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!