It’s Australia day, and I’m on my way to the Riva in St Kilda for the Legends of Aussie Rock show. The sun is out, training is done for the day, no work to do and The Wife and I are going to see Jon Stevens, The Black Sorrows (with Linda and Vika Bull) and Barnsey in concert. It’s a good day already.
As we crossed the car park outside the venue I spotted a trailer loaded with various cycles hooked up to a Tarago with “ladies back on your bike” emblazoned on the side. Beside it were two ladies proudly watching another confidently cutting laps on her bike under the guidance of a coach. I’m an avid supporter of everyone getting involved in sports, so I had to stop for a chat and discover more. That’s how I met Jacinta Costello, founder of Ladies Back on your Bike.
A quick introduction
Jacinta is an keen cyclist and has been sharing her passion for the two-wheeled religion for over 30 years. Working with the Department of Education, Vic Roads, Bayside council and Victoria University she taught road safety for almost 10 years, and personally took school groups on Great Victorian Bike Rides over the following 5 years. As long ago as ’81, her dedication to the simple pleasure of exploring on a bike was clear. When she discovered that the Brighton (now Bayside) council had opposed the building of a cycle path along the bay she promptly organised a rally in Church Street Brighton, causing the Council to reverse its decision. Consequently to this day, thousands of cyclists have access to the glorious Bay Trail along the beach!
Who are Ladies Back On Your Bike?
LBOYB are a group of ladies who have cycling, fun and camaraderie in common. They are in this group, because they are:
- very keen to cycle with others of the same standard
- In a fun, social and recreational way
How did you get the group started and why is it important?
The group started because Jacinta saw a need for cycle-loving ladies to be organised. In 2012, she responded to an advertisement from Cycling Victoria, wanting women to teach women to ride. First assignment was to teach 16 women for free (funded by Cycling Victoria) in the Kingston shire. Jacinta:
- Placed a photo in the local Leader newspaper, advertising the free sessions. 60 women responded! This showed a need and the importance cycling has to women
- Taught the 16 ladies as asked by CV
- Offered the remaining 44 ladies, cycling sessions at a small cost
- Went overseas cycling herself, leaving each of the new cyclists with names and numbers of the fellow riders they’d met, suggesting they get to gather and ride while I was away overseas.
- On my her return, little to no riding had taken place!
- Therefore she saw the need to organise the ladies some rides.
- In September 2013, Ladies Back On Your Bike, was born.
Who is your program aimed at helping?
Originally, the program was aimed at getting women BACK cycling. Women hadn’t cycled for ages e.g. since a little girl, since schooldays, since having a family etc etc . Now LBOYB is aimed at all women as there is definitely a need for cycling regardless of experience or lack of experience. For example:
- We now teach absolute beginners. Women who have never, ever cycled. Taught approx 90 such ladies in the past 3 years. These ladies may not end up joining LBOYB, as they live geographically away eg Ballarat, Cranbourne, Geelong, from our base in Brighton, Melbourne
- Originally the business was aimed at path riding. Now we have Path 2 Road sessions, which has seen a huge increase, having women ride on the road. Last year, 55 women cycled 100km in a charity event, Conquer Cancer, raising $45,000 for Cancer, in the worst possible weather conditions! A truely magnificent event, both for the group and as individuals.
- Developing cycling to be a means of social interaction. We have many trips, overseas and local, weekends away, as well as almost every local ride involves a stop at a coffee shop!
Can you tell us about some of your clients’ achievements?
There have been some truely inspirational achievements, including:
- AJ, who we taught to ride in Dec 2015. She has recently ridden 1200km in Taiwan, 500km in New Zealand, and is about to join the LBOYB cycling trip in Tasmania where she will cycle with others in the second top group for a week, cycling 350km.
Teaching a 15-year old girl with cerebral palsy how to ride. She is absolutely delighted to be able to join her friends cycling around her local country area.
- A lady who had only ridden on paths, enjoyed the path cycling with LBOYB for a few years, however really wanted to join a mountain bike trip we offered from Mt Cook, to Omaru on the South Island of New Zealand. She achieved this goal by putting in 2000km of pre-training, so as she could be the pace of others and cover the daily distances of 50km a day for 7 days.
- The lady who decided to learn to ride so as she could cycle overseas on trips with her family.
Lots of ladies who upon joining said” I’ll never ride on the road”, did in fact ride end up riding on the road. 55 ladies rode 100km on the road for a charity event in appalling weather conditions. They joined our Path 2 Road sessions and then achieved the goal mentioned.
- A lady who upon joining was exhausted after a 6km ride is now cycling a regular 3 x 30km a week at an average speed of 30kph. Her big trips are amazing too, with a weekly cycle of 70+ km,