With a hectic schedule as a mum-of-three, associate at Purcell Taylor Lawyers and a member of numerous committees; Lucia Taylor’s cycling is something that she uses to de-stress and claim for herself. Until late last year, she hadn’t been on a bike since she was 18, but now just try to get her off it – Lucia rides four times a week with various groups, and is gearing up to do her first time trial at the weekend at Pallarenda, followed by some longer iconic rides later this year. We caught up with her to find out how she juggles it all, what she gets out of ‘bike time’, and her tips for others just starting to push the pedal.
“I’ve had a lot of years of looking after the kids – and there are still some years to go – but I decided that I just want to do something for myself. And riding was that thing”
How long have you been riding? Apart from riding to school and growing up in Townsville when we rode everywhere; I haven’t got on a bike since I was 18. It was with the encouragement of my good friend Kirsteen Masson I bought a bike about 12 months ago, and then I finally started riding in September last year – it took me a while to build up the confidence to go out on the road.
What do you enjoy about it? It’s one of the few exercises I can do with my injury. I have a neck problem (a bulging disc) so I’m not allowed to run or do impact exercises. So, apart from the fact that I’m not sore all the time, it’s also very social – you can exercise and talk at the same time (laughs).
“When do you have a busy life, it’s so fantastic to be able to switch off your mind and, for me, it gives me a bit more clarity of thought.”
Have you made new friends through the sport? Yes, I’ve met lots of interesting women and quite a few friendships have developed. There are people who I knew years ago and I’ve reconnected with them as well 20 or 30 years later. Some of the ladies I’ve met in the Top Brand Ladies Beginners’ group have branched off to do another couple of rides throughout the week. I try to do about four in total a week.
What are some of your favourite routes around Townsville? I really enjoy the ride to the Dam – it’s a really nice one, we also go to Oak Valley and North Shore.
What ride would you suggest for beginners? The ride along Charters Towers Road out to The Willows early in the morning is great. Morning is really the only time I ride, otherwise there’s too much traffic.
Where to do want to take your riding? I recently did my first triathlon in Mooloolaba, and I have registered for the Townsville to Cairns Bike Ride. I would really like to do Banish the Black Dog in May, but I haven’t registered yet. I’m planning to do my first individual time trial [cyclists race alone against the clock] this Sunday at Pallarenda – I like the idea of a short sprint because I’ve got quite powerful legs.
How do you feel about competing? Do you get nervous? Yes, I get nervous, of course – it’s something new. Mooloolaba made me realised how competitive these events get – I think I’d forgotten as I’ve been so immersed in my childbearing years! My eldest is 17 and my youngest is 10, so I’ve had a lot of years of looking after the kids – and there are still some years to go – but I decided that I just want to do something for myself. And riding was that thing.
“You’ll be surprised by how many amazing people you meet and how much fun you have – you’re outside in one of the most beautiful places in the world”
Does it fit in well with the kids? It does being early mornings – you can get home in time to get them organised. I don’t work in the office on Tuesday and Wednesdays so I’m less rushed and can stay a bit longer and socialise and find out all the news! It’s really good as well because I’m not sore all the time – when I was doing PT and boxing I was literally dragging my feet and was exhausted all the time. As you get a bit older it gets harder to recover. Whereas with the four rides a week you can clock up 200km and not be feeling really sore. Plus I do a lot of things outside work too, so there are often committee meetings in the evening.
What sort of committees are you involved with? I’m quite active in the Zonta Club of Townsville Metro. I’ve been in that club for 14 years; I’m on the Brother’s Rugby Union Committee, and I’ve got a son playing junior rugby league, but I’m not involved in the committee – my husband’s the manager. We’re involved in the schools and I teach debating, I’m the chair of the Townsville Collaborative Law Practice Group, and I’ve just recently become involved in Headspace, which is about supporting young people (aged 12-25) with mental health concerns and raising awareness. Plus I obviously do my work stuff as well.
Wow, so do you find that cycling is a good stress management outlet? It’s a great de-stressor for me. I bought a cycling magazine the other day and there was an article about why people cycle, but it was also about the whole mindfulness aspect because – when you’re cycling – you can’t not have your mind on what you’re doing: You can’t let your mind wander to work worries or the to-do list because you’re just concentrating on cycling and what’s around you. I think if you ever do switch off, even for a minute, that’s when things can happen. So, in a way, it’s forced mindfulness and being present in the moment. When do you have a busy life, it’s so fantastic to be able to switch off your mind and, for me, it gives me a bit more clarity of thought.
Why do you think more women are being drawn to cycling? I think a lot of it has to do with being part of a community. From what I can see, a lot of women who are getting into cycling are aged 40 to 45, but there are a lot who are over 50 and are very fit women. Unlike our mothers, and our grandmothers, we are keeping fit and doing things that they never would have dreamed of. A lot of the appeal is the friendship, but it’s also the motivation because there are so many inspirational women giving it a go – they are not all going out to compete in big events. I think it’s important because, when you are in your 40s, your hormones go crazy again and exercise is a good leveller.
Any tips for newbies? I think the most important thing is to ride safely and be aware of the riders around you. If you’re not comfortable in a bunch ride, don’t ride with them – you need to feel comfortable and safe. If you’re just starting out, stick at the back of a beginners’ group and watch everyone until you’re confident enough and know the rules. Also, get good knicks that fit properly!
Last words? Riding is one of those things that you can do for your entire life, and it’s a sport for the whole family. My youngest son now comes out riding with me and wants to get into triathlons. Riding is a community and I’ve met people that I probably wouldn’t have in any other context. You’ll be surprised by how many amazing people you meet and how much fun you have – you’re outside in one of the most beautiful places in the world.
Check out the skills sessions and social rides that are being run as part of the Women in Cycling Series. The bike shops also run regular rides. For ladies only, there’s the Top Brand Ladies Beginners’ Ride every Wednesday morning at 5.30am, or Liv Cycling Australia’s 5am Ladies Ride for those who’d like an earlier start. There’s also a mixed group on Friday mornings from Top Brand that sits at a steady 30km/h and heads for coffee afterwards.