Although she has played competitive sport all her life, the Sydney native only took up cycling in 2003 when she moved to Bendigo. After only six weeks on the bike, she tackled the 520 km Murray to Moyne. Around the Bay in a Day (210 km) and Port to Port (400 km) followed the same year.
Where do you go after all that in your first year? If you’re Sheridan Hall – racing.
She has a Bendigo and District Cycling Club licence and races with the Central Victorian Veterans Cycling Club. “The Vets are very social. It’s a great learning ground, a really encouraging environment.” After initial coaching from Tim Decker, ex-Olympian, Jack Trickey, took her under his wing and coached her to some good wins.
She won the “Oppy” Classic in Rochester two years running and wanted to make it a hat trick. But by then she had other things on her agenda. The day of the race was two weeks before her baby was due. She had planned to join Jack to watch it but phoned him to say she wasn’t feeling well.
“Little did they know that when I was ringing I was actually in labour.
“I got the hat trick, but in my own way. The third year I had Lucy on the day instead of winning the race.”
Trying for a baby was always going to be win-win. “If we fell pregnant, great – we have a baby. If we didn’t, great – I get to ride more!”
It was never going to be one or the other. Sheridan was determined to ride as long as she could through her pregnancy. She researched and asked advice.
“Most of the responses I got were very conservative: ‘No don’t push it. Err on the side of caution’ or ‘Don’t get your heart rate up at all. Rest and take it easy.’
“What I found during pregnancy is that you can still ride, of course, as long as it’s still comfortable to ride. But don’t push yourself so hard that you can’t carry on a conversation.”
If she was going to have to slow down, Sheridan thought she’d make the most of it. She started a group for people new to road cycling in a bunch. As a result, many women (and a few men) gained enough confidence and fitness to progress on to the faster groups.
“As the pregnancy progressed, it was becoming harder and harder to get up that Marong Road hill. So I’d drive into town, get the bike out of the car and ride to the roundabout and do the ride. And as I got even bigger, I drove all the way to the roundabout.”
A week before Lucy arrived, she was on the mountain bike taking part in the Ride of Silence from Epsom into Bendigo. Three weeks after the birth she was back on the mountain bike down to the local shop.
Scheduling time for training is more challenging now and she simply doesn’t have the time she used to. She’s back racing anyway.
“I’m a bit more philosophical about it now. You just race with whatever fitness you’ve got and try to make the most of it.”
The trusty mountain bike now sports a baby seat and she’s working on getting used to the unstable weight. “Then I can go riding during the day. I don’t have to wait until Warren gets home.” And the extra weight? “It’s good training!”