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Momentous Stories: Biking Across Australia

Momentous Stories: Biking Across Australia
PR Lotion Bottle

Athletic Performance, Muscle Recovery

Q: Can you give us a little on your background, who you are? Where are you based out of, what are your passions, how’d you get into biking etc.?

My name is Patrick Whelan. I actually got into cycling kind of late in life. I never had a bike as a kid, I bought my first bike when I was 40-years-old and fell in love with the ability to be self sufficient and travel around and cover big distances and be outside, and I loved it. I was also into sailing at the same time and I had a boat on part of the Mississippi River called Lake Pepin, and there are all kinds of big bluffs and hills in that area so I would always bring a bike. If I couldn't sail, I would hop on the bike and ride up and down the bluffs and get to know the community.

We had a velodrome in our community which unfortunately no longer exists. It was here for about 30 years and I got a chance to go out there and ride it. I really fell in love with it, which was back about 15 years ago. I really got hooked on velodrome track cycling and did that for a lot of years. I just had great experiences with the big, friendly community here in Minnesota.

I got a chance to race nationally all over the country and then decided to compete internationally and got the chance to go to all kinds of different places around the world. 

Q: How do you go from getting into biking to deciding to bike across Australia?

Because of track cycling and being involved in cycling, I had a friend that did a ride called the Fast America Ride which was a 30-day ride across America and he got roomed with a guy from Australia who was also doing that ride at the time. So the guy from Australia, his name is Chris and is nicknamed Bushy. His last name is Bushel. All male names in Australia have to have a “y” at the end. Eventually I connected with Bushy and we became really great friends over the years. 

Bushy had been the mastermind behind the planning. We used his van as the support van and then they connected up with an institute called the Black Dog Institute in Australia. This Institute works on mental health issues in Australia and so we then became a fundraiser for them. We set a goal of $5,000 and we got over $10,000 for them and they were loving that. People would actually pull us over while we were riding and hand us money out the window. One young lady at one of our rest stops came up to us and gave us five bucks and said “this is all I've got- I've got mental health issues, my husband does... we appreciate what you're doing. This is all I got but thank you so much.” Even truck drivers would pull over on the side of the road to talk to us.

So that was a really good connection. It’s this magic of being connected to cycling that expands your environment to other people. It gives you a chance to meet people all over the world. It's really just amazing. People talk about bucket lists. I don't really have a bucket list, I just find things that I like to do. I don't really create a list but if there's something that comes across that sounds amazing, in my opinion you can't turn amazing things down you just have to figure out how to do whatever it is because they aren’t going to come up to you three years later and ask to do it again. You know this is a once in a lifetime adventure.

Q: Could you tell us more about the Black Dog Institute?

It seems like everybody's experiencing mental health issues these days and they are often hidden, so anything we can do to help support that and get over those things is great.

Bushy and Scotty found them. Bushy mainly. He is an ex-policeman in Australia and over the years he has gone through some traumatic things. Bushy himself has been through a bunch of accidents on a bike. He got hit by a car that just about killed him and almost took off his leg. He still suffers a lot of pain from that. There was a crash where he broke his neck, the vertebrae in his neck. I think some of these experiences have really been challenging for him. He has had some trauma that he's had to overcome and I think he just used that and then started talking to people. Our experience riding across Australia and seeing people pull us over there really put it into perspective how important the Black Dog Institute is to people. We had this big banner on the back of the van that said “Riding across Australia, Perth to Sydney, Black Dog Institute'' and there was an outline of the country of Australia. It also included “pull me over and ask to donate money” or something like that.

Q) How did you get started with PR Lotion?

Over the years I created my own little race team up at the velodrome: PJW Racing. Over the years, I've connected with other entities as co-sponsors. I've become brand ambassadors for a lot of these different companies including Stages Cycling. I started using the PR Lotion because of my connection as a brand ambassador for Stages. I started on a trial basis during Covid while I was running some spin classes via Zoom

When I started using PR Lotion, I  just wanted to see what kind of performance increases I would see and how much better I would feel versus how much worse I would feel if I didn't use it. When I realized the difference, I collected a whole bunch of it.

If you're into data and statistics then get this, with just the kilometers that I rode plus the PR Lotion in that month of riding, I increased my FTP (Functional Threshold Power) by 30 watts. That's kind of unheard of. Nobody in 30 days increases their FTP by 30 Watts, at least not somebody my age. My coach sent me a message and was like “Pat, what in the hell are you doing trying to keep up with Scotty?” We had really long days. Our alarms were set at 6 a.m. and we would try to be on the road by about 7:30 a.m.. We would go out and eat something to help prepare for the next day and would try to be asleep by 9 or so. I would get a good night's sleep and then do it again. I would have some real worries about if I could even complete this adventure.

Prior to going over there, my coach had some confidence in me and that was good but I would feel amazingly good getting up in the morning repeatedly day after day after day. Even the first week that we started riding on our drive over to Perth I picked up a virus and so the first week I was really sick. The weather was about 40 degrees when we left and it was raining. We rode for about 2 - 3 hours in the rain through Perth. By the time we got to our overnight I was just exhausted but the next day I was like okay let's go let's do this again. There were a few days where we pretty much imploded and we took some extra rest days. I was maybe the weaker link of the two of us on the trip but then I would come back to life again. Do you know what TSS (Training Stress Score) is? I've never heard of anybody having an 830 TSS, that's just again another unheard-of thing. I think there were two days where I had like 650 or 850. See if you have a TSS of maybe 400 or 500 at a big race or something that's amazing, that's big stuff. 800 I just don't even know how to explain that.

Q) Have you tried any other products?

All kinds of other products. Collagen Peptides and the Whey Protein. Also, Vitamin D and Magnesium. So yeah, I've been experimenting with a lot of the different products because that was one of the questions. When I would be really exhausted you get so fatigued and mentally I have to believe that there are some enzymes that deplete some chemical things that change in your body in your brain and there's got to be others that are safe and legal supplements that you can use to get yourself back on track again. 

Q) What is your next big adventure? 

I haven't quite figured that out yet. I know my Aussie buddies are talking about Darwin to Adelaide, that's even more remote so I don't really know. Maybe a tour around Tasmania? There's talking about that. I live in Minnesota and the Mississippi River goes right through Minneapolis-Saint Paul. I've sailed on it a bunch, it’s been part of my life forever and I'm thinking we'll see all the Mississippi. Starts in a town up by Northern Minnesota to Park Rapids. It would be fun to ride from the head of the Mississippi down to New Orleans. 

Interested in donating to the Black Dog Institute? Click here

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