I’ve been around bikes most of my life; for transport, starting my career supporting families as a social worker at a community bike workshop, and just loving the smell of fresh tyres in a bike shop (yes, like a weirdo). However, I didn’t consider myself a ‘cyclist’ until later when in 2014, I strolled into a bike shop and was served by a female staff member who saw the glimmer in my eye and insisted I take a road bike for a blocky. I bought it almost on the spot. Then the cycling community in Adelaide welcomed me with open arms, and that was the beginning of my love affair with the sport.
My first steel adventure bike arrived in 2015, and holidays were transformed into short distances over many hours, carrying all the things and then some. On one adventure in the Netherlands, I saw an inspiring poster on the wall in a bike shop. The poster was a photograph of a bicycle, a tent, and an incredible starry night sky. When I asked where the photo had been taken, I was told it was on the Oodnadatta Track in South Australia. I couldn’t believe that this was on my doorstep and I hadn’t seen it. This planted the seed of what was possible on a bike. I could not let go of this idea of being self-sufficient, on a bicycle, heading out into the wilds, and seeing that sky.
In 2018 a friend and I boldly planned a 10-day trip to ride the Mawson Trail. I ‘trained’ by loading my pannier bags with sundry heavy items like bricks and water and attempted (with varying degrees of success) to ride up steep local trails. This was my first ‘off-road’ tour. In this new way, seeing my home state was almost overwhelming; it was even more beautiful than I thought it could be.
In late 2019, I would take 6 months off from work and cycle all the trails I had been reading and daydreaming about, even though I was sure they were beyond me. I wanted to ride the Carretera Austral in Patagonia and the Tour Divide Route. As my naïve and very ambitious plan was taking shape, there was an announcement that Race to the Rock 2020 would depart from Adelaide. When a friend told me that “we should do it,” I thought about it for maybe 5 seconds before agreeing we should. Of course, what followed was a comedic movie montage of bike adventures, bike packing experiments, gear purchases, and much laughter. All the while, COVID was taking hold, and my remaining crazy ambitious plans were torn to shreds.
I was lucky enough to complete Race to the Rock in 2020; it was a transformative experience. Not once did I wish I was somewhere else. While I was physically looking forward to reaching my goal of finishing, part of me didn’t want it to end; it was magical. It made me wonder what else I could do that I didn’t think I could. Solo adventures, riding through the night, how far can I ride without stopping, how many verts can I ride without blowing up, and so the experiment continues. A year on, and while I have a few more ‘experiments’ under my belt now, I still haven’t found ‘the wall’ or ‘the limit’ that I’ve been looking for, all that’s happening is that it is becoming increasingly fun trying to get there.