To Cry the Deepest of Cries
The call came from out of the blue whilst driving back from the local cafe one a Sunday morning.
It was my mate Anton. It didn’t occur to me when I saw his name illuminated on my phone that it was an unusual time for him to call. We spoke for about 10 minutes during which I went from normal to numb in the space of 3 words. The conversation that followed was surreal. When I got home shortly afterwards, I looked at my wife and began to cry the deepest of cries, and repeated those three words.
“Phil committed suicide”
In the month that followed, nothing consumed my thoughts more than the reality of that news. A little over four months from that day, it still haunts me.
At the time, I was in the throes of rounding up a new Masters A Grade race team. I’d given the team a name which was meaningless and perhaps a little self-indulgent, and aside from a desire to win races, it didn’t stand for much. The circumstances of Phil’s passing forced a pivot in my thinking about the team, and so was born Hanna Racing.
I first met Phil on my second ever bunch ride some 14 years ago. I figure we must have racked up about 100,000km’s together in the years that followed. He was there during the two most memorable rides of my life – a late afternoon jaunt up and down a deserted Ventoux, and a 90 mile north south stomp down the Pacific Coast Highway in California with a breeze at our backs.
He was the quintessential Melbourne bike rider. He rode very regularly, and to all corners of the city. He was known to so many, but unlike so many, that had nothing to do with a social media profile. He rode hard, and he was a hard rider.
He wasn’t one to talk much about the goings on in his life, preferring to talk about the goings on in yours. Actions spoke louder than words with Phil, and his actions saw him become one of the most respected figures in the Victorian property industry, as evidenced by a full-page obituary published in The Age newspaper after his death.
A strong-willed man with a loving family, a successful career that afforded him financial independence, a large and diverse friendship group, and a bloke in very good physical health. As a young 50-ish year old male, Phil was living the stereotypical middle aged male dream, but in taking his own life, he further evidenced a suicide reality amongst middle aged men in this country.
Phil was an important part of Melbourne’s cycling fabric, not only as an individual, but also given the demographic he represented who are ever present on bikes across our town. Hanna Racing is in part to honour his legacy, but more so it’s a vehicle through which discussion about suicide can be brought to the fore, and central to that discussion is the need for men to feel comfortable talking about their troubles in life. To be able to make a little difference is more important than winning races, but winning races will help make a little difference, so we hope to pick up some race wins along the way.
Our message to those who are in a dark place is simple - you are and will continue to be loved, so #liveonloved
Hanna Racing probably would have remained just a thought if not for the generosity of Champion System, Pitcher Partners, Fast Group and Russell Kennedy, and the team thanks you all for the outstanding support.
RIP Phil Hanna 1966 – 2018.
Andy Gooding, Team Owner.