ACT News

ACT's Tour de Femme road race adds atmosphere and fun

Twenty five years ago its aim was to get women on bikes, now Canberra Cycling Club's Tour de Femme is adding layers of satisfaction for diverse riders.

"We try to encourage women to get on a bike and maybe get into racing," a spokeswoman and coach, Maryann Simpson, said.

"It has moved a little away from racing  into the atmosphere and fun-run on wheels concept," she said.

"The dynamics of the whole Tour de Femme has changed. One of the women this year rode in a beautiful spotted dress and her helmet looks like a lovely old hat, and she's riding an old bike.

"Anyone who rides a bike can actually win [the event]. When we had the elite in among the field, other riders didn't have a chance.  Someone who really wasn't into cycling last year won. A lady 50 years of age got second."

Kirsty Cummin, 42, won the general section of the tour on Sunday morning in 39 minutes and 42 seconds for the 24 kilometre course along Parkes Way.

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Having given up smoking, Ms Cummin took up road riding in 2004. She rides with a group who mix up road and mountain bike riding, and cover about 150 kilometres a week training 

The tour suits her. "It's a nice atmosphere and the event is fast and short," Ms Cummin said.

Mother-of-four Belinda Chamberlain won the elite section. Mrs Chamberlain returned to cycling in recent years, having raised her young children to a point where she could get out and about again on a bike.

"In the last 12 months I've been able to pick it up a bit at training," she said. "It is a great cycling community, amazing, and I have a great coach in Maryann [Simpson].

One of four riders in the Suzuki Brumbys team, Mrs Chamberlain broke from a bunch twice, and was never headed the second time.

Mrs Chamberlain's 13-year-old twins Chelsea and Jessica competed and Chelsea won her age group.

Ms Simpson said the field of 300 was down a little on previous years.

"People aren't spending money, it is as simple as that. It's like, 'I wouldn't go into a cycling event because it costs me money'."

This year's tour also included riders from age 7 to 11 for the second time, and was a fundraiser for the Heart Foundation. Brie Howe of Chifley won the children's section.