Women shine in cycling club

Eddie Barkla | Bendigo Weekly | 03-Feb-2012

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ALL SMILES: Jessica Berry, front, with Esther Pugh-Uren at the Bendigo Carnival.
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The diversity and depth of the Bendigo and District Cycling Club has not been in any way restricted to men, there is a great strength of women.
From junior ranks right through to the elite women, the cycling history books contain many club member’s names.
At the executive and committee of the club, a strong presence and support of ladies brings a balance to the male influence.
The Life Members Hall of Fame in 2000, saw Eileen Spencer, Carol Anderson and Heather Bennett being inducted.
This recognises their unerring support of Cycling in the Bendigo District and beyond.
As in many clubs, there are also many unsung women heroes who have stood silently beside their husband holding with them the values of volunteering and progression of the sport that is essential, but not necessarily seen and applauded.
One of the first women to compete was Miss E Slattery in the amateur ranks in the 1930s.
While many woman riders visited Bendigo and competed quite successfully, there were some lean times for ladies racing in club ranks.
Natalie Baldwin was the flag bearer for women for some years and was joined by the Lock sisters Elisha and Natasha reaching the height of Gold Medals wins at the Country, State and National Championships.
In the 1990s such names as Kerry Bull, Jessica Thomas and Jessica Doxford had success while in junior ranks, but left the sport before transition into the upper levels.
The turn of the century saw an insurgence of women into the cycling scene.
Jessica Berry (soon to marry Darren Lapthorne, 2007 National Road Champion) was rated as one of Victoria’s most talented riders and always held a smile that would warm the coldest heart.
Jessica’s list of victories will take some time to match let alone come within cooee of.
They were all at country, state, and national championships earning Jessica second place in the coveted cyclist of the year of 2005.
Another talented cyclist, Sarah Humphries, swept the pool for two years in the country, state and national track cycling championships bringing home a gold medal in every event and earning her the cyclist of the National Championship in junior ranks.
Sadly, as with many others, she didn’t continue with the sport.
Carly McCoombe, another promising young woman, burst onto the scene and made similar inroads winning numerous titles.
More young women filling the list of such competitors are Shelly Flood of the proud heritage of Flood dynasty of cycling a talented track, road and serious contender at world level MTB.
Samantha Verlin, Roz Bradley, Holly Tepper, Esther Pugh-Uren, Rebecca and Lauren Hooper, Emma and Sophie Waldron, all having success locally in major state events and beyond all too many to list.
Imogen Jelbart and Toni Abbisogni, both of the Bendigo club, are seen head-to-head in many championships.
Imogen has taken the steps of making cycling her career and hoping to follow in the steps of such greats as Anna Mears and to be one of
Australia’s top female cyclists of which she is on track to achieve, pardon the pun.
Kate Finegan has persevered with the road spending two seasons in Europe coming back a much accomplished criterium rider.
Looking forward to seeing you on the road soon, God willing.

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