Nine intrepid women with 22 children between them – that is the team of Southland Masters women competing at the National Age Group track cycling championships from February 26 2013 in Invercargill.
The team members of Erin Criglington, Sam Kopae, Jacqui Dearlove, Marie Muhl, Kerry Cox, Kylea Gough, Nicola Stevens, Cherie Champion and Sonya Barton are all ordinary working mums and housewives fitting their cycling in around already hectic schedules.
Masters women track cycling in Southland started with an embryonic group several years ago set up by Dayle Cheatley (now the head coach for BikeNZ) and Dale Tye who is the Cycling Southland regional coaching coordinator. This WOW (women on wheels) group has continued and, with the Harrex corporate challenge, has been the foundation for most of the Masters Women team.
It’s amazing that five years ago there was no track racing at national level for women over 35! “We had to sit on the sidelines and watch everyone else spin round the boards”.
Masters women’s events (the 2000m individual pursuit and the 500m time trial) were first introduced to the National Championships in 2010. Since then – Southland women have won many national titles, medals and made and broken several national records.
This year sees the introduction of three additional events – the 500m team sprint, 5km scratch race and the kieren.
So why do these women do track cycling? They’ll tell you that it’s fun, it’s a very social sport and it keeps you fit!
And it’s a family thing – Marie and Kylea have daughters racing at the national champs in the U19 and U15 grades; Erin and Sam’s husbands are racing with the Masters men; Kylea and Nicola are sisters.
The team are hoping to inspire more Masters Women to take up competitive track cycling through their efforts at the national championships. There are only four other women coming to race at the champs from elsewhere in New Zealand (West Coast North Island and Otago) and the Southland team are desperate for more competition!
“It makes us train harder to get faster knowing that there are others out there”.
There are great opportunities for Masters Women to participate in competitive track cycling with the diverse range of events that are now available.
Erin and Jacqui are also looking one step ahead to October when they plan to travel to Manchester, UK and represent New Zealand in the UCI Masters world championships.