Powering along the Princes Highway in Sydney’s south, on her bright pink tricycle you would hardly notice anything different about Gabrielle, except the extra wheel on her bike.
After an accident in 2009 where Gabrielle broke her spine in two places, she set the goal of riding the French Pyrenees. 10 years on with a lot of hard work on and off her tricycle, she has just completed it!
Gabrielle riding up The Hautacam, in the French Pyrenees, on Racing Rosie
“I fractured both my neck and my spine and because of that I’m what you call an incomplete paraplegic, I jokingly say I’m a triplegic as my right arm is also impacted as well as both legs. So my balance is very poor but I wanted to get back on my bike after my accident.”
Independence by bike
“For me it was so amazing to get access to a bike, as it gave me a bit of independence back.”
Her bike, Racing Rosie, has now seen her travel Australia and across the world for bike riding.
“It’s actually a normal frame but the back wheels click out and I have conversion by a company called Trykit. I ride with cleats but that means on a regular two wheel bike if I needed to click out at a set of traffic lights I would probably lose my balance and fall over. With the three wheeler, I don’t have to click out.”
“When I found out about the three wheeler, I was excited as one, it meant I could still ride. I just wanted to be able to do something and swimming or running weren’t options for me at the time.”
Gabrielle was awarded King of the Mountain during her trip to the Pyrenees
“In 2008, I did the Pyrenees with my flatmate. I didn’t really cycle much at the time as I was living in London and had nowhere to train. When I came back from the trip, I thought it was the best thing I had done in my life.”
“If I ever had the chance I would do it again, so when I was in the hospital in high dependency people from the tour group came in and they had a photo of me climbing in the Pyrenees. They put this photo behind my head so people could see it, it was in me from day 1 to see if I could go back.”
Power of the tricycle
“My accident anniversary is coming up to 10 years, so I headed off to France to celebrate how far I have come. The tour group was going there this year and the Pyrenees was what I wanted to do.”
“After completing the Pyrenees this year, I’m considering adding L’Étape Australia to one of my future goals. No one thought, even me, that the Pyrenees was possible so I’m continuing to see what I can achieve.”
Gabrielle is such a resilient, inspirational person that has not let her physical injuries stop her from achieving her goals. She wants to encourage everyone to get out and be physically active for their health, afterall the endorphins are free!
“Sport is amazing, such an amazing outlet for people with a disability, not only because it’s good for physical but also mental and social.”