Here we are again…the dreaded lurgy season. It’s common knowledge to most people that viruses…
Any Canberran can testify that we’re a city who loves to cycle.
From the Lycra-clad cyclists making the journey to Lake George on the weekend to the everyday commuters that brave cold mornings to ride into work – MAMALs (middle-aged men in Lycra) are as common as roundabouts or politicians.
But what about women cyclists?
More women and girls are getting on their bikes and taking to the roads or track – in no small part thanks to women like Chloe Hosking or veteran cyclist Belinda Chamberlain, Principal at Peter Blackshaw Real Estate and one of the people behind CCS Cycling, Canberra’s newest National Road Series Team for Canberra-based elite female riders.
Belinda was introduced to cycling through her husband, Andrew.
“He bought me a bike as I wanted to get my fitness back after babies, and I fell in love with it! I then met a group of amazing girls who were training and racing, and I wanted to be a part of it, which they all helped me to do.”
It’s this supportive atmosphere that Belinda says is one of the reasons why she loves cycling in Canberra.
“We have an amazing group of female cyclists locally and many more coming through the ranks. Everyone is very supportive and welcoming.”
Belinda has worked to bolster this community, not only through the establishment of CSS Cycling but through supporting events like the Canberra Junior and Women’s Tour (CJWT), taking place this Saturday and Sunday.
“For the last few years along with my husband, we [Peter Blackshaw Real Estate] have been the major sponsor of the event, assisting with funding, logistics, and general support. My son, my youngest daughter and I race while my other two daughters help out as volunteers. It’s such a great community and family event, and we love being a part of it.”
For the team at Cycling ACT, this week brings a sense of anticipation. The Tour is a culmination of months of complicated preparation and planning.
“The CJWT is a stage race – a bit like the Tour de France,” explains Madeleine Gitsz, Administration Assistant at Cycling ACT. “This means that it includes multiple stages over multiple days.”
“CJWT prides itself on providing closed-race conditions and finding courses that satisfy all the conditions is challenging. Fortunately, we have a fantastic dedicated criterium track at Stromlo Forest Park, which will form part of several stages. It’s perfectly positioned near Uriarra Road which provides a scenic and challenging arena for a race.”
Importantly, CJWT is a qualifying event for two national competitions: The National Junior Road Series and the NSW Premiership Series. However, it’s not just competitive cyclists who’ll be participating over the two days.
“The race is designed for everyday people who are competent cyclists who enjoy a bit of competition, as well as serious cyclists,” says Madeleine.
While minimum requirements apply for the majority of racers, there’s a free, non-competitive participation category for children over five.
Much like the Cycling ACT team, Belinda and her family are excited for the upcoming Tour this weekend.
“I love racing with my team, supporting them and also watching, cheering and encouraging all the younger riders. It is one of the most fun weekends of racing we have during the year.”
Beyond this weekend, there are plenty of opportunities for women and juniors who are looking to develop their cycling to get involved.
“I would make contact with a local cycling club – Canberra Cycling Club, Vikings Cycling, or ANU Cycling – as they can let you know of any ‘new to cycling’ programs running or women-specific programs that may be coming,” says Belinda.
Madeleine agrees, adding that these three local clubs encourage female participation in the sport and run various programs to help novice riders get started.
“Females in Training is a women-specific club that provides fantastic coaching and training opportunities for women of all levels of ability,” she adds.
For children, she recommends Let’s Ride, a learn-to-ride program created by Cycling Australia that is being presented in ACT Schools with the help of Cycling ACT.
“If any readers would like more information and are interested in having the program in their school, please contact us! The Term Three program is timed perfectly to prepare kids for the ACT Schools Championship.”
For more information on the Canberra Junior and Women’s Tour, visit cyclingactevents.com