Rachel Neylan looks at cycling's bigger picture
Being a pro cyclist to me means a lot more than a wardrobe full of colourful lycra, comprehensive international travel, long dirty days in the saddle and glorious podiums.
After a victorious finish or simply finishing a race, to share that journey and evoke inspiration in other people is something I value as truly priceless. Taylor Phinney's story last week is a phenomenal testament to that.
Over the Aussie summer I was fortunate enough to have many wonderful experiences engaging with australian cycling and non cycling communities - sporting clubs, corporate groups, health charities and road safety organisations. I was thrilled and humbled that my story and it's innate messages received such a welcome embrace.
I have discovered whether we like it or not, we are role models to a greater community. We train in public highly visible places. A pro cyclist on the road is unmistakable - cadence, wardrobe and powermeter are always a dead giveaway!
Cycling speaks for itself. It is the most environmentally sustainable form of human activity and clearly is a great answer to the world wide obesity epidemic. It is an avenue to engage hearts and minds towards these two great issues that are crying out for solutions.
I am constantly amazed to see the wide spread addictive and impulsive momentum cycling has created. Bike riders of all shapes and sizes are taking to the roads by the thousands, evident by the booming bicycling industry globally and inadvertently, more of them are looking up to us, a natural extension of their passion for the bike.
My Hitec Products teammates and I are proud to have filtered this message to the employees of our Norwegian sponsor Hitec Products who have implemented widely received ride to work program. Coupled with their pride in supporting a professional women's cycling team, it is something so simple but with capacity for a rippling impact.
Empowering a life changing habit in another person is a large part of the reward I see in being a professional athlete. When a bike rider pedals alongside and whispers they are now twenty kilos lighter, have eliminated chronic stress or their kid now rides to school, I can honestly say the satisfaction and happiness is extraordinary.
Behind every podium there is a good story, but beyond every performance there is a great amount of inspiration just waiting to filter down to each community in which that rider touches. I am honoured to be involved a sport that has the capacity to impact and empower change in many places in the world right now.
And this is something to celebrate...
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