Amber Johnson is the Weekly Rider! She's a Lover of hypotheticals, riding her bike, a quality pun, lifting heavy things and having a laugh with good mates.
Amber is a strength and conditioning coach and owner at First Wave Fitness. She specialises in functional movement and is a contributor to Witsup.com
We talk to Amber about why she loves to ride...
Name: Amber Johnson
Where do you live: Melbourne / Victoria
Has to be my beautiful Trinity Advanced Pro 0! It looks like and rides like an absolute weapon with it’s Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 11-speed electronic componentry, it’s clearly far too much bike for me, that I’m almost certain it’s doing most of the work! After setting it up on the GURU fit system, it honestly feels unbelievably comfortable and effortless to turn it over on the long and easy or the threshold efforts. (Though they’re never easy…!)
What is your favourite local ride
Ohhh……. I’m torn here…. I’m a big fan of the Melbourne to Portsea return. I absolutely love the coastal road from Mornington with the rolling hills and the ocean by your side. Beautiful views and a really peaceful ride.
But, lately I have been spending some time in the hills and loving it! Take me to the Dandenongs and I’m a happy girl, nice long climbs and the reward of some amazing descents through the tree lined roads. It’s a great place to go exploring.
What is your current cycling goal
This year for me is all about becoming a better all-round cyclist. I’ve spent the last couple of years banking the km’s and getting used to time on the bike. This year, it’s about getting stronger; Hills, Bunch Rides and pushing higher thresholds. I’m not racing until late in the year and I’d like to see myself have a decent crack at shaving down my time. I’m also pretty keen to get involved in the time trial series.
When I am on the bike I....
Love to get someone engrossed in the logistics of a hypothetical and then shout breakaway and challenge them to a sprint finish.
How did your love of bikes come about?
My Dad. I’m from a riding family and I still remember the days when dad would take me out on beach road and we’d ride to Black Rock which felt like an eternity away and I’d think I was absolutely flying at 23kph! It’s funny how quickly you can forget where you started.
I remember the weekend before my first ironman, taking a Liv Giant beginners ride and riding next to a lady who hadn’t ridden further than a 20k round trip to work. She was struggling to keep up with the pack and I dropped back with her as we set a goal to make it to Black Rock roundabout. It was great to see how proud she was to have made it there and back and for me, when you can get so lost in the crazy km’s and hitting the numbers of training it’s nice to check in with how far you’ve come.
Share a cycling memory
One of my most standout rides, would have to be in Maui around the volcano, but probably not for the reasons you would think just hearing that…. A couple of days prior whilst riding in Kona on the Queen K HWY (another stand out ride) I took a massive dive into the bitumen as my front tyre blew out on a decent at 55kph, as my TT started fishtailing in the bunch I thought to myself, “I’ve got this, I’ve got this” until I realised, “I don’t have this!” and face planted into the road where my teeth took the brunt of the impact, snapping off half the bottom of my front teeth. With this, went the front end of my TT also… Almost as upsetting.
A friend had lent me their bike to take with me to Maui so I could ride this volcano I’d heard so much about. Setting off with a mate and my loan bike I was understandably a little rattled post the crash. He assured me with a “I’ve checked the elevation and it’s not that bad you’ll be sweet” so off we set. Not far into the ride I quickly became aware that my mate had underestimated the hills and given I was riding a men’s large frame (or what felt like a bus) and had a men’s saddle I quickly grew uncomfortable. The hills just kept on coming and the descents were sharp and unforgiving with no shoulder to the road. We’d been pushing into a headwind and the heavens had opened up.
Two hours in, I needed to pull over to give myself a little pep talk. I pulled out my phone as I contemplated my options. There was no going back that way as I’d have to do that all again, there was no phone reception so there was no option to be saved and I looked up at my mate hopelessly and he said, “that’s the worst of it done, it’s not that bad from here”. I pulled myself together and got back on the bike. As we turned the corner we were greeted by a 22% sharp climb in the rain, still no shoulder to the road and my back wheel just started spinning! I may have let out an audible scream!
It was a 4hr epic of hills, headwinds and 2.5hrs of pouring rain on a hideously uncomfortable bike but strangely I look back on that day so fondly as one of the best days on the bike.
I love to ride because....
For me, nothing really compares to the feeling of being out on the bike, once the wheels start spinning it's like everything else outside of that moment just melts away. For the next couple of hours, it's just you and your bike and nothing else matters. When you ride, each ride challenges you in a different way and makes you a stronger rider for the next. Melbourne has such an amazing cycling culture and community, everyone bonds together to help push you, challenge you, make you work, or carry you home when you've got nothing left to give. I've made some amazing friends from riding and the weekends wouldn't feel right without all the lycra, lattes and laughs
Amber is supported by Giant South Yarra and is a Liv Australia Ambassador