Con­ver­sa­tions on wheels

Ovens & Murray Advertiser - North East Regional Extra - - Front Page - By BELINDA HAR­RI­SON

FOR­GET­TING to take your front wheel when you drive half an hour from home to go for a ride might take the shine off the day’s ex­cur­sion, but for Kylie Sam­son of West End Girls Ride group in Wan­garatta, it’s just ‘some­thing that hap­pens’.

“Some­one usu­ally for­gets some­thing,” she laughed.

“Hel­mets, wa­ter bot­tles and clip-in shoes have all been known to be left be­hind and the rest of us give the per­son a good amount of rib­bing, but if some­one for­gets their wa­ter bot­tle we do share with them.”

Be­ing raised on a small farm in Be­nalla, Kylie has al­ways loved be­ing out­doors and when she moved to Wan­garatta with her hus­band Wes in 1999, she be­gan rid­ing with friends.

“I love be­ing out on my bike, es­pe­cially if I get to share the ride with oth­ers,” she said.

Kylie took some time away from cy­cling when she had their daugh­ter, El­lie (now 11), but when El­lie was two years old, Kylie de­cided to res­ur­rect the ride.

“I wanted to en­cour­age women who were just start­ing out (rid­ing) to join a friendly so­cial group, and that be­came part of the group’s motto: to en­cour­age more women to ride.

“We get out once or twice a week on Wed­nes­days and Fri­days - but not in the win­ter - when it gets to mi­nus one we don’t go be­cause we’re wusses!”

“We gen­er­ally have two routes we fol­low - on Wed­nes­days we ride up to the top of Taminick Gap, which is quite chal­leng­ing, but on Fri­days we take it eas­ier, head­ing to the end of Lind­ner Road and down Warby Range Road where we’re usu­ally in time to see the sun­rise and take a few pho­tos from Omaru Road.

“We like to fol­low the same routes so that if some­one is run­ning late on any given day they know where to catch us.

“We usu­ally try and squeeze in time for a cof­fee at the end, but we work on a ‘no drop ride’ system which means we ride as fast as the slow­est rider so we don’t leave any­one be­hind.

“We fo­cus on skill and safety rather than speed.” The weekly rides are around 30km and some­times the group or­gan­ises week­end rides which can be up to 100km.

“We have rid­den to Bright and tack­led a few of the moun­tains - Mt Buf­falo, Falls Creek and the back of Stanley.”

“I love cy­cle tour­ing and spent time rid­ing around Europe a num­ber of years ago.

“I would love to take my daugh­ter over there to do the same one day; we just have to wait a cou­ple more years un­til she’s old enough.”

Fol­low­ing the lo­cal road­ways into the hills around the area in the early morn­ings, Kylie said they’d seen a num­ber of the na­tive an­i­mals.

“There are heaps of kan­ga­roos at the top of Omaru Road and one jumped in front of me on Warby Range Road once, it almost got hit by a car as it hopped away.

“There are plenty of cows as well and we see the oc­ca­sional echidna.

“We don’t of­ten see snakes, but mag­pies cer­tainly fea­ture dur­ing the spring hatch­ing sea­son, and ev­ery­one has their own way of ward­ing them off - zip ties are for­bid­den on my rides, but there’s a lot of flail­ing arms to keep them from swoop­ing at your back (it doesn’t work though).

“My per­sonal choice is to point at the mag­pie and tell them not to leave their perch, and that seems to keep them from swoop­ing me.”

Although the name may sug­gest, Kylie said the group isn’t just for women, men are also wel­come and there are a cou­ple who join the group on a semi-reg­u­lar ba­sis.

“We av­er­age be­tween six and eight rid­ers in the morn­ings, mostly women, but a cou­ple of men as well, and the ages range from early 20s to late 50s, so it’s quite a di­verse bunch.”

“The best thing about the group is see­ing the growth of the rid­ers, both phys­i­cally and men­tally.

“To see some­one who was re­ally ner­vous about rid­ing now be able to ride moun­tains fairly eas­ily is a fan­tas­tic achieve­ment.

“Of course not ev­ery­one as­pires to that, it’s just as valu­able to make rid­ing part of your life and be able to ride our ter­rific bike paths with your fam­ily.

“Ex­er­cise doesn’t have to be hard work, for me it’s just about go­ing for a ride with my friends - it’s a con­ver­sa­tion on wheels.”

For more in­for­ma­tion con­tact Kylie via email at ad­[email protected]­t­end­cy­

◆ LY­CRA LOVERS: West End Girls Ride group com­prises of both male and fe­male rid­ers on their twice-weekly ride.

◆ EARLY RIS­ERS: The group are up early enough to catch the sun­rise along Omaru Road.

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