While back-packing through Denmark in the 90’s, some friends lent me a rickety old bike and suggested I take a ride through Copenhagen. Not content with a small ride, I ended up riding from Copenhagen to a deer park via the coast road – it was magical! About 80km later I returned the old, black bike to my friends – I felt like a new person. It was one of those days when I felt free, confident, in charge of my life and excited about the unknown future. The wind in my face, sun shining, fresh air and lost in another world. That’s what bike riding can do to you.
But as the years rolled by, work and paying bills made me forget about that amazing day, and my own poor bike remained dusty, neglected and lonely in the shed.
I’d put on weight and I knew I was a ticking time bomb for disease as my age progressed. I’d had gestational diabetes during pregnancy, so my risk of mature onset diabetes had increased substantially, and that really bothered me. I had to do something to stop that ticking time bomb!
So, the dusty bike was dragged from the shed, but when I tried to ride again, like many women, I wondered why I couldn’t keep up with the boys, wondered why everyone else passed me on the track and why cycling just wasn’t like that day in the ’90’s. It all just seemed so hard!
With some good advice, a lighter 2nd hand bike and a lot of nerves I gave it another go and after a few rides, suddenly, all those great feelings returned. But I had no one to ride with! So after a few enquireis at the local bike shops, I was told that if I wanted a riding group, I’d need to start it myself…suddenly, Wheel Women was born.
Getting back on the bike meant feeling free, confident and excited about life. I was suddenly that carefree person again. The great thing is, I know each time I get on the bike I’m not only keeping the risk factors for disease at bay but encouraging a whole heap of other women to take up riding too. I am cycling for life…literally, and loving it!
I have now completed many rides, covered thousands of kilometers and seen so many women come through Wheel Women starting out exactly as I did – scared and nervous. But to see them take the first steps of that same journey is amazing. We are a revolution…and we’re waiting for you!
You don’t have to be an elite athlete to ride a bike, you just need to have a desire to make time for yourself! Being on a bike brings a real sense of freedom, and sometimes that’s just what we all need.
Cycling takes me to a whole different headspace and it is a great place to be…I hope you will come and join us.
Tina is an Ambassador for Women’s Health Week for Jean Hailes for Women’s Health, This Girl Can VIC and Specialized Australia.