#INTERNATIONAL MOTHER’S DAY
SPECIAL EDITION FEATURING A MOTHER WHO RIDES A CYCLE
Helen Dominish is a Cycling Mom from Adelaide, Australia (they say ‘Mum’ in Australia). Helen has formed a local community of cyclists and frequently organizes group rides for the members exploring Australian rail trails, bike paths and off-road tracks. Her group on Facebook is called ‘The Uncool Cycling Club’ and is positioned as an ideal club for those who like to pedal slow, seek fun, friendships and discover new places on a bicycle and stay healthy.
Helen and her husband Derek, officially record their cycling adventures in a blog uncoolcyclingclub.com where new experiences get published every fortnight.
Why this name ‘Uncool’?
I guess I see myself as Uncool (not very cool or trendy) and I was wanting to connect with other people who love to ride their bicycles but may not be able to keep up with some of the faster cycling clubs.
Our group is about supporting people who have persevered beyond the beginner stage of cycling but who may (like me) never be particularly fast or strong.
Apart from running our cycling group, I also have a blog where I try to spread the word about wonderful cycling adventures in Australia.
Your Hat made you more popular?
Yes, well my hat is not for everyone, but I wouldn’t be without it. I don’t wear it for faster rides on bitumen, but it’s fabulous for protecting your skin on days when you’re out on a rail trail or cycling through wineries. The other good thing about my cycling hat is it’s cheap and easy to make: DIY – How to make a Cycling Hat
Rails Trails are your Specialty?
I think rail trails really helped me to get hooked on cycling. They’re a great way of getting out in the country side and away from traffic. Rail trails are definitely accessible for a wide range of cyclists because of the easy gradients.
Which is your favorite Trail?
Well that’s a tricky one as I love them all, but perhaps my personal favourite is the Mawson Trail, which is a South Australian adventure trail stretching 900 kilometres from Adelaide to Blinman in the Flinders Ranges.
Recently the Uncool Cycling Club rode on the Coast to Vines Rail Trail to McLaren Vale, south of Adelaide, and that was very beautiful too.
Derek supports you in your cycling activities?
Definitely. Derek enjoys short bicycle rides of up to twenty kilometres, but that’s enough for him. During our recent 12-month trip around Australia, Derek supported me to do lots of exciting solo rides by driving me to the start point and keeping track of my progress.
Have you ever had any trouble on your solo rides?
Luckily the only time anything has ever gone wrong was when I got lost on the Munda Biddi Trail near Dwelling up in Western Australia. Derek was just on his way to the police station to report me as missing when I finally turned up in town.
Your cycling group has grown over a period? (in terms of participation)
The group has grown to over 200 members, of which up to 40 or 50 would participate several times a year. Quite a few of our members come on group rides almost every week. Some members of the group live in other states but find it interesting to follow our activities.
But I’m not really concerned about the size of the group. What I’m really proud of is that together we’ve created a great environment for friendship and supporting each other in the joy of cycling.
Your recommendation of best trails in Australia for tourist and what they can look forward to?
For ordinary cycling tourists, I would recommend trying any of our rail trails. Rail Trails Australia https://www.railtrails.org.au/ is a really useful site. Another great reference for bike rides all around Australia is the maps page on Bike Trail Blog https://biketrail.blog/maps/
I would particularly recommend the Riesling Trail in South Australia, for its variety of vineyard and farming scenery, as well as it’s history,
the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail in Victoria, also for its variety of scenery,
and the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail, for those who like a natural, dirt track experience, with some lovely country towns dotted along the way.
Australia is naturally gifted with great coastal routes, which ones do you suggest for visitors?
While there are many wonderful coastal trails in Australia, two that I would particularly recommend for ease of access and beautiful views are the Encounter Bikeway, just an hour south of Adelaide in South Australia
and the Perth Coastal Ride from Fremantle to Burns Beach in Western Australia.
Another fabulous coastal ride, although not so easily accessible, is the Esperance Great Ocean Trail, also in Western Australia.
Which bicycle type is ideal to enjoy these routes?
While these three are accessible by road bike, I would probably recommend a hybrid for comfort and convenience.
Lastly, soon we will be celebrating Mother’s Day. I believe that your sons still ride with you even though they are in their 20’s?
Yes, for me, cycling has been a wonderful way to connect with my sons. They seem to really enjoy the adventures that I come up with and it’s a great way to share nature, relax and chat as you go.
Ways to connect with Helen Dominish:
Author: Vijay Malhotra, Mumbai