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Five-minute breather with Tim Hughes

A marathon runner and lover of triathlon; it was a knee issue that introduced Tim (Timbo) Hughes to a new addiction — mountain biking. A familiar fixture at Rockwheelers Mountain Bike Club events; you can’t miss Tim and his energy — especially when he’s wearing his trademark pink. Here we find out about the keen volunteer and how he — with the help of other dedicated parents and helpers — has introduced countless kids to mountain biking through Rockwheelers’ booming junior development program.

Occupation: I’m a carpenter by trade, worked for Triathlon Queensland as the development officer, and now work at BNG Sports/Bicycle Central.

What are you doing to get moving at the moment? Riding my new mountain bike.


Tim with son Kai.

What activity makes you the happiest and why? It used to be running — you could be anywhere in the world and all you needed was a pair of running shoes. Now I love mountain biking with my son Kai, 8, or with the many friends and families that enjoy Rockwheelers Mountain Bike Club’s Thursday afternoon junior rides.

How did you discover it? About 15 years ago as a training alternative for triathlon.

Have you always been active? Yes — I remember entering fun runs from an early age in primary school. I was lucky enough to participate in the City to Bay in Adelaide a couple of times in the early 80s (laughs). Then — a couple of years ago — I got to run in the City to Bay again. It was a great experience running down to Glenelg and catching up with family and friends I hadn’t seen for 30 years.

Are you a morning or afternoon mover? Morning.

What’s your favourite thing to do on a weekend in Townsville? Family time and exercising. I don’t seem to get enough of either!

Your most motivating tune? Anything by Powderfinger, John Butler Trio or U2.

Motivational quote? Hmmm… can’t really think of anything!

How do you pep yourself up when you’re craving the couch? See my reflection and remember I need to lose about 10kg!

Do you prefer to get active solo, or with a buddy? Both. I’m happy training alone, but I do struggle talking to myself. I have been told I like to talk a fair bit… maybe too much!

Most annoying fitness fad? Can’t think of one.

What’s your greatest fitness achievement? Finally riding the 12 hours at the Dam Dark. This is a mountain bike event held in November each year at Ross Dam where you ride through the night solo or as a team. It’s not a race but it’s awesome fun.


Tim is yet to finish a run in front of Kai…

Most memorable active moment? Completing my first marathon. When I was younger I watched my father complete the Adelaide Festival City Marathon. I remember him training for it and trying to run with him. He then had a framed photo crossing the finish line in 4:16:24.

After having a year off running in 2005 with a fractured patella, I had put on a lot of weight (I was 105kg+). I needed to lose it before we got married and always had a goal to try to run a marathon. With the support of my future wife Dionne, I started running again in January 2006. From memory I lost a kilo a week in the 12 weeks leading up to the wedding, then did the Burdekin Sugar Rush Half Marathon.

The plan was — if I could finish that — I was going to do the Townsville Marathon (with a target time of sub 4:16). I managed it in 4:12 in my first attempt. I then decided one marathon wasn’t enough and managed to complete seven Townsville Marathons.

The year Dionne was pregnant with Kai, I managed to get a heap of training in and ran a 3:20-ish. This was the year I finally got my head around running 42km — it is as much a mind game as it is running.

When Kai was born he loved going to Townsville Road Runners and sitting in the jogger. I was lucky enough to have Dionne and her Mum bring Kai to Seagulls and wait for me on the return journey so I could push Kai for the last few kilometres. I am yet to finish a fun run in front of him!

Then I had a few knee issues and discovered a new addiction at the Dam Dark – mountain biking. I aim to get on the dirt Friday mornings, as well as every Thursday with the juniors, plus aim for a long ride Sunday mornings.


Pretty in pink.

Can you tell us more about the Rockwheelers Junior MTB program? I volunteer with Rockwheelers in junior development with the aim to advance mountain-biking as a junior sport (I’m a trainee Level 1 and Level 0 Mountain Bike Australia coach). We hold a junior/family ride every Thursday afternoon. We started with myself, Kai and one other rider. It now has five riding groups with several parents helping out week-in-week-out and up to 70 people riding each session.

What activity have you always wanted to try (and what’s holding you back)? The Meat Grinder at Douglas [mountain bike track] — the fear of what would happen if I fell off!

What’s your arch nemesis (e.g. time, injury, self-doubt) and what have you done to conquer it? Weight and eating vs. time spent training. I’m like a yo-yo — up and down all year round. The one thing I have managed to control is not drinking. I can go years without touching alcohol, but food on the other hand — even though I’m gluten and dairy intolerant, I will take one for the team and suffer for a day or two.

What’s something we don’t know about you? My favourite colour (laughs). I love checking out graffiti when we go to different towns. There are so many more cities now promoting it and heaps of legal murals in prominent spaces. I love walking through the lane ways in Melbourne now even parts of Townsville.

What’s your next goal? Having fun in as many mountain bike events as I can. Also, riding further up Douglas MTB trails with Kai.

Most embarrassing moment on the go? Not much embarrasses me (laughs)! I guess when I had an altercation with a massive Brahman at the RRR [MTB event from Mount Molloy to Port Douglas] and I was crying behind a rock. Although the rock was barely up to my knees, I thought I had broken my ankle and was trying to hide from him.

Who would you most like to train with (e.g. famous person, or someone you look up to)? I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time with Brad Bevan and Courtney Atkinson back in the triathlon days.

The training advice I wish I’d listened to was… When I was younger — don’t sprint at the start.

Most treasured piece of fitness gear? My health.

My best local fitness tip is… I wish I had thought to go and run the mountain bike trails when I was training for the marathon. It would have been more fun. We have so many places in Townsville with great rewards at the top: Castle Hill, Douglas, Mt Stuart, Paluma.

Tell us a joke (why not?) I’m not funny.

Last words? See you on the trails!

Get involved

Find out more about mountain-biking on Rockwheelers’ website or Facebook page. If you’re keen to get the family involved in the junior program, join Tim at Douglas Mountain Bike Reserve every Thursday. Younger riders sign in at 4:30pm and the older group 4:45pm. It’s a gold coin donation for members; non-member juniors are $7; and it’s $10 for adults for a one-day membership (covers insurance). For more information email [email protected].


Tim has a fantastic support network with his family.

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Carly Lubicz

Carly Lubicz

Carly Lubicz is combining two of her great loves — writing and getting active. Previously working as a journalist, sub-editor, and editor in newspapers and magazines; she is editor and co-founder of TheGo Townsville. She stays active with the staples of road cycling and yoga, but has recently discovered triathlon. And become addicted (apart from the swimming part). She also has a Cert III in Fitness and is passionate about improving mental health through physical activity.

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