For many of us, it takes an accident to get us on the road to self-discovery.
A motorcycle crash that took his spleen, and one kidney, put Gerry Tatrai on the road to rehabilitation. A badly broken foot that eliminated many regular sporting activities ensured that bicycling as a part of his recovery progressed beyond health and fitness, towards a means of self-discovery in competition.
Highlights* include crossing Australia in under six days, riding 811 km in 24 hours around an Indy Car circuit in the US, and winning the race across America twice. (* all non-drafting time-trials)
“Race Across America” is a non-stop event, riders travelling 4800 km from the Pacific Ocean, melting in 43° centigrade desert heat, climbing over 11,000 ft mountains, and suffering torturous humidity on the final push to the Atlantic Shore.
His fastest crossing is eight days, six hours & ten minutes (averaging 567 km/day).
Tatrai competed in 8 RAAMs, five of which were sub-9 day trans-continentals.
Gerry currently holds:
- Fastest Australian Transcontinental Record (set while unofficially racing the Solar Cars from Darwin to Adelaide). Guinness Book World Record 5 days, 19 hrs, 12 min,
- Australian 24 hour Mountain Bike record - 464 km with 5,833 metres of elevation gain.
Gerry also rode Tandem across Britain in the Lands End to John O’Groat’s record attempt and the Paris Brest Paris, three times.
It is reasonable to question whether any of these results would have been achieved without a near death incident, the catalyst it provided, and the ability to turn a negative into a positive.
Gerry attended James Ruse Agricultural High in Sydney, organized Audax Australia qualifiers for the Paris Brest Paris, and fund raising rides for the Australian Kidney Foundation.
Gerry’s community projects include EYECYCLE (an non-profit group who provide recreation opportunities for the visually impaired). In 1994 as a volunteer tour guide and mechanic he rode “captain” with a blind “stoker” on their Trans America Tandem Ride - 30 days from Santa Monica to Washington DC. This event coincided with National Physical Fitness / Sports Month, and meetings along the way with State Governors targeted improved VIP (visually impaired persons) recreational facilities.
For Retina Australia he co-founded the Sunrice Cycle for Sight Tandem Challenge in 1999. The ride paired the sighted and the visually impaired for a tough 920 km route through the Snowy Mountains in eight days, raising funds for Retina Australia, who direct money into retinal dystrophy research, Australia’s leading cause of youth blindness. One of the stokers on these events continued on to win Paralympic Gold Medals for Australia in Athens.
In 1991 Gerry partook in the Rookie Performance (and recovery).
- On 5th August – Race across America, 3rd place [& first rookie] 4685 km in 9 days 3 hrs
- 17th August – Winner, 24hr race @ Milwaukee Mile, Indy track [12 days later] 811km
- 24th August – "Touring" Paris-Brest-Paris 8 days later to finish 1230 km, in 62 hours.
Crunch! December 1992. Further to the injuries that put him on a bicycle in the first place, an automobile crash provided; a broken ankle, three broken ribs, a punctured lung, a snapped femur (repaired with a 46cm steel pin) and a shattered pelvis causing many biomechanical problems. Getting off his crutches in March he won the 1993 Race across America, early August with a margin of 17 hours (a 450km lead). Gerry is rightfully labelled “Wonder from Down Under” in the US!