“I don’t have a husband anymore but I have four bikes and a cat,” Cathy Peel laughs.
This bubbly, middle-aged whirlwind of positivity from Kangaroo Point is quite possibly Brisbane’s version of a cycling Oprah.
Cathy loves her lippy as much as she loves smashing gender, age and body type stereotypes, all while riding her bikes at every opportunity.
She’s cycled through Cambodia and Vietnam wearing her bright ‘warrior lipstick’, helped establish Australia’s largest women’s-only mountain bike event and come Sunday May 7, she’ll line up in the Great Brisbane Bike Ride to take on the 75km course.
Women typically make up just 20% of entrants in cycling events like the Great Brisbane Bike Ride. Cathy wants to make that statistic a thing of the past.
But despite now oozing infectious confidence, Cathy’s cycling journey didn’t start auspiciously.
ortly after losing her house in the 2011 floods, Cathy was convinced by her then husband and a neighbour to buy an expensive and totally unsuitable road bike. Dubbed ‘the Orange Streak’, it unsurprisingly sat neglected for over a year.
“Every day I walked past it and every day it made me feel awful. Once again I had failed at something; once again I had disappointed my (then) husband; once again I had been frivolous with money.”
But joining Bicy-gals, a women’s only cycling introduction course run by Bicycle Queensland in 2014, proved to be the catalyst for setting Cathy on the path to becoming a cycling dynamo who will give anything a crack.
“I think women need to put on their ‘warrior lipstick’ and just give it a crack. One of the most important things for women is that we need to learn to back ourselves.
“There are lots of us out there who are not ‘Wonder Women’ and who are not athletes, not thin and not young, but we still get out there and have a go. (The women’s cycling community) Is a very supportive and lovely environment.”
Cathy says that women sometimes need to worry less about the details when it comes to cycling.
“I call myself a mad keen cyclist. I’m enthusiastic and a lot of the time my enthusiasm will overcome my skills set. I’ll give most things a crack now because I’ve got the basic skills.”
Just last week Cathy was out tearing up the mountain bike trails in the Daisy Hill Conservation Park in the early morning hours, getting set for her ‘Chicks in the Sticks’ mountain bike event in August before commuting to work on yet another bike. Come the weekends, her road bike gets some loving too.
Cathy’s infectious zest for life is currently helping to organise next year’s Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.
“I’m looking forward to being proud to be a Queenslander, to being part of a something much bigger that shows off the remarkable place that we live in.”
Cathy has learnt to let nothing faze her and she’s hellbent on inspiring others to ‘ride like they just don’t care’ – in between becoming best buds with Anna Meares.
“My big plan is that I’m going to meet Anna Meares and she’s going to realise that we’re going to be best friends and that we’re going to go on bike holidays together,” Cathy laughs.
“She’s going to think how on earth have I lived this long without this woman in my life. Fingers, toes and eye’s crossed, that’s the plan!”
But Cathy’s not a single goal sort of woman. She’s got a few more that’s she’s chasing down this year.
“I want to lean to ride without my hands on the handle bars, to learn how to do a proper wheelie and I want to ride a unicycle.”
See you on May 7 Cathy!