on­wards and up­wards

Wangaratta Chronicle - North East Regional Extra - - Front Page - by KYLIE WIL­SON

IN the lead up to the first High Coun­try Women’s Cy­cling Fes­ti­val (HCWCF) this April, fe­male cy­clists in the North East and be­yond are look­ing for­ward to par­tic­i­pat­ing.

Among them is pas­sion­ate Wan­garatta based cy­clist Julie Coller, who be­gan cy­cling at the age of 37 in an ef­fort “to be a fit mum” for her chil­dren, as well as, she ad­mits, “be fit and fab­u­lous at 40”.

Julie said that rid­ing is now an es­sen­tial part of her life­style.

“I love rid­ing for it gives me the op­por­tu­nity to clear my head. When I cy­cle on my own, it is my time and my space,” she said.

“My hus­band knows not to ring me whilst I am rid­ing un­less it is a dire emer­gency.

“I also ride for fit­ness and to be a good role model for my chil­dren and grand­chil­dren, show­ing them that you can ride at any age, you do not need to be a kid to ride. “Grand­mas can ride too! “The other great bonus of cy­cling is the places you can go and peo­ple you meet along the way, not to men­tion the cof­fees and cake too.”

Julie said she is grate­ful for the cy­cling in­fras­truc­ture around the North East, but said there is al­ways room for im­prove­ment.

“As a re­gion I be­lieve we are be­com­ing well known for our cy­cling paths and rail trails,” she said.

“I do be­lieve more can be done in the up-keep­ing of our bike paths and rail trails to keep them safer for cy­cling.

“More main­te­nance is needed to keep the tracks clear of haz­ards, es­pe­cially af­ter vi­o­lent windy weather.”

Julie is al­ready in peak train­ing mode for the up­com­ing ride, rid­ing twice a week to Ryan’s Look­out near Wan­garatta and reg­u­larly mak­ing the 100km round trip be­tween Wan­garatta and Beech­worth.

Reg­u­lar swim­ming ses­sions also help Julie’s over­all fit­ness.

She is look­ing for­ward to sup­port­ing other rid­ers dur­ing the up­com­ing fes­ti­val.

“My role on this ride is too sup­port the slower rid­ers to achieve their po­ten­tial “Julie said.

“If they make the whole ride that is great, if they only achieve half that is great.

“The ad­van­tage of an all-fe­male fes­ti­val is to hope­fully en­cour­age women to ride who may oth­er­wise never at­tempt to ride up a moun­tain.

“Many women have part­ners who ride, and they find they are left sit­ting back at camp when there part­ners climb a moun­tain.

“This ride is a sup­ported ride, which means women are be­ing en­cour­aged by other women to ride out­side of their com­fort zone and ‘just have a go at climb­ing the moun­tain’.”

Julie de­scribed Mt Buf­falo as her favourite ride, “for the views as you climb up the moun­tain, every turn is an amaz­ing view.

“For dis­tance, I love cy­cling from Wan­garatta to Bright or the re­verse.”

Julie is not in­tend­ing to rest on her lau­rels, as she in­tends to ride Falls Creek, Mt Hotham and Mt Buller in com­ing months.

The first HCWCF (20-22, April 2018) will be based out of Bright and is a cel­e­bra­tion of women’s cy­cling, with a fo­cus on fun, fit­ness, and friend­ship in a unique alpine en­vi­ron­ment.

The fes­ti­val aims to in­spire, en­cour­age and sup­port more women to ride, and to ex­pe­ri­ence the beauty of the High Coun­try by bike.

Or­gan­is­ers have part­nered with Vic Roads and Road Safe North East to de­liver im­por­tant cy­cle safety mes­sag­ing in the lead up to and dur­ing the weekend.

Vic Roads North East re­gional di­rec­tor, Nicki Kyr­i­akou said “a key theme iden­ti­fied through­out the Vic Roads Coun­try Roads tour this year, was the im­por­tance of cy­cling safety,

“So we are proud to part­ner with the first High Coun­try Women’s Cy­cling Fes­ti­val,” he said.

“Road safety is our high­est pri­or­ity and this event aligns with our val­ues around safe cy­cling routes, and en­cour­ag­ing driv­ers to stick to safe pass­ing dis­tances.”

Road Safe North East am­bas­sador Jackie Hobbs said “the aims and val­ues of the in­au­gu­ral High Coun­try Women’s Cy­cling Fes­ti­val are per­fectly aligned with those of Road Safe North East.

“We know that women cy­clists are es­pe­cially con­cerned about safety on the road and for some women, it is one of the bar­ri­ers prevent­ing them from tak­ing up this fun and healthy recre­ational ac­tiv­ity,” she said.

“We are work­ing with the Fes­ti­val or­gan­is­ers on de­liv­er­ing im­por­tant cy­cle safety mes­sages, in the lead up to and dur­ing the weekend.

“This is a two way process, where motorists will be ad­vised of the Buf­falo Women’s Ride via our me­dia com­mu­ni­ca­tions and VMS Elec­tronic Dis­play mes­sag­ing, ask­ing motorists to ‘Pass Cy­clists Safely - Thankyou!’ and rid­ers will be given a code of con­duct for safe cy­cling be­hav­iour on alpine roads.

“We will em­pha­sise the need to wear brightly coloured jer­seys and have rear flash­ing lights.

“Per­son­ally, I am look­ing for­ward to push­ing to the peak with 150 awe­some women, and cel­e­brat­ing our achieve­ments later at the Lycra Lunch Party.”

For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion and reg­is­tra­tion, go to: www.hcwcf.com.au, or look up the fes­ti­val on Face­book and Instagram.

PHOTO: Kylie Wil­son

FULL SPEED AHEAD: Wan­garatta woman Julie Coller is pas­sion­ate about cy­cling and com­mit­ted to help­ing other fe­male rid­ers.

TAK­ING A BREAK: Julie (far left) re­laxes with fel­low rid­ers af­ter a train­ing ride be­tween Bright and Ta­wonga Gap.

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