WHEN Lisa Harding strapped on her helmet before a bike ride she didn't know it would save her life.
A car that sped past her on the Bruce Hwy and honked its horn early on Saturday caused her to fall off her bike and be knocked unconscious, she said.
Ms Harding said she had just passed the bridge at Bakers Creek when the incident happened at about 4.30am.
"I remember hearing the horn blasting and that was it," Ms Harding said.
"I don't remember what they did. The police don't think (or know if) they hit me, whether they threw (something at me), or whether they actually physically grabbed me."
Her training partner Jo McLaughlin was riding around a corner about 100m behind her and didn't see the accident.
Ms Harding, 45, who represented Australia in 2009, is one of the top female triathletes in her age group and has finished in the top five in the last three Ironman competitions.
She is training for the Busselton Ironman competition in Western Australia on December 4.
"As a motorist, I do understand the frustration of cyclists, but I think motorists really need to be aware and I was someone's entertainment," she said.
"I'm a person. I'm a human being and I just want to be treated with respect on the road."
A police spokesman said police, Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) and Queensland Fire and Rescue Service crews attended the accident scene just after 5am. Ms Harding was taken by ambulance to the Mackay Base Hospital, where she received surgery for her facial injuries.
Police are calling for assistance into their investigations.
"We're looking for an unknown red sedan, so if anyone knows anything they should contact Mackay Police or Crime Stoppers," a spokesman said.
Cyclists have a right to be on the road and a large number shared the region's roads with motorists, he said.
"They were probably doing the right thing and wearing the right equipment - others should do the same."
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