Buvette Masthead

Chloe Hosking: from Canberra to the Commonwealth Games

Molly McLaughlin

Chloe Hosking has come a long way from riding her bike around Lake Burley Griffin with her dad.

For the past decade, the 27-year-old cyclist has been riding professionally in Europe and around the world, culminating in a gold medal win at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast earlier this year. But her love of riding was ignited purely by chance when, at the age of twelve, she was forced to take a break from hockey due to shin splints.

“I was one of these super active kids and did every sport under the sun,” she explains. “My dad was a really keen cyclist and I asked him if I could have a go on the bike, and it was like he just was waiting for the moment because the next day he had a bike set up and we were out on the road.”

She soon found a junior cycling group that headed out for rides around the city at 6 am, and her competitive instinct kicked in immediately.

“The very first time we rode with the group we did a hill climb race and I went as hard as I could up the hill. It was Archibald Street, near the hockey centre, so anybody who is a cyclist knows it’s not that big, but as a twelve-year-old, it felt huge! I was by no means first to the top, but when I got there I got off my bike and threw up.”

As many of our city’s cyclists know, Canberra is was the perfect place to hone Chloe’s skills on the bike.

“I think cycling just straight away resonated with me. It was a sport where I could be competitive, I could be social, I could push myself, I could ride with my dad… And also having Canberra as my backyard to ride in really fostered my love of cycling.”

After graduating from Narrabundah College in 2008, Chloe decided to defer her academic career and set her sights on the European circuit. By the end of her first year racing professionally on the continent, she was offered a contract with top professional team Team HTC-Columbia Women.

She didn’t wait long to continue her education, however, graduating with a Bachelor of Communication and then embarking on a post-graduate law degree at ANU, all while living in Europe and racing and training up to six hours a day.

“It was never a decision in my head that I was going to be a professional cyclist, it was more that I kept finding myself in the right place at the right time and then I started getting opportunities. I felt like I have the rest of my life to get a degree, but maybe only this small amount of time to be a professional cyclist. I’m getting it done.”

Her biggest win to date would have to be leading the Australian team to victory in the women’s cycling road race at the Commonwealth Games. For Chloe, being back on home soil and surrounded by her support network made the win an unforgettable achievement.

“So much goes into a gold medal. There was a lot of behind the scenes work, there was the mental side of things, and going in as the favourite at a home Games is just unbelievable pressure.

“It was amazing to be surrounded by a group of women who really bought into me as the leader and having such a strong team performance an really demonstrating to Australia that cycling is a team sport, made it even more special.”

But being a woman in a largely male-dominated sport hasn’t always been easy.

“When I came over to Europe, only very few top women could make a really viable living from it, whereas now the sport is really growing and a lot more women can do that. I get paid really well to do what I do and  consider myself lucky, but I also work very hard.”

Chloe’s hard work is obviously paying off, not just personally, but also in raising the profile of women’s cycling locally and around the world. Canberra is already a hub for the sport, but the community is increasingly expanding to include more women and young people.

“I love that even my mum has her ladies that she goes riding with, so I’ll be at a cafe after riding and they’ll come along in their lycra,” laughs Chloe. “I expect the popularity of cycling is just going to keep growing and you’ll see more and more women getting involved. For me that’s so great to see, because cycling is a sport where you can choose how hard you want it to be, you can take it up at any age and it’s got such a good social side as well.”

While Chloe is grateful that her career has allowed her to trade in the rolling hills of the ACT for the cobblestone streets of Girona in Spain, her European base during the racing season, she still craves a good Canberra coffee.

“There are only about three cafes that meet my standards in Gerona, so when I’m home in October for a break I will be getting my breakfast fix.”

user

Molly McLaughlin

Molly McLaughlin was less than thrilled to move to Canberra a couple of years ago to study Arts and Economics at ANU, but she can confirm the city has grown on her since then. Along with writing for HerCanberra, she spends her time reading, eating noodles and planning her next adventure. More about the Author

DC Fit Leaderboard