Monday, 21 July 2014

The Women's 100 - Liv style


My personal achievement was making it through the Women's 100 annual event and still having a smile at the end of the day. Last years effort still hurts - but this year was such a contrast. They are the black and white of rides.

After enduring 6 months of trying to get back on the bike, trying to find my passion for riding and trying to get my smile back I had returned to the place that helped create that smile. That place is Cafe Racer on a Saturday morning at 7am!

2 weeks ago, I had got back into the bunch and I don't think I have stopped smiling since. I knew this was perfect to help me find my redemption. I was going to go to a Womens 100, I would celebrate it for everything it is and come away from it feeling inspired and energised.

The first difference from last year is that I was going to be with the girls who have been my strength from Day 1. My sisters in cycling - too many to name individually, but all branded with the same stripes. My Liv/ladies who no matter how close or how far away, are all special and unique. Second was that I was prepared. Despite the fact that I had not done a great deal on the bike, my body knows how to ride 100kms and this time my head was there for the journey as well.

My preparation was as planned. My sleep was interrupted all night due to nervous excitement and I couldn't wait for the alarm to sound at 4:45am. I quickly pulled on my driving gear, grabbed my drink bottles and was in the car by 5:00am. I had packed the car with all of my riding essentials. Breakfast, lunch and enough bananas to make a monkey jealous. Pre, During and Post fuel to ensure that the 100kms could be done without hitting unnecessary walls.

The trip to Melbourne was easy - given most people are tucked into warm beds at 5am on a Sunday morning in the dead of winter. And as I pulled up my car, there was a familiar sight around me. Jo Hall and Kirsty Baxter - there at the finish line making sure everything was right for the 100+ girls who would ascend on The White House in St Kilda later that day. These 2 need to be applauded - both of them dedicating so much time, energy, support and effort into seeing more and more women on bikes.

After a quick hello it was time to keep moving. I had to get into my kit, get Maverick ready and get to Cafe Racer which was the official start line. And there, second by second, it was obvious that this day was going to be massive. So many familiar faces all there to celebrate Women's Cycling.

We were briefed, split into groups of over 30 and under 30 ... (speed, not age which is the only place under 30 that applies to me) and group by group we headed out onto Beach Road to start our 100km ride. I had the utmost pleasure of riding alongside Jane for most of the way - an amazing person who has helped me on and off the bike from day 1. We come from the opposite sides of Melbourne, so to ride together is always a privilege and cherished time.

Heading down Beach Rd - enjoying the social nature of this ride. 

I look at this photo and it shows exactly what this ride was all about. Amazing women, out together, socialising and supporting each other. There were times where I was the one offering the support. And not that much further down the road, I was the one being supported. That is what I love so much about not only women's cycling, but this unique group and these rides. There is never any judgement, never any competition. Just encouragement, support and an overwhelming urge to just have fun.

I won't say it was easy however it was the easiest 100kms I have done. But I had all of the right ingredients and finally it all fell into place.

  • Physically and Mentally ready. 
  • Preparation was perfect. (It helped I was also preparing for a plasma donation, so I really made sure I was going to be OK for both)
  • I had all the support a girl could want. 
  • I took a role is assisting others beat the demons that had previously haunted me. 
  • I had learnt from the best on getting a group of girls from A to B unharmed or lost. 
  • We had ZERO flats (in our group) 
  • The support offered behind the scenes never went unnoticed. 
  • And the Melbourne weather was perfect. 
It was an amazing day with a long credit role. 

Massive thanks to Oakley Australia, TORQ Nutrition, Hawthorn Common, Tom Organic, Jaggad, Greene Street Juice and Northside Wheelers who made our day what it was. 

To the girls of Bicycle Superstore Womens Road Cycling Team and Tri Alliance - along with many other groups and clubs representing .... it was so great to meet so many new women out of the road. It is always nice to return home and find 9 new friend requests on Facebook.

To Kirsty Baxter for the photo album of memories and to Corinna Brown who was out there helping in every way possible. Knowing you were not far away made for a much more relaxing ride.

And have you ever wondered how to get 100+ women out of bed by 6am on a Sunday in the middle of winter - just call Jo Hall. Women's cycling needs to take their hat off to her and all the people at Liv/giant who let her do what she does.
And to every single chick out there on the day - no matter where you were - thanks for allowing me to have great memories of the #womens100. A big thumbs up to you all xx

Inspired and Energised - CHECK! 

Friday, 11 July 2014

Back in the Bunch

Last weekend I finally found that desire to return to group riding. To be honest, if it had not been for my beautiful friend Carol Cooke heading off to defend her World Title stripes, I would have still been stuck procrastinating - using my very valid excuses that I had relied on over the last 6 months.

Getting back into the bunch, like anything, was harder in my mind than it was in reality. Putting aside that I now have a round trip of 180kms just to join the girls, that I have to get up at 4:45am after a solid week of working, that I miss a quarter of my weekend time with the family or that the average temperature at this time of year is in single digits, these reasons were not what was keeping me away.

For those who have followed my last 2 years, you understand the emotion of my riding. I am not in it for the win, for the competition or for the glory. I am in it because it has allowed me to achieve my dreams. But in a world where we don't often live Happily Ever After, I had started to question my dreams. I was struggling to find reason in what I was doing.

Ride To Conquer Cancer has been my life for the last 2 years. There had barely been a day where I had not done something to make a difference to the life of those battling cancer. Raising awareness and research funds so people I knew didn't have to suffer. Trying to prevent death from an unnecessary evil called Cancer. And then all at once, it seemed Cancer showed me that no matter how hard I try - it is always going to win. And it was prepared to prove to me that it can strike anyone, anytime and it can strike fast. In 6 months I sat at 3 funerals and left wondering "What more can I do"

Slowly, I was letting Cancer beat me by making me think "why bother?" Why should I get up at 4:45am to go and ride my bike. Why should I freeze my tired arse off, push my body to the limit training for more events? Why should I miss waking up to the faces of my 3 kids; miss morning cuddles in a warm bed; miss making them pancakes that we could eat while watching cartoons in our pajamas?

And slowly, I also started to think .. I am done with fundraising. I am done with the knock backs, I am done with constantly referring people to my online donation portal and being met with silence. I am done trying to find the elusive support that seems almost impossible to find this year.

But then out of nowhere, my reason came. In the pages of a fictional book, I found my reason to why I need to continue. A book I had hesitated to read for a few weeks had the answers and motivation that I needed. And it comes back to what got me started to begin with. While it kills, I will ride! While people are cheated the right to live Happily Ever After, the least I can try and do is give them hope.

My riding and fundraising will never bring back those we have lost. And it probably serves as a reminder to our Angels families when they see me continue to try and fight a loosing battle. But at the same time, I have new fighters to provide hope to. People near and dear to me who have recently sat in a doctors office and been told that they have Cancer. People who need to know I won't quit. That I will not give in to my excuses and I will drag my tired bones out of bed and find the strength it takes to climb over this hill.

My reason to ride - I really didn't think that it was my mental toughness that was going to be put through the biggest workout! But with 36 sleeps to go until I line up in Brisbane, I am going to give this thing all I have got.

And thanks to my Liv/girls - I'll be back for more bunch rides and breaky before I go!!!

There I am - Top Photo, Second on the Left.
Back in the Bunch after 6 months