Faz Zamani

So I’m that girl who got on a bike just over a year ago and now days she doesn’t really get off her bike all that often! I actually come from a running background with a strong desire to run ridiculously long distances and my love for the bike creeped into my heart a bit later.

Just over three years ago I weighed over 90kgs and the thought of walking, running or riding more than 100m seemed laughable. After some serious discussions with myself in front of mirror (we’ve all be there!) I decided to shake things up a bit. As part of my fitness/life-style change I decided to run. Then I decided to swim and finally I decided to ride. A couple of marathons and triathlons later I realised that one particular activity was giving me a lot more joy than I thought it would – I mean really who knew that you could have so much fun on two wheels?!

It’s like asking someone why do you breathe? That’s what cycling is like for me; it’s my oxygen! I guess at the end of the day I ride because I can; I ride because it makes me feel free and I ride because it adds a delicious flavour, wondrous colours and intoxicating smells to my life. Aside from getting to spend time with some of my closest friends and giving my mind and body a taste of what it really means to strive for greater fitness everyday I also get to spend time with me.

It’s so easy to get lost in the hustle of everyday life and with study and work it can sometimes feel like I am forever chained to a stress-based desk whilst the outside world lives on. So when I get the opportunity to ride I do it without hesitation and I do it everywhere and anywhere – solo or with others. When I am on my bike I am having the time of my life – every pedal stroke takes me further onto some amazing adventure! I’ve discovered gruelling gravel routes in Portugal, breath-taking roads around Berlin’s countryside and gotten lost on the never ending bike paths of the Netherlands. Best of all I’ve fallen in love with cycling over and over again right here in Aus – if Mt Hotham was a person I would marry them!!

By chance I came across the Climbing Cyclists’ and Domestique’s ogranised ride up Mt Baw Baw. Now I will add here that I was unaware of the 7 peaks challenge and I had no understanding of what I was signing up for when I decided to take on Mt Baw Baw. I just thought: “Hey that’s a Mountain and a few of my friends are doing it so it should be fun!” You are probably expecting me to tell you that I hated it, that it was the hardest thing I had ever done and that after this I really wasn’t sure about riding up a speed bump, let alone another mountain. Well I loved it! It was character making and very soon after I finished the ride I decided I wanted more and wasn’t I happy to hear that there were 6 more peaks to climb and that Mt Baw Baw was the hardest one!

What followed was a month and a half of some amazing time spent on my bike up some amazing places.

Just like cramming for an exam I had some catching up to do on my 7 peaks rides. I like a challenge but I especially love a double strength challenge! From Mt Baw Baw to three peaks in a week to three peaks in three days. Bring it on! I was hooked and there was no stopping me! From the monstrous Mt Baw Baw to the breathtaking Buffalo, the haunted landscapes of Lake Mountain and the picturesque bends of Mt Buller to the green-drenched valleys of Falls Creek, the majestic Mt Hotham and the tough Dinner Plain. Every single peak was special and every single ride was spectacular. I savoured each climb with friends, strangers, cycling groups and at times solo and at the top of each peak I felt like I was home.

I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by a strong group of cycling friends who have helped me achieve the impossible. I have gone from riding once a week along flat roads a year ago (approx 60km) to riding up three Victorian peaks in three days… ! I have to say though – the biggest motivator is seeing other women on bikes. It used to be a rarity but now days it’s becoming more common to see some bad-ass women take on some phenomenal cycling challenges. It can be quite daunting sometimes to be involved in a male dominated sport so it’s always refreshing to see groups, organisations or individuals working to promote women’s cycling. Like the women who have inspired me to go further and push my limits, I hope I can inspire other women in cycling!