Cycling is so much more than a passion for Jason McNulty. That much became clear when we sat down to speak with the new President of the Moreton Bay Cycling Club.
Jason lives in Brisbane and has just taken the reigns of his local cycling club, which has 220 or so active riders and hundreds more members. It wasn’t a role that he was looking for, but he was prepared to step up when asked, knowing first-hand the power of a vibrant local sporting club, particularly for veterans.
“I got into the role to help steer the ship,” says Jason. “I bring my military way of thinking to the table: keep things simple, move forward, make decisions. We’re going to make decisions and when we say we’re going to do something we’re going to back it up with action.”
One of Jason’s ambitions for the club in 2020 is to get race teams up and running. “We used to have a strong race presence and that’s something that I want to rebuild. By the end of this year we’ll have juniors, womens and masters teams. And that’s just the start.”
An army veteran
Jason’s an army veteran, having received his discharge papers in 2007. He has PTSD from his time serving and now uses the power of sport as part of his ongoing recovery.
“When I first got on a bike I refused to wear lycra. I was an alcoholic, weighed 130kg and couldn’t ride 10km. It was agony,” says Jason. “But slowly I improved. To start with I just got on my old mountain bike from when I was in the army. I hadn’t ridden it for a decade. That’s the thing with cycling, you don’t need to be on a top-end bike initially, you just need to get on something you’re comfortable with and progress from there.
“To be clear, I’m not fixed but I’m certainly not back where I was,” says Jason. “Just getting your bum on a bike and going for a ride, you always feel better after you’ve done it.”
Jason firmly believes that the general public has the utmost respect for veterans – for their skills and experiences – and that sporting clubs love nothing more than to have veterans in their ranks.
“I believe that it’s best to get involved with your local club, no matter what the sport, and to integrate with the general public,” says Jason. “It’s about surrounding yourself with a group of motivated people and developing an amazing network.”
Jason came back from the Masters Games in Adelaide in late 2019 with a heavier bag than he’d packed. It included two gold medals and a bronze but he’s adamant that focussing only on winning medals would be to miss the point.
Now he’s encouraging veterans from around Australia to get involved with the Masters.
“The great thing about the Masters is that it’s easy to get involved and there are so many different age categories. It really is just such a good idea,” says Jason. “Everyone needs goals – targets, a destination – and Masters can provide that. We shouldn’t just cruise through life; there’s got to be a reason behind what we do.”
“I’ve ridden with an 84-year-old Masters world champion. When you’re active in the cycling community you get to know all sorts of people. People that know that they’re not ‘finished’ or ‘useless’,” says Jason. “Sure, you can go on to compete at state, national and international levels, but not everyone gets involved to win. It’s not all about medals and it can’t be. Mine just sit in a sock drawer.”
If you’re keen on a ride, get down to your local cycling club. Moreton Bay Cycling Club, for example, has different rides on five days of the week – from social meets to hardcore rides that aren’t for the faint-hearted – but there are even more opportunities on offer if you want them.
Still need convincing?
“Sport allows me to move forward,” says Jason. “The feeling that you get after really pushing yourself, that satisfaction, is amazing. There’s no medication, alcohol or drug that will give you that feeling.”