My first time achieving 100km

We asked our ambassadors to share their own stories of accomplishing the incredible task of riding 100km on the bike. Help other women achieve this and commit now to The Ascent.

Kate de Beer, RACV Ambassador                                    

I still remember riding my first 100kms vividly. It was October 2013, and my second, more modest attempt at completing a leg of the annual Around the Bay ride.

I had entered the 100km Sorrento to Melbourne leg with my cycling bestie. Together we had grand plans of booking into a sweet little B&B in Sorrento and making a girl’s weekend out of it.

In lead up to the big weekend, together we braved the Melbourne winter mornings, training regularly along Beach Road. Riding firstly to Mordialloc, then eventually Frankston, our training rides became a weekly ritual, along with compulsory coffee stops.

As the day drew nearer, we became more and more anxious about the ‘hilly’ landscape that lay beyond Frankston. We weren’t confident to train this distance yet nor had cars to take us out that way.

In what turned out to be a very fortuitous move, we made a decision to change our event day plans to Melbourne to Frankston.  Fortuitous because it was typical Melbourne coastal weather. Whilst we made great time riding a tail wind to Frankston, the return leg was quite the opposite, pedalling hard into a sandy headwind.

Luckily we managed to take refuge jumping on the occasional wheel, although to be honest most of the time it was the two of us alone with my bestie leading us both home.

Arriving back at the finish line at Alexandra Gardens is still a blur. Between guzzling a bottle of Gatorade and inhaling the contents of the rider’s lunch, I was fast hightailing towards home for that much needed hot shower and some sleep.

About 4pm that afternoon, my bestfriend rang, waking me from my nap. She had also just woken from her post-ride snooze. Feeling exhausted, yet exhilarated from our massive achievement, our conversation very quickly turned to “so what are we going to tackle next?”.

Kate de Beer, is both an RACV Amabassador and also an important part of the St Kilda Cycling club women's committee.

Tina McCarthy, Wheel Women Cycling

My First 100km, quietly unnoticed! I wasn’t fit enough to do the 2011 Great Vic Bike Ride, but I stuck with my commitment to help my son’s school team on training rides.

By mid 2012 I said I would commit to half the Great Vic... countless training rides, many kilometres on my own and a new found obsession to cycle I was hooked. Before I knew it I was helping to escort 15 high school students through the Great Vic as one of the school team. But when the day came for me to go home on the mid point Rest Day, news another rider was not turning up and the girls on the team pleading with me to stay, I made the crazy decision to keep going. I had never ridden this far before in my life…I wasn’t just about to do my first 100km, I was about to do my first 600km!

We rode from Mirboo North to San Remo - searing heat, a head wind most of the way, tired students who still managed to laugh and a monumental distance at the time of 108km. We crossed the finish line at the end of the day so tired they barely a word was uttered from anyone in the team. I wasn’t even sure how far we had ridden.  

Later that night in our team briefing, our School Principal said we had done 111km that day. I was quietly stunned that I had been able to ride so far, so much so, but I didn’t want anyone to see how completely ecstatic I was. In the quiet of my tent that night I had a silent little cry at the magnificent change in my life cycling had created.

Wheel Women is a social, recreational and non competitive cycling group for women. We think every woman should have the chance to ride, no matter how old, what size you are or what bike you have. We run skills sessions and hold regular rides to keep you inspired. Ride happy, ride strong…smile!

Anna Thomson, Fondo

I remember my first 100km like it was just yesterday, although it was actually four years ago!

After only a month of owning a bike, I signed up for Around the Bay in a Day.

About two months before the big day, I’d only completed a couple of rides from St Kilda to Mordialloc (aproximatley 40km) and I needed to step it up a notch if I was going to have any chance of completing the 210km ride!

So not long after, my inaugural 100kms took place on Beach Road completing the well known out to Frankston and back. I did it with a couple of other girls too, Emma Grella and Kate Palethorpe, who are now my Fondo business partners. Emma and Kate were also new to cycling.

We were hopeless! Instead of riding together and laughing and/or encouraging each other through it, we all split up and ended up riding alone all the way home. We were all at different levels of fitness and didn’t consider the ride would be more enjoyable as a group – we had no idea.

Fondo is passionate about women's cycling. Their goal is to offer female cyclists the most comfortable, best quality and most stylish cycling apparel in the world.

Eliza Bergin, St Kilda Cycling Club

I have a regular 100km ride that heads north up Plenty Road through Bundoora to Whittlesea, then up the 7km climb at about 4% gradient which is the Humevale Road to Kinglake West. It then returns back to the inner north of Melbourne.

It is most likely, though I could not swear the truth of the matter, that my first 100km ride was this particular loop one Sunday morning in late 2008. Back then, it was a regular bunch ride of about 15 to 30 riders that met outside the Bundoora Hotel at 7.30am. The Humevale climb was then a potholed affair, navigable only with sturdy clincher tyres, low profile rims and an old school attitude to dirt and weather. The ride had well established and highly specific rules about when the two riders at the front of the bunch were to peel off, signified by particular roundabouts or traffic lights on Plenty Road. The rule at that time was that 'women only do a half turn'.  However, as my presence in the bunch became better established, I was informed that the rule no longer applied to me, and given that I could make it up the hill with the bunch, I was to do a full turn. Naturally enough, this suited my approach to training and to gender equality.

These days, there is no regular bunch. About once a month, a flurry of text messages ensues between four of us on a Saturday afternoon and we get ourselves organised to ride. Our pace has dropped a bit, and we shoot the breeze about how we are going to get race fit soon, rather than about how we performed in Saturday's Northern Combine road race. Humevale Road has been resurfaced and Plenty Road has been duplicated. However, the friendships stay strong and remain true - surely one of the best things about this great sport.

St Kilda Cycling Club continue to encourage, support and provide opportunities for women of all ages and abilities to reach their cycling goals.

Cazz Clarke, Bike It Better

My first century was quite a memorable experience. Back in 2011, I was living in Warragul, and had started doing more riding with the local women’s riding group Velo Fille, under the leadership of Kaylene Chaproniere from Chilli Cycles.

A month earlier, I had upgraded my bike from a men’s steel frame to a beautiful women’s specific carbon roadie (which I still ride). And two weeks prior, I had also completed my first 50km+ road ride – the 60km loop of the Great Ocean & Otway Classic.

I had initially registered for the 70km loop of the Baw Baw Challenge ride. Kaylene had organised a Velo Fille dinner leading up to the event, and asked for a show of hands of who had registered for the 70km or the 120km. Then she encouraged each of us who had chosen the 70km to have a go at the 120km – as she was unable to get a babysitter for the day she offered to be an informal support driver for us, to offer encouragement, collect our jackets from the first rest stop once we were warm, and gave us her phone number in case we couldn’t make the full distance and wanted a lift home!

Having that kind of support and encouragement meant the world, and allowed us to step outside our comfort zone and challenge ourselves beyond what we thought was possible – and we all succeeded in riding the full 120km. I was ecstatic at my achievement and on a high for about a week after potentially aided by the many sugary energy bars I consumed during the ride.

But the real surprise was the affect my achievement had on others. I had a few friends say later that my effort had inspired them to get out for that walk, jog or other activity when the weather wasn’t so great or when they were feeling flat – “If Cazz can ride 100km, then surely I can get out and walk today”.

This was a pivotal moment for me. It was my first taste of what it felt like to inspire others, and why leaders like Kaylene do what they do. It inspired me to undertake the Breeze Leader training with Cycling Victoria in 2012, which then snowballed into starting my own Cycle Coaching business and leading regular rides for women.

I hope that my passion and energy for cycling in general and supportive, encouraging approach to leading rides helps to inspire others to get on their bike and achieve their goals - even if that is just to ride around the block. Never underestimate the affect you have on others – your words of encouragement might be just the thing they need to overcome a barrier, and may be the starting point for something big!

Bike It Better is Cycle Coaching for beginner to intermediate cyclists, led by supportive female coach Cazz Clarke. With a focus on improving your bike handling skills, gaining confidence, and improving your safety on the road and trails.

Help other women ride 100km and achieve their goals. Commit now to The Ascent.