On her 50th Birthday, Cheryl was fitter than she had even been in her life thanks to bike riding.
Like many of us, Cheryl rode her bike as a child and stopped when her knees hit the handlebars. At 48, she saw and responded to an ad in the local paper calling for riders of all abilities.
“I bought a second hand bike for $50, I didn't want to spend a lot in case I hated it. The first ride I went about 5km and walked home exhausted, but I was hooked and rode further the next week,” explained Cheryl. “It helped that the other riders were friendly and supportive and I eventually upgraded to a 2nd hand Cannondale Bad Boy!”
With her 50th Birthday quickly approaching, Cheryl set a challenge.
“I decided to cycle on The Great Escapade. 729 kilometres from the beautiful Blue Mountains of New South Wales to Newcastle via outback country towns, underground caves, cool mountain streams and vineyards.”
“I talked some of the members of the Coffs Harbour BUG into joining me. We trained a few times a week and I was fitter at 50 than I had been at any other point of my life.”
“My non bike riding friends thought I was mad!”
The Great Escapade of 2008, was organised by Bicycle NSW and Bicycle Victoria (now Bicycle Network) from the Blue Mountains to the Hunter Valley, totalling over 785 kms across 13 days of bike riding.
“When we returned through the big grey arch where we had started from 13 days beforehand, I cried a bucket full of happy tears before joining everyone in a lamington celebration.” It has been 10 years on from the Great Escapade and Cheryl is still fitter than she was in her 30s and 40s.
“We have riders in their 80s who ride with us, and I intend to be one of them! I also love the social aspects,” commented Cheryl. “I have made some great friends along the way and if you travel, you generally have a group you can ride with, so that gives you instant new friendships wherever you go.”
So if you’re thinking about starting to ride, here is Cheryl’s advice.
“ ‘Just do it’. Buy a decent second hand bike if you aren't 100% sure but don't go too cheap. Ask the local BUG as someone might be able to loan you a bike. Join a BUG as they can then help you with skills, places to ride etc. It is a fabulous thing to do and keeps you young!”
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