Ride with Me

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Have you sat on your bike and thought to yourself, there is something about this that I like. A LOT. For me, riding is my Freedom Machine. It’s cheap, easy to maintain, can take you anywhere, social, healthy, environmentally friendly, challenging. I started riding my brothers old bike to try to get fit and lose weight. I was 92kg at the time and pretty unhappy with myself. It was heavy and clunky and I was too scared to ride it on the road. I stuck to bike paths and quiet streets. My first ride was with my girlfriend. We rode to Woolcock Park, which is at the back of Ashgrove. Luckily there were no ‘hills’ and a lot of water bubblers! The return trip was around 10km. I arrived home covered in sweat and my heart pounding. But, you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face! I rode that bike everywhere, I even fell off it! There is nothing more embarrassing than crashing into a banana bar! Eventually I got up hills and extended the length of my rides. I couldn’t get enough. My brother bought me a Specialized Myca duel suspension mountain bike, the deal being that I would lose 25kg and stay healthy. I stuck to my end of the bargain, riding as much as I could, and through parts of Queensland with my dad on CQ rides. I did a few Westpac Chopper Charity mountain bike rides on the ‘ol Myca…it is what has made me mentally stronger.  Here, I found the joy of bike riding. Eventually I was lured into the dark side. Along came Beauty, my Avanti Questa road bike. It had to be pink. I didn’t care what the bike did, or how light the carbon fibre was. I still ride this bike today, having had quite a few modifications to fit around my body. A crash in 2013 made a pretty big dent in my body but the bike got away with a scratch on the gear hoods. I ride it and race it. It’s my companion and I trust her.

I look around at all the bikes out there. My eyes pop out at a few, I’d do anything to get a newer and improved bike! But for now, it’s Beauty and I. I think that it’s the machine on top that you need to improve, not the bike. Although, the wheels and gearing can assist if you are interested in racing and hill climbing! Yesterday on my group ride I heard a lady say “I’m not a very good rider.” It echoed in my head for most of my day. I was at the back of the group (this is my safe zone) and I watched her and when I could, ride behind her. She was a fabulous rider! If she were to ask me, “Caroline, how do you think I can improve?”, I’d give her a few tips that were passed on to me. In the case of group riding there are many thoughts to this. But in her example, if you want to finish your ride strong, then it’s like racing. Its all about positioning and efforts. I am not a coach, I have been coached, by a very good one. She taught me that I had to find my strengths and to use these as my weapon. In my friends instance, she spent a lot of time out the front, pushing in long and fast efforts with the leaders. Three quarters into the ride she was still in that position, the group wasn’t doing much in the way of rolling turns. She started to fatigue. She came to the hills and blew up. She was dropped. So in her mind, she is telling herself “I’m not a good rider.” She is in need of learning the strategies of how not to be dropped and finish with the group. I have provided a link on this subject (below). I have also provided a link to a great read on Bunch Riding.

Another important part of bunch riding, is finding a group that fits you. If you are a woman, and it is mostly a male dominated bunch, then this isn’t a group for you. You need a group that nurtures you in at an average that is around 25 or so. We are built and communicate differently. Sure, some women will read this statement and disagree with me, but position yourself back the very first days when you started off and think again about this statement. If you are a strong and progressing rider then riding with men is the key. Also, riding with people who are better and more experienced than you will make significant improvements to your confidence and abilities. If you can work it into your budget, get a Coach or mentor. These people know their stuff. Technique is everything…but also is the connectivity between teacher and student. I you need a Coach I can recommend a very good one to you. I am working on a list of rides suitable to new to bunch riders. Contact me for further information.

By saying “I’m not a good rider, I am too slow, I won’t keep up, go without me” will make you this person. We all have to start off somewhere. Find people who will take you out and help you gain your confidence. Build. Build up slowly and find a group that you can ride with. It may take several groups before you find your fit. You will be dropped! But know the route and finish your ride. Keep going back to that group. You will be dropped a hundred times! Your level of fitness will improve. With fitness you will not be dropped. This applies to both group riding and racing.

Remember the reason why you started riding. Keep that feeling. I hope this guides you.

My mantra: YOU GOTTA WANT IT.

cycling-etiquette

http://www.bicycling.com/training/tips/the-five-stages-of-getting-dropped

 

 

Putting things into perspective

Mardi

On Sunday 19 July 2015, at 10:20am, I waited with about 33 female riders, on the side of the road in the small township of Mulgowie Queensland Australia, for the Chief Commissaire to announce the start of the race. A race in honour of a young woman, Mardi Bartlett, who lost her life, doing the thing she loved with a passion…cycling. This was my second road race, a 3-lap 54km course. I felt nervous. Cycling Queensland placed me in C Grade, though I am a D Grade rider. A good friend and mentor, convinced me to go in wide eyed and with the view to learn and have fun. “It’s not the quickest rider that is impressive, but the smartest.”

The ride out was at a safe pace. A tail wind, with moderate rough surface. The fun began at the hairpin turn…straight into a head wind. I got dropped on the second last hill of the first lap. I know why it happened. I had already decided it would the evening before. Lesson 1: Don’t let your negative thoughts win. I was soon in the company of 3 other riders. I rode solo for what seemed like forever. I kept my eye on the group, the band slowly stretched. Soon they were just a speck of dust. I watched them fade into the distance, support cars following. I fought to catch, but I couldn’t get back on. I could see another rider drop. I continued to pedal as hard as I could, in hope of catching her. Eventually I got her! We concocted a plan and so began 2 laps as a team of 2. I have always told myself, that no matter what, I will always finish a race. It’s my number 1 rule. When we got to the finish line for lap 1 my friend and Commissaire shouted “Stay together and keep on riding!”. So that’s exactly what we did. We would do it for Mardi.

When you are out on the open road a lot happens. You need to be aware of your surroundings and be fully alert. Working together is tricky. You have to find a balance and work as a team. I was full of fight and wanted to smash it. I was also feeling hesitant as I didn’t want to put any stress on my partner or come across with a pushy attitude. She was a fighter! Her attitude was outstanding! We talked to each other, to the cows, made jokes about the cabbages and sang! YES! We sang as we rode up the steepest of the hills “Ain’t no mountain high enough!…Ain’t no valley low enough!…” You learn a lot about yourself when you are thrown into the wind. Rather…a wall! I’m pretty sure it was 30 knots! Lesson 2: The art of patience and power of determination. There is no point into going into something half arsed! If you are going to do the thing. DO IT! So rather than wallow in my self pity, I visualised a young woman in my head. Racing and winning and smiling. Being amongst her peers and celebrating her achievements with her parents and family. Too often I worry about the little things, and not the big things. I am lucky to be alive! To be able to ride my bike with friends and share the joy and excitement and thrill of the race as I cross the line!

Rest in Peace Mardi. You are loved.

It’s not just about the ride

Circles!

Circles!

Lifecycle Crit Placings

Lifecycle Crit Placings

Woooooooo! A shopping bag!

Woooooooo! A shopping bag!

It’s been a while since my last blog so I thought I’d drop a line to say HEY. Lots has happened! I have spent a lot of time on my bike, riding with the Lifecycle Wombles with every week exploring new roads and making new friends. Recently, I had an amazing ride up to Mt Glorious. It was a tough ride for me. It was 80kms, climbing 2,197 metres. Uphill is something I’m not too hot at! It was well worth the experience and time spent in the saddle with friends is what I enjoyed most.

Recently, I bought myself a Lifecycle Kit, threw it on and got Beauty out onto the Crit! WOW. That was fun! *insert sarcasm icon*

I’ve never been in a race before, let alone a bicycle race. A quick search on the web and a few tips from friends and the next thing I find myself cycling in circles for my life! Ever done something that you have absolutely no idea why you got yourself into it in the first place? I have never competed in anything before. Sport for me was something unheard of. I came from a family of gumby’s! So, here I am. I find myself with my eyes fixed on the wheel in front. Close proximity. Close the gap! Don’t get dropped! These are the catch cry’s that fill my head. Sh*t! What happens if she slows and I end up her ar*se? What happens if I crash? Lap 5. Mmmm. This feeling in my legs…does this stop? Take turns out in front? Okay…does this mean I can control the pace? I’ll go with that theory. I felt mentally nudged by the girl behind me. Maybe shoot that theory. I find myself beginning to panic. I’m sure my heart is about to explode. Where is the ambulance? I think I’m going to cry. I feel the sweat dripping down my face and the sting of sunscreen as it hits my eye’s. When will this ever end? No time to grab my water bottle. Ugh. So thirsty. With each lap the pace increases. Few words are spoken. At one stage I nearly ride off into the grass. Note to self: practice cornering. It’s gaining intensity with each lap. I try to maintain a spot in the middle. I slip behind and I’m suddenly in the back. I feel myself slowing and dropping. This I do not like. I pass the spectators and hear my name being called out. Suddenly something in my head pops. I pick myself up and get back into the group. 3, 2, 1…the flash cards appear. So, at the ring of a bell and a few hundred metres to the line there is an explosion of activity amongst the cyclists. Sprint time BOOM! We all cross the white line. We are done. I slowly pedal back to the start of the track. Heavy breathing. Swearing. “WOOOOOOO” I scream! Our group stop and await the results. My name was called out for Fourth place! I was floored! At that very moment I understood the feeling of victory. It comes deep down inside you and blows you right out of this planet! For the first time ever, I won a placing! We were presented with a bag of goodies by our Club sponsor. Best trophy ever!

You know…a friend told me…the only person you are competing against is yourself. 

The greatest thing about bike riding is exploring new terrain with friends. Going for a pedal finishing with a coffee, boiled eggs with soldiers and post ride chat. Priceless.

Check out: http://womblesbrisbane.com/

Being Lisa ~ “Sunshine”

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I met Lisa early one dark morning outside My Sweetopia in West End, Brisbane Australia. We were getting ready for a LIV/Giant Ladies River Loop. We pedalled our way around the famous loop, battling our way through peak hour traffic on Annerley Road, ending up on Grey Street…with our names written in our coffee froth. It was a great bunch of women. Smiles all round! I was chatting to her about various bike related things. I asked her about cycling and found out she was a commuter amongst other things. I nearly dropped dead when she sent through her story. She is testimony that you are never too old to participate in any sport or race. What an amazing active woman! 

 

Here is her story…

From a young kid I’ve always loved sport. Not keen to watch it, always wanted to be part of it. And although I’d give most things a crack I did better if there were wheels or water involved. At 14 I was a keen skater. I was in the speed team with the Miami skate rink. That took every weekend up that I remember at that age. (Oh…until I met BOYS!) At age 16, a friend’s father introduced me to waterskiing (that then included BOYS!) and until the age of about 19 I was spending most of my weekends at Lake Somerset where my cousin and other friends had some ski shacks we called home. (Don’t know how I finished my nursing training, as I was always sick on weekends and had so much time to make up to graduate). Even bought my own boat “DENVER” 350 Chev Camiro for these who “nose” these things. I got to ski with the Sea World Crew, as they were frequent recreational skiers at Somerset in those days.

In my mid twenties I took to motorcycles with a variety of bikes (with motors) from a V800 to an RMX250. Of course they needed to be modified as I’m a little vertically challenged for the trail bikes high suspension. I met my husband around this time and we decided to sell everything we had, bikes, cars, house blah blah and bugger of overseas for 12 months to the UK (as you do). When we returned, and due to Mikes love of the water, we got ourselves a dive ticket each and bought ourselves a beautiful Sparkman and Stephens’s 30ft yacht to play on. Remember the days before children and the disposable income you had?

Anyway, I guess it was about this time 14 years ago, when we returned from our year in the UK and bought ourselves a renovator, close enough to the city that you could ride a bike. I bought myself a mountain bike and with the encouragement of my friend at work Fiona, I started riding to work rather than catching the bus or battling the traffic on Coro drive. It was bloody hard work at first too. I loved the fact that I was getting to work for $0 feeling good getting fit and I could eat all the sweet crap I wanted without feeling guilty.

I changed jobs and started working in the city, yay a bit closer! And was pleased to find many bike-minded like-minded colleagues who also rode to work. Our office looked like a youth hostel with bikes and smelly knicks and towels hanging all over the fire extinguishers. I was convinced by Scotty (one of my mates at work) to buy myself a roadie…I guess it’s where my love for riding began. I bought a Giant TCR and kept it for 10 years, my loyal friend. Many a weekend was spent riding with this little group of friends and their friends and partners, to Wynnum, Cleveland etc. Sometimes Scott and I would head out and do a ride to Wynnum before work or meet at Mount Gravatt and do a lap or two of the mountain. If the weather was fine that is!! I managed to score the nickname of “Sunshine” from one of my colleagues as I only ever rode when the sun was out LOL.

I loved commuting to work and back. It gave me time out to think, sing (out loud sometimes) and generally revitalise for the day or wind down from the day’s end. Mike also started commuting by bike to work so now we are a 1 car family and have been for some years.

2 years ago we took 12 months off work (yes again) and took ourselves on a caravanning trip around Australia (google Barling adventures for a look) due to space constrictions we took NO BIKES…OMG can you imagine! So here you have a family of bike lovers and not one bike not even a folder!! We broke at Kalgoorlie and bought Pippa a bike which we strapped to the back of the van for the rest of the journey. She was happy and it was worth it. Not many, then, 7 year olds can say they rode on the Nullabor!

Since our return we are back to the daily grind of work and straight back into commuting to and from the city. After spending a year OFF the bike I was keen to do a little more than just commute. On my return I found to my delight that my bike minded colleagues and some of their partners were doing Triathlons. I admired their guts and determination. Not only that – they all looked bloody fit and fantastic and I wanted a piece of that pie.

I set myself a goal that I’d train hard at swim, bike and run (god help me I am not a runner) and I would do the Pink Triathlon on the Gold coast. As it worked out my friends were doing the Raby Bay Gatorade Tri the weekend before the pink and I was coerced into doing that one. I did it, I loved it, I will never look back. I came 5th in my age group and was hooked!

The next weekend I did the Pink as did my 8 year old daughter and we have both participated in 8 Triathlons each this season. Pippa has now got 5 other kids from her school involved too. It’s such a great sport to feel good, keep fit and race your own PB.

I went to Mooloolaba and did the bike leg for a team. We had a blast, and I did the bike leg in just under 80min. I was really pleased with my time and have set my goal for an Olympic distance next season ALL BY MYSELF.

At 48 I feel fantastic. You are never too old to start. In my last Gatorade this season I did the sprint distance instead of the enticer…I remember looking around as we floated in the water waiting for the start, thinking ‘Check out all these old girls – they look so fit’ then laughing to myself as I said “Shit! I am one on these old girls!” I came 7th in my gender age bracket. I know I am bragging a bit here, but as besides still being surprised at my own achievement I think anyone who WANTS to do this CAN do this if you just put in a bit of grunt and determination. It’s not rocket science…Determination + hard work = results = self belief.

I’m the healthiest I’ve been for some time and its an activity that sees me doing three different sports, with different bunches of friends. My swim fit ladies with Kerry at Langlands Pool. Kerry taught me technique, so as not to swim to the bottom of the pool like I was…LOL. On top of my daily commute to work I have started some bunch rides and value the support of the fellow riders including Planet Cycles and LIV/Giant. Unfortunately I’m still running/shuffling alone but to be honest I’m okay with that. Some, or most weeks, I don’t get the amount of training in I’d like but it’s a family, work, life, sport, balance hahaha. It takes a lot of organising to fit everything in and around the activities of partners, kids, family and work so I figure I do ok!

This winter I plan to keep training hard…and stay in front of those who slack off…

These days I have a Colnago roadie…a Charge fixie with bright green V rims (yes I do ride in fixed wheel) and a Brompton folder…I need 2 more, which are a mountain (with disc brakes for all the wet weather commuting, it would be nice to have brakes in the wet!) and a Triathlon bike would be a sweet treat. We have 8 bikes between 3 of us. Do we like to ride? You betcha we do!

I no longer carry the name “Sunshine” although I do like it, maybe I should re invent it for myself.  In fact I think now “they” say I’m a little nuts as rain, hail or shine you will see me on the bike track headed to work…when it rains I just put on a smile, a bright light, a raincoat and take it easy.

We now have a bike cage at work to house the 15+ cycles that use to cramp our desk spaces. Thanks Greg!

Happy Biking! 🙂

If you are new to bunch riding and think you might be more comfortable starting out in a women’s only group check out the LIV/Giant Weblink (there is one organised in every state):

http://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-au/localevents/event/liv.giant.road.ride.qld/1110/

Being Paul ~ Reward yourself ~ Ain’t no Mountain High Enough!

2013 Me and my Tarmac

2012 Atop Stelvio with Michael and Chris

2012 Atop Stelvio with Michael and Chris

I met Paul on Facebook (who’da’thought?!) through the Lifecycle Rider closed group forum. He has ridden 17,613.4kms since up-loading his rides on STRAVA. That’s a whole lot of pedal time! Paul is one of the many Heart and Souls of Lifecycle. In between his day job and caring for his family, he supports Lifecycle with regards to the Lifecycle Racing Club. I have been working with him creating new material for Lifecycle and have been in communication via email only.  I finally got to meet him, in person a week ago, outside Lifecycle early one chilly Saturday morning for a group ride to Gap Creek. He is a wonderful and enthusiastic man willing to support anybody whom asks. In one of our conversations, I discovered that he had lost an outstanding amount of weight from cycling and that he is a touring cyclist…my favourite subjects! If you like the concept of bike touring like Paul does, perhaps you might like to check out Bicycle Queensland’s (Australia) current 9 Day ride in September? It is a good basis for any future longer rides you might like to try, and very useful preparation for bike touring. I hope you enjoy reading about Paul and his cycling journey.

Here is his story…

To passers by, I looked like any other cyclist sipping his macchiato after a vigorous morning ride through the streets of Echirolles outside Grenoble in France. I was waiting for my two companions who had spent the night at le Bourg-d’Oisons at the foot of l’Alpe d’Huez. I should have been with them – looking forward to climbing the mighty alp.

Just a few years before I was a fairly chunky 117 kilograms. Even for my big-boned 183 centimetres I was, undoubtedly, obese. A friend had some success with a medically supervised very low carbohydrate diet (VLCD) and encouraged me to do the same.

Kudos to Dr Colin Armstrong with whom I negotiated a compromise – I would diet but I would not exercise. Each week I’d check in with the good doctor. He’d check my vitals and log my weight – and we’d chat. I think most of his patients were older women so he would look forward to my visits – or maybe he was just a super friendly guy. In any case I looked forward to my weekly visits.

I had good success – 4 kilos in the first week and a further 12kg over a few months. My weight settled at around 100kg and I could not budge below that mark. Even at 100kg I was categorized as overweight – at least I was no longer obese! To fall within the normal range for my height I needed to lose another 15kg. Clearly diet alone wasn’t going to get me there.

Maybe I should give exercise a go. As a kid I used to ride a bike every day to school. And on weekends – with my surfboard under one arm – I’d ride 10km from home in Labrador to Main Beach on the Gold Coast. My bike was built by my granddad from parts he salvaged from the tip. It was a piece of junk. I thought all bikes were junk. Once I got my drivers license I was happy never to ride again. Once mandatory helmet laws were introduced it sealed it and I stopped riding altogether.

Dr Colin was a cyclist, but not a die hard. We developed an easy rapport. Soon talk turned to bicycles. I bought a hybrid – flat bar and fat road tyres. I couldn’t believe how much the technology had progressed from my old junkyard bike.

Since I now had a bike, I needed a goal to keep me motivated. I respond well to rewards. My plan was that in six months I’d be ready to join Bicycle Queensland’s 9 day ride from Port Douglas to Mission Beach. I had lived in FNQ and had a good friend, Michael, who still lived in Cairns and who had a bike. I convinced him to come along as well. So I needed to start training if I was to ride over 600km in 9 days.

At first, a 10km ride would result in me needing to have a good lie down but after a few weeks I was managing 25km rides. After a couple of months I was hooked. I knew I needed to get a proper road bike. A mate, Big Tim, took me in to meet Blair at Lifecycle. Blair is a gentleman of the highest order. I now had two bikes and started riding with Lifecycle but getting dropped off the back with a bunch of others who quickly became very firm friends. I still rarely miss a Saturday Lifecycle ride.

Regular riding with the Lifecycle crew meant that I was ready to take on the Cycle Queensland Challenge. It was such a great event. Unfortunately, along the way, Michael picked up a tummy bug and was unable to complete the ride. He too was loving it up to that point but hadn’t been doing a lot of riding. In his university days, Michael used to do a bit of unsupported touring and he and his former touring buddy Christopher convinced me to give that a go. So Michael and Christopher plotted a course around Kosciuszko National Park.

Each year since then we’ve gone on a touring adventure: New Zealand, Tasmania, Border Ranges, back to Tasmania and here we are in France.

The outline for our European adventure was to start in Milan, Italy and finish in Nice, France. Along the way we had three milestones: Christopher wanted to ride over the Passo dello Stelvio – the second highest mountain pass in Europe on the Italy-Switzerland border; Michael wanted to visit friends in Bregenz in Austria; and I wanted to climb l’Alpe d’Huez.

With a week to go of our four week adventure we had cycled over 1,300km through some of the most beautiful countryside in the world; we’d witnessed Ryder Hesjedal snatch victory of the Giro d’Italia in Milan; endured massive mountain passes; ridden through snow and rain, visited Italy, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Austria, Germany and now France. We had ridden over the Stelvio, visited Michael’s friends in Austria and today is the day we were going to climb l’Alpe d’Huez – only we wouldn’t. Because I couldn’t.

Across the road from my cafe was a hospital. That’s where I had spent last night after the ambulance rushed me there with a suspected broken collarbone. Yesterday, in a quiet rural village less than an hour from the foot of l’Alpe, my front wheel got caught in a pothole and I fell awkwardly – damn!

We spent the last week of our adventure on the French Riviera – with my shoulders strapped to support the broken bone. When, a week later, we returned from Europe I weighed in at 87kg a full 30kg less than when my weight loss journey began.

And the journey continues. I’ve got a few more kilograms to lose and I have to get back to France. I have unfinished business with l’Alpe d’Huez.

Bicycle Queenslands next Cycling Tour:  http://cycleqld.bq.org.au

Lifecycle Brisbane Australia:  http://lifecycle.net.au

Being Lars Marshall ~

2012 Santos GLNG Brisbane to the Gold Coast Cycle Challenge

2012 Santos GLNG Brisbane to the Gold Coast Cycle Challenge

I met Lars at coffee after a Lifecycle Wombles ride a little while back. I had seen photographs of him and had chatted to him on Facebook, so I recognised his smiley face when I saw him sitting around the table wearing, what I like to refer to as, the ‘Smurf Kit’ (bright blue and white Lifecycle team kit). The first photograph I had seen of Lars was of him sitting in a big bubbly spa bath with his friend, Andrew, (post O’Reilly’s Challenge). It was the funniest image I had ever seen! His hair was spiky and he had the cheesiest grin on his face…like a little boy who just found the chocolate chip biscuits in the pantry. There was something about this young man that I liked. He has such an enthusiasm for life and for cycling. Always with a smile on his face. He is strong, fit and healthy and enjoys cycling with his friends and the Lifecycle Team. It is such a wonderful sight to see a young man embrace a sport and look after his body. It would be so amazing if all young men thought this way. I asked Lars to share a little bit about himself and his joy of riding his bike.

Here is his story…

I started cycling as a result of joining Southbank Triathlon Club in 2010.

I had a friend who I worked with at NAB called Max who was currently a member there and was training to race in Germany and abroad. He was very inspirational. When I purchased my bike (Giant TCR 2 Advanced 2010) I thought this was an insane amount to spend on a bike! Max would take me riding to Mt Nebo before work once a week. A nice hard introduction to road cycling I must say!

Basically, from here I loved the bike. I instantly began commuting and have been ever since. It’s faster, free and most importantly fun (the 3 F’s). My bike is my transport and I cycle in group rides 5 times a week on average. I have ridden 6,393km since purchasing my bike. My biggest ride was 240km in one day.

Thursday Morning Lifecycle Tour de Redcliffe

Lifecycle O’Reilly’s Challenge 2012

Looking for a faster group to ride with, I found Lifecycle, as that was Max’s and mine meeting spot. Work prevented me to ride with Lifecycle and it wasn’t until May 2012 that I rocked up to a Wednesday morning Coot-tha ride that I met Andrew (which he introduced STRAVA to me that fateful Wednesday morning). Ever since, I’ve been fortunate enough to meet a lot of lovely people through cycling & Lifecycle, yourself including, Caroline.

Cycling has had the biggest and most positive effect in my life since moving to Brisbane in 2007. I recommend everyone do it. It’s free, its fun, it’s social, it’s healthy and it’s as competitive as you want to make it.

My lifelong dream is to have a job that allows me to ride everyday and become very competitive and compete professionally.

My greatest memories on my bike would include finishing the Brisbane – Gold Coast 2012 in the lead group with a time over 1hr quicker then when I had ridden it in 2010.
 Riding Lifecycle’s O’Reilly’s Challenge (Lamington National Park Road, Gold Coast Hinterlands Queensland, Australia) in 2012 and…basically…all the Lifecycle Brisbane River Loops and Tour de Redcliffe (TDR’s).

Lars Marshall

Dave Sharp ~ Safe Cycling Australia

I recently met Dave Sharp through a friend of mine. He was looking for some design work for his organisation, Safe Cycling Australia. When he explained to me what SCA was about I immediately jumped on it! I was inspired by his attitude and determination to make “SCA all about cyclists reclaiming space on Australia’s roads”. As a cyclist I find it pretty impressive that people, like Dave, take the time and effort to rally for projects such as the State and Federal Government’s for a Minimum Safe Passing Distance rule of at least one (1) metre to be enshrined in law. Such a change will help to ensure that we can all get from A to B and back to A again by being able to maintain a more authoritative position whilst sharing our limited roadspace with other users. I asked Dave to share his story…

DaveSharp_5

I started Safe Cycling Australia (SCA) without actually starting SCA in 2009 when I decided to address a growing list of personal health concerns and the inevitable depression that sets in when you feel 20 years older than your actual age.

My parents had recently returned from visiting the family in NZ and had told me about their recently introduced 1.5 metre rule and as I’d litterally just started riding again, I thought it’d be great to see a similar rule implimented here.

I was finding at the time that in the 20 years since I’d stopped riding regularly (4-500km per week) motorists had become a lot more aggressive and seemingly anti-cyclist, so I set about asking a few riders I knew what they thought of petitioning the State Government for a Minimum Safe Passing Distance to be made law in Queensland, Australia. There were more thumbs up than thumbs down. So late in ’09 I penned an e-petition and a paper copy which was distributed to every bike shop in Brisbane we could physically get to.

After gaining some press and the support of a few high profile athletes such as Robbie McEwen, the 2 copies of the petition were tabled in Parliament, and we gained a response from the then Minister – Rachel Nolan MP – around 2 months later.

The rubbish response and my determination to see this through to the end resulted in the birth of Safe Cycling Australia in 2009.

DaveSharp_4

In the first year we received a nomination in the Australian National Bicycling Acheivement Awards, receiving an Honorable Mention and being beaten to first spot by the Qld Transport Minister herself. We also started work on the first version of the SCA Jersey, now a full kit, and we began doing what we could via social media to grow a supporter-base and lobby harder for the 1m rule to be introduced.

We have in the last three years gone from strength to strength with SCA almost taking on a life of it’s own. We are the first Org (first anything really) to have been nominated in the Australian National Bicycling Acheivemment Awards three years running which is huge for us.

DaveSharp_6

We were instrumental in seeing Brisbane’s Share The Road signage introduced into Brisbane’s CBD. We are very proud to have been able to enlist the support of Brisbane’s cycling community in 2011/12 to gather and donate over 240 bicycles to the flood affected after the SEQ floods. That was an emotional roller coaster for us after meeting so many that were hit so hard and had lost litterally everything, which is where the bikes came in handy, particularly in Ipswich and the Lockyer Valley.

We’ve helped cyclists be more visible on Australia’s roads thanks to the jersey in three years. Everyone who wears one swears it actually does affect driver behaviour around them while riding. WIN!

While we are a small operation, we are pushing 24/7 to see the 1m Rule (now increased to 1.5m as we think that 1m simply isn’t enough) brought in in Queensland. With the way our States and Territories work, once one State makes the change, the others will usually follow with regards to roads policy and traffic rules/legislation. We are leading the way in this one area nationally, but we are also trying to encourage bike riders to acknowledge good driving by showing their appreciation, and not doing the stuff that makes drivers angry, such as red light running and wearing helmets while we’re legally obliged to, as much as we may loathe having to. Peer pressure is a good thing and we’ll always encourage our riding buddies around Oz to use it.

We also have Australia’s first National Drive2Work Day on November 11 which we will be starting to focus on shortly, the SCA Thingies which can be thrown on various parts of your bike and the ever popular cycling kit.

Safe-Cycling-Australia-Poster

SCA Thingies

We run on an almost $0.00 budget – and are determined never to see a single cent of Government funding as it comes with strings, but we still punch well above our weight nationally and internationally. We do that because our supporters love and cuddle us, and help us keep charging ahead for the things they themselves consider important. We listen to bike riders and then do what we can. Without all of them, and a few so generous with their time and financial support such as Studio e and Australian Cycle Skills, we’d be nothing.

Oh, nearly forgot, I’m a massive world cycling fan (nut) and am an Australian ambassador for BikePure who also support us, and I have seen Courney Feild, Alex Morgan and Brook Ramshaw all signed up and committed to riding as clean and Proud Aussie future, no, current future…hmmm…stars and future Olympians and world champions.

You can follow Safe Cycling Australia at

http://www.safecyclingaustralia.org/ 

Facebook ~ https://www.facebook.com/SafeCyclingAustralia

Twitter ~ @SafeCyclingOz

Queensland Government Department of Transport and Main Roads Road Rules ~ http://www.tmr.qld.gov.au/Safety/Queensland-Road-Rules/Bicycle-rules.aspx

Being Ross ~ “Papa Smurf”

I met this gentleman on Facebook back in 2011. We met on-line through the Bicycle Queensland Facebook page. We got to meet in person at the Brisbane Airport when we travelled on the connecting bus to Goondiwindi for the 570km Goondiwindi to Brisbane bike ride. We instantly clicked. Ross is a beautiful man. His passion (besides from his wife and family) is cycling. Ross rides every day. I follow his rides on STRAVA daily. We stay connected through this forum. He lives in Perth, Western Australia. His daily Facebook posts boast photo’s of blue ocean and white sandy beaches…not forgetting to include images of coffee and cake! Ross is my Papa Smurf. On one of our rides together he was wearing a blue kit and with a white beard he was the splitting image of Papa Smurf! The name stuck. He called me Princess Chaos Castle. He reckoned that my tent was in a constant disorganised state. I was a Princess because I was given a crown to wear on my bike helmet by my fellow Princess: Princess Many Bikes. I shall tell you about her another day. Ross recently had a second knee replacement and is in recovery. He is getting very twitchy… It won’t be long before he gets back on his bike to clock up hours on the saddle exploring undiscovered lands in North Queensland this September.

Here is his story…

About 6 years ago I had been retired for 4 years, and took on a part time job with a stock market firm in the city. I had ridden many years ago and decided now was a perfect time to re start, and ride to work. A hybrid bike was purchased along with  the necessary lycra. I found this low impact exercise was perfect for my knees which had been giving trouble for some time.

All was well with the world, cycling to and from work, but I noticed these types on “road bikes” were always passing me!!! Right…back to the shop and get into a road bike. Now they were still passing me, but not as much.

Around this time I saw a notice for a 9 day bike ride in the WA South West. Why not? I was hooked!!! There’s another ride in WA. Were  do I sign up? And another in Queensland, Victoria, New Zealand, France, Tasmania. So was born a cycling groupie. The fantastic people I have met on these rides (with only a few grumpy ones) and the experiences has opened up a whole new world. I have become much fitter.  My wife, Jo and both my sons, have also got into cycling. Our differing riding levels means we don’t ride together, but we are all having a go.

I have never thought of having a goal with cycling, apart from being able to ride as long as I can. Riding at the head of the pack or fly up a hill passing all means nothing,  just being able to do it for my own personal satisfaction is all that matter.

My present cycling dream is getting a new bike. I have been lusting after a Specialized S Works SL4 for some time and all going well may satisfy that urge later this year.

Being Steve ~ “Coach”

Steve Amos Before

Steve ~ Before

Steve Amos After

Steve ~ After

This is a story about a remarkable friend of mine. I met him less than a year ago through my brother. My brother met him whilst riding his bike. This man is super amazing. He is a dad of 2 children with a wife which fully supports his cause and is also a bike commuter. She is a remarkable woman! I mean…what wife allows her husband to take women out bike riding? I use to ride my mountain bike about every second week. Maybe only every third week! I was a stationary bike addict. A gym junkie. A pfaffer. Steve use to call me ‘Carolyn’…one day I told him that my name was ‘Caroline’. He told me that he gets confused as he has many many ‘Carolyns’. 😛  We agreed on ‘Caro’. It stuck. I asked him “What shall I call you then? Stephen or Steve”. He replied “Coach”. It stuck. Coach convinced me that pfaffing in the gym was a waste of time. The only way to loose weight and get better at bike riding was to do it more regularly. He got me out on my bike twice a week. He took me up Mt Coot-tha on my 14kg mountain bike and showed me how to get up the top without needing a defib. He convinced me that I needed a road bike. That would make it easier for me. I liked that idea. I got one. He showed me how to ride it. He introduced me to Lifecycle’s ‘Wombles’…a group ride organised through the bike shop that Black Beauty was purchased from. I thank Coach from the bottom of my heart for showing me the joy of riding my bike. If you like the idea of commuting to work Coach is your man. Jump on it! You won’t regret it.

Here is his story.

I was a stereo typical guy in his late 30’s. I’d always been a big boned type of boy – but I was just packing on the weight a couple of kilos each year – alarmingly, despite eating reasonably well as I always had. It dawned on me that something had to be done soon as the scales started flashing big numbers at me. Yes – I’d become a stereo typical obese guy. At the same time I’d become increasingly frustrated at the slow, unreliable and increasingly expensive BCC busses I used for my daily commute. Around then I saw another Dad at the school who rode to town and back each day. Despite riding extensively as a child I hadn’t considered this due to concerns over car related danger. I asked him whether it was safe – and he explained the myriad of hidden bikepaths and quiet back streets that made up his mostly safe commute.

Before I knew it I was at the bike shop and the rest is history! That was some three years ago. Since then I’ve traded over 30kg of body fat for some 30 thousand kilometres pedalled under my own power. I now commute the 12.5 k to work by bike every day of the year – rain hail or shine. Plus, when the weather is good I ride here there and everywhere with my new network of friends.

Having seen how beneficial biking can be and how effective biking’s killer app – commuting can be I’m now pretty much evangelical about how riding should be a part of everyones life. Many of those that have known me for sometime see me as an inconvenient truth. I’m real proof that commuting by bike is possible, it saves you money, and can revolutionise your health. And I’m walking around the office and staying thin despite hoofing down ever growing quantities of food. As a result the “Cult of Steve” has an ever growing band converts who have seen the light. Members of the cult get a continual stream of encouragement and help.

My highest trophy is a double conversion. This is where I convert both members of the family. I haven’t quite succeeded yet but I’ve got some prospects! My cycling goal is to win the over 80 class in the Mt Coot-tha 100km Challenge although I suspect I’ll be jockeying with other cult members for the win…

Please check out Steve’s Website ~ http://everydaycyclist.org/

Losing my Coot-tha Virginity ~ Julie’s Story

The Coot-tha Gang
The Coot-tha Gang depart from Laurel Ave
Julie is Crowned!
Julie earns her Coot-tha Crown
Julie & Caro reach the Summit
Julie & Caro reach the Summit ~ Alive!
Julie & Coach are Glowing!
Julie & Coach are Glowing!
The Coot-tha Gang at the Summit
The Coot-tha Gang at the Summit

This is a story about a friend of mine (who Coach enlisted into his Commuter Cult) who recently lost her Coot-tha Virginity. She is a mother of 3 and lives at Wynnum Bayside Queensland, Australia. She commutes to her place of work, Brisbane City CBD,  three days a week ~ approx. 40kms round trip daily, even in the rain! Which according to Velominati Rule #9 she is baddass.  She has ridden just under 1000kms year to date and is an example of awesomeness! She is also a very talented writer and I get a thrill out of all that she writes! I hope you also enjoy her story as much as I did.

“A couple of crazy “cyclists” have been trying to con me into riding up Coot-tha for months.  They have tried all sorts of tactics, including the dishing out of a fairly hefty dose of peer pressure when nothing else appeared to be working (you people have children, right???).”

“I eventually cave into pressure and agree to do it.  I spend the three weeks leading up to C-Day cr*pping my pants, terrified of failure, pain and the possibility of a public stoning by proper members of the cycling community.  I envision starting my ascent, and making it about 50 metres before I have to get off my bike, and walk to “the summit”, the laughter of thousands ringing in my ears.

I am gripped.  There are so many potential risks to my life on this adventure.  What if I draw first blood and face-plant the tarmac?

Or my pedal snaps off, or my back light comes off and jams in my wheel, or I hit some death cookies, crack my skid-lid on a tree trunk and bring home a Christmas tree?  And this is a serious grunt – what if my granny gear isn’t enough?  It’s a real possibility, but one too horrifying to think about, so I push it from my mind.

The big day arrives.  A few of us assemble at Caro’s house.  I am scared that the hills on the way to the BIG hill will have me exhausted before I even get there.

We all assemble in a car park at the base of the “mountain”. One Coach with Phar Lap’s heart, one lunatic on a mountain bike with a camera, one crazy woman on a magenta bike, a couple of semi-seasoned riders and a two newbies, out to lose their Coot-tha virginity.  There is just enough time for the mental on the mountain bike to give me some quick advice. “ You need to do a sub-17 time”, he says.  “My 70 year old father can do it in that, so you should be able to.  Let’s set the bar high.”.  Oh yeah, sure, bru.  Except you don’t understand – I don’t do hills, bru.

I need to console myself.  My heart rate is above 350 and I haven’t even started riding yet.  Time for calm.  Time to assume a new personality, a glass half-full, life’s about risk, f*ck it, rock-on type of personality.  You know, someone ELSE’s personality.  I see a chick on a townie setting off up the hill.  If she can do it, I can – right?  Right?

We start off, and I notice that everyone seems to be going in slow-mo.  I do accept that the really serious dudes would have been up and down a few times by now, and are probably already sitting in a coffee shop somewhere talking about their time in “the zone” and how their new carbon-fibre bottle cage is 5g lighter and has shaved 0.001 seconds off their best time.  But still, I think, some of these dudes look moderately serious – they at least had the good grace to turn up in lycra (for the most part).  I figure they must still be reasonably fit and the fact that they are going so slowly gives me hope of something other than catastrophic failure.

We get a little way up, and things are going OK.  I still have a few gears left before I got to “granny gear”, and I feel OK.  Well, let’s just say I’m not dead, unconscious or vomiting, so I have exceeded all expectations.

For the first little bit, I am even conscious of what is going on around me – I notice the trees and the other riders, hear bits of conversations, and even sight a few plumbers’ cracks through well-worn cycling knicks (c’mon boys, these things have a natural life-span and at some point, they must DIE).

Just as I am beginning to tire, and wonder how I ended up here, Coach appears from nowhere.  I wonder if I am actually dead, or at the very least, suffering from hallucinations due to my brain cooking itself.  This can’t be real – my rear tyre is on backwards and the writing on the tyre doesn’t line up with the valve on my tube – there is no way Coach would be seen riding with me.  He speaks, chattering about mindless things, as if to highlight to me that not only is he real, but he is not even puffing, not even trying.  It’s easy-peasy, no trouble at all.  Smug little b*stard.  I think momentarily of tackling him off his bike, but just as I’m contemplating the logistics, I hear Caro calling words of encouragement and I am distracted.  [Coach, you owe her your life].

For a while, I appreciate the dialog.  I can see what he’s doing – he’s chatting to me, much like a gynaecologist talks to his patients to distract them from the pain and discomfort to come.  He gives the occasional warning about an upcoming steep bit, and some words of encouragement to keep me going.

But soon, my body starts diverting all available resources to my legs and lungs.  Coach’s voice starts sounding a bit distant.  I am barely conscious of what he’s saying.  I think he tells me I am the most intelligent person he’s ever met, and I am always right about everything, but I can’t be sure.

About 200 metres from the top, I start feeling a bit woozy in the head and a feeling of nausea consumes me.  I could keep going, I surmise, but common sense tells me that whilst Coach could probably manage riding a bike up a hill unconscious, it might be a little difficult for me without Phar Lap’s heart or guns that are the envy of the entire Australian cycling community, possibly the world.  So sadly, after dedicating the last five months of my life working up to this moment – my moment of glory, my time to shine – I make the agonising decision to stop and walk.  Dream shattered.  What is the point in living?

Coach graciously allows me to walk about 50 metres, before breaking into my thoughts and practically demanding I HTFU and get back on my bike (lest a sub-17 minute time slip from my grasp).  I oblige, and begin to plot my revenge.  Suddenly, he yells “We’re here!”, and it’s all over.  Well, the hard part, anyway.  I find myself thinking that it’s all a been for nothing – as I have failed.  And then Caro presents me with my Coot-tha crown – it’s so silver, and shiny and bejewelled and pretty and I regain my desire to live.

The rest of the ride seems like child’s play.  Obviously this is because I am now a finely tuned, and extremely elite athlete 🙂

The trip down the other side is one of the most absolutely funnest things, like, EVER!  I have to stifle a giant “Wheeeeeee!!!” all the way down.  I don’t even touch my brakes.  This is the reward for the climb and I’m going to enjoy it.

Anyway, thanks to all my partners in crime – it was a really fun day.  Did I just say that?

Riding up Coot-tha has proven one thing to me – all cyclists are a little bit unhinged.  If you see one on the street, run, Forest, RUN!!!  Because they are very, very dangerous.”