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.

Sydney Cycling Sisters Gear Up for their next challenge!

On Sunday 12 March hundreds of women and girls will be rolling their way down to Cronulla Beach along some of Sydney’s most scenic, separated cycle paths for the annual Heart Foundation Gear Up Girl.

Bicycle NSW Event and Sponsorship Director, Jane Robertson said Sydney’s iconic women’s bike ride has three rides, a 20km, 40km and 60km, to cater for all women and girls. “You don’t need a fancy bike and Lycra to ride Gear Up Girl – it is not a race!

“This year the event will be aiming to set the record for the world’s largest community women’s bike ride. It is a fantastic day out for all women and girls to have fun and celebrate being women,” Ms Robertson said.

Cycling Sisters Represent!


One of the largest groups participating in this year’s event will be the Sydney Cycling Sisters.  The group is dedicated to providing an environment for women to get together for regular rides around Sydney in a safe and supportive environment. Ms Cindy Rahal, group founder said the group is made up of a good mix of people.

“Last week we had an older lady come along with us which got me thinking about setting up a group for seniors. We have a lot of mums who regularly attend because they like going out early and getting their exercise before their kids are awake. We also get a smaller group of uni students and a few kids who come along with their mums. For example, my daughter participates.


“We don’t let public perception be a barrier for us to enjoy leisure activities.  There is a demand amongst women in our community which has seen us expand into Melbourne and one of our members has started Swim Sisters for Muslim women who enjoy swimming in their burkinis,” Ms Rahal said.

Ms Rahal started the group in April 2015, after a career change took her back to university to study her Masters in Occupational Therapy. “I grew up in a house full of brothers and cousins. I always loved to ride growing up.” Ms Rahal said.

During her studies, Ms Rahal was examining different leisure activities and the barriers in place that prevent people from participating in certain activities.

Ms Rahal said the group were looking forward to riding their second Heart Foundation Gear Up Girl this year. “Last year, we found that riding with just other women was much more relaxed. At the end, it was so serene compared to all that testosterone, because it’s not all about being the fastest or climbing the steepest hill,” she explained.

An event with Heart!


Heart Foundation NSW Chief Executive, Ms Kerry Doyle said the Heart Foundation was pleased to support Gear Up Girl again this year to encourage women and girls to get on their bikes in a safe, social and non-competitive environment.

“Helmet hair, getting sweaty and a fear of getting your dress caught in a bicycle chain are all reasonable concerns – but the health benefits to being physically active far outweigh the negatives.

“We want to see more women choosing bike riding as a fun and easy way to get more physical activity into their day,” Ms Doyle said.

Register for the Heart Foundation Gear Up Girl ride.

If you want to connect with the Sydney Cycling Sisters, you can find them on Facebook.

Course improvements

The finish of Gear Up Girl has undergone improvements for 2017 to enhance your experience. View the course maps here.

In 2017 Bicycle NSW will no longer break your heart as you battle Bate Bay Drive.

This year all riders will continue alone Captain Cook Drive going straight on at the Elouera Road junction before turning right at Trinity Street.

The 60km riders will go out to Kurnell before coming back and turning left into Trinity Street.

From Trinity Street all riders will ride through the new residential area and get to the finish site at Don Lucas Reserve from the North.

No more uphill in the last kilometre means less glow for the finish photo, right?


Pedaling for equality: More coverage for Women’s Cycling

Recently, the Cycling Tour Down Under (TDU) event hosted in Adelaide again raised issues regarding the level of broadcasting attention the women’s cycling races received compared to the men’s cycling races.

Gender equality is often lacking in sporting coverage and cycling is no exception.  When it comes to cycling, the level of women’s coverage is currently below par.

In her piece ‘Gaining Traction with Womens Cycling’, Jane Aubrey describes how fans wanting to view the women’s TDU were being asked to ‘ wait for the highlights package’ that was shown prior to the men’s race on the returning broadcaster for the TDU for 2017, SBS.

Additionally  the ‘Super Sunday’ event that was broadcasted on SBS Viceland Channel did not include coverage of the women’s event and only included live coverage of the men’s road race. Viewers were given the chance to pick viewer moments from the women’s race taking part on the same day.

Not all cycling fans were happy with this uneven level of coverage and in turn, RIDE Media Publisher Rob Arnold wrote an Open Letter discussing the implications of media coverage from Cycling Australia. He stated in his opinion piece that “there are numerous flaws in the approach of CA and the priorities seem to be skewed in favour of a select few rather than considering the cycling community as a whole.”

In order for women’s cycling to grow, it needs more media exposure. Women’s cycling is competitive and exciting, yet their stories often go untold. There has to be more investment into the sport, but that is hard without any visibility.

Even if you are the most enthusiastic or passionate cycling fan or just enjoy the occasional bike ride, the community  wants to see both genders performing on the big stage through our television or laptop screens.

Although free-to-air television will help create more visibility for the international and domestic audience, it is social media that really has the potential to to showcase women’s cycling by covering multiple yearly events.

Coverage must be consistent rather than on a yearly basis. For some of us, we become cycling fans once every four years when the Olympic Games are on, but then that interest vanishes after the event closes.

The good news is, that we are already starting to see a change. SBS Cycling Central announced at the start of the year that some women’s racing events would be live streamed through Facebook.

This change was effective. According to Jarrod Patridge’s opinion piece ‘Comment: early season racing broadcasts”, he states that at the height of the broadcast of the opening stage of the women’s series, there were 1,400 people watching the stream. Yes, 1400!”

In future, this figure will continue to rise as not only fans will take advantage of the option to watch women’s races but participating teams may also share the feed onto their own social media domains.

The level of live coverage between men and women in cycling must be equal. Live coverage of the races is what keeps the audience interested, not delayed highlights. Investment in women’s cycling will naturally increase as a result  through sponsorships and other media organisations.

Although equivalence is not there yet, the idea of expanding exposure to social media platforms will help raise interest in women’s cycling and in turn can create better coverage and exposure.

By Vangeli Kollias, Bicycle NSW Journalism Student Intern

Why do you Ride?

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”.

Jordana Blackman tells us about her moment of clarity. Just days before her 25th birthday, she was told that she had a deadly tumour (also known as a melanoma) growing on her chest. Overnight her world was turned upside down.

“Today, I have a pretty good collection of scars all over my body, and I can honestly say I don’t regret a single one of them. Not the big one on my hip from my first gravity enduro event which reminds me of when I was brave enough to try something new and scary.  Not the stretchmarks on my breasts and thighs, mementos of how my body changed over the course of a year in response to the intense training regime I undertook to complete one of the most gruelling physical challenges in the world.  Not the ones on my knee and hand from the morning I got up at 3.30am to go running and proved that when I say I’m going to do something, I do it. All of these shiny white memories are part of my story.”

Read her inspiring journey from a body conscious teenager to an adult with scars, each one with a story to tell in The story behind the scars.


Sydney Cycling Sisters on ABC News

Just 2 days before the ladies geared up for Spring Cycle, an amazing feature article was published focusing on their courageous work in providing a safe and supportive environment for women to get together for regular rides around Sydney. The Sisters are a group of Muslim women who gather weekly to provide a space that encourages them to keep physically active and break down barriers and stereotypes using the medium of cycling. Check out their project profile.

They conquered the Spring Cycle 2016, “We did it again! But this time there were more of us!” And they did it in style this year in funky new jerseys! The Sydney Cycling Sisters rode over the Sydney Harbour Bridge with just under 10,000 fellow cyclists from North Sydney to Sydney Olympic Park, with Randa Gazi completing the 105km Bikebug Challenge Ride! Have a look at their moments from Sunday October 16th. 


Women in focus

Over the next 5 months in the lead up to Gear Up Girl 2017, will be following 3 women who discovered cycling through Bicycle NSW events. They are everyday women, with full time jobs, who one day picked up a bike and have never looked back. Follow their journey to the start line on Sunday March 12 2017.

Katie Robertson, 37, CFO of Macquarie Banking and Financial Services Division.

A little bit about you and your cycling story? I’m very much a social cyclist and enjoy going out with my friends to cycle and have a coffee, on quiet roads and round parks.

Tell us how you got into cycling. I was looking for a sport that was just fun, and I didn’t give me the ‘ I better go to the gym’  dread. I saw an advert for Gear Up Girl 2015, so I entered the 20km and it gave me motivation to get active after the holiday season back in Jan 2015. It quickly became a favorite hobby, I didn’t worry that I hadn’t been out for a few day (sometimes work can be very long hours) When i could, I would just jump on my bike, switch off from the office and really enjoy getting some fresh air.

Did you do the Spring Cycle? Yes, I loved it was amazing to cycle over the Bridge! I did the 50km ride with friends, it was the furthest I have ever cycled. It was a mental challenge but it really helped that it was a pleasure ride and not a race so we could all laugh and chat as we cycled along.

If you could give any advice to women about cycling and taking the first step out on their bike, what would it be? Got for it!  Pair up with friends who all go at the same pace, you can give each other support and build confidence together. I also strongly suggest starting with pleasure rides, Gear Up Girl in March is ideal. It gives you the feel of cycling in groups without the competitive pressures of others racing around you.

Gear Up Girl – 12 March 2017

Do you want to help us set a new world record for the ‘largest women’s community bike ride’? Get your hearts pumping On March 12th, for Bicycle NSW’s annual Gear Up Girl ride in partnership with the Heart Foundation. We celebrate International Women’s Day (8 March), by encouraging all women to get active and onto their bikes, while raising funds and awareness about heart disease. So join us and encourage your friends, family and work colleagues. The ride shows off some of Sydney’s most spectacular separated cycleways. Starting at Sydney Olympic Park and finishing in a festival atmosphere at Cronulla Beach. With 20km, 40km and 60km options; there is a ride to suit you and all your friends. Bring the kids, they ride FREE.

Trackwork Information for 40km and 60km riders

40km and 60km riders

Please be aware of trackwork that has been advised will be undertaken this weekend and may impact your travel to the Gear Up Girl 40km and 60km startline.

So please check this website


Participants coming from the WEST of Sydney Olympic Park you will have to make several changes of train, so please allow plenty of time.

If travelling from the WEST OR SOUTH WEST  -Change at:

  • Liverpool or Glenfield to the T3 bankstown line ( heading to the city)


  • Change at Birrong to head to Lidcombe


  • Change at Lidcome for Olympic Park

*Please note you may need to change train 3 times

Participants coming from EAST of Sydney Olympic Park:

You will be unaffected IF you organise your travel to CONCORD WEST station

Please note also that the M4 motorway will be closed on Sunday morning until 5am.

See full track work map [PDF]

trackwork_map (1)-1


We love our volunteers!

We love our volunteers! We couldn’t do Gear Up Girl without their generous contribution! Route Marshals are a vital part of the event and create the encouraging, safe and supportive atmosphere for our riders!

So come along and cheer on the women in your life, join the volunteer team!