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One cyclist was fatally injured and another was harmed in two separate occurrences during the Indian Pacific Wheel Race.
Cycling Sport

One cyclist was fatally injured and another was harmed in two separate occurrences during the Indian Pacific Wheel Race.

Once again, a tragic event has occurred during the Indian Pacific Wheel Race. On Thursday morning, two cyclists were involved in separate incidents on the isolated Eyre Highway in Western Australia, resulting in one fatality and another individual being in critical condition at a hospital.

The cyclist killed has been identified as 62-year-old Chris Barker.

Participants in this event will ride alone and without assistance from Fremantle, Western Australia to the Sydney Opera House, covering a distance of 5,500km. This event has roots in the long-standing tradition of riders crossing Australia, dating back to the late 1800s when they were known as “Overlanders”.

In 2017, the race was revitalized and turned into a structured event, but was terminated due to the tragic passing of British cyclist Mike Hall during the inaugural edition in Canberra. Hall was struck and fatally injured by a driver, and a coroner ruled that the death could have been prevented and should serve as a call for change.

In the following years, cyclists have completed the continental journey in an unofficial fashion – with avid fans online eagerly watching, known as “dot watching,” as the riders’ GPS trackers made their way across the nation. Nearly 30 riders participated in this year’s crossing, which included Italian endurance cyclist Omar Di Felice, known for his recent trek through parts of Antarctica.

However, the 2024 version was significantly impacted on Thursday morning by two unfortunate events within a short period of time on the Nullarbor.

A man, 62 years old, was hit by a car near Madura at 6 in the morning. Madura is 190km west of the border between Western Australia and South Australia. The cyclist passed away at the location where the incident occurred.

Two hours after, a second man riding a bicycle was struck by a vehicle close to Fraser Range, located in the south-central region of Western Australia. The cyclist was transported to the Royal Perth hospital and remained in a steady state on Thursday evening, despite sustaining serious injuries.

The Western Australian police are currently investigating both crashes and have requested that anyone with information reach out to Crime Stoppers.

Aiden, Barker’s son, honored his father on a Facebook page that is used by participants and followers.

“I am at a loss for words to convey the sadness of today. My father was pursuing something he was passionate about,” the post stated. “I am grateful for the support and sympathy following today’s tragedy. I cannot thank you all enough. This single event was something my father had talked about extensively throughout my life. His passing is not just a loss for our family, but also for the Indian Pacific Wheel Race community.”

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“I am devastated.”

Earlier this week, Barker made a post in the group. He wrote, “I am halfway across Australia’s longest straight. I will be hitting the road shortly after midnight with a pleasant light breeze guiding my way.”

The other racers have been notified of the occurrences and any who want to quit will be retrieved by volunteers.

At the beginning of this month, the prominent cycling safety group, Amy Gillett Foundation, declared that it was ending its operations due to the termination of government funding.

Reworded: The Indian Pacific Wheel Race has gained a reputation for its challenging route from Perth to Adelaide, with cyclists then passing through Melbourne and Canberra on their way to the Opera House steps before finishing in Sydney. According to the race website, the clock never stops and there are no monetary rewards, with the sole motivation being honor.

Source: theguardian.com