The MS Gong Ride

09 November 2016

On Sunday 16 October, our Membership Manager Katie welcomed thousands of excited Spring Cycle riders to the 12km Sydney City Ride finish site at Pyrmont and the first ever exclusive members lounge. After a day filled with elated riders from all walks of life, young, old, new to riding, old hands, happy families, teams, workmates, rusty riders and everyone in between. Seeing photos online of her friend completing the 50km Spring Cycle, Katie thought she should give the MS Gong Ride a go. Here’s an account of her day riding south.

Posing in front of the seaside“Before I began working for Bicycle NSW, my friend Lisa and I rode the 20km Gear Up Girl this year for the first time. We had a fun day out and it was the first ‘long’ ride either of us had done in a long time. Little did I know that Lisa had caught the riding bug and begun working towards riding the 50km Spring Cycle. She was so excited to have completed it, that when I saw she was doing the 58km Gong Ride, I thought I had better get on my bike and go along with her.

We wore our Gear Up Girl Jerseys and met the Sydney Cycling Sisters at the start site, they are particular heroes of mine. We had a lovely day, taking it at a steady pace and using it as an opportunity to catch up. That was until we hit the National Park and I realised just how many hills were coming our way. Lisa was worried she wouldn’t be able to take the hills but I kept telling her she could just do it at her pace. I ride an electric bike because it makes riding far more pleasurable and accessible for me, but Lisa has always ridden a regular hybrid. So we soon came to a rhythm where I would ride to the crest, and wait to cheer Lisa on to the top. I was the one who lined up to get coffee at the rest stop while Lisa pedalled her way up the long slow ascent.

She didn’t want to resort to walking and pushing her bike up any hills, and we were so elated when we got to the Bald Hill Lookout at Stanwell Tops, that the long hard hills were done. Or so we thought. Next were a series of short but steep hills, punishing for us who were not regular distance or hill riders. Even on an electric bike, it’s a lot of work to get to the top. But at the top of every hill, I stopped and waited for Lisa. I saw lots of Spring Cycle jerseys ride by, and we gave cheery hellos to all the Gear Up Girls we met along the way on the road or at rest stops. People began to recognise me and Lisa, they’d let me know she wasn’t far from the top, or that she’d stopped to catch her breath.

Other riders who knew I was riding an electric merely commented, “at least you’re participating” and that is exactly the point. Getting more people out on two wheels whether under their own steam or with electric assist is the goal of events like Gear Up Girl, Spring Cycle and the Gong Ride.

Two riders with helmets and bikesTo finally arrive at the finish line was a thrill. We rode across together and celebrated an enormous achievement for both of us, the longest distance either of us had ever ridden. Lisa had managed to ride up every single hill, the very concern she had about the ride. Sure, she took her time and stopped occasionally to catch her breath, but she rode every single kilometre of the 58km ride.

I was honoured to discover that Lisa was spurred on by my presence. She knew I was at the top of every hill, waiting for her, supporting her and cheering her on, and that was all the inspiration it took to get her pedalling up each and every hill, no matter how imposing it looked. Having friends to ride with is the key for both of us, and now we’ll be recruiting more friends to ride with us!

Lisa is looking forward to getting the girls together and helping them take on Gear Up Girl 2017, where they might also catch the riding bug and get out on two wheels more often.

Watch out cycleways, shared paths, roads and cycle lanes, the girls are coming!”