It was a gloriously sunny day in Adelaide as we watched Team UniSA-Australia’s men’s and women’s cycling teams whizz past our stand on Bartels Road on Sunday afternoon. Sunday’s race was the first airing for the men’s team in the TDU Classic ahead of their stage 1 race kicking off on Tuesday, and was the final race stage for the women’s team. Team UniSA-Australia’s Rachel Neylan was placed third overall in the general classification – a great result in what was a very tightly contested Tour, in this her second year riding for our team.
My personal cycling career peaked (or, more accurately, began and ended) four years ago on 17 January 2015, when I was part of the UniSA/Santos team that rode the world’s longest bike into the Guinness book of world records. (I say rode, in reality we pedalled about a dozen rotations and gingerly let gravity do the rest as we travelled the necessary 100m down Rundle Street to qualify for the official record). We gloss over the part where gravity did a little too much and we fell off on our first attempt, but four years on, we’re still the record holders. I still get occasional flashbacks to the massive ‘clong’ the near three tonne machine made as it toppled over, spilling us onto the roadside. But as they say, we got back in the saddle and we delivered the outcome.
You could look at this as a metaphor for who we are and what we do: we are super fit and fast, world leaders in our field and regularly dazzle our audiences. The cross-disciplinary academic collaboration we promote works like the best peloton does by developing complex cooperative and competitive interactions amongst our best minds for a result that reflects glory on the whole team. We have winners, stars whose efforts are supported by others. And then sometimes we try something we’ve never tried before and the thing wobbles a bit and then doesn’t take off with the speed and energy we’re used to. But we learn from it. That’s why we talk about a lifelong love of learning. It’s in our studies, in our teaching and research and in the way we live our lives. And that’s what we’re going to do more of in 2019. We’re going into a whole new way of thinking about how we do what we do, reimagining this institution for a 21st century student experience. And I believe the people we have here are the best people to bring that about. So shake the sand out of your hair and get ready to ride with the UniSA team in 2019. We’ve got more records to break, more races to win and goals to kick. Hang on ... sporting metaphors are a minefield. You get the idea. We’re off and running. Oops. Did it again.
Professor David Lloyd
Vice Chancellor and President