--- Writen by Tina McCarthy

I grew up with 3 older brothers. That meant a choice between sitting inside and playing with Barbie, or getting on the bike and chasing my daring and super-hero-like brothers. If I wanted to share in the secret adventures, the thrills and spills and the untethered joy of childhood mischief, I had no choice…it was the bike or Barbie.

I chose the bike of course…and I’m glad I did. Riding a bike when I was a kid was a way to get to nanna and pa’s house for ‘soldier’s and googies’, the way to get to my best friends house for few bombs into the pool, it was the game I played with the dog Timmy as he chased me around the yard and it was the way to be an adventurer. The bike was the ‘must have’ item in our house…it was freedom.

It started with the 3 wheelers, which as we grew older we played ‘smash up derby’ on (and I still have the scars to prove it!).  They were also the bike of choice to put in the pool and ride James Bond like down the slope from shallow end to deep end underwater…I can still remember my father screaming at us as he hoisted the bikes out of the pool!



But you know how the story goes…we grow older, and one day we stop being kids. Well that happened to me. Teenage years were a write-off with the temptation of sitting watching hours of Rage on tv, or talking on the phone to the latest love interest. By mid-twenties, the bike didn’t even make it out of the shed.


But like all good Aussie kids, that right-of-passage time arrived, though a little later than most these days, and by late twenties I’d headed off to Scandinavia as a back-packer. It wasn’t until that trip that the bike returned to my life…in a big way! I can still remember that buzz I had as I cycled from Copenhagen to Klampenborg, then back to the city along the coast at Charlottenlund…this was freedom. Just like I had as a child – unencumbered by a job, by study or by any love interests telling me what to do, I cycled on that old black bike all day, everywhere! I loved it.

When I returned to Australia the first thing I did was buy a new bike. But then I realised pretty quickly that cycling in Australia is very different to cycling in Denmark…cycling suddenly became hard, and dangerous. I just didn’t feel like it was something I could do here. So again, the bike ended up in the shed.


As the years progressed, post kids and career at a turning point, I knew Id put on weight. I was mature onset diabetes and heart disease waiting to happen…my risk factors grew with every day of inactivity and every kilo I put on. But I was lucky, I got a wake up call.


My son decided he was going to train with his school for the Great Vic Bike Ride, so of course as a committed parent, I decided I could be a ‘parent helper’ on the training rides. My husband was all for it because he has cycled to work for 30 years, rain, hail or shine! He’d been trying to get me riding for years…we even tried the tag-along- for our son when he was little and I rode him to school…but it was all just so hard.


On that first training ride I was in tears: why was everyone faster than me, why were all these people doing it so easily. To be honest, I felt like a fool that day and I felt humiliated – my inability to do the most simple thing from my childhood had vanished…because I had chosen inactivity over activity.

I guess my husband felt a bit sorry for me that day because he encouraged me to investigate a new bike (I think he badly wanted me to get fit too); within a week I had a new second hand eBay bike! Never one to be defeated, I decided I didn’t want to look like a fool again, so I rode, and rode and rode! Pretty soon, I was keeping up with all those people who I thought were faster than me…and pretty soon I was looking at a NEW bike. I trained, I rode the Great Vic, and I have never looked back.

I’m now a qualified Level 1 AustCycle coach and I run Wheel Women. The philosophy I go by is that there are other women out there just like me; everything gets put aside while we have kids and careers, and we forget about looking after ourselves. But the bike can bring so much confidence, empowerment, and freedom…just like when I was a kid. If we just give women a helping hand to not feel so intimidated by cycling, then we can see great things happen….I know, I see it everyday.



I’m now lucky enough to ride a few bikes, and I get to do it almost everyday. My life has changed for the better because of a bike. I’m fitter, smaller, happier and having the time of my life. Running Wheel Women has been the most fulfilling thing I have ever done…my adventures happen everyday now, just like when I was kid.


So why do I ride…every time I get on the bike it takes me to another place. I feel fit again, I feel like I have freedom to go where I want, I feel like I have stopped the ticking time bomb of chronic disease, I feel like I have something to share with other women and I know I’m also doing something for my family and for the planet…but most of all, I feel like a kid again! That’s cool.


Learn more about Tina and Wheel Women here: http://www.facebook.com/wheelwomenaustralia

If you are ready to get back on a bike. then join in and enjoy riding with like minded women all over paths, trails and other places of interest.

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Cycle is run with the love and time of an amazing group of individuals that come from all across Australia to make your Cycling life a little bit better.