Show Your Bike Some Love

Written by Georgia Marjoribanks

My cycling obsession started when a friend loaned me their fancy pants road bike for a few months.  This friend was travelling overseas and couldn’t bear the thought of their precious bike gathering dust in a garage somewhere.

I was a student at the time, so I was always riding cheap second-hand rust-buckets that I found in the university classifieds. When I jumped on my friend’s roadie, I felt like I had super powers. That bike took every scrap of energy that I pushed into its pedals and converted it into pure speed.  Riding felt smooth, effortless and wildly addicting.

It was only after I had registered for the triathlon that I realised  how tough the bike leg was going to be.  The course climbed steeply through King Edward Park, gaining 600 metres of elevation over Newcastle’s gorgeous beaches. This climb was a killer. And I was going to have to do it 5 times!

The day of the triathlon came around fast.  I soon found myself battling up that dreaded hill in the sun, alongside hundreds of other bikies. On the fourth lap, a friendly looking guy in a triathlon suit was pedalling along beside me.

He looked at my bike and said “Great bike you’ve… got there”. I swelled with pride. I sucked enough air into my lungs to say “Thanks… I love it”. We both put our heads down and kept battling up the hill.

He turned to me again and said, in between deep hill-climbing breaths “Promise me… after this... you’ll clean that chain for me”. He wiped the sweat off his forehead and continued “If you look after that bike better… you’ll fly up this hill”.

I wasn’t sure how to take this advice. A tiny part of me was offended. I loved that bike. Who was this stranger telling me that I didn’t look after it properly?

I kept grinding up the hill. I noticed that my pedals were slipping occasionally. I became aware that it was getting harder to change gears too.  Maybe Mr. Nosy-Triathlon-Suit was onto something.

I survived the rest of the race and told a friend about my odd encounter on the climb.  They laughed and said  “When was the last time you cleaned the chain?”

I had to admit that I had never cleaned it. I had never done any kind of maintenance on that bike. I had convinced myself that it was too difficult and too complicated for anyone except a professional bike mechanic.

My friend convinced me to have a crack at it anyway.  I wiped the sand and grime off the chain with an old rag.  I cleaned the crud out of my rear cassette with an old toothbrush.

I went to a bike shop and bought myself little bottles of chain degreaser and chain lube. I watched a bunch of youtube tutorials about cleaning your bike. I followed their advice and soon my bike looked shiny and new. I took it out for a test ride and I felt like I could fly again. My bike and I were a team now. If I looked after the bike, the bike would look after me. Together we could go anywhere.

Quite a few years have passed since that triathlon. These days I love spending lazy weekends tinkering around with my bikes, watching youtube clips and experimenting.

It’s really empowering to know that I can solve problems and learn new skills. So, before you take your bike out for the Heart Foundation Gear Up Girl ride, do me a favour and show your bike some love.  Just wiping down the chain will make your ride on March 11 so much more enjoyable. If you’re riding with kids, encourage them to do the same with their bikes. We’ll have a whole generation of independent bike mechanics on our hands!

I can’t wait to see you and your well-loved bikes next weekend!

Gear Up Girl has no borders!

Our Heart Foundation Gear Up Girl event is fast approaching, and it's bringing along some exciting visitors from Melbourne!

Wheel Women are on a mission to provide a non-judgemental and vibrant, social community of female riders. With 400 riders in Melbourne and a growing group in Japan, their aim for a united female cycling community is just around the corner.

“We don’t care what kind of bike you have and we don’t care what your ability level is. We encourage everyone to make healthy choices about their lifestyle and if they can include bike riding then that’s brilliant - that’s where we come in by providing the environment and community to help," states, Wheel Women cycling coach, Tina McCarthy.

Most excitingly, some riders from Wheel Women are going to be coming up to Sydney to ride in our very own Gear Up Girl. For a while, they have been keen to embark on the 877-kilometre road trip (which is totally worth it!) as they gear up to ride alongside our Sydney riders.

Their participation in Gear Up Girl is attributed to its close alignment with their own mission.

“It is accessible, manageable, inclusive of all levels of rider, promotes participation instead of competition,” comments Tina.

Being Australia’s largest female community ride has been one of the main reasons for their long journey up to Sydney for Gear Up Girl. They too believe in a united female cycling community, aiming to combat low participation rates of women in cycling, as only 26% of all NSW cyclists are female.  

“We remain as disparate groups who are all trying to ultimately reach the same goal of more women riding...we need more events like this at both the state, regional and community level,” states Tina.

This year, Tina's involvement in Gear Up Girl is also quite personal. Her father died of a heart attack when she was only 12 years old- a traumatic memory of her childhood.

“He was just 52 years old…As I approached that age I also knew that I was a ticking time bomb for mature onset diabetes and heart disease… So at the age of 48 I started riding…I’m 54 now, and riding has saved my life! It’s also made my family pretty happy too!”

This underlies the sentiment of Gear Up Girl, as Heart Disease kills three times as many women as breast cancer. It is a reminder that we should all push ourselves to be active which makes Gear Up Girl the perfect way to do that!

On the other hand, Wheel Women believe that there is still so much to do regarding the involvement of women in cycling, but believe that events such as Gear Up Girl are a step in the right direction.

Their ultimate goal is, " visibility- more women out there riding!”, as Wheel Women continue to grow in numbers, trying to extend their reach to regional areas and other states.

"The first step is finding the right people to spread our mission… we also want to see Brisbane and Adelaide join the community and we are always on the lookout for ride leaders," says Tina.

If you are interested in starting a Wheel Women community in your state, head onto their website

Or come and meet them on Sunday March 11 for Heart Foundation Gear Up Girl.

Rapha Friday Ladies Ride

Written by Shahrzad Shahnia

A bit over three years ago, I joined the crew from the Rapha Sydney Club House for their weekly Ladies Ride held on ever Friday. The ride takes picturesque twists and turns through some of Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs iconic locations as a way of celebrating women’s cycling.

The Rapha Rides have since become one of my favourite rides of the week. Being a clothing brand, Rapha is taking some encouraging initiatives to grow women’s cycling scene locally and internationally.

At first I was a little uncertain and anxious as to what to expect from the Friday rides. As most of us have experienced, women’s cycling activities sometimes are really motivating and cheerful, but at times could be daunting. Luckily for me this was definitely the first type. Through years of riding/leading with the women’s bunch, I have gained so much confidence in riding on the road and more importantly in a group.

There are a growing number of initiatives for beginner female riders these days. As much as this is uplifting, you often face a challenge to find organised activities/rides for ladies in the midfield; that being female riders who are reasonably fit and skilled on a bike and who could do with some challenges and structured mentoring of their own. 

Becoming more aware of the scene, I’m actively on the hunt for initiatives that are putting the effort into bridging this gap, and the Rapha Friday Rides certainly live up to the expectation.

Women’s cycling community is changing rapidly now, so if you’re part of this transformation no matter how big or small, enjoy it, celebrate it and keep up the amazing work. Thanks to the ladies who are instrumental in making these rides such a happy thing to be part of.

A balancing act

Written by Debra Jason

As with all things in life, you have to strike the right balance… So when my thoughts wander off to cycling down a quiet road, I marvel at how perfectly balanced and glorious the bicycle really is. It is, for me, perfection. In fact, if you think about it, nothing has come close to being as efficient, reliable and cost-effective as a triangulated structure with two pneumatic wheels driven by a chain and cogs.

So as the bike and I work together to propel me towards any given destination with such efficiency and grace, I feel so grateful to my father and brother for passing the cycling bug onto me.

For as long as I can remember I’ve loved that fact that I can just hop on a bike and ride to wherever I want to go. Childhood memories were all about speeding down the local roads, feeling as free as a bird. Of course with study, work, travel, moving countries, more work and now family life, cycling with any consistency has been near to impossible. However, the urge to get back on my bike has always surfaced when I’ve felt in the doldrums and lost my sense of direction (pardon the pun). Cycling always seems to save the day.

Nowadays, balancing a full-time career, motherhood and cycling can be tricky. The children know that cycling is a big part of my life, however, I am acutely aware that cycling has a time and a place and it’s important for me to be sensitive to my children's needs as well as my own. Creeping out of the house before anyone wakes for early club rides can leave me with mixed emotions (especially after working in town all week). So over the years, I’ve learnt to listen closely to myself, and them, so I can work out at any given time whether to ride or stay at home.


Of course, I strive to be a positive role model for the children as much as I can (this isn’t a revolutionary concept). It’s when you start to understand the impact a sporting mother has on their children (particularly adolescent girls according to a report from UTS) I feel propelled to make a difference in my own children's lives and demonstrate to them how keeping active is part of their mum’s everyday life.

This year both my 12-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter will join me in the Heart Foundation Gear Up Girl. Joe will start the 40km route with me (like he did last year) and we will pick up Erica with 20kms to go. They can’t wait. We will take it at our own pace, enjoy the views, people and spirit of the whole event. For them, it's a great day out with mum, for me, I will have memories for a lifetime and who knows, maybe somewhere along the way, the cycling bug might bite them too.

If you are thinking of registering and would like to bring your children along too, why don't you come ride with me 🙂

Cycling options for families with young children

Written by Megan Gibson

I am a single Mum with three kids ages 2, 5 and 7.  Over the years I have had to try a variety of different cycling options to keep me in the saddle while keeping the kids happy – and setting a good example.  My own father is a lifelong cyclist and when I had my own children, it became important to me that I show them from an early age the joy that could be experienced on 2-wheels.   

When my oldest child had his first birthday his gift was a $100 bike trailer from Big W.  The trailer was simple enough to hook up to my very ordinary commuter bike and folded flat for convenient transportation and storage.  It was a simple trailer without any bells and whistles but served us well for five years.

Then baby number 2 came along and once she was old enough we regularly hit the road.  It is recommended that children don’t ride on a bike until they have excellent head control.  The minimum recommended age is 6 months, but I felt safer riding with them from 9 months and didn’t do much riding until they had turned one - I also found it difficult to get a helmet to fit and stay on comfortably much before 9 months of age.  With two young children, riding was a great way for me to get some exercise and was guaranteed to send at least one of the kids to sleep.   

Our bike trailer was light and, for the price, rather rugged.  It also had room in the back for a small picnic or swimmers and towels as well as other baby paraphernalia.  The other great feature was because the trailer had 2 wheels it wasn’t possible for it to tip over – even if the bike should fall the trailer would remain upright keeping the kids safe when loading and unloading.  The trailer also had a net to keep out bugs and a rain cover – we don’t generally ride in the rain, but this was great for keeping them warm on cold winter rides.  What I didn’t like was that the kids were so low to the ground- the trailer (even when using a flag) wasn’t very visible to cars, and should we be stuck in traffic the kids were both at exhaust pipe level from the neighbouring cars. 

My kids are rather tall, and it wasn’t long before they outgrew the suggested height limit for the trailer – although we kept using it for long after that point.   As they grew it became an increasing workout for me to pull the weight of the trailer on my bike and we sought mostly flat routes.  I love to ride but when I am out with the kids it is all abought fun, exploring and being together and less about pushing the pace, serious hills, or rough terrain. 

We also have a Trail-Gator attachment that allows you to turn any child’s bike into a tag-along bike by lifting the front wheel and attaching them to the back of an adult bike. The great thing about this is that the child can ride with you if you are going long distances or covering tricky terrain, but as soon as you reach a safe riding space you can unhook, and they can ride independently.   We only rode with this Trail-Gator Bicycle Tow Bar a few times as we had difficulty getting the child bike to attach correctly (operator error I am sure) but it is another option and something I would like to resurrect now that my oldest can ride under his own steam.

When I started to look for a new bike, we trialled different cargo bikes at specialist bike shops.  We loved the long tail cargo bikes and despite being a tad dubious at first, and worried about looking like a lightweight - I began to seriously consider an electric system.  But at around $5000 for a decent electric cargo bike it wasn’t an expense I could justify.

By this time child number three had joined our tribe and the bike trailer was no longer enough.  For his first birthday he got a Topeak Bike Seat.  This was the first time I had ridden with a rack mounted baby seat and I found it much harder to manage than the trailer.   The problem was that the baby seat made the bike very top heavy.  Given that you had to balance the bike while inserting a child, and then mount the bike yourself (especially difficult if you don’t have a step through frame) it was very easy to over balance the bike and on several occasions the bike (and the baby) hit the ground. 

By this time my oldest child had started school and I made the commitment that if we did use our bike/trailer/baby seat combo to do the school run regularly in the first six months then we could justify the expense of a cargo bike.

It just so happened that shortly thereafter, the Taga 2.0 was advertised online as a special Kickstarter project at an affordable price (about $2800).  The original Taga was a bike I had lusted over when I only had one child, so I was thrilled they were now offering a bike that easily carried 2 in a bucket at the front with the option of carrying a third child in a rear mounted baby seat or tag-along bike.  There were lots of delays with the Kickstarter campaign and the bike took over a year to arrive, but it was well worth the wait.  We are now the proud owners of a four person “bike bus”.  The Taga 2.0 is a trike with an adult seat behind a bucket holding up to 70kg in a variety of configurations including baby capsule adaptors. 

When we purchased the Taga 2.0 we had an option on whether to upgrade to an electric bike or not.  Boy am I glad we went for the eTaga.  The benefits of an ebike are enumerable.  The Taga bike itself is heavy (not to mention loading it with occupants and school bags) so pedal assist is lifesaving.  It also means that on hot days we can crank the pedal assist level up and arrive at school having cruised up the hills with barely any effort, and certainly without breaking a sweat.  The addition of a battery has certainly meant that we ride more frequently especially in hot weather.  Plus, it does give us a quicker trip when we are in a hurry.

In NSW the law states that if you are under 12 or riding in the company of someone under the age of 12, you can ride on footpaths.  So legally I can ride our Taga trike on the footpath – however given its size, traversing around other footpath users and obstacles can be tricky, and we mostly ride on the road.  We are also lucky in that most of the regular routes we ride have wide roads with plenty of room for cars to pass around us.

I always try to be as courteous as possible when riding on the road.  Whenever there is space, particularly when riding up a hill, I move as close to the curb as I can to allow cars to pass.  We all wear helmets all the time, I also bought cheap tradesman’s vests in Fluro colours from Kmart and the child riding on the back wears one to make them more visible.  Our trike is very noticeable, and we are always waving and saying hello to people as we pass.  As rather obvious cycle enthusiasts we set the standards by which other cyclists are judged and we try and set them high. 

I adore riding with my kids.  More often than not all three kids request transport by bike rather than car.  It is cooler (both in temperature and style) and allows us to ride right into the school grounds rather than fighting for a parking spot, walking in, and getting into a boiling hot car after school pick up. 

If you are looking at ways to increase your riding with kids in tow, there are plenty of options out there.  Most keen family cyclists are happy to let you have a spin on their rig and many bike shops offer trial periods, so you can test the various options.  I highly recommend that you try all the options available before deciding – don’t forget that you need a set up that changes as the kids grow (or new ones join your tribe).

Our favourite locations for family rides

  • The Cook’s river bike path
  • Along the waterfront at Sans Souci / Brighton Le Sands
  • The bike paths around Olympic park
  • Bicentennial park at Homebush
  • Lake Gillawarna
  • Centennial Park

Reasons they are our favourites- easy parking, scenic rides with wide paths and not too many hills, toilet stops and non-cycle related bribes (I mean activities) for tired kids, a playground, beach, or water feature.

Happy Riding!

Encouraging Children to Ride

Written by Megan Gibson

“It’s just like riding a bike” … but riding a bike isn’t always easy.

I have been riding forever and spent most of my childhood whipping round our neighbourhood on two wheels.  Not only that, I have spent many of my ‘mum’ years riding with my kids behind me in a trailer – that’s why I found to so hard to understand when my oldest child was really fighting against learning to ride.

My oldest son started school at five years old in 2016 and I naively believed that he would just suddenly start riding a bike and enjoy it as much as I did. However, turns out it took us a lot longer to get him confident on two wheels.  Here are my tips for getting children riding independently.


My son, while outwardly exuberant, lacks a lot of confidence when it’s him alone facing a challenge.  Like all childhood milestones, bike riding comes at different times for everyone and I needed to wait until he was ready, maintaining a positive ‘can-do” attitude the whole time.


No matter at what point a child starts riding a 2-wheeled bike, there are plenty of options for younger kids to enjoy the freedom of wheels.  Plastic ride on trikes, scooters, balance bikes, push along parent handle bikes, a baby seat on the back of an adult bike and tag along bikes.  Getting active on a bike and getting kids outdoors is a brilliant activity for the entire family no matter the age or skill level.


Originally, we had my son riding his uncle’s old BMX from back in the day.  While lovingly restored, in great condition and the right size for my son, it was far too heavy a bike for him to learn with.  He had difficulty gaining the required momentum and even lifting the bike up from the ground.  Hit up some speciality bike shops, talk to other parents and let your kids go for a spin on a friend’s bike before you choose the ride for them.  The difference was instant the moment we switched to a more appropriate bike.


When I was a child we had long driveways and quiet roads on which to practise riding.  Now with higher density living and more traffic on the roads than ever before kids struggle to find a safe place to ride.  Luckily, I have a car big enough to keep the kids bikes in the boot on a semi-permanent basis.  We live close to some great parks which have excellent bike paths and can head for a quick spin after school.  Netball courts and quiet back streets also make for bike riding havens.


Our breakthrough really came when I made a date after school one day to meet some other mums and kids at a local park.  The other children were all more confident riders and it wasn’t long before my son forgot his fears to chase after the others and suddenly he could ride.


My kids know how much I love riding and being outside.  Often when I get the chance for a little “me” time I will jump on my bike and head off for a spin.  Show your kids how much you enjoy riding, go on a ride with them – it doesn’t have to be far or fast, just enjoy.  If you don’t own a bike, ask around, someone likely has one sitting in the shed that you can borrow. 


Would you buckle your child into their car seatbelt and then get in and drive off without putting your own seatbelt on first?  Remember when we ride with our children it is important that we show them that safety is not just for beginning riders.  Always wear a correctly fitted bike helmet and make sure you teach them basic cycling safety from an early age –obey the road rules, use lights/hi-vis in low light conditions and respect the other road users.

Bike riding is a skill for life.  It broadens our transport options, benefits our health and is a staple part of childhood for many kids.  Get out there today and share riding with your own kids.  

The Sydney Cycling Sisters: The importance of a Cycling Sisterhood

Written by Assmaah Helal

“Find your tribe and love them hard.”

The very essence of what inspired the creation of The Sydney Cycling Sisters (SCS) in 2015, was sisterhood. At the time, many Muslim women increasingly had to modify their activities considering the growing number of harassment incidents and attacks. Many were reluctant to go out beyond what was necessary, and this was having an impact on their mental health. The group was established to provide a safe and supportive community while undertaking leisure activities such as cycling.

“You can tell who the strong women are. They are the ones you see building one another up instead of tearing each other down.” Unknown.

Three years on and the group has expanded, comprising of women from diverse backgrounds. Diverse in culture, religion, profession, and lifestyle: some of us are mothers, some of us are students, some of us are doctors and teachers, and some are all the above!  Everyone has a story, everyone has a battle they’re overcoming daily but they all have a purpose for what drives them to ride.

Over the years women have been achieving incredible personal goals, riding to raise funds for local and international charities; overcoming serious injuries and health issues; smashing personal records and discovering new adventures and pathways.

Women join for all sorts of reasons; health benefits, the social factor and the desire to try something new and exciting with other like-minded women; as well as encouragement from their family. When asking the group what inspires them to ride with SCS some of the responses included:

“A sense of belonging, safe and social: Sydney stands for belonging, Cycling is safe, and Sisters are social.”

“Sense of comradery, sense of achievement particularly with the bigger rides like the Heart Foundation Gear Up Girl. A great community and I feed off that energy.”

“Friends bonding over a shared activity and getting suitably caffeinated at the end”.

“The best part are the conversations we have during the rides, or during our coffee stop. I’ve gotten so many tips about life in general from these incredible women.”

Time and again we see women hesitate and doubt themselves, but sometimes all it takes is a friendly gesture, and a healthy tribe with a similar story to instill confidence, to show you that YOU CAN and get started.

We set limitations on ourselves on what we can accomplish because we may not be aware of what is possible, or we are uncertain about our ability.  Don’t limit your challenges, challenge your limits. 

Tour de Orc

Written by Trish Taylor

A lot of people said I was crazy.
Double, well-padded lycra pants and hundreds of kilometres of road would not deter. The urge to cycle 1000kms 658kms(plus) in six days through outback NSW!

The journey began in Mudgee, out to Dunedoo and Gilgandra; up to Coonamble, then Walgett; across to Brewarrina ; Bourke; before heading back down to Nyngan. The final day saw the peloton cycle through Trangie, Narromine and back to Dubbo.

After Cancer (twice) I have learned to dig deep and take chances, the hell with everything! Be strong, be fearless and be prepared to step out of your comfort zone. Then believe that anything is possible when you have the right people there to support you. 

I knew I wouldn't manage the 1000kms or so, I did the best I could with 5 weeks training.

It was a fully supported ride, with three backup vehicles. Lead and Tail safety warning cars also came along, and travelled at snail pace (25-35kms per hour) . All accommodation and meals were covered. Country town hospitality was fabulous with many lunches and home cooked dinners provided, or meals in the local pub.

Despite a few bruises, chaffing and scrapes, I enjoyed the ride beyond measure. I was counting every cm km and my Garmin was always on !

Initially anticipating a pace of 25km per hour, I soon learned it was actually more like 28-32kms per hour and even up to 34.9kms on the flats. The first day had so many hills!! Other riders helped me up hills with a hand on my back. I was one of four women, the only one who needed a push. The perks of being the weakest link.

Then it was 'flat out' till day 6. The roadkill stench was awful at times but the views were stunning.

I won an award (T-shirt) for my OFF ROAD pursuits ...taking a detour down an embankment - and had lots of 'colours' to show for it. 

Starting as a very inexperienced rider with little group riding experience - the peloton saved me. When I needed a break - I kept the Leading or Tail vehicles' driver company! 

Day six arrived : Nyngan to Dubbo 166km.
I was so glad to arrive HOME - riding 144kms exactly of 166kms.

It was my biggest physical challenge ever.I'm very grateful for the OROC team who gave me so much encouragement and support. They knew my limitations and helped me get across the line. All riders had their own story. The peloton included a doctor, nurse, solicitors, accountants, RFDS pilot, farmer, a former Mayor and bank managers, who were all aged 29yrs to 70+. 

The cause was Macquarie Home Stay - $115,000 raised. The cheque presentation is next week.

Macquarie Home Stay is your home away from home when you need to come to Dubbo to seek medical treatment at Dubbo Hospital. Established by a group of community members who saw the need for low cost but not low quality, affordable accommodation to be provided. It ensures the costs involved in attaining comfortable accommodation is not a hindrance to seeking treatment.

Day 6 was my longest ride ever on a bike 144kms. Matthew Keenan, the sports commentator and cyclist, joined us for Day 6 . Matt regularly forms part of the international commentary team at the Tour de France, which is broadcast around the world and  on multiple functions. He gave a great motivational speech on the night of day 5. that. Not ! It’s just the beginning.

I am 100% doing it again.

Honestly, it was a privilege to ride with my fellow 16 O’rocers on 3rd epic Tour De Oroc ride.

The way everyone looked after each other (especially me) was fantastic and the support crew did such an amazing job.

TRI-ing to love the bike stage

Written by Melissa Appleby

In 2017 a friend convinced me to sign up for my first ever triathlon. My preparation in the lead up to the race was simple - a bit of Googling, a few very brief pool visits and a last minute panic purchase of a new bike, which I “broke in” by my riding around my street a few times... ok twice.

It didn’t take long into the race to realise how grossly underprepared I was. Once my feet hit the water’s edge I was seriously questioning what I was even doing there. And at this point I still had 200m of harbour, 8km of road and 2km of pathway between me and the finish line.


3... 2... 1... GO! And we were off.

The thing about open water swims is that they aren’t anything like swimming in a pool. And in a race, it’s like a washing machine out there. A mix of arms, legs and big salt water splashes. Thankfully I managed to find my way out and around the buoy and back on to dry land without rescue.

The first transition was a little clunky. I went through the mental note of all the gear I needed over and over before I got the bike off the rack - helmet, shoes, water... helmet, shoes, water...

At this point I was feeling pretty good about myself. I’d come out of the swim about middle of the pack, transitioned quickly and was out on the road in no time. But it was all UP hill from there. 

The cycle was challenging, made worse by the fact that I had bought a bike far too small for me and hadn’t spent any time learning how to ride it! And don’t even get me started on the gear changes. 

It was a slow and humbling climb up and around the hill, with each lap taking longer to complete than the last. I was passed countless times, but I was determined to finish! Racking the bike after a tough 30 minutes was a huge relief and I was glad to have two feet back on the ground for the run. Probably my most comfortable stage of all three.

That last few hundred meters to the finish line was exhilarating. I was totally exhausted but felt an overwhelming sense of achievement. After 51 minutes I was hooked and I’ve been chasing that finish line feeling for the last 12 months. 

A lot has changed since Race 1. I’ve upgraded to a road bike (properly fitted by the guys at Park Bikes) and embraced cycling shoes; including all of the stacks that come with them! 

One Try-a-Tri quickly became 6 x enticers, 4 x sprint distances, 2 x Aquathlons, 1 x Sydney to Gong ride, a Gear Up Girl ambassadorship and a new goal - to finish a 70.3 in 2018. Safe to say I’m addicted..

I’ll be honest, I’m still TRI-ing to love the bike stage, but every ride it gets easier and more enjoyable. Plus what’s not to love about cycling jerseys and socks? Gearing up might just be the best part!

Sometimes it takes a little push to get started, but you won’t regret it! Come and give cycling a go at the Heart Foundation Gear Up Girl, Sunday March 11.


A heart to heart about invisible illness

Written by Melissa Appleby

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a topic very close to my heart. Both my mother and maternal grandmother were diagnosed with heart conditions in their early 30s and recently a close friend of mine suffered a heart attack at the age of 32.

All three of these women lead very healthy, active lifestyles - my 70 year old grandmother still goes to the gym twice a week! - and looking at them you’d have no idea they have CVD. But that’s the nature of invisible illness, on the surface there’s no sign of it. Now that I am approaching my 30s, I can’t help but consider my own heart health. I’ve been doing regular checks and fortunately for me it’s a case of so far so good. But I also don’t want to take any chances.

As a type 1 diabetic, I’ve experienced invisible illness first hand. Being diagnosed in 2012 was the wake up call I needed to get out and be active. I decided early on that I wouldn’t let diabetes hold me back. In fact I’m motivated to work harder as a result.

Research has proven that moving more and sitting less will reduce your risk of (or help manage) CVD and type 2 Diabetes, while improving/maintaining your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Yet statistically 56% of Australian adults are either inactive or have low levels of physical activity. For me, cycling is a really enjoyable way to get moving. And the best part is that it can be as easy or as hard as you wish it to be. 

If it has been a little while since your last ride, it might seem daunting to cycle again, but as the saying goes - it’s just like riding a bike. Many of us were taught as children and it really is one of those things you don’t ever really forget.

You’ll be surprised at how far a bike ride can take you and there’s plenty of safe, scenic rides all throughout NSW. Don’t have a bike? Ask! It’s likely you know someone with a bike you can borrow.

Need more convincing? Here’s why you should get out on two wheels - cycling is low impact, promotes better lung health, builds muscle and can strengthen your immune system. Heart disease can affect anyone. But the good news is there’s a preventative measure you can take every day - exercise! So gear up and get out there.

On March 11 women all over NSW will be cycling to raise awareness for heart health. I hope you’ll join me and the Heart Foundation Gear Up Girl ambassadors for a fantastic cause and a great day out.

Call your friends and get them involved!