Navy cycling in uphill battle

This article has photo gallery Published on WO2 Andrew Hetherington (author and photographer)

Location(s): Canberra, ACT

Topic(s): Cycling

Lieutenant Commander Kent Browning on his way to winning the Super D mountain bike event at the Australian Defence Cycling Club championships. (photo: WO2 Andrew Hetherington)
Lieutenant Commander Kent Browning on his way to winning the Super D mountain bike event at the Australian Defence Cycling Club championships.

Navy's cyclists put in a fantastic effort to narrowly miss out on second in the winners’ and placegetters’ list at the 2015 Australian Defence Cycling Club championships held at Mount Stromlo, Canberra, from 5-10 October.

More than 85 Australian Defence Force riders gathered at the Stromlo cycling facility to compete in nine road and mountain bike off-road riding events.

Navy finished the championships on 21 points, behind Army with 27 and Air Force topping the event with 36 points.

Points were allotted to riders from each service who won and placed in the men’s and women’s elite and overall categories for each of the events.

Members of the Australian Defence Cycling Club and Mrs Margaret Vandenberg, gather at her husband's, Chief Petty Officer Kane Vandenberg's, memorial rock before the Super D mountain bike race during the club's 2015 championships.

Members of the Australian Defence Cycling Club and Mrs Margaret Vandenberg, gather at her husband's, Chief Petty Officer Kane Vandenberg's, memorial rock before the Super D mountain bike race during the club's 2015 championships.



President of the Australian Defence Cycling Club, Lieutenant Commander Andrew Willett said this year there was no overall winning service or service placegetter trophies presented, but there will be changes to next year’s competition.

“Next year we intend to increase interservice competition by reinvigorating the championship through the inclusion of some new events,” Lieutenant Commander Willett said.

“We intend to introduce BMX, cycle cross and track cycling to expand the overall competition and we will then introduce overall service first, second and third trophies.

“We hope to also increase our club member numbers and the extra events should aid in achieving this.”

Lieutenant Commander Willett said he was happy to see the Australian Defence Cycling Club members get on a bike and compete against each other.

“During the races everyone gave their events a red hot go and everyone pushed themselves to a win, or just better themselves as cyclists,” Lieutenant Commander Willett said.

“From my perspective, everyone there got on a bike and improved their skills and performance, be it riding with other members, utilising skills courses, or through their races.”

Two of Navy’s top performers were Lieutenant Commander Amy Bulters and Lieutenant Commander Kent Browning.

Lieutenant Commander Amy Bulters on her way to coming second in the cross country short course mountain bike event at the Australian Defence Cycling Club championships.

Lieutenant Commander Amy Bulters on her way to coming second in the cross country short course mountain bike event at the Australian Defence Cycling Club championships.



Lieutenant Commander Bulters was the only woman competing for Navy and it was her first time racing at the championships.

“It was a bit lonely being the only Navy woman and I wish there were more of us riding,” Lieutenant Commander Bulters said.

“I entered seven events and came away with four firsts, two seconds and a third.

“I won the cross country eliminator, Super D, road time trial, velodrome exhibition events and came second in the road criterium and cross country short course.”

Her third place was in the cross country Olympic race, where she had to overcome bad luck to get her place on the podium.

“I was leading during the race but at the top of the mountain I got a flat in both tyres,” she said.

“I managed to fix both flats and get back into the race.

“I rode into third place and then got another flat tyre at the bottom of the mountain and had to run the bike over the line to finish.”

For her, the highlight of the championships was not always the racing.

“It was the camaraderie and the willingness of people to help each other out,” she said.

“I was new to this competition and others were giving me points for my riding. It was great.”

Lieutenant Commander Browning entered the four cross-country mountain bike events, winning the Super D.

He’s only been riding a mountain bike regularly since he posted to Canberra last year and this was his first time at the championships.

“As I only had a cross country bike, I entered the four cross country events and was lucky enough to come fourth in the cross country eliminator and ninth overall both in the cross country short course and Olympic,” Lieutenant Commander Browning said.

“I had a home town track advantage, particularly in the Super D, as I ride Stromlo most weekends.

“As luck would have it, the Super D course was run over my favourite tracks on the mountain, which I ride all the time.”

Before the championships he had no idea of what to expect of the events.

“I wasn’t confident at all and I had no idea of what I was going to be up against,” he said.

“I knew there were some great cyclists in the Australian Defence Force.

“There were a lot of great downhill riders racing the Super D, but the flatter parts of the event gave us cross country riders a chance.

“I’m probably not as quick as them on the downhill parts, but knowing the course and having a bit of luck, helped me out with my win.”

The memorial plaque and rock located at Mount Stromlo for Chief Petty Officer Kane Vandenberg who was tragically killed during a registration event for the World Solo 24-hour Mountain Bike Championships on October 11, 2013.

The memorial plaque and rock located at Mount Stromlo for Chief Petty Officer Kane Vandenberg who was tragically killed during a registration event for the World Solo 24-hour Mountain Bike Championships on October 11, 2013.


During the championships, a memorial service was held for a Navy member who died on 11 October 2013.

Chief Petty Officer Aviation Technician Aircraft Kane Vandenberg was tragically killed during a registration event for the World Solo 24-hour Mountain Bike Championships.

His wife, Margaret, and more than 80 Australian Defence Cycling Club competitors held a short service around Chief Petty Officer Vandenberg’s memorial rock before the Super D race on 8 October.

“The memorial is very special and Kane would be very humbled by it,” Mrs Vandenberg said.

“It’s somewhere where people can visit and can think of him.

“It’s important to me he is not forgotten.”

Mrs Vandenberg said he was sorely missed by a lot of people.

“He was a wonderful husband and great Dad to our three boys,” she said.

“He had a real passion for mountain biking and liked any sport.

“He died doing what he loved.”