Australian La Ridley Ambassador Hannah Geelan
24 year old Yarra Valley Physiotherapist and La Ridley Ambassador Hannah Geelan guest blogs for FE Sports talking about her cycling journey and how it has positively shaped her life and those around her.
My name is Hannah and I am honoured to have been chosen as one of five women from around the World to write blogs for La Ridley. La Ridley was created by Ridley Bikes Belgium, designed to create an online women’s community to increase Women’s representation on bikes. It contains how to videos, information on the daily lives of professional female cyclists, great locations to ride around the World even food and fashion! Its a great place for tips, tricks and information for female cyclists of all levels and backgrounds to become inspired and challenge themselves to achieve more than at first thought possible through a shared love of the bike.
How it all Began!
Originally from Tasmania I moved to Adelaide in 2012 to study and now work in the beautiful Yarra Valley, Victoria as a Physiotherapist. I begun my sporting life as a swimmer and runner, following in my older brothers’ footsteps starting triathlon at the age of 13 and enjoyed it immensely despite injury after injury meaning I never quite reached my full potential within the Triathlon World. After moving to Adelaide I was approached to join a Women’s Cycling Team taking on the National Road Series. This was an opportunity I could not turn down despite knowing I was going to be thrown in the deep end. I spent two years in this team before I realised I had lost the love for serious competition. Potential is nothing without a personal desire to win! This was a turning point and the moment I developed a passion about improving Women’s Cycling. Simultaneously, I developed a deep love for adventure riding on my roadie, becoming increasingly excited to ride gravel roads and exploring all the areas I had never had the chance to during my intense structured training.
Creating a Pathway
I originally kept racing albeit at a local level for my club Port Adelaide CC with the thought that I at least needed to keep racing myself in order to get more women racing and riding bikes. Despite doing really well that year, I knew it still wasn’t enough. It needed to be driven from the grass roots up. Step in Rapha Australia who approached myself and my partner Roey wanting me to begin a regular women’s ride. Perfect! After many hours of hard work, commitment, passion and enthusiasm as well as a few trial runs, the Rapha Women Adelaide rides begun officially in February 2015 and continue to this day even though I no longer reside in South Australia.
This original ride was aimed at intermediate riders. There were already plenty of women’s rides in Adelaide catering mostly for beginners and nervous newbies which meant there was a gap for the slightly more experienced riders looking for a faster and more challenging group to ride with. I had to create some prerequisites which were previous bunch experience and able to hold a speed of 28 km/h on the flats. Of course this led to a little confusion at first when riders did not meet this criteria but I was passionate about creating a clear pathway. You start at one of the many beginner groups, learn the ropes, practice what you’ve learnt then move into the intermediate and faster bunch rides. This improved the safety and bunch etiquette on our rides, something that is very important and I feel strongly about. My riders knew we rode with confidence and in a tight formation which was not only safer for the riders but also helped the image of cycling from an outsiders point of view.
My other passion is challenging the my comfort zone and pushing boundaries so after these dedicated weekly rides I created weekend adventure rides followed by leading the yearly Rapha Women’s 100 ride and the Tour Down Under Women’s rides. I also created a Women's retreat to inspire the regular ride participants to push their limits where we tackled some serious vertical inclines and punishing gravel roads in the stunning South Australian Fleurieu Peninsula.
A New Chapter
The Rapha Women's Adelaide crew was born out of a desire to get more Women riding bikes as well as challenging themselves to achieve something they previously thought would be impossible. It was created to help others but it helped me equally as much. Many of these women are some of my closest friends and I miss them dearly whilst I live in Victoria, chasing my Physiotherapy dreams. Under the guidance of Jo and Margaret Easson, these rides continue to grow and I couldn't be more proud of everyone involved. I left 15 months ago and it shows that I created something sustainable where leadership can be handed over and my original vision can carry on. Many of these women now compete across various cycling disciplines from road, mtb, cyclocross and track. For others, it was never about competition and they continue to enjoy the stunning Adelaide Hills together by bike.
Personally the biggest challenge I set for myself was a 335 km ride in Tassie in 2014. This was something I created to raise money for the Amy Gillett Foundation and Beyond Blue, both causes close to my heart. At 21 years of age and with 3900m of elevation I averaged 28.6 km/h and we raised over $5000. I had a team of seven Tasmanians including two other females with me and my incredible Mum and Step-Dad as support. Other than that I have continued to do rides that challenge and push me with highlights including the Brisbane Rapha Prestige, the Dirty Gran Fondo Wandong and the Dirty 130 in Wagga.
On my La Ridley profile it is written that I am a ‘Blogger-Commuter-Physio’ but to be honest I would say that I am more of a ‘Blogger-Adventurer-Physio’. Despite having one of the of the best cycling commutes in Australia running along the Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail my main aim with La Ridley is to get more Women understanding what they are capable of and that they can explore beyond the well-beaten track. Commuting certainly is a passion though, as I believe there is far too much reliance on motor vehicles in this modern day and age. I am a Physiotherapist after all so I understand how important it is to get people moving and active.
Being involved with La Ridley and FE Sports will provide me with both the tools and the platform to reach a bigger audience of people and spread a positive message about the joys that riding a bike can bring to all of us. With this opportunity I aim to continue to inspire more and more people, especially Women to ride and if they already do to ride more often and to challenge their perceptions of what they can do and what is possible. La Ridley aims to be a hub for Women Cyclists all over the world who have the same mind set, the same interests, the same struggles and the same joys. Women of all ages, sizes and cultures who come together because of their love of the bike and I am super excited to be a part of it all!
As women, we know how to #BeTough. So let’s go!