Meet Julian, Purchasing Officer at Glencore’s Hail Creek coal mine. When he’s not overseeing purchasing operations, Julian puts on a completely different uniform – one of green and gold.
Julian recently traded his hi-vis for Australia’s national colours at the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships in Scotland. He took part in the gruelling Gran Fondo category, a 159km race that tested both his physical and mental endurance.
“It was one of the toughest days I’ve had on a bike. Conditions were cold and the roads were rough.” Julian said.
Despite the harsh environment, Julian said the atmosphere was electrifying.
“The highlight was definitely the crowds! Everywhere we looked there were young kids cheering us on, Aussie flags being waved and shouts of ‘Aussie, Aussie, Aussie.’ Not to mention the sound of cow bells ringing.”
Julian crossed the finish line in 138th place and felt accomplished. He was proud to have represented his country and completed the course in full.
“The first time I put the green and gold jersey on felt pretty special. To have earned that “Australia” written across your back is awesome. I suppose it felt like part validation of all the training I’d put in, and part responsibility to put a good performance in for the country, my family and friends, and for myself as well.
“I felt satisfied crossing the finish line. It was great to catch up with some fellow Aussies at the end and share our experiences of the day,” he added.
But how does one manage a demanding job and a passion for cycling? According to Julian, it’s all about discipline and time management.
“It’s not easy. The days at Hail Creek are hectic. You really need to put boundaries in place so that you give yourself enough time to train.
“The training out on site was limited to the spin bike in the gym. I only had three days a fortnight when I was home to get out on the roads and put in 3-4 hour rides.”
Though Julian’s journey has led him to competitive cycling at a national level, it all simply began as a means of transportation.
“It really all started as a way to get to and from university. It put a smile on my face and brought a sense of independence,” he said.
Today, his ambitions are set high. His next goal? Qualifying for World Championships in 2024 in Denmark and then 2025 in Melbourne.
Julian said family and friends play a vital role in helping him achieve his goals.
“Mum and Dad were always very active. Dad passed away when I was 17, so every time I’m pushing my limits, I feel a little closer to him,” he said.
It also helps that Julian doesn’t shy away from challenges. A previous crash in 2019 led to significant injuries and hospitalisation, yet he remained steadfast.
“It was great to look back on that journey and just be grateful and thankful to still be here and still enjoying my time on the bike. Life is a gift,” he concluded.
For those inspired by his journey and aiming to balance work and sport, Julian had straightforward advice.
“Put boundaries in place. The days are tough but it’s so rewarding when you start to see the results.”
Balancing a demanding role with the rigors of competitive cycling, Julian Wojcieszuk is proof that whether at a coal mine or on a cycling track, dedication and hard work pays off.