TESTIMONY. “I prepared in less than a year”: This Australian participates in the Paris-Brest-Paris
By Clara Martinot
The Paris-Brest-Paris cycling event is internationally recognized. A total of 49 Australians took part, including Rod Mann. This sexagenarian stopped in Villaines-la-Juhel (Mayenne), Wednesday August 23, 2023.
Villaines-la-Juhel (Mayenne) is celebrating on Wednesday August 23, 2023. The town is hosting the Paris-Brest-Paris cycling event under blue skies. Dressed in a yellow and green jersey, Rod takes a break on the steps of the town hall, a few meters from the finish.
The 66-year-old is one of 49 Australians in the race. “It’s the first time I’ve taken part in the Paris-Brest-Paris,” he says.
A fall on a bike
Before his participation in the race, Rod experienced some pitfalls. “Seven years ago, I was cycling to work in Australia when a car hit me,” recalls the retiree.
For two years, he did surgery, rehabilitation and finally got back in the saddle, with a prosthesis in his hip. Although riding a bike remains challenging for him, “when it’s in our blood, riding a bike, you can’t stop,” he says.
Cancer after the fall
The Australian does not let go. Three years ago, one of his friends, who took part in the 2019 edition of Paris-Brest-Paris, offered him the challenge. Rod agrees and begins preparation.
“In 2022, I find out that I have prostate cancer,” the 66-year-old reveals. For six months, he follows treatment including radiotherapy sessions and recovers. Motivated, the Australian, who has been cycling since he was a boy, resumed training. “I prepared in less than a year,” he admits.
In Australia, he started riding again and obtained all the necessary certifications to participate in the Paris-Brest-Paris, between January and April 2023.
Regarding the race, Rod is very happy to cycle in the countryside. “The landscapes are magnificent”, he reports, “I think God created France just for cycling”.
Give up without giving up
Despite the greenery and the beauty of the region, the pains return. “I officially dropped out of competition two days ago,” he explains. However, the cyclist makes his way back to Paris, by bicycle. He concludes, “It’s important to keep going, not to give up in life”.