onwards and upwards
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.
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.