … it’s what I want.”
Aside from the Rio crash, Cure’s career path appears to have remained closest to the straight and narrow, becoming a dual Olympian, multiple Commonwealth Games medallist and the only Australian cyclist to medal in six different world championship events.
Engaged to Belgian cycling physio Anthony Pauwels, Cure is living in his cycling-mad country and rather taking to its races, clocking up four wins one 10-day period having signed a two-year road contract.
The West Pine 24-year-old, who also won a bag of medals at the Oceania and national omnium titles and track world championships, reflected on her Rio disappointment with the simple message: “What happened sucks a lot, but sometimes it’s more about the journey than the end result.”
It has been some journey for the quartet, taking in such countries as Hong Kong, Spain, Colombia, Scotland, Russia, Belgium, New Zealand, France, England, Brazil, Belarus, Italy and the US.
The next two targeted destinations are Gold Coast and Tokyo for next year’s Commonwealth Games and the 2020 Olympic Games respectively.
Before that, they are likely to reunite for another tilt at a national team pursuit title.
Inspired as much by South Australia’s pursuit of a hat-trick of titles, the four riders are expected to combine under Gilmore’s guidance to represent their state at the Australian track championships in Brisbane in February.
As Hamlet would say, 'tis a consummation devoutly to be wished.
Their shared enterprises of great pitch and moment are not over yet.
- Apologies to Shakespeare and my school English teacher Mr Stilwell.