Category Archives: Cycling

My New Love. Womens Road Cycling.

For a longest time hiking was my passion! Of course it still is but I like gritty hikes, mountain hikes, wild hikes and I like my hikes to be long! One of the greatest things I’ve ever done was to hike the 800kms of the Camino de Santiago. In both Sydney and Melbourne hiking and getting my heart rate up was an easy, fun adventure to find. I grew up amongst hills and National Parks are never far away. Living in The Netherlands not so much! Sure the woods are across the road and I adore them. But it’s flat here. Dead flat. And flat is not such hard work gritty work and I kinda miss that. Each day that I run on my #runstreak I’m getting stronger and it’s harder to get the heart rate going in these flatlands when hiking or walking. I can’t run long fast runs each day, my body would collapse. I am also getting to know the trails from my from front door. I know them back to front, I need to explore further. I had an itch. I needed something. Some sort of wildness. A new hobby. Enter womens road cycling.

Now you’ve probably heard of, know of one or have seen the rise of the MAMIL (middle-aged man in lycra). I’m married to one. Although he has been cycling longer than I’ve known him so technically he grew into his MAMIL’ness. I am the stereotype MAWIL! Yep, I have gone the full monty, become lycra obsessed in my middle age! And I love it. The adventures I’m having from the front door are taming my itch for wildness in a way that hiking simply can’t here. I need a whole day for a hike here to feel remotely adventurous and to feel like I’ve done some hard work. I can get that in an hour on my bike. Or I can get it doing a tip run! No joke. The other day we had to do a declutter of the garage (to built bike storage) and we moved bricks and old building supplies to the tip. Tips have changed these days. There is a recycling  skip and purpose for everything! I was most impressed. And I loved the labourer’s work of carrying the junk. It crossed my mind that I’d renovate simply to carry stuff to a skip to feel strong.

My friend was laughing at me the other day and said ‘I feel like you have a new boyfriend, I’ve never seen the hubby feature so much on your Instagram page’! To which I replied ‘I do, but it’s not him it’s the bike’! Ha seriously my bike is like a new lover. We just want to hang out. I count down the time until we get to be together, there’s a yearning and I feel a bit sad as I get nearer to my street knowing the ride is just about over. Husband isn’t jealous, has been awesome really. A new cyclist needs an experienced one to ask all the questions. If you have any shoot them through, I’ll ask him for you. He helped me get started much faster than I could’ve without him. He’s a patient teacher and as I’ve learnt it’s not just about being able to ride a bike.

A few things I’ve learnt:

  • Cyclists don’t wear undies under their bib shorts. No exceptions, no undies, they cause chafe. And no one wants chafe. No one.
  • Go to the toilet first! Bib shorts (that is shorts as above with straps attached that go over your shoulder, a bit like an all in one) sit under your top (jersey) so it is a palaver if you have to stop to go. Jersey fully off first to get shorts off! This looks like toileting in a bra with with your shorts at your knees.
  • Embrace gear. I always try to make do as long as I can but there is no way you can ride a road bike in shorts without good padding. And no way secondhand are an option … the no undie thing remember.  It’s summer so I bought a helmet, bib shorts, jerseys, thermal under top, vest windproof jacket, long socks, fingerless gloves and shoes to start with. I’ll have to build up as the seasons change. Just check where you buy from, are their supply chains transparent, sustainable?
  • There is quite a degree of thinking and coordination required to turn a corner. ‘Is it this leg that’s raised or the other one?’ Hint … it’s the one to the corner you’re turning. That way the raised leg is further from the ground you’re leaning into. Sounds confusing right? It is. Confusing to write, confusing to do. Working out opposites is challenging when you’re learning and trying not to fall. You get there though. Just don’t take corners fast. Don’t let it worry you if you’re starting, you’ll be fine. I’m coping.
  • Cleats. These are the clips you lock your shoes into. Honestly I’d given no thought to these! I rode a week without to get the feel and then I decided to give them ago. The best advice I can give is to practice on a stationary trainer and do go with a patient teacher the first and second time. It’s a practice thing. And clip out early. If you see a stop or a crossing – get a foot out early. In the moment it’s hard to think fast when you’re not experienced. There are cleats you can buy that are easier to clip our of, I have them and they have already saved me from falling.
  • #HOWWELIV #LIVCOMMITED #LIVFORWARD get a picture here! LIV. Liv is a company dedicated to the promotion of and support of womens cycling. That makes me proud. I would have ridden a LIV bike if I could have, but bikes here are sold out everywhere! Everywhere. It took three attempts for me to get a bike in Europe. I follow @livcycling on Instagram and I love it. It’s like when you start gardening right you’re going to follow gardeners. Follow riders! There is a whole world of women’s cycling out there and it’s wild.
  • I have a new found love of scenery shots with bikes in them. I get it. I get the feeling of riding to where you are. And I love that there are women of all ages visible on their bikes. I want to contribute to that.
  • Also hormones, riding is a producer of the good ones. Dealing with the peri-meno is far easier with a strong army of the good hormones in the mix.
  • And personally I’m better with a range of hobbies. For instance there was a time when I wrote where it would take over my head and all my time. Eventually it becomes too much and I end up in a rabbit hole. Now, I can write and step away into one of my other hobbies or challenges and there is some space. Space keeps writing sustainable for me. Adding cycling to my hobbies is one of my best leaps. Going for a cycle, spinning my legs, getting the blood flowing and my mind clearing with every spin is a great creator of space. I might get addicted.
  • Oh and I love the sound of the shoes as they tap tap on the floors. They’re adventurer shoes. Tap, Tap and then click, click into my bike and I’m off.

I’ve ride with with hubby and I ride on my own (lots). Sometimes if we want to do things we have to be prepared to go solo. You could spend your life waiting for someone else. We’ve popped the bikes on the car and taken them to Belgium for a weekend of hill riding. Although cycling on actual roads where there aren’t paths or designated bike lanes does add a degree of ‘what the hell am I doing, I’ve got four kids back at camp’. In Holland it feels secure with so many designated bike paths and drivers who are ‘bike’ aware. Would I have taken this up in Aussie? I’m not sure. But then I would have been able to hike hard so I wouldn’t have needed it. I would have had a different itch to scratch no doubt. You know me! For now, cycling has been a great itch soother, a shitload of fun, the balm my wildness needed and a nice way to come out of quarantine … moving or should I say pedalling forward.









The World Cup!

Adventures On My Bike – Day 16/28

Today’s recipe: Jamie Oliver’s Orange and Polenta Cake.

Today was a family cycle to share picnic with my littlest’s class where we enjoyed lunch with the world! In amongst the blooming Hyacinth plants we shared tastes and tales with friends from Germany, Italy, Spain, Russia, India, Kenya, South Korea, Israel and Scotland. It was one of those moments where I thought … wow how did I land here! I also wonder how in years to come this experience will impact the life choices my kids make. Quite possibly I will wake one day and all four will be living somewhere around the globe? Where will I be living when that happens?! All great unknowns.

What I do know is that the long night’s of the Northern Hemisphere summer are perfect for golden photography and spotting lone bikes and relaxed Sunday evening riders on the trail. I was back in my trail runners again tonight and I’m enjoying the extra cardio! Hiking in holland doesn’t quite cut it it you want/need to sweat it out a little. Here’s a little photo essay of a Sunday night spend alone amongst the happenings on the trail.

Jamie Oliver’s Orange and Polenta Cake.

Z had a friend to stay who is gluten free and they love to cook together. They gave this recipe a whirl … and didn’t follow it to a tee so it was a bit tough. Greg remade it with success!

The recipe comes from one of my cookbooks Jamie Oliver 5 ingredients and is also on his website here:

Buen camino,

Fran x

Choose an action and run with it.

Adventures On My Bike – Day 15/28

Today’s recipe: A salad’ey vegetabl’ey cous cous!

From the outside it may look like my life has changed dramatically over the years but my life has always looked like change. I hiked mountains at thirteen in Indonesia as a girl guide, lived in the Whitsunday Islands, Melbourne and Perth in my 20s, moved to Europe in my 30s, Sydney in my 40s and now Europe again. I’ve been an Island hostess, a high school teacher and a midwife. I’m born from wandering stock you see. A migrant grandad who jumped on a ship in 1956 with his wife and nine kids to find a life in Australia where he could farm. And a mother (one of 13) who boarded a ship, alone, bound for Australia at the age of 23 to learn English.

I move but I don’t move to find greener grass I’m just wired to explore. The green grass can only be found in our everyday and wherever I am that’s what I’m cultivating. I don’t see moving as being particularly brave either. Let’s face it moving countries, going on adventures, starting fresh that is my modus operandi. I also married a fellow seeker of world adventures and along the way we’ve paved careers and lives that have enabled us to do it (and the privilege of dual citizenship, education…middle class). Nope brave to me is to find yourself in the present day. Standing for what matters to you. And most of my friends that I hold so dearly are actually not world movers but people who do just that … stand bravely wherever they are!

One thing that’s guaranteed with every move (and each life transition) is the period of feeling unsettled. The time where I reach in and out of new things to finds what fits, to find the every day spark feeling. The present day. It’s not always easy starting fresh, always my identity comes into question. Over the years I’ve gotten better at it. After the honeymoon period I know I have to do some work and find what I need to create a life with meaning.

While my life has me moving into different settings even if yours doesn’t I’m sure we share those similar feelings of needing to readjust sometimes. One thing I loved on the camino was this feeling of don’t leave for tomorrow what you can get done today. We walked the extra 3kms if we had the energy. As we arrived we showered, washed our clothes, ate and debriefed the day. The basics. I’ve been applying this idea to my days during this 28 days of motion project. Want to know what I am finding? Connection and balance.

The more I stop putting things off … preparing dinner earlier, putting my shoes on and moving, admin tasks, hard conversations, setting stronger boundaries in parenting (even when that makes me different) and accepting what I need to be honest about – the stronger I get, the more I see and the closer I get to the people in my life.

I think balance is one of those basic maths problems. Yes, we can argue that none of us can have it … but at what point does remaining unbalanced and not taking uncomfortable action cause a tipping point? I’d prefer to seek a balanced, honest life even if it isn’t a ‘trendy’ one. It doesn’t mean that on any given day everything is in order – no, that’s perfection and also unbalanced. It means not putting off the basics because if I do it will come back and bite later. It’s about making choices about what matters most and being guided by that.

‘As unique as we all are, an awful lot of us want the same things. We want to shake up our current less-than-fulfilling lives. We want to be happier, more loving, forgiving and connected with the people around us.’ ~Brene Brown

So when things aren’t feeling calm and connected or if they’re just too heavy I run with an action. In the current moment in time what is the most basic need? What do I need to add to balance the scales? Then usually what needs subtracting becomes obvious. In fact a reordering of priorities and actions almost certainly begins to unfold. A load of people on the camino drop weight from their packs along the way … they are carrying too much. Subtracting is my maths skill. Adding has become my challenge. And because I play with action hopefully you won’t see me talking or writing about the same thing next year or the year after. It is only by taking action that we can truly move forward … just like the camino, as we walked forward and into Santiago. I just can’t help myself with the camino references ;).

Recipe: A salad’ey vegetable’ey cous cous


  • Olive oil
  • White wine vinegar
  • Dijon mustard
  • Cous cous
  • Rocket
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • A Red & Yellow Capsicum (pepper)
  • Carrot
  • Garlic
  • Red Onion
  • Basil

How we cooked it:

Cook cous cous according to packet instructions then set aside in a large bowl to cool.

In a large pan fry some chopped carrot and red onion in a little olive oil on med to high heat, after a few minutes add some crushed garlic and chopped red and yellow capsicum (peppers). Fry for another 4 mins then put on a lid, lower heat to medium and cook for 5 mins.

Meanwhile halve some cherry tomatoes and tear up some basil and add to the cous cous. Make a vinaigrette with equal parts olive oil and white wine vinegar and a teaspoon of Dijon mustard. It’s important that the vinaigrette is more tangy than what you’d usually put on a salad.

Remove the vegetables from the heat and add too the cous cous but don’t stir through. Allow everything to cool to room temperature. Before serving, add a few handfuls of rocket and the vinaigrette and mix it all together. Works best if you use your hands.

You can substitute vegetables such as broccoli, snow peas, sugar snaps, corn kernels, or aubergine, but it works best if you always have some capsicum, and always include the red onion. Cheeses such as Persian feta, haloumi or Parmesan can be added. Avoid mushrooms.

You could also use quinoa in place of cous cous. Just cook it a bit further ahead of time and spread it out on a large platter to cool and most importantly dry out. If it’s holding too much water the salad will taste bland.

We served ours with salmon but you can choose any accompaniment. In winter we often do it with home made meat balls in a tomato passata sauce.

Today I put my trail runners on for the first time in ages … and slowly as I stopped to photograph the feathers I realised that this motion project will lead to the next. That’s the principal of motion in action.

Buen Camino,

Fran X

It’a all in how you move.

Adventures On My Bike – Day 14/28

Today’s recipe: Passeggiata/Shinrin-yoku.

One of my favourite Italian words is passeggiata. It’s the traditional evening stroll taken in the central plaza by a town’s residents generally for the purpose of socializing. And one of my favourite therapeutic ideas is the Japanese Shinrin-yoku. It means to bathe in the forest atmosphere, to take in the forest to through your senses. (More on that here.) Inviting these two traditions together is to invite joy for joy’s sake into our day.

At the midpoint of this 28 day project I’m convinced that the notion of movement with purpose is the holy grail. It made so much sense to me after walking the camino, to simply move each day in a forward direction. By taking each step, decision, thought, conversation and action as though they are part of a bigger plan. Our very own plan of who we want to be and where we want to go to.

The more we practice moving along our path, the one that has the signs and way markers that feel right, where we practice what we say ‘yes’ and what we say ‘no’ to … the easier it is to recognise when we are veering off. If we’re heading down the wrong path it’s because we practice that it becomes easier to straighten ourselves back up to find our way back. Back to where the rewards wait – hugs, giggles, deep conversation, clarity, peace, confidence, quiet, kindness, pride, fulfillment …. the place we are most ourselves.

Buen camino dear friends,

Fran xx