My cycling journey started at primary school where my siblings and I would ride the 1km down our dirt road to the bus stop each day. Once I finished my high school education it was probably 4 or 5 years until I rode my bike again which is just crazy! In 2004 or 2005 a new friend (soon to become one of my closest friends!) got me into triathlon. I did my first mini tri on an old racer which my brother had rode home from his bosses place after a few drinks! Lucky for me it fitted me and I successfully completed my first tri and was officially converted!
I progressed to my first proper road bike shortly after and continued to ride with friends and participated in triathlons, slowly building up my endurance each year until I took on my first Ironman distance triathlon in 2009.
Cycling has allowed me to make friends, keep fit, challenge myself and see some amazing places in Oz and around the world.
It also allows me to appreciate the landscape – much more than driving up a hill in a car.
Challenges being a woman and cycling?
Perhaps just the challenges and barriers we put on ourselves? There can be a lot of ego’s and masculinity in cycling but I’ve been lucky to ride with some amazingly supportive people – men and women. Or perhaps they’re the people I’ve sought out on the various groups I’ve been part of. I’ve also been lucky to have some inspiring women as cycling mentors. These are women who still ride, compete and participate even if they have kids, full time jobs and various other commitments. They make it seem attainable to other women that those things don’t need to be barriers to getting out there and having a go. I feel it also shows their kids that exercise is important, as is doing something for yourself. I also understand that not everyone can afford to prioritise exercise and cycling ahead of their family and I respect that. I just hope that those same women don’t judge me because I am out there having a go.
Tips to overcome barriers.
Start with the basics. It can be expensive to set yourself up as a cyclist. I started with a base level bike, basic kit and runners instead of cycling shoes. Then, as I could afford it, I upgraded.
Learn how to do things yourself. Talk to others about cycling. I’ve learnt all I know about cycle racing, kit, gear, routes, getting up hills etc from talking to other people on the bike. The more I’ve learnt, the more I enjoy it. And the more comfortable I feel. When I first learnt how to change a bike tyre, I found it incredibly empowering! I was no longer dependent on others to ride with. I didn’t have to play the damsel in distress on the side of the road, I could fix it myself. That being said, if it’s a cold, rainy day, I’m quite happy for someone to change it for me!
I enjoy being fit. I feel better about life in general when I’m active. It means I’m getting outside, I connect with the landscape and the seasons. I’m not a huge fan of cycling over winter, but I never regret going out when I do.
I like to set myself a physical challenge each year. My 2016 challenge was to do a cycle tour in France. Setting that goal meant I had to ride regularly, ride in the hills, and ride in winter! But, it was all worth it! France was amazing! I was the only girl in my tour group but it didn’t worry me at all. I’m a bit like the red caboose. I’m definitely not the quickest up the hills, but I get there in the end.
After breaking my collarbone on my cycling holiday in July 2016, I thought completing the 7 peaks would be a great way for me to find my fitness, motivation and confidence again.
Doing the 7 peaks ride challenged me to visit places I hadn’t been to before, climb mountains I hadn’t climbed before and see some pretty amazing scenery! I did 3 of the rides with friends, and 4 solo.
Baw Baw was a real challenge for me. There was one point where I wasn’t sure if I’d make it to the top… but I did!! Mt Buller was a new one to me also but I think it’s nearly my favourite! My final peak for the challenge was Mt Hotham and it was magic. I lucked a stunning day so I felt like I was being rewarded and it was a constant reminder of how lucky I am to be able to get out and enjoy this part of the world. I also felt a sense of achievement as I rolled into Hotham and proud of myself for setting a goal and achieving it.