FourPL asked Cassandra some questions to give us some insight into cycling and what inspires her.
- How did the Woman’s Racing Project start?
After racing at an elite level during University, I took a 2-year break to finish my degree and start my career. At the end of 2017 I was looking to return to racing in Queensland and was looking to join a local team to compete. There were a few teams around, but unfortunately the Cycling Queensland was considering cancelling its premier state racing series, the Queensland Road Team Series (QRTS) if there were not more women’s teams prepared to compete. Starting a team and creating a supportive development environment was always something I wanted to do ‘one day’, and then was as good a time as any. From that moment, the Women’s Racing Project, affectionately ‘WRP’ was born from a passion and determination for cycling, the development of new and young female riders in the sport and fostering a collective team environment that encourages success at all levels of racing.
- How does the Woman’s Racing Project get woman racing and what is the Journey/Pathway from Beginner to Elite Level Racing?
WRP gets women racing by providing a development pathway from C-grade (beginners) racing through to A-grade (and the QRTS races). Beyond that we also expose our riders into the highest level of domestic road racing in Australia, which is the National Road Series (NRS). Traditionally that jump from state racing to the NRS was quite big and would often be the first time a rider would be exposed to racing as part of a team. A rider would have raced as an individual for a period at a State Level and try to attain a spot on an NRS or elite level team after some outstanding individual performances.
What we do in WRP is provide that experience of riding in a team at an earlier point in the pathway as well as providing an opportunity to race some of the NRS races within the supportive environment of the team. From there, girls then move through WRP into NRS teams to continue their development. WRP provides development opportunities not found elsewhere and something for new and junior female cyclists to aspire to be a part of. We have an expression of interest form open to any rider racing within Queensland during September for the following year.
The journey and pathway from beginner to elite level is slowly getting better. Traditionally there were significant gaps in that pathway and addressing those is which is part of what drives the passion for WRP.
- How did you first get into riding?
I was competing in triathlon and had a bad ankle injury which prevented me from running or swimming properly, however I could cycle pain-free. I trialled for an NTID (National Talent ID program) for cycling and triathlon and got picked up for cycling and it went from there.
- Why do you like road racing in general?
I love the tactics in the game, as well as the ability to push yourself to your limits whilst working as a team to achieve an objective result. Both aeon bike and off bike banter is next level comma and the friendships that you make through team cycling are incredible.
- About how many days a week do you ride your bike?
Most of them lol! I typically ride 5-6 days per week, and do 2-3 strength training session +/- 1 run per week as well.
- If you could cycle any route in the world tomorrow, where would you go?
There are SO MANY amazing cycling routes across the globe, it is too hard to choose! Three (OK – four) things on the top of my list cycling wise, all of different cycling ‘genres’:
1. I am super keen to get down to MTB (mountain bike) in Derby, Tasmania. They have just opened up a second MTB park at St Helens which connects to the Derby trail network and the trails look incredible!
2. The French and Italian alps are on almost every cyclist’s bucket list, and mine is no different.
3. Tour Aotearoa Brevet- it is a bike-packing/ gravel bike ‘race’ that spans 3000km from North to South NZ. It is held every 2 years, features some of NZ’s best and most beautiful scenery. The goal is to complete it in 10-30 days. The other bike packing ride would be the Silk Road, though it is set to be turned into a super highway and may not be possible for much longer. This wanderlust came from an incredible Cycling Tips piece (here).
- What advice would you give women who want to start racing?
Get in contact with your local cycling club, or jump onto one of the many women’s cycling facebook pages (e.g Chicks Who Ride Bikes) and ask for their recommendations of the best club race to start with. Each state will recommend something different and have something slightly different to offer beginner women.
Questions a Non-Cyclists should not ask about Cycling…(by a non-cyclist who’s not very sympathetic to cycling …it’s not their fault they don’t realise how amazing cycling is, yet!)
- Do you ever wish you were rather in that car overtaking you?
Mostly no, especially in peak hour when I usually end up ahead anyway. When it’s cold or raining though – yes!
- Don’t you get bored of riding for hours?
Not really. It’s my meditation or social time. Nothing provides you with the freedom to just think like getting out for a long solo ride, with or without music, and some of my deepest, and funniest, conversations with friends have been during long training rides.
I won’t lie, some days getting long training done is harder than others, though this is definitely a rarity.
- Lyrca? Are you serious? It is really necessary?
Hahaha this is my favourite question. Yes it really is It has a very specific functional purpose, just like other ‘active wear’. It makes it easier to ride in (more aerodynamic, less friction with the bike), and the padding (chamois) is a butt saver preventing saddle sores and a numb bum* (*in combination with the correctly fitted saddle).
- Do you really need more than one bike?
Yes! The scientific equation quantifying this phenomina is n+1. In all seriousness they all serve a specific purpose; MTB vs Road vs Gravel bikes for example all get used for very different styles of riding and racing, and are each optimised to this. Think of your ‘every day’ car of choice vs a 4WD ute or sports car. Chances are you bought them for different reasons – you aren’t going to take the city car on an outback camping holiday, nor are you going to drive it super fast…
- Isn’t it uncomfortable sitting on that saddle?
It can be, particularly if you haven’t ridden in a while or are ne new to cycling, there will be a period of you bottom adjusting to sitting on the saddle for so long. This will be exacerbated if the saddle shape, style and width are not right for your anatomy and a good pair of cycling shorts are a bum-saving investment!
If you are having saddle issues, saddle sores or cannot get rid of that ‘sore/ numb bum’ go to your local reputable bike shop and have a chat. A good shop will measure the width of your sit bone and ensure you get a correctly fitted saddle. Some brands also have a guarantee where if it doesn’t work for you, you can return it and try another.