Women shine in Cycling Club

Esther and Jessica warm up at a track meet

Proud history: women have long been a part of the Bendigo club. Esther and Jessica warm up at the track.

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 members’ names.

At the executive and committee of the club, a strong presence and support of women brings a balance to the male influence. The Life Members Hall of Fame in the year 2000, saw Eileen Spencer, Carol Anderson and Heather Bennett being inducted recognising their unerring support of Cycling in the Bendigo District and beyond.

As in many clubs there are also many unsung female heroes that 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.

Club history reflect that one of the first women to compete was Miss E Slattery in the Amateur Ranks in 1930’s, while many female 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 the 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 while in junior ranks.

In the 1990’s such names such as Kerry Bull, Jessica Thomas and Jessica Doxford has success while in junior ranks but left the sport before transition into the upper levels of the sport. 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, 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 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 never continued with the sport.

Carly McCoombe, another promising young woman, burst onto the scene and made similar inroads winning numerous country, state and national 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.

Currently Imogen Jelbart and Toni Abbisogni, both of the Bendigo club, are seen head to head in many country, state and national championships. Imogen has taken the steps towards making cycling her career and hopes to follow in the steps of such greats as Anna Mears and being one of Australia’s top female cyclists. Kate Finegan has persevered with 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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