Esther Shortland is the Weekly Rider! Esther started riding in her late 40’s and now at 53 has completed rides she never thought were in reach or that I was capable of doing.
We love seeing people take on new challenges, and reading Ester's story it proves that you can achieve anything you put your mind to no matter how busy you are, or how much previous experience of riding you have.
Words and Images - Esther Shortland
Esther is a She Rides leader in Perth and delivers the She Rides 'basic' and 'together' programs to women in the South Perth area on behalf of Cycling Australia. "I have had a lot of enjoyment delivering this program and it has brought me a lot of joy and satisfaction watching how it changes women’s lives."
Ester works for Legal Aid WA and has 2 children and 4 grandchildren that keep her busy... she's also looking for new challenges all the time, "I am keen to start riding my MTB on trails and interested in participating in events like the Gibb River challenge or the Pipeline challenge but before any of that I need to become more confident on the MTB."
Name - Esther Shortland .... From - Perth
Your Dream Bike...
Hmmm... there is lots of choices out there and upgrading from a very old Hybrid bike to a road bike was interesting as there are so many choices. And to someone new to the world of cycling it was difficult, but I absolutely love my current bike a Pinarello limited edition Giro Italia Dogma 65.1 Think2.
This is my fourth road bike. When I made the decision to upgrade from my hybrid to a road bike it was a shock - skinny wheels, different brakes, and having a lighter bike took some time to get used to but upgrading to my current bike was like changing from a manual to an automatic car, such a smooth transition. I like to think that this is my forever bike, that’s what I tell myself and my husband Ray, but I have recently been looking at the Pinarello F8, now that is one sleek looking bike.
What is your favourite local ride?
When I started riding, my favourite local ride was the Shelley Loop which followings the Swan and Canning Rivers, and like most Perth cyclists, I ventured out and started riding the Perth River loop a well-known favourite local ride.
I love this ride but I vary it and go via Cottesloe, it travels along the Swan River, Cottesloe and Fremantle beaches with some bumps along the way. Now that it is lighter and warmer in the mornings it’s a great way to start the day and on days when I ride with friends and grab a good coffee at the end it is magic!
What is your current cycling goal?
That’s a good question! I finished Amy’s GrandFondo in September and have been ignoring the “what’s your next goal?” questions, while I happily ride around on my bike enjoying the scenery. But I recently signed up to participate in the Forrest GrapeRide in March 2017 in New Zealand so let the training begin!
I have heard the scenery is spectacular, the event itself is well organised with grape crushing at the end, there are multiple ride options and it is lots of fun. Depending on your ride options it will be either fast and furious or a fantastic scenic ride with good company along the way. Looking forward to taking part in this ride.
When I am on the bike I ...
I have never been an early morning person but like to think I have improved since I have been riding. For the first hour or so I remind myself that I do love riding as I am getting ready, now that it is getting lighter and warmer it is a bit easier but those 4 – 5 am starts can be tough!
But once I am on my bike, the world is aligned again and the magic happens! When I am on my bike I love the sense of freedom and enjoy the company of other people to chat with and share the ride, but I equally love riding solo and meeting people for a good coffee and chat at the end of the ride. For me, that is a perfect start to the day!
How did your love of bikes come about?
When I look back on my cycling journey it’s miracle that I have ended up loving riding. My journey first started when a friend asked me to go on a Mother’s Day ride - from that day riding took on a life of its own fuelled by Ray who was keen for both of us to start cycling! We went on a couple of 10 – 20km rides and then the 50Km ride happened!
Apparently it was only down the road a bit further than 20kms. I am not good with distance so didn’t think anything of it. It was the ride from Hell! For a new comer, riding with traffic was scary, I didn’t have enough water or food, the wrong clothing, it was hot, too many flies and the list goes on and to top it off I catapulted over a fence and ended up with 2 fractured ribs and lots of bruises towards the end of the ride. Ray was in his element happily riding in front BUT when he turned around to see me walking down the road with my helmet askew, ripped cycling clothes and my bike not working to ask me what happen – it’s a small miracle he is breathing today!
Somewhere between that first 50km ride, a few falls along the way and getting my first ‘proper’ road bike with clip less pedals, something aligned and everything clicked into place and I have never looked back.
Share a cycling memory
I have a lot of incredible cycling memories having travelled interstate and internationally to cycle but one memory that will always stay with me is the 7 Peaks challenge in Victoria in particular the Falls Creek ride.
To be honest I had no idea what I actually signed up to ride. Ray thought it would be a great cycling challenge for both of us to complete, he said they are hills but you climb at your own pace and you have 4 months to complete all 7 Peaks. He made it sound like an adventure and we could make it into a cycling holiday. I am not a strong climber but thought, at my own pace and with no time limits this sounds good. No mention of “mountains” and I hadn’t connected the word Peaks to mean more than hills. So off we went to Victoria over the Christmas/New Year break to join the Hells 500 group who had organised a few group rides over this period, the first one was Falls Creek a 30km climb! I was excited, over 50 cyclists turned up, a rider’s briefing outlined the climb the 15% pinches and false flats and that there would be support cars for water stops and it still hadn’t registered that I would be climbing a 30Km mountain! That all changed within the first 4kms!!
I was new to this whole cycling event thing and to say I wasn’t prepared was an understatement! But through the support of the Hells 500 crew and Ray, I slowly made my way up the mountain, during which time I would move between “wow this is amazing I am climbing up a mountain” to “what the hell am I doing”, what part of Peaks did I think was hills. The higher I climbed the bigger the WOW moments, the scenery was spectacular and the support was incredible. I was riding with a group of people who didn’t know me but supported and cheered me on to finish the ride. With 3kms to go 2 cyclists came down the mountain and rode with me and Ray to encourage me to keep going to the finish line, just amazing.
As soon as I saw the words ‘Welcome to Falls Creek’ I was getting off my bike, but I was encouraged to keep riding, and as I turned the corner there was a group of cyclist waiting to cheer me over the finish line. Words can’t describe how I felt, the sense of achievement and how incredibly humble I felt that these people who didn’t even know me would wait to cheer me over the finish line. And my Ray stayed with me the whole way even though I was grumpy, and he could have finished the climb at least an hour earlier. It is a very special cycling memory and one I will never forget.
I love to ride because …..
As a kid I didn’t have a bike and as an adult I purchased a hybrid bike in my 40’s but after a fall off the bike after a few rides, I developed a fear of riding. But fast forward to now and I have to thank my friend for asking me to go on a ride 4 years ago, who would have thought it would have lead me to where I am today. It has been quite a journey but it’s in my blood now, riding has changed my life both socially, mentally and physically. A ride reduces the stresses I have in my ‘normal life’, I have made some awesome friends riding and I have physically challenged myself to take part in events I never thought I was capable of doing.
If someone had said to me 4 years ago that I would enter events like Amy’s Grandfondo, 250 km Around the Bay in a Day, complete the 7 Peaks challenge, travel interstate and internationally to ride my bike on icon rides like Stevlio Pass and ride 160kms around Lake Taupo I would have said they were mad! .