Last month, at the age of 74, I participated in the longest bike ride of my life.  It started in Melbourne, traversed the hills of the Snowy region and ended at Parliament House in Canberra.  It was a journey of 900k with a cumulative climb was 9000m and a similar descent. I walked up the steep ascents at 5kph while my younger colleagues pedalled past me and shouted encouragement. I cautiously rode down the descents  especially when on winding gravel roads.  However, on one long straight steep hill I abandoned caution and flew down at 65 kph.  My personal best !

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Why we ride this time is about two amazing ladies.

Carol Cooke in the World Champions kit and Hannah MacDougall in the Hampton Cycles kit.



Both of these athletes have not let their disabilities get in the way of the sport they love. These two were racing at the Kew Boulevard in a time trial. Here are their stories and a couple of pics from the day.


Carol Cooke

“I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in 1998 and by 2001 I was wheelchair bound. 

Through exercise and a bit of medical intervention I was able to get out of that wheelchair.  It has been a long process to becoming World Champion but I honestly believe that cycling and exercise in general is keeping me walking. 

The power of positive thinking is very important to me. I believe that if we dare to face our fears and believe in ourselves, we can accomplish anything.  I could still be sitting in that wheelchair but I refuse to let my MS dictate how I live my life.  I will continue to cycle not only to keep my health in check but also because I love it!”


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Facebook Group : Breeze Along The Boulie ride

Every Tuesday a group of women jump on their bikes in almost any weather to ride over the Yarra Boulevard in Kew, Melbourne - a spot most bike riders in Melbourne call the Kew Boulevard. There can be as few as 5 or 6, but they get a huge boost to numbers every year when Melbourne Cup day comes round; this can provide an extra 25 riders and take the numbers up to 30.

They take off from Walmer St for a two lap ride, first one all together, the second at each rider's own pace. The ride is a social ride and a bit of fun. It is a bonding time for the ladies to let them talk about the things that interest them. No testosterone, no showing off and no conversation off limit. Yes men, they even talk about their husbands.

But at the end of the second lap, they all go for a coffee and sit down to finish the daily chat. Talk about work, life and the family. This group was a delight to be with as they were open, funny and friendly.

So what is the biggest reason for riding along a road at 6am in the morning? There is no main reason, every woman has a reason that was personal to them. Some for the challenge, some for the comaradery, all for the ride.


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From the same mate in the local cycling club...


It's November 30, 2013. The Club leaves at 6am on our Xmas ride. A very tidy bunch of 16 riders sets off for our destination of the Newport Arms Hotel via Bobbin Head. After the Spike Milligan Bridge near Woy Woy a green ute squeezes past, just clearing the front riders by about 10cm. It was clearly the drivers intention to send a message that we should not be there and he was not prepared to make any concessions to another road user. Certainly not for bike riders. Despite the expected heavy traffic at the Sydney end we complete the rest of the ride without incident.

I have ridden about 4,500 since the Xmas Ride and I have had just one other close call. Coincidentally it was an almost identical scenario. This time the ute was white. Both times the drivers actions were intentional and unnecessary because it was early morning with very little traffic. Perhaps that's why they did it, thinking they would not be seen. Clearly they were not thinking, because imagine what their life would be like if they seriously hurt or killed someone.


In this time interval, there have been literally hundreds of times when motorists and their passengers have shouted abuse, blasted their horns, tried to startle us with a shout, tossed rubbish, flicked the bird, impress us with the exhaust note from a big acceleration whilst passing or faked a swerve as they pass. There is also that annoying thing where they make their turbo's go whoosh whilst adjacent. I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard the bon mot "G.O.T.F.R." (Get Of The ... Road). Stupidity like this is not really a huge issue for experienced riders. It's also amazing how little impression it has when the car is on the other side of the road, sometimes separated by a median. However, I would hate to be on the receiving end of all this if I were a new rider.


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Every now and then I learn of concerns for people who are deaf and cycle. Only recently, there has been an article in The Guardian of a deaf cyclist’s views, experience and ambitions ( ). Some people have expressed the view it was a good article. But I struggle to understand why deaf cycling is really a matter of concern.

Nearly 35 years ago, in my early teens, I was diagnosed with a bilateral sensorineural deafness. At that time I was enjoying adventures on my bike with my mates, as well as other physical activity such as driveway cricket. Can’t blame mandatory helmet laws for that not being as popular these days!

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Because I have had more time of late than the average punter to read, I find myself increasingly reading about safety on the roads. Bear with me folks, we are about to go for a bit of a ride.


I have read a lot of information from both sides of the road (for want of a friendly term). Now when I say information, I mean lots of words, some informative and some that I think is from a person who is in need of professional help. I have read about death, injury, rego, licence, sharing, enjoyment, stress, freedom, time, speed, love, hate, safety, war, peace, mode-ism (great read) and a whole lot more.

These comments have all been made by people. Strangely enough not one car, not one bike or truck, bus or motorcycle, road, cycle lane or path has commented or written an article. I have therefore come to the conclusion that the solution lies with the people also. I am a glass half full kind of guy so I am going to give blame the flick as I, as a person, are part of the solution.


Now when you read lots, one tends to want to discuss what you have read to share ideas, understand more, and get face to face opinions from real people rather than an alias and to fill time between sips of coffee. During one of these conversations it was discussed how within approximately an hour a video had been posted, gone "viral" enough to have been seen, commented on and debated, passed to the authorities, identified the "perp", released his details, found where he worked, workplace made aware and then said video and all comments removed from all 3 Facebook pages where it had been posted.

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