One of Leonie’s earliest memories is of watching her father battle the elements in a road race in Healesville, Victoria when she was five.
Sitting in the back of the family car she remembers crying with her two sisters as the rain pelted down relentlessly on her Dad.
“I just remember sitting perched over the back seat just crying. My sisters and I were just saying ‘can’t we pick him up’. You know, now I know he was happy but you know as little girls we were going ‘poor Dad!’” a big smile crosses her face as she recalls her childhood memory.
Forty years on and her father’s love of cycling has rubbed off on the mother of two from Canberra, even if she did take a twenty year break.
“I sort of cycled on and off in my youth and I did a few triathlons but at 25 I gave it away. I said to myself ‘okay it’s time to get old and unfit’’. Sitting in a local coffee hotspot in Canberra talking about her how she got back into cycling at the age of 40, Leonie doesn’t look, or sound, like your typical 45 year old. She fits right in with the trendy, twenty-something crowd mulling over their coffees. She never got old and unfit.
“I turned 40 and I sort of said, ‘oh you know, I’d like to do some more cycling,’” she said.
“Some of my partner’s running buddies said the best thing to do is to ride to work because then you get the Ks in and it’s done. So my partner gave me this pair of knicks for my fortieth birthday and it was a real turning point.”
What started as a deal with herself to ride to work once turned into riding to work every Friday. And then every second day.
“Getting women into cycling, it’s as simple as getting them over that first hump” - Leonie
“It was really amazing how quickly you could kind of make that transformation,” Leonie recalls.
“It’s amazing how quickly you can go from saying I’ll just do this once to saying I’ll do this whenever I can”.
“Getting women into cycling, it’s as simple as getting them over that first hump,” she said.
While Leonie has been getting her kilometres up riding to and from work for the past five years the #mygoalrox ambassador program acted as the push she needed to get over that next hump; the transition from commuter to racer.
“I just looked at the #mygoalrox program and I thought, ‘that would be the thing that could get me to the next level,’” she said when asked why she choose to apply.
So what is the next level? Well,in 2015 Leonie has set herself the goal of competing in Amy’s Gran Fondo. An event held on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria in September. It’s an event that doubles as a mass participation event and a race. Leonie isn’t certain if she’ll be strong enough to race but either way she’ll be there flying the Roxcycl flag.
It was an event she desperately wanted to do in 2014 but logistics got in the way.
“I have written evidence of setting it as goal for this year but I kinda chickened out because, well, I’m not the best bike mechanic in the world.”
“The logistics of taking my bike apart, flying it to Melbourne, getting to the Great Ocean Road and reassembling it was just daunting,” she said.
"You never feel cleaner than the shower you have after you’ve sweated and been covered in dust, it’s just a great feeling" - Leonie
It’s a fear that many women just starting out in cycling share and it’s what we’re here to help with; mentoring, supporting and encouraging women to challenge themselves whether that is on, or off, the bike.
So what keeps Leonie motivated and on her bike?
“It just feels great. You never feel cleaner than the shower you have after you’ve sweated and been covered in dust, it’s just a great feeling,” she said.
“You just have to be competitive with people your own age. If I can inspire women in their 40s then thats a great thing.”
We’re looking forward to sharing Leonie’s journey with you as she works towards her goal of competing in Amy’s Gran Fondo in 2015. You never know, maybe she’ll teach you how to pack a bike along the way.