Meet Melissa. Fondo ride regular who went from occasional commuter to mountain goat. We've love watching Melissa grow as a cyclists so we sat down and asked her to share her cycling journey with us.
When did you start cycling and what type of cycling did you begin with?
I grew up cycling to get from a to b (including riding to school) but nothing more than that. When I was in my early 20s I started doing a bit of bike path riding on weekends and in 2001 I went on the Great Tasmanian bike ride. That was a huge step up from anything I had done before - I think the longest training ride we'd done was 50km! After having my first child I continued to use my bike as a way to get around, buying a trailer so I could ride to mother's group and do the odd short bike trail near home.
Tell us your cycling journey - from commuter to where you are today?
At the beginning of 2015 I decided to see if I could ride to work once a week - ~20km each way, in and out on different days - to try and incorporate some incidental exercise into my life. It took me a while to find a route I was happy with but once I had convinced myself that it was do-able I decided I'd buy a new bike (the 15kg 15 year old hybrid bike wasn't ideal for commuting!).
After a few false starts I eventually I found a bike that met my requirements and began commuting on it. It was a lot easier than on the old mountain bike but I had a few spills while getting used to it.
After I'd got my confidence up commuting I wanted to start getting out and about on weekends, but I didn't have anyone to ride with and I didn't know where to ride. This was Sept/Oct 2015 just at the time Bicycle Network launched 'The Ascent' program. I also had a supportive male colleague who knew about the Peak ride and pointed out they had a women's ride. I signed up for some the of 'The Ascent' training rides and rang Peak to see if it would be appropriate for me to join the Peak Women's ride.
As you probably remember, I turned up for my first Peak ride with my pannier rack on my bike with no idea what the ride would involve. It's hilly where I live but it's not Flat Rock Road! Kate rode with me the whole way and the whole group waited at the meet up points, so I felt really supported and included. The group were so welcoming at coffee afterwards - one of the ladies linked me in to GirlRide on facebook and another tactfully suggested I could take my rack off on weekends to make my bike lighter! With wobbling legs but feeling really happy that I'd never once had to get off and walk and feeling like there was a whole community of women riders I could join I decided I'd be back.
Who are your training buddies and how did you meet?
Through the Ascent training rides I met a great bunch of women. One of them (Jennie) is an amazing organiser and she linked us all up via email so we could plan training rides together. We still ride together regularly, either as a whole group or in speed and/or geographical proximity groupings. One of my friends from Uni also cycles and last year we became training buddies and she's joined in with the Ascent girls. There are also lots of initiatives like the Cycles Galleria ladies rides that I join in with on and off.
How often do you ride and what type of riding do you do now?
I ride 3 days a week - 2 commutes and 1 longer ride on weekends (50-80km, 700-1300 vertical meters climbing). I also continue to ride to get around my local area and we try to get out on family rides once every month or so, too. I have an indoor trainer which I use once a week. My husband has taken up mountain biking, so I'll give that a go a couple of times a year with him.