“A combination of exciting and slightly mad” - Coach Sarah Anne
A month ago an opportunity came up that got my heart beating, with the deep internal struggle of ‘Oh shit’ and ‘Hell Yeah!’ that can only mean something is a combination of exciting and slightly mad.
It was the chance to cycle as part of the new Veloroos team for the Race Around Ireland. I didn’t even have to think twice.
Rewind to 2015, when I watched avidly as a group of non-professional women from Sydney, dressed in fluro pink and black lycra, took on the iconic Race Across America (RAAM), a non-stop 5,000km ride across the USA in relay teams of four.
Julie-Anne, Tash, Nic, and Sarah blazed a trail across the continent, winning the female team category and smashing a 19 year record. The Veloroos became a name synonymous with endurance cycling and girls kicking arse, and inspired a new generation of female riders to push boundaries on bikes.
These women had just proved anything was indeed possible, even given the eternal everyday juggle of life, work and sport.
Since then we’ve crossed paths several times at sporting events or on the bike, striking up a friendship based on our shared passion for cycling, and in particular getting more women riding.
When Julie-Anne (JA) got in touch about joining the team alongside Pippa Lyons and Di Jones for their next adventure, The 2017 Race Around Ireland (RAI), I couldn’t have been more excited.
RAI is a continuous cycle race covering 2200km of the spectacular, rugged, windswept coastal roads of Ireland. In a team of 4 , we will relay race non-stop from the start around the entire country, until we finish in the shadow of Trim Castle in County Meath. As the first, and so far only Australian team, we not only want to win the female category, we plan to break the current 89hour 12min record.
After a year sidelined by injuries sustained in a mountain bike crash, this challenge relit the fire in my belly that had been missing as I searched for what my next event would be. What could be better than racing alongside 4 friends in the adventure of a lifetime? Truly a challenge worth getting out of bed through the winter to train for.
While the record is what we are aiming for, and the drive and determination for us all is huge, the other focuses of our journey are twofold.
Firstly, a passion to inspire more women to ride. Just as I was inspired by the girls racing across the US in 2015, we hope that everyone watching us will be fired up to get on a bike and plan an adventure.
Secondly, supporting our two chosen charities, Tour De Cure (riding to cure cancer) and the Amy Gillett Foundation (helping improve awareness and cycle safety)
One of our biggest battles will be fitting our training and the required race organisation around full time work and life. The fight to stay healthy and uninjured is very real when overload comes at you from all angles.
Alongside training, we’re organising fundraisers, continuing our commitments for our two chosen charities, Tour De Cure and the Amy Gillet Foundation, and trying to find backing from potential sponsors. Add to this race logistics and planning, the sourcing of 12 volunteer crew, physios, bike mechanics, support cars, accommodation, flights and this turns into a huge challenge beyond just the miles required on the bike.
The other struggle is funding. As a non-professional team, the Veloroos self-fund their races. We have the support of some amazing sponsors to help us with kit (Cuore), helmets (MET), wheels (Profile Design), and nutrition (PURE and Ems), but the struggle to be taken seriously as a female team is a reality, as we constantly get knocked back again and again by potential sponsors, even with the accolade of the 2015 RAAM results and associated publicity, media coverage and profile.
On our ride last Sunday, the 4 of us, in team kit, headed out to ride Sydney’s classic four gorges loop. As we passed playgrounds, little girls stopped to watch the girls in pink and black cycle passed. We’d wave, they would wave back excitedly. People stopped us to ask who we were, and what we were doing. The Veloroos ripple effect has started.
I’m so privileged to get to be part of an inspiring team of friends, aiming for something that seems a tad crazy, but is sure as hell going to be a lot of fun.
I hope you can all join us on this amazing journey. The Race Around Ireland is only the beginning….!
Want to know how you can support The Veloroos? Here are some ways you can be part of our journey and help support us and our chosen charities, the Amy Gillett Foundation who campaign for safer cycling on Australian roads, and Tour De Cure who ride to find a cure for cancer.
Come to a fund raising event – from Trivia night to 24hr Turbo-a-thon, we have various events around Sydney that you can attend.
Donate now – via our GoFundMe page. All funds raised will be split equally between helping us achieve our goal and our two charities
Sponsor The Veloroos – if you or your company would like to sponsor the team and support womens cycling, then please ask us about sponsorship opportunities via firstname.lastname@example.org