14th March 2018
#WOMENDURANCE | 5 | KIM
We've reach the final day in our 5 days of #womendurance blog series. This is the last of a 5 post blog series which turned out to be highly thought-provoking, moving, inspiring and also addressed some very current issues regarding riding, adventuring and women in modern life.
We've read about their awesome adventures and continent-crushing rides across the World, and we've seen the bicycles that have carried them through these arduous environments. But what is most striking from each of the 5 entries is how 'Adventure Cycling' has helped each woman in a different way to deal with: PTSD, Abusive relationships, the pressures of modern life, and burn-out.
This post is from Kim Wright who left her high pressure job as a business executive in Australia, visited us to get a Bokeh bike-fit and then headed off down the entire length of South America!
Her adventures and incredible photographs kept us glued to her social media for months!
...the body has an amazing ability to respond to everything that you throw at it, it is only your mind and imagination that hold you back. I focused on a single day at a time, didn’t waste energy worrying about what I couldn’t control...
ALL ACCOMPANYING IMAGES COURTESY OF KIM. @INSTAKIMSW
1. Please describe your Mason bike.
Mason Bokeh Force X1 with 700c Hunt Gravel Disc wheels in element grey. I was in love with this bike from the moment I first saw it. At the time I was looking to buy a bike to take me across South America, from Cartagena in Colombia to Ushuaia in Argentina and an incredible varied amount of terrain in between. I put on some durable Schwalbe Marathon tires and purchased an Apidura saddle bag. ‘Mason’ is an incredibly comfortable ride in all conditions and after five and a half months and over 12,000km I couldn’t have chosen a better bike for my adventure.
2. Why did you first get into cycling and what drives you to do the type of riding that you do?
A bit over 2 years ago, I was a stressed out, slightly overweight executive, when a friend convinced me to join a beginner triathlon program in Australia to get me back in to fitness and relieve some stress. As part of this program I purchased my very first road bike. From the first time I rode my bike, I loved it. It reminded me of when I was a kid, wind in your face, freedom and fun.
My longest cycle prior to the tour was 80km, I had never ridden multiple days, barely managed any climbing and had mostly ridden in the safe confines of a park rather than venture out on the roads in Sydney. Whilst a little apprehensive of what lay ahead I buried myself in planning the trip of a lifetime.
The tri program was an incredibly supportive group of everyday women challenging themselves to complete their first triathlon and mostly overcoming fear of something…be it cycling, riding clipped in, riding in traffic, ocean swimming or running. Following completion of our goal event the group formed a triathlon club and remained training together gaining greater confidence and picking slightly bigger goals gently coaxed by our supportive coaches.
A year later I was out Christmas shopping when I noticed a book titled Epic Bike Rides of the World by Lonely Planet. Having recently left my job I was looking for a little bit of adventure and the idea of combining travel and cycling really appealed. By New Year’s day I had signed myself up for my first cycle tour, which happened to be one of the longest commercial cycle tours available at five and a half months. It was to cycle the entire length of South America. To be honest I had no idea what I had signed myself up for. My longest cycle prior to the tour was 80km, I had never ridden multiple days, barely managed any climbing and had mostly ridden in the safe confines of a park rather than venture out on the roads in Sydney. Whilst a little apprehensive of what lay ahead I buried myself in planning the trip of a lifetime.
It has been four months since completing the trip, and what can I say, wow what an experience! There were certainly a lot of first’s, longest ride, highest altitude, longest time on bike, all terrain conditions, off road, wind, ice, rain, heat, and every road condition you could imagine.
...the body has an amazing ability to respond to everything that you throw at it, it is only your mind and imagination that hold you back. I focussed on a single day at a time, didn’t waste energy worrying about what I couldn’t control...
It was an amazingly rich travel experience through spectacular landscapes, from the steep mountains of Colombia, cycling the Pan American Highway down the coast in Peru, high altitude in Peruvian Andes, crossing the Bolivian Salt Flats (Salar de Uyuni), meandering through Argentinian wine country, and cycling the Carretera Austral through the amazing Patagonia landscapes of Chile.
The journey was spectacular but certainly not always easy, adjusting to long days on the bike, all weather conditions, cycling in some of the busiest cities in the world, challenging terrain, high altitude and simply backing up day after day. But what I did learn is the body has an amazing ability to respond to everything that you throw at it, it is only your mind and imagination that hold you back. I focussed on a single day at a time, didn’t waste energy worrying about what I couldn’t control, like road conditions, traffic and weather, and made sure I took the time to take in my surroundings. Sometimes the toughest days on the bike were the most rewarding, although it did not stop me from howling a few profanities into the wind from time to time. Before you realise it, you have cycled the length of a continent.
3. We are noticing more and more Women riding ultra-endurance races and expeditions, we've recently seen female Mason riders heading off all over the world and competing in very testing rides. Do you think more women are now doing these rides, or is it that we are just noticing them more?
I think it is probably a little bit of both. I think that there are certainly more adventure orientated races that sit on the race calendar these days than say 10 or 15 years ago. The development of new events such as cyclocross all give greater profile to a more adventure orientated side of cycling. Cycling in Australia has also gained more popularity and profile over the years and this has brought more people including women into the sport both competitively and socially. Women have always participated in endurance events so it is a natural extension to see women participating in cycle endurance events as the sport grows in size and profile.
4. 'Adventure Riding' and 'Bike Packing' seems to be exploding right now, many riders are discovering what lies either side of the roads that they have been riding for years! I'm often encouraging people to head out into the unknown, get a bit lost and 'discover their inner caveman/woman'! But our lives are increasingly busy and a proper adventure needs time, so how do you manage to fit your essential riding into your busy lives?
Adventure is a big part of why I love cycling. The bike provides the means to get off the beaten track and discover new places and for me to get in touch with nature and challenge myself. It can be somewhat difficult to juggle work and family commitments with getting time on the bike. But even if it is just a weekend, there is great scope for exploring places close to home. In my case, I have taken a sabbatical from work, so am lucky enough to be able to fit more adventure into my life. Whilst cycling in South America I was blown away by the families we met undertaking unsupported cycling tours with their children.
5. Describe that 'Take your breath away moment' that you have experienced when riding, racing or adventuring.
Certainly cycling across the Bolivian salt flats (Solar de Uyuni) was a highlight. It some ways it felt a bit surreal. Flat and white for as far as the eye can see. A close second, would have to be cycling the Carretara Austral through the snow capped peaks and lakes of the Patagonia landscape in Spring with the wildflowers blooming.
6. Modern life puts all sorts of pressures on us, riding is undoubtedly good for us physically but can you describe how it helps you mentally? Would you mind sharing something in particular that riding has helped you through or helped shape things for the better?
Cycling is a kind of mediation for me, my time out. When I ride I am focussed in that moment, the bike, the road, the weather, my body, the surroundings without the constant interruptions of daily work and life. This brings a kind of peace that makes me feel grounded .
Now...she is off again "I am off overseas again next week for another 6 months and bringing ‘Mason’ with me. Not a full end to end ride but hoping to explore France and a little of Italy with some time for hiking and a side trip to Canada on my way home. Life much more on the adventure side these days!" Good luck Kim, we are with you all the way!
At the start of this series we wanted to showcase the impressive endeavours of 5 MASON riders. This we have most certainly achieved.
We've seen the strong response from the MASON community and shared to a wide audience too. And it's with great pride that we can say, with certainty, that this transcendent blog series has inspired people to stop thinking, stop waiting, and to get out on that big adventure; it has helped some to overcome mental barriers and climb back on a bike. It's certainly inspired everyone at MASON.