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Michael Milton: 2014 in review

April 10, 2015

I love setting myself new goals and challenges but it’s also fun and interesting to look back on achievements. Reviewing adventures, events and even holidays can be a useful tool when thinking about new activities. What went well? Which adventures were the best and why? What would you do differently?

So, here’s my top five adventures from 2014. Perhaps one of them will inspire your next challenge?

Coaching in Socchi
After years and years as an athlete, it was time to give back. I worked as a coach with the Australian team in the months leading up to the Winter Paralympic Games in Socchi, Russia and then during Games time. What a great adventure! I’d never been to Russia before and the mountains in the Caucasus were as big and beautiful as anything I had seen in central Europe.

It was not a smooth ride for the team but I really enjoyed the challenges that come with being a coach and I got a new perspective of elite sport. What did I learn? Coaches work much harder than athletes and the results don’t always reflect the effort or the talent.
Sochi 2014

Ski, Camp, Ski
We (my wife and I and our two kids aged five and seven) had a great season skiing in Thredbo. With both kids finding their ski legs the previous winter, we were keen to ski as much as possible and make good use of our season passes.

However, we quickly learned that day trips are tough. With no place to stay at the snow, we decided to give camping a go. We swam and showered at the pool in Thredbo after skiing, had dinner and headed off to our tent at Thredbo Diggings. Some recent falls down low meant we were on the snow and, although I’m certain it’s not on my wife’s top five list for 2014, the kids and I loved it! We pulled camp early for our second day of skiing. Perfect!

“although I’m certain it’s not on my wife’s top five list for 2014, the kids and I loved it!”

Canberra to Bungendore
Late August and my family was driving to the coast for the weekend. I have wanted to explore the back-country route between Canberra and Bungendore for ages so this was the perfect opportunity. I wanted to get away by 1pm and meet up with the car in Bungendore before sundown but I got busy, left two hours later than planned and found myself riding alone in the dark from around 5pm, wondering how and when I was going to find my family, or if they could find me. I really wasn’t in any danger as there were plenty of properties around, I had my GPS and quality bike lights. The temperature dropped, but as a skier, I quite like the cool air and as long as I kept riding, I was fine.

I got charged by a wombat, had to wade through a swollen creek and got flagged down by an old teacher of mine who got a call from someone who passed me on the road (crazy one-legged guy riding alone in the dark can only be one man apparently!). Just as I was tiring, my rescue car found me around 7.30pm and I was pretty happy to climb in.

I think this adventure will make it on to the 2015 list…. Just so I can do it in daylight!
Running out of light on the mountain bike ride to Bungendore

“Crazy one-legged guy riding alone in the dark can only be one man apparently!”

The Mountains from the Other Side
As a skier, I haven’t spent a lot of time outside the resorts so, when I got an invitation to join a mountain biking trip on the western side of the range from Munyang Power Station to Geehi Dam, there was only one answer – YES!

Viewed from the south west, the mountains are so much bigger and quite awe-inspiring. Our starting point had a big climb parallel with a Snowy Hydro tunnel, the first 6km was all uphill and pretty steep. As a one cylinder engine in a two cylinder race, I’m often the slowest, especially on hills. I had to get off and hop a few times which takes the gas out of the tank and slows me down. The scenery was incredible though and my companions were fantastic and very patient. They didn’t seem to mind waiting for me to catch up. We ended the ride at Geehi Reservoir after 3 hours.

I love to end an adventure with a bracing dip but the water was surprisingly warm in Geehi reservoir. It was a very cool adventure in unexplored parts of the Snowy Mountains.
Running out of light at Geehi Resevoir

Circumnavigation of Canberra, ACT
When Canberra’s Centenary Trail – a 140km self-guided loop around greater Canberra – was first finished two years ago I wanted to ride it straight away. However, the day it was officially opened I was in Colorado working with the Australian Paralympic winter team. Clearly this was one dream that would have to wait, so I surfed the internet and read tales from friends about their days out on this new Canberra attraction.

Finally, in January 2014, on a break home between training sessions in western Europe and the winter Paralympic Games in Socchi, I got my chance. I couldn’t find two consecutive days to ride the whole trail but that’s the best part about it: it’s designed to be ridden in sections and it’s so easy to access from just about anywhere in the bush capital.

I managed ride the whole thing over about three weeks. I regularly ride some great sections along the northern ACT border and the trail next to the river from Kambah Pools to Tuggeranong is also a favourite. The Centenary Trail is a great asset for Canberra and one that will draw big numbers to the region in coming years.

I have a list for 2015. Do you?
Mont Ambassador Michael Milton
Michael Milton is a Paralympic gold medallist, speed skiing world record holder, was included in the Australian Institute of Sport’s 25 Best of the Best Athletes for their 25th anniversary year, has won a slew of awards, continues to compete in races of multiple disciplines, and regularly skis, mountain bikes and spends time in the outdoors.
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