Victoria has seen a surge in the number of women cycling lately, thanks to a huge number of women’s only cycling courses being run by AustCycle Provider Wheel Women.
Provider and Teacher Tina McCarthy said that there is a very large number of women who want to ride, but who feel intimidated by the prospect of cycling, especially sharing the road.
“I have been totally inundated with women telling me the same thing. They can’t change a flat, they don’t feel confident and they just want to feel safe”.
“They see people out there on their fast road bikes, wearing lots of lycra, and that’s not necessarily for them”.
To combat this, Tina runs specially designed women’s only courses in many Healthy Community Areas around Melbourne.
“Where else could we talk about what colour lipstick to wear to match our helmets, and change a flat tyre in one session!”
According to one participant Kay Ansell who works at Fullpoint Media, the classes are a great success.
“It was a great opportunity to learn basic bike skills, meet like-minded women who just want to get out riding more often and more socially and to increase confidence".
“I have been riding for more than a decade but had never really learned how to change gears efficiently (I just winged it) or how to change a rear tyre, basic maintenance etc".
"I'll be practising what we've learned from Tina McCarthy, who was a terrific instructor. Tina was able to encourage all of the women at their own levels of ability and made us feel that we could ask any questions and get a straight explanation".
"Judging by the shared experiences of the women involved, this program seems to be tapping into a big, unmet demand in the community for bike activities that aren't super-competitive but get more women enjoying all the benefits of cycling".
Lately Tina has also been helping a lot of ladies with health problems that are looking to take a step in the right direction.
“This particular lady rocked up on her daughters bike, with a helmet that didn’t fit. She has type 2 diabetes and cardiomyopathy, has set about losing 25kg in the last 2 years and wants to lose more”.
“She said she wants to ride to the gym, not take the car. She walked the bike to the session, then when we finished she rode her bike to the coffee shop to buy me a coffee, she was so happy!”
“Needless to say, we replaced her helmet with a lovely new one”.
Another lady contacted Tina through the Healthy Communities Initiative, unsure of whether she would be able to participate due to health issues.
“She explained to me she has a degenerative muscle wasting illness and she had to give up her beloved horse-riding, as well as her daily walks”.
“She suffers from weakness in the ankles and legs, but she lifts light weights to try and keep her strength as best she can”.
Tina believes all women should get involved with cycling because the benefits are enormous, so if you live in the Melbourne area, sign up for a course by calling 0412 993 650.