I joined the Sydney Uni Velo Club last year so I’d have people to ride with on the days I didn’t have anyone to ride with. They are one of several clubs that hold regular rides leaving Sydney’s Centennial Park most mornings of the week which is a convenient and short from home. The thing that set this club apart from the others, for me was the attitudes of other riders, the friends I have that were already part of it, and the tight, safe, organised feel of their bunch ride. That, and they offer the ride routes I enjoy at the paces I crave.
What I didn’t expect was how inspiring and motivating I’d find it riding regularly with other strong women. The chance to spend more time with these girls, road tripping, racing and working as a team? I jumped at it.
The newly formed women’s road race team includes a mix of very experienced riders who have some impressive results at a national level, and riders like me who are fairly new to the whole road racing thing: Amber Jenkins, Anne Lynam, Clare Mandeno, Dominica Watt, Gina Ricardo, Imogen Vize, Lisa Antill, Rae-Anne Hardie, Rosie Stewart, Sue Forsyth, Taliya Cikoja, Tegan Cox, Veronica Fardell, Virginia Woods, Yvette Amaral and myself.
The club will generously assist us with a support team at events, subsidies for kit, key races and, in some cases, accommodation too. But more than that, this is an incredibly nurturing and supportive environment to be part of. It’s expected that people get involved and be the type of rider that makes the club such a great one to be part of.
Together we do roadie things. Like meet in the dark while most people are asleep, fix flats with CO2 canisters, sample coffee from far and wide, talk about equipment, tactics and upcoming events, and chase each other through beautiful landscapes. Not that different to mountain biking really, apart from all the tar.
For road specific skills, teammates Amber and Sue have been putting together training sessions that are the skinny wheeled equivalent of crayons and an activity pack. It’s additively fun and I finish each session pumped for the next.
I’ve heard many stories about people trying to break into the road racing scene and finding it quite cliquey, lonely and hard to know who or where to ask for help. But my experience riding with these girls is quite the opposite. This speaks volumes about the club’s commitment to offer riders the chance to develop in a racing and training sense, but also the way that these activities are not to be done at the expense of a really positive environment within the club as a whole.
On the racing front, the first big event is the Sydney Road Titles next weekend. There are also a couple of interstate races on the cards, and a heap of Sydney based criteriums which include separate women’s grades. Some of the other clubs in Sydney are also getting behind women’s riding which will build attendance at these events and make for some exciting days on two wheels.
I don’t have any goals in terms of personal results, but I love the idea of being a work horse for someone who does. Plus, it sounds like a great way to keep fit and enjoy Sydney’s thriving cafe scene as well. Thank you so much to Sydney Uni Velo and to the other ladies involved in the team for the great rides so far and the promise of many more ahead.