Archive for the ‘BikeGal Stories’ Category

Bon voyage

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June 22, 2015 00

In 2012, I launched BikeGal.com as a place online where any female who wanted a little inspiration or advice to start cycling could find a few pearls of wisdom and a friendly online community of female cyclists. Women and girls came by the hundreds and I was happy to help and I did this for […]

In 2012, I launched BikeGal.com as a place online where any female who wanted a little inspiration or advice to start cycling could find a few pearls of wisdom and a friendly online community of female cyclists. Women and girls came by the hundreds and I was happy to help and I did this for three years.

In 2015, I felt it was time to stop. My love of cycling remains undiminished and I love cycling as a mode of transport, for exercise or simply for fun.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope there are a still a few nuggets of useful info for you.

Keep on cycling!

Affectionately,

Rachael AKA BikeGal 🙂

June 20, 2013 2

On a cold and wet Sydney afternoon I took a trip to Marrickville to visit the store who won our recent survey  to find Sydney’s best bicycle store for female cyclists. I can confess, I had never heard of them.  And what or who is Omafiets??! ‘Omafiets’ is a Dutch word that literally means ‘grandma […]

On a cold and wet Sydney afternoon I took a trip to Marrickville to visit the store who won our recent survey  to find Sydney’s best bicycle store for female cyclists.

Chris accepts the certificate from Rachael from BikeGal.com

I can confess, I had never heard of them.  And what or who is Omafiets??!

‘Omafiets’ is a Dutch word that literally means ‘grandma bike’. No this doesn’t mean they only sell bikes for grannies – it’s referring to a style of bike that has been widely copied for its ease of riding, good looks and reliability.

The majority of bikes at Omafiets are second hand, upright, comfy bikes.

Ollie, Maurice and Chris opened Omafiets in 2010 and their ethos is simple. They just want to get people cycling and provide great bicycles for transport and getting around.

Maurice, Ollie and Chris with their BikeGal.com certificate – winners are grinners!

Having met them, I can now understand why they won. What a nice bunch of blokes who just want to get you cycling! They are relaxed and friendly but clearly know a lot about bicycles and cycling. No macho BS here!

Here is my interview with them.

Congratulations on your win, why do you think you won?

Maurice: “We believe everyone can cycle. I guess our store has got away from the male dominated, sports side of it, most of our bikes are more for getting around. Even our road bikes are more for day rides.

Also Chain Lynx started here which was all about teaching women bike maintenance skills.”

Do you have any female employees?

Maurice: “No! We want some! We are trying to find them!”

So most of your bikes are second hand? Where do they come from?

Chris: “We actually import second hand bikes from the Netherlands.”

How old are the bikes?

Chris: “They range from the 1980s to 2000s. Some are more vintage than others.”

So why are there so many second hand bikes in the Netherlands?

Maurice: “The Netherlands actually has a tax incentive in place so residents can literally write off a new bike through tax every few years.”

How often do you get a new shipment of bikes?

Ollie: “About every six to twelve months we get about 100 to 150 bikes.”

Do you check each bike?

Chris: “Yes, we want to be able to tell people you can rely on these bikes.”

How much are your bikes?

Ollie: “They range from about $400 up to $1000 or more.”

Do you only have commuter bikes then?

Ollie: “No we have all sorts of bikes – road bikes, cargo bikes, electric bikes, kids bikes, tandems… There is a bicycle to solve every problem.”

What sort of new bikes?

Maurice: “We stock the Dutch Gazelle range, Allegro bicycles, and Jamis commuter bikes.”

Do women ask more questions when buying a bike? Is that true?

Chris: “Yes, we think so. We find that women tend to have lots more questions than men.”

Who are your usual customers?

Maurice: “Mostly we get local people or some will come specifically to us because they have heard about us. We often get people who are trying to get back into cycling. And then we try and find them a comfy bike and tell them to go do a City of Sydney cycling course.”

I heard you do something with old second hand bikes?

Ollie: “Yes, Chris and I are part of the Bicycle Garden, a volunteer group that fixes them up and gives them to asylum seekers through St Vincents de Paul.”

So there you have it – our winners for 2013!

I can confess I’ve never recommended buying a second hand bike, but having met these three, I think you could trust them to sell you a reliable second hand bicycle.

Well done to Omafiets! Go and visit Chris, Ollie and Maurice at 117B Addison Road, Marrickville (on Agar St). www.omafiets.com.au

The Omafiets store

May 30, 2013 00

I need some fresh air. I ride a bike. For intelligent commentary about whatever current international cycling event is on – the Giro, the Tour. I ride a bike. When I’m feeling a bit blue. I ride a bike. To catch up with a bike-riding friend for a ride and a coffee. I ride a […]

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I need some fresh air. I ride a bike.

For intelligent commentary about whatever current international cycling event is on – the Giro, the Tour. I ride a bike.

When I’m feeling a bit blue. I ride a bike.

To catch up with a bike-riding friend for a ride and a coffee. I ride a bike.

My favourite form of exercise. I ride a bike.

I prefer life on two wheels I ride a bike.

Wanting to smash it up a hill repeatedly and hurt my legs! I ride a bike.

Practising my balancing abilities. I ride a bike.

I like food too much. I ride a bike.

If it’s good enough for Clover, it’s good enough for me. I ride a bike.

I can justify having several different bike types for several different uses! I ride a bike.

I have no car rego or insurance costs. I ride a bike.

To avoid the smelly old bus. I ride a bike.

I need to do something by myself, for myself. I ride a bike.

To see Sydney in a way you can’t do by car. I ride a bike.

I like to tell myself that I’d leave those people in spin classes for dust! I ride a bike.

Faster than walking, public transport, or the car. I ride a bike.

To sit around with my lycra clad friends and drink coffee. I ride a bike.

I’m getting older and it reminds me of being a kid. I ride a bike.

To prove that all those stupid running injuries can’t stop me. I ride a bike.

After an annoying day at work I need to unwind. I ride a bike.

To carry things in a basket. I ride a bike.

To get up in the darkness of a winter’s morning and pedalling into Centennial Park through fog. I ride a bike.

To do a brick session. I ride a bike.

It’s clean and green. I ride a bike.

To always have the best parking spot. I ride a bike.

John F Kennedy said “nothing compares with the simple pleasure of a bike ride” and I agree with him. I ride a bike.

Because it’s fun. I ride a bike.

When I need a few things from the shops and I don’t want to drive round and round the car park. I ride a bike.

To hang with the cool kids at work in the bicycle lock up area. I ride a bike.

Raising money for MS by travelling from Sydney to the Gong. I ride a bike.

A quick trip to Bondi Beach in summertime. I ride a bike.

Shipping containers, Long bay, beaches, just the usual. I ride a bike.

I’ve mastered cleats and feel like a pro. I ride a bike.

To look great in lycra. I ride a bike.

To make new friends. I ride a bike.

I fall off. I dust myself off, and get back on. I ride a bike.

I cancelled my gym membership. I ride a bike.

I sleep better. I ride a bike.

It’s low impact on my poor old knees. I ride a bike.

Independence. Go where I want to go, when I want to go. I ride a bike.

To complete the best stage of the triathlon! I ride a bike.

Passing the boys so they are “chicked”. I ride a bike.

When people criticise the bike lanes I can tell them that I use them, and they are great. I ride a bike.

I know about butt cream and I’m not afraid to use it. I ride a bike.

Cruising in the bus lane and passing the traffic. I ride a bike.

For endless hours of shopping pleasure buying every foreseeable accessory. I ride a bike.

Mid winter rides, soaking wet and kinda cold, but still pleased with myself for getting out and doing it. I ride a bike.

To wear arm warmers. I ride a bike.

For crazy tan lines. I ride a bike.

Just taking me from A to B. I ride a bike.

 

Because I can. I ride a bike.

 

Why do you ride? Share with anyone who rides a bike….

Happy cycling! BikeGal.com

May 9, 2013 2

Another guest blogger! Today’s blog comes from my friend and Aunt Chris who lives in NZ. She only took up cycling a few years ago and she just completed 600 kms in seven days in the tour of NZ which was held in late April. She was also the fastest female in the 60+ age […]

Another guest blogger! Today’s blog comes from my friend and Aunt Chris who lives in NZ. She only took up cycling a few years ago and she just completed 600 kms in seven days in the tour of NZ which was held in late April. She was also the fastest female in the 60+ age category (as well as the only woman of her age mad enough o take on the challenge!). She is living proof that it’s never too late to start cycling.

If you would like to share your cycling adventures overseas or even your everyday travels – email me! info@bikegal.com with a photo of you and your bike. Tell us why you ride, where you like to ride.

Now… over to our guest blogger Chris…

When I bought my road bike 4 years ago the manual sternly warned of all sorts of ways you could injure or kill yourself if you didn’t follow the instructions (no doubt to protect against law suits).   It didn’t tell you about an even greater danger; cycle addiction.

My name is Chris, and yes, I have become one of those addicts.  Starting with pleasant 20km rides in 2009 I progressed inexorably on to harder stuff (think, the 160km Lake Taupo Challenge) (Editor’s note – a gruelling kiwi ride).   I cycled over mountain passes in China, and cruised around the temples of Myanmar.

Last week I went mainline, cycling the length of the North Island of New Zealand  – 600 plus kilometres in 7 days – as part of the Tour of NZ challenge.   Ho hum, you may say, if you are a fellow addict.   But I should add that I am 63 years old and I think that makes it quite an achievement.

Tour of NZ – our route – from top to bottom

It was a great adventure.   If I didn’t already realise how hilly New Zealand was, I certainly know it now.  We rode some very beautiful country roads although my interest in the scenery did falter from time to time.    The wind was mostly from behind which was a great help since the event proved very much a race rather than a tour.  We had mixed weather: torrential rain in Northland, very cool temperatures on the central plateau, and strong headwinds on the final day.

Nikki and I tackling one of the mega hills with gusto!

I was thrilled to finish the fastest female veteran in the 60 plus category.   The achievement is perhaps a little less magnificent than it might seem… I was also the only woman in that age group.  Nikki, who came over from Sydney to ride with me, won the 50-59 category.

Some stretching after day one

Some of the beautiful scenery along the way through Waipoua Forest

And it wasn’t all sunshine!

There were only about 50 of us on the ride so it was easy to get to know everyone, and they were a very friendly, helpful bunch.  Nikki and I had a lot of fun with Francine, a French Canadian woman who is travelling alone around New Zealand on her bike.

Left to Right, me, Nikki and Francine all rugged up in what Nikki called our “slow clothes”. Our attire always differentiated us from the gun riders who seemed to go out in all weathers wearing just their light cycle tops.

I am not writing this to brag, but to show that it is never too late to become a cyclist and enjoy the benefits that come with it; fitness; camaraderie and a chance to see the world differently.  You can enjoy all this, whether you choose to ride for fun or decide to take it more seriously.  It might seem hard work at first but stick with it and you will find it very rewarding.

If you do enjoy wind, rain and lots of hills then perhaps you would come over for the next Tour of NZ in 2015 (www.tourofnewzealand.co.nz).

Given the nature of addiction, I do worry about where mine will end….. has anyone cycled up Everest yet?

May 7, 2013 00

 We have probably all had this experience. You walk into the bike store, it’s full of male sales assistants serving male customers buying men’s bikes. And when you finally get someone’s attention for some help they talk to you like you have no idea! Okay okay, maybe I’m stereotyping and maybe this situation is changing […]

 We have probably all had this experience. You walk into the bike store, it’s full of male sales assistants serving male customers buying men’s bikes. And when you finally get someone’s attention for some help they talk to you like you have no idea!

Okay okay, maybe I’m stereotyping and maybe this situation is changing – but is it changing fast enough to keep pace with the growing number of female cyclists?

So I thought maybe it’s time to find out where Sydney’s best bike shop for female cyclists is. As voted by you!  Sydney’s female cycling sorority.

Go here to vote now http://apps.facebook.com/my-surveys/bikegal

(Yes sorry it’s via facebook – it was the easiest way…)

We are all busy girls and don’t have time to waste in useless stores. So now is your chance to have your say, and share about those fantastic stores that give great service and those that are …well.. not so great.

Recently via my facebook page I started asking about your experiences with Sydney bike shops.  And the stories came pouring in. Here are just a few of my favourites – I’ll leave it up to you to work out who wrote them and which store they are talking about!

“I am a very experienced cyclist and coach. 

Wanting to buy my first dual suspension mountain bike I went to this store some years ago. I rode a more expensive model to what I had my eye on and was promised that they would swap the double chainring for a triple.

When I went to buy the bike there were total denials. I was called a liar, bullied even though I threatened not to buy it and leave them with the $700 deposit. I was treated as if I knew nothing about bikes! They said to make the changeover would cost $1000 so I didn’t make the changeover I bought the bike and never went back there again.  

The bike is a lemon and I have spent over a $1000 to keep it running. “

Ouch! Horrible story.

“I have been riding for several years now and know a thing or two about bikes. I went to this store and was pretty much ignored by the sales staff. I waited and waited for someone to acknowledge my existence!

In the end I went up to the counter in the hope of getting some help, and even then no one approached me. After hanging around in the store for about 20 minutes, I gave up and left.

What really annoyed me, is that one of the sales staff was pretty much having a social chat with someone, as I heard snippets of the conversation as I left the store. I won’t be going back any time soon.”

Eeek! That one is even worse.

“I like to go into bike shops just to have a look around and ‘window’ shopping!  So, one Thursday night, I walked into the store. They have beautiful bikes with ‘hefty’ price tags too but the guys were so friendly and helpful. I was looking for a pair of Sunglasses at that time and they helped me out. Since then, I bought a few accessories from them and I’m still going back just to look around. They still remembered me even though I didn’t buy any significant items from them.”

Well that’s a nicer story.

“I came across this shop when I was doing training rides for the Ride to Conquer Cancer last year. They are always very helpful. They only have a small shop but I noticed that they treated everyone the same as soon as they walked in the door.

 I bought my road bike from them. They gave me good service.

They wentout their way to make sure my bike was perfect.

I fell down A LOT!!! ( ehm…cleats issues! ) So much so that I bent my back derailleur so many times and they had to keep adjusting it for me. They didn’t have to do this for me, but they did it anyway.”

And that last story is the other end of the scale.

So clearly there is are all sorts of bike stores out there, let’s find Sydney’s best stores for BikeGals.

Happy cycling!

BikeGal.com

April 29, 2013 00

Sorry it’s been all a bit quiet from BikeGal.com over the last week but I’ve been on holidays to Vanuatu. I had a revelation while I was on holidays… cycling = better balance. Now this may not seem like rocket science to you, but if you are like me and have never considered yourself to […]

Sorry it’s been all a bit quiet from BikeGal.com over the last week but I’ve been on holidays to Vanuatu.

I had a revelation while I was on holidays… cycling = better balance.

Now this may not seem like rocket science to you, but if you are like me and have never considered yourself to have great balance then cycling is a way to improve it.

Having cycled for a few years now fairly consistently, I was delighted to go on holidays and discover that I could attempt paddle boarding and get up first go without falling off.

Several years ago I attempted windsurfing and the experience was just awful.

Anyway, here is me (below left) about to get on the paddle board. Sadly my photographer lost interest in my experience (and probably went to have a margarita!) so there are no photos of me up on the board. But I can promise you, I got up and it was fun!

Getting onto the paddle board

My boyfriend scoffed at me when I said I wouldn’t be able to get up on the board. So yes, he was right and I was wrong. But I was still surprised at how much my balance has improved.

Have you discovered better balance with other activities thanks to cycling?

Happy cycling!

BikeGal.com

April 7, 2013 01

I decided once my cycling was up to scratch, my fitness had improved and I could deal with Sydney traffic, it was time to broaden my horizons. So I embarked on a cycling holiday through Vietnam but mostly in Cambodia. For anyone who has travelled in developing countries you will know what I mean – […]

BikeGal (AKA Rachael) cycling around Angkor Wat in Cambodia

I decided once my cycling was up to scratch, my fitness had improved and I could deal with Sydney traffic, it was time to broaden my horizons. So I embarked on a cycling holiday through Vietnam but mostly in Cambodia.

For anyone who has travelled in developing countries you will know what I mean – cycling in Cambodia made cycling in Sydney seemed like a breeze.

Cycling through the small towns was always interesting. It’s like word had spread before we got there that some crazy group of foreigners were passing through on bikes and everyone had come out to take a look.

I suppose for most people in the world, cycling is really just a mode of transport to move from point A to point B. Many local people looked at us as if we were mad, slightly confused or just a bit strange.  One woman asked me, “why would you?” She couldn’t understand why you would voluntarily want to do this.

Most days involved several hours of cycling but it was broken up with breaks, so nothing too difficult. Also most of the riding was pretty flat.

We had a mix of ages in the group from 20 through to mid 60s and everyone at different levels of fitness and cycling ability.

Road conditions were generally good – no gutters but sometimes it felt like we were riding on trails rather than a road!

Often along the road little kids would run out to greet you and expect you to slap their hand as you rode pass. They would giggle with absolute delight at this.

But by far, the highlight of the trip, was cycling around Angkor Wat (pictured above) – the UNESCO World Heritage listed temples.  While other tourists piled onto their buses, we lazily ambled along on our bikes and even managed to visit some temples that you could only get to on foot or on a bike.  It was the perfect way to visit the sites.

Coming home I realised how peaceful and orderly Sydney traffic is – unlike the craziness of Cambodia where you didn’t know who was going where or what was happening, yet everyone just seems to get along.

I would highly recommend a cycling trip for a holiday – it was a great mix of fitness, fun and site seeing.

Next week we return to cycling in Sydney topics…

Where in the world have you cycled?

Happy cycling!

BikeGal.com

March 22, 2013 00

Last week I had a really special night – Jono Fisher and his gang from Wake Up Sydney gave me a kindness award for being kind to women by helping them to get cycling with BikeGal.com! Here’s a link to the Q&A with me (thanks to my quick thinking boyfriend for recording it!). Wake Up […]

Last week I had a really special night – Jono Fisher and his gang from Wake Up Sydney gave me a kindness award for being kind to women by helping them to get cycling with BikeGal.com!

Here’s a link to the Q&A with me (thanks to my quick thinking boyfriend for recording it!).

Wake Up Sydney is a community of 12,000 people celebrating kindness and courage in Sydney and encouraging Sydneysiders to be kind to each other.

I spent 10 minutes on stage with the host of the event and Wake Up Sydney founder Jono Fisher talking about BikeGal.com. I really hope it inspires a few more women to give cycling a go.

On stage

The night was great. It started with a guided meditation which may sound odd, but when you have rushed there straight from work and have a million things rolling through your mind it’s not a bad way to start an event and get everyone in a good place. (Guided meditations before work meetings – wouldn’t that be cool?).

There was music performers, a great speaker called Steve Biddulph talking about his book which is all about raising girls (I’ll let you google that one).

Thanks Wake Up Sydney and thanks to City of Sydney for nominating me.

Here I am (in the middle) with my family and friends. We had a great night!

(L-R) Ginni Seton, Robyn, Chris and Rachael de Zylva, Sarah Nicita, Sarah Fernando, Mark Drinkwater

(L-R) Ginni Seton, Robyn, Chris and Rachael de Zylva, Sarah Nicita, Sarah Fernando, Mark Drinkwater

March 21, 2013 00

Another guest blogger!! Today’s blog comes from my gorgeous friend Sarah who is living in Kathmandu, Nepal at the moment. As she is riding a bike there I asked her to send me a blog about her experience. She is quite the writer! I love that she can still look glamourous while riding a bike […]

Another guest blogger!! Today’s blog comes from my gorgeous friend Sarah who is living in Kathmandu, Nepal at the moment. As she is riding a bike there I asked her to send me a blog about her experience. She is quite the writer!

I love that she can still look glamourous while riding a bike in Nepal.

If you would like to share your cycling adventures overseas or even your everyday travels – email me! info@bikegal.com with a photo of you and your bike. Tell us why you ride, where you like to ride.

Now… over to our guest blogger Sarah and her ode to Scott

I gaze lovingly at your tall, strong frame. To say that you have changed my life, opened new doors and blazed new paths is insulting in its understatement.

You protect me in this place of chaos by lifting me above the dust and debris. In a city where there are no road rules or traffic lights and lanes are merely a suggestion, you navigate me safely among the zooming and zig-zagging cars, motorbikes and pedestrians. In places where the city’s road widening project has turned the streets into something resembling a bomb site, you lead me lovingly over the piles of rubble and mud.

I used to be terrified of this place, but now, thanks to you, I feel right at home.

Sarah cycles the Ring Road, 27 km of paved road circling Kathmandu.

Last week, you whisked me away for a magical weekend in the hills surrounding Kathmandu, passing through rural villages where the children delightedly greeted us with “namastes” and doe-eyed cows and baby goats stared lazily at us. Bemused villagers raised their hands in greeting, wondering who this strange foreign couple were. We got down and dirty in the mud and splashed around in the bubbling brook, laughing at our sheer inhibition and wild abandon.

This month, we will travel to postcard perfect Pokhara where we will have an exhilarating time navigating the mountains surrounding gorgeous Lake Begnus together.

Scott, my dear American, my feelings for you are unconditional. If you ever get sick, I promise to take you to a place in Lazimpat where they will fix you up, as good as new.

Where Sarah takes Scott for bike repairs in Kathmandu, Nepal.

I love the way you feel under me. We fit together just so. You know exactly how to handle me and you know when to put the brakes on.

I will stick by you, through the monsoon and winter seasons. We have an amazing year ahead, Scott. I can’t wait to share my life with you here in Kathmandu.

March 9, 2013 5

So this morning I took my Mum cycling in Centennial Park. I’ve been suggesting this to her for a while, but today we actually did it. We were going to go last week but the weather was a bit yuk. She rode my flat bar commuter bike and I rode my road bike. Mum said […]

So this morning I took my Mum cycling in Centennial Park. I’ve been suggesting this to her for a while, but today we actually did it. We were going to go last week but the weather was a bit yuk.

She rode my flat bar commuter bike and I rode my road bike.

Mum said she hasn’t ridden in decades!

Mum

We had a few little incidents, mostly with stopping and she wasn’t used to the gears as she’s never ridden a bike with gears before. My brakes are also pretty strong.

In hindsight, I should have got her to practice starting and stopping first up.

But even with two falls (both when slowing down and trying to stop), she dusted herself off each time, smiled, got up and kept going! (my Mum is a legend).

I think she bruised her knee and scrapped her elbow, but nothing serious.

We did 3 laps and stopped for a coffee.

I’m super proud of her for doing this. As we all know cycling is not easy. And particularly as you get older you have a few more fears to fight.

She enjoyed it so much she tells me she’s going to come back again during the week for another ride.

This just proves that anyone can ride a bike – it doesn’t matter how old you are. It’s just a bit of practice and persisting with it. So get your Mum on a bike!!

(P.S. No I’m not adopted!! My Dad is from Sri Lanka, so I look more like him!).