Jason Lowndes Development Award
By Russell Nankervis
Jason Lowndes was a valued friend and athlete that begun his International Cycling Career with the Bendigo Mountain Bike Club. Jason or ‘Lowndesy’ as he was better known started completing as a young teenager with the likes of Tasman and Russell Nankervis, Chris and Tyler Hamilton and Jack Haig. I recall the first time we met at aged 12 he asked me if I had any bike parts I could sell him, I politely declined. The second time we met while riding, he asked if I would sell him the handlebars on the bike I was riding at the time….i declined, ‘ahhhh sorry im actually still using these’… 1 month later at a local club race I had landed on my head and I was holding a broken handlebar while he rode past in hysterical laughter. Needless to say, he was no longer interested in my handlebars.
Lowndesy was perhaps the most unassuming athlete off the bike. He was usually the least prepared rider and most nervous rider to line up, that is if he made it to the start line in time. Eventually after some mixed results and some direction from local coach Matt Wallace, his dedication to improve with the support of his parents Graeme and Trudie, made Lowndesy a fierce competitor.
Lowndesy quickly became involved in nearly every aspect of cycling in Bendigo. He worked at his local Bike Shop Bendigo Cycles, coached junior riders across Central Victoria and would spend far too long socialising in lycra at the local coffee shop. Travelling to races in a beat-up old ute was always a laugh, seeing the sights and blasting outrageous music was just as important as the race itself. Once at a race his generosity in socialising before his event, would usually lead to him getting sunburnt, having poor recovery or losing sleep, sometimes even all three! But ultimately on race day everyone knew he was a strong competitor and his welcoming approach to cycling would eventually reward Lowndesy with a supportive career. Lowndesy was unique in that he knew the value in networking and within a few years he had contacts worldwide willing to support his cycling journey.
With age came maturity and a new cycling pathway emerged. I still recall siting together at the La Trobe University Library when he told me he had a friend of a friend that knew of a road racing opportunity in Canada. It was clear desk work was the equivalent of seating on cactus for Lowndesy and so I supported his decision and told him that his degree would still be relevant after Canada.
Well, pretty soon after landing in Canada his degree in Events Management was soon forgotten as the boy from Emu Creek turned into a criterium winning superstar. It seemed his direction in life was set on becoming a professional cyclist. Years of learning race craft and forging friendships in the road scene would eventually take Lowndesy to his biggest race yet. When in 2016 Lowndesy was designated the sprinter for the Australian road team at the under 23 World Road Championships. He raced with courage and pride on his shoulders as he knew the reputation of Australian Cycling was dependent on his result. While watching the live stream for the event there was only one grin bigger than the winners at the finish line. It was the grin of Lowndesy who brought home an impressive 6th place finish at his first World Championship event.
With never ending stories of worldwide travel and racing, it was always a pleasure to catch up with Lowndesy on his brief return home. While we were great mates it was hard to not speak in awe of his achievements. Yet, Lowndesy was far too generous to discuss his own racing life as he knew one person’s accomplishment in sports was another person’s accomplishments in work life, family life or in travels.
He was larger than sport and knew the value in mateship. The last time we saw each other was in the middle of a big storm, while training with a local bunch we were both struggling in the wind at the back of the bunch where he simply gave me a big shove forward and we both laughed as he dropped off the bunch.
For 2020 we have decided to award Isaac Fletcher with the Jason Lowndes Junior Development Award. Isaac has been steadily progressing through the ranks of the Junior men category for many years now and it has become clear his hard work is paying off. With multiple podiums at the Victorian Cross-Country Series and a commendable 5th place at the 2020 Australian Mountain Bike Championships.
Coming from a large family Isaac balances his training between school and works closely with Bendigo Mountain Bike Club accredited coach Jo Wall. Between racing Isaac is actively supporting his club and is always supportive of his peers and the greater community.
On behalf of Graeme & Trudie Lowndes and the Bendigo Mountain Bike Club we wish Isaac all the best in continuing to ride with pride and passion in memory of Jason ‘Lowndesy’ Lowndes.
Written by Russell Nankervis