Cyclist from the wild, wild west
Big snakes, kangaroos and wild goats - you have to keep your wits about you cycling around the Australian mining town of Kalgoorlie.
Garth Cooper, a former Winton policeman and competitive club cyclist who will be riding his second SBS Bank-sponsored Tour of Southland this week, has seen plenty during the two-and-a-half years he's been living in the west.
"They are pretty flat roads, but you are busy dodging snakes. The other day I was out motor pacing behind [wife] Sandra, she's done the big swerve at 70kmh and I'm wondering what's going on and I'm yelling at her and giving her a bit of abuse and she said 'didn't you see the 1.5m snake'. I'm glad she didn't run over it and flick it up at me."
Kangaroos, not known for their intelligence, are a regular hazard and goats can also be an issue, although you can usually smell them before they get close to you.
It's all a bit different to a training ride out the back of Winton, where Cooper was based for eight years.
"I'm looking forward to riding around the district again, it's going to be awesome. I think it helps knowing the roads and when you turn right and left and what the winds going to be like. Getting into position before the hills is another big thing, I don't have the ability so I've got to be smart."
Cooper, who left Southland nearly three years ago, initially worked in the mining industry but has since gone back to policing.
He competed in the world masters road championships in Italy two months ago in the 40-50 years bracket, staying in contention until the final climb of the day.
Having completed his first and only Tour of Southland in 2010, the 48-year-old knows what he's up against this week.
"I might be the oldest person here. In 2010 I got through and I was always in the main bunch at the finish. I don't expect to be sprinting these big guns."
- © Fairfax NZ News