Road riding 'scary' for gold medallist

Steve Butler

The riding deaths of several friends and too many close shaves of his own have prompted WA cycling champion Ryan Bayley to vow never to ride his bike on the road again.

Bayley, who will be inducted on Saturday into the WA Sporting Hall of Champions, said he loved the sport that gleaned him two Olympic gold medals in Athens in 2004 but was now petrified of road riding - particularly as the father of young children Aurora, four, and Lincoln, one.

"I've ridden for a lot of years on the road and there's probably been 20 or 30 too many near misses," Bayley, who now lives in Queensland, said.

"Mirrors hitting me in the back, people cutting you off - I've been hit by a lot of cars and I've been lucky.

"I know too many people who have passed away in the last few years after being hit by cars for stupid reasons. In one month I went to four funerals and three of them were bike riders hit by cars and none was in the wrong.

"I'll go riding on my mountain bike or ride BMX, but I'm just too scared to get on the road.


Ryan Bayley competing in the 2006 Commonwealth Games.


"I was never scared of crashing on the track but I've got a young family and I don't want to leave them just because I got on my bike. In Australia, you fear people who are actually looking to run you over and don't see their car as a weapon."

Bayley, who also won four Commonwealth Games gold medals, said he had not touched his racing bikes since retiring after the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

"I put everything into it," he said. "I got more out of the sport than most people, had a bloody good time doing it and I gave up at the right time," he said.

He thanks State cycling great Gary Suckling, who he said took him from being a "bogan kid with long hair to going overseas and winning medals".

He is also grateful his achievements are being recognised.

"It's pretty mega," he said. "You're never sure whether people are going to remember you for what you've done and because I finished so suddenly, there was never really any closure."

Find out this year's other individual inductee in _The West Australian _tomorrow.