When runner Shari Aubrey decided to buy a bicycle it was love at first sight, her bicycle was bought, her lycra (Assos) matched and she was ready to go. But it wasn’t as simple as tacking onto a Beach Road bunch and going for it, this somewhat conservative women who was somewhat unsure of herself and her machinery, had no skill (her words). Shari knew that to venture beyond the safety of the bike path and to join a bunch ride that she needed to learn how to ride a bike, Shari calls it learning the etiquette and the right behaviour.
Learning how to stop properly would know doubt be advantageous to her cycling adventures.
Put yourself in Shari’s (bike) shoes and imagine riding the Beach Road bike path for the first time on your brand new Giant TCR ADVANCE 2 and hearing the sound of a well oiled bunch ride at first light. Bright and early; before 6am, because you’re embarrassed by having ‘no skill’, not even brave enough to wear your new matching Assos kit until you learn to clip in and out; without falling over. A beautiful Melbourne morning, seas are flat, the trees are silent and the sail boats are motoring their way out, beautiful conditions. Gears change together, calls are made to the bunch, sounds of cyclists freewheeling and social chatter. Seeing them through the trees and wishing you were with them, envious of the skill that you so clearly lack.
Shari, having gone from lazy to motivated in three and a half years, learnt to motivate herself from the first time that she made it 1.2km around the park without stopping to completing her first half marathon (Sir Chinmoy Half Marathon – Princess Park). A half marathon where it rained (that sharp painful rain hitting your skin) and it was cold, Shari recalls asking trainer Stef Hanson (yes, Ironman Stef Hanson), “when do you know if the race is cancelled.”
Stef Hanson replied, “runners don’t stop.”
Shari hasn’t stopped in those three and a half years since starting her training with Hanson. Healthy for Shari wasn’t just about doing exercise; it was about shifting a perception in her mind and that change in perception resulted in empowerment. We’re discussing a woman who used to eat one block of Cadbury’s a day and consider it okay. Not anymore; she now only consumes good chocolate from France and Italy.
Shari needed answers about cycling, she’s a women that asks a lot of questions, Stef Hanson made the comment on twitter, “the girl can bend an ear,” yes, she can. I spent a good three hours with her one Sunday afternoon and enjoyed each moment. Her face glows as mine did for the first time three years ago, she was back on a bike after not riding since she was about twelve years old.
That first ride is what Shari describes as magical, a nice moderate 26 degree’s, all was right with the world and the feeling of that first rush of air going down the first ‘big’ hill, she was hooked! Once a runner, she now describes herself as a cyclist even though she’s aiming for the New York City Marathon next year.
Shari also describes herself as tragic, although she doesn’t live by ALL the euro rules of cycling (she likes her socks short), her Assos kit does match her bike and although one of her biggest issues has been figuring out how to wear her hair, she isn’t a Barbie on wheels. Shari knows that asking questions about cycling is a woman’s ultimate power, it’s the only way we’re going to find out the answers we’re trying to find. It’s not all cut and dry.
Shari was honest with me, she was wriggling all over the place when she sat on the saddle that the bike came with, and consequently our discussions turned to vaginas, waxing and knicks. Bicycles Inc had her sorted, looked after the budding cyclist and set her on the right path (and saddle), Shari is a women that is dreadfully insulted that saddle manufacture’s put the word ‘lady’ on the saddle, they don’t put ‘men’ on the saddle now do they. Don’t get her started on the topic of pink
Shari isn’t without cycling pedigree, her father raced the Melbourne to Warrnambool back in the day and the fire in her eyes tells me that given enough encouragement she could ride the Melbourne to Warrnambool one day as well.
Shari is riding Beach Road in a bunch now, not the bike path from where she gazed at the cyclists with those feeling of envy; she found the group Lead Out Cycling, run by Conan Daley. A cycling group for all levels, all stages and most importantly all levels of confidence. Shari told me that she cried her way down a hill (it was really steep, not just a little one, we’re talking MASSIVE) one morning in the pitch dark with the crew from Lead Out Cycling; she knows it’s an irrational fear, but even with her lights she was scared. Understandably so, who knows what’s at the bottom of the hill when it’s pitch black? The people she rides with took her to the bottom safely and the tears were dried after numerous repeats, the feeling of putting that irrational fear back in its place reinforced the empowerment that Shari knows comes with control.
She’s dabbled with triathlon, completing the Omara Women’s Triathlon (2011) and Shari was happy with her overall time and effort. And the first time you do anything there should be a feeling of relief and happiness, Shari know’s that anxious feeling of coming out of the water for the first time in a triathlon and know’s how to combat it next time around.
In her future there will be bigger goals, her eyes are firmly set on the 70km ride as part of the Mt Baw Baw Challenge, my comment to her was, and “you know you can do more.” But Shari is a woman who knows how to space out her goals; she doesn’t seem to want to go through them too quickly. Shari has mentioned the Alpine Classics in 2013 whilst I suggested racing next season; her love for cycling is clearly coming through the genetics, although a late starter at 37 Shari is going places quickly.
From being to scared to wear Assos kit to being a real cyclist, Shari is a women that I can relate to, our stories are not that different and hearing hers bought a smile to my day and a remembrance of where I once started.
Do you have a similar take on Shari’s story or was your’s completely different? I’d love to hear it!
___Now this isn’t about advertising Shari’s business but she gave me some French Chocolate Easter Eggs and I know some of the women (and men) who read SheRides Cycling are addicted to Chocolate so here’s the link. Yummy Yum Yum! You deserve something truly special this year, for all your hard work and you’re one of our twitter followers I know you worked super hard in supporting us and others! Here’s the link! Cocoa Kiss