IMG 0318 ZF 2143 87268 1 002Brodie Chapman featured in Ride Like a Girl in 2015. She was enjoying the freedom of racing and riding whatever bike she felt like on the day and have great success at this too.
In October 2015, Brodie was one of four women who turned up to race the Grafton to Inverell, its a very long race with a lot of climbing, and the inclusion of women in the event is only a recent addition.
There were 4 chicks in C grade, and overall. In C grade, the winner finished in 7hrs 11:04. 

Brodie came in only +1:51 in 8th with obviously the bunch that the winner broke away from solo. 54 riders finished and 11 dnfs. Brodie was the first female, a good 25mins ahead of Deborah Hennessy and another minute up on that was Rachel Edwards.

Brodie's name is cemented in history and saw her finish well up the field of C grade, 8th in fact and would have placed her around 20th in B Grade!
She got 2nd in the KOM, obviously 1st QOM but there was no mention of that or Brodie's 2nd place. 
I asked Brodie a few questions about the race and the controversial presentation for the women.

12186261 549637528521551 388122569990768653 o"The organisers gave me great accolades after the race, up on stage and gave me champagne etc...I think they were a bit shocked. They didn't wait till the other women had finished which is what miffed me. At the awards night I had to go up and ask them to present at least a mention to the women because they had applauded and awarded everything from oldest competitor, to youngest unplaced rider etc....but no mention of the female participants until I raised it. Yes, there were not that many women competing (NRS Tour of Goldfields was on the same weekend) but still I found it a bit confusing that they made an announcement to invite women to contest the whole event yet dwindled when it came to recognising the few that stepped up to do it."

Brodie, we would love to hear your thoughts prior to being on the start line.
"The start line nerves. I was pretty calm, just thought, all I want to do is finish - have a good day out and ride my bike."

12186525 549633728521931 8029300392416877173 oHow did you get in that lead group? 
"It all happened on the 17km climb. I was just like, tap away, keep spinning, it's all good. I saw a lot of people out of the saddle pushing to keep up, and I was like man we have so many more kms to race, now is not the time to expend all my energy! I saw Deb Hennessy in front of me and I didn't want to lose her. Then suddenly, people were popping off all over the place."

Was there any initial resistance to you being there as often there is when a chick makes the cut in a bunch?
"Some of the guys were like, you know there is a big hill coming, and I'm like okay cool well we will ride up it. Even if i dropped a few wheels on the hills I knew I would gain it right back on the descents. At the end of the race one guy was overheard (by a friend of mine) saying something along the lines of 'yeah but she probably sat at the back didn't pull any turns'. I actually pulled more than my fair share of turns, bridged some gaps and tried to get the bunch rolling turns a few times but only a handful of guys co operated. C grade men can be a shamozzle!"

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 The race is 228km long, is that the longest haul you have done in one hit? 
"Yeah it is, I decided to do the G2I after doing a quite fast 211km ride one day, followed by going out partying/dancing that night and then sleeping an hour and working the next day. Was a wild evening. I thought if I could get through that than I can get through G2I."

 How much did you love being out there for that long? 
"There was no time for not loving it - either way I was doing it, so I didn't want to spend that time thinking about how it might be hurting or when the race was going to end. I just stayed in the moment, looked at things, and kept breathing into my legs."

What were you thinking out there all that time? 
"I don't really know, probably something along the lines of 'don't get dropped!' or oh man I have to eat this mint gel (eww) or yum how good are jam sandwiches. Or rice. I definitely thought about the idea of eating some rice. I also thought about the cows in the fields and that if this was any other ride that wasn't a race I would have stopped to pat them."

12183020 549205205231450 3852094756383491287 oTell us about feed zones? Wee zones? 
"Haha well the wee zone was interesting. about 50km everyone stopped but it was a hugely spread out line, just on the side of the road. I was like man I am wearing bib knicks I basically have to get naked, there was no time to 'find a tree' so i whipped off my jersey dropped my knicks and let it flow. I think the hardest I worked all day was chasing to get back on the bunch after that because it took me longer to get redressed than all the guys. Feed zones were totally new to me and my sister Rhylee and Mum Bernadette were my feed people. It all went perfectly. I ate enough, drank enough and was so stoked to see Rhylee standing there holding that mussette the first feed zone."

10km from the finish - what was the pace like? 
"Pretty lame actually - it was obviously going to be a sprint finish because the leader had broken away solo by not slowing at last feed zone. I got boxed in a bit in the sprint, so I could have moved up a few places but yeah, thats learning, make sure you get into a good position before you decide to sprint!"

How did you recover? 
"By eating rice, chilling in this huge mansion B&B and patting horses."

What did you learn from this event? 
"That I really liked road cycling and I am capable of things if I really want it. I do want it."

...And finally...did any interest spark up to get this young chick Brodie Chapman riding in an NRS team or similar?What did you think you would do with this race under your belt? 
"Well, there was some interest, but I left it all a bit late, I moved to Melbourne 3 days after G2I and basically had to get settled in there, find a house, get into my job etc.. Melbourne happened because after finally finishing Uni I thought I would just do something different, go where there is more racing and more competition. I have half-arsedly lived here on and off so this time I bought all 4 bikes which means that I legit live here now. Long story short I wrote to some NRS teams and just said how keen I was, a few replied but Holden Cycling asked the best questions of me, offered some really great stuff and are willing to mentor me because I actually am quite the rookie at road racing, I feel like I have been winging it the whole time so some structure, direction and a solid experienced team can only be a good thing right? I am lucky to be on board with a team that draws on sports psychologists from The Mind Room, nutritionists and coaches. Even more stoked to be on brand spanking new sick as f**k Specialized Amira road bikes, with a matching helmet and kit. I couldn't have asked for a better foot in the door than with Holden. Although my friends are calling me Commodore now ha." 

You work for a bike shop...tell us more? 
"Yes! I work at Cycles Galleria on Bourke st and also QV, such an awesome crew to work for. I got the job because I was in Melbourne for a day, went riding with some friends and then my friend Alee introduced me to the CG crew and the rest was history. They have been incredibly flexible and understanding around my racing schedule!"

 You houseshare with a bunch of cycling crew, what is this house like? 
"Oh its like the dream house. I live with Amy who is a bike adventurer and manager at Cycles Galleria, Todd who is a mechanic at Commuter Cycles and mountain bike mad, Lewis who is a vegan bike messenger and mountain biker, road cyclist, adventure enthusiast. Between us our house, bedrooms and shed is full of bikes, but its super cool. We all get it."

12510247 10154516864378492 7502221356417584909 nSo now in the cycling mad state of Victoria, I guess opportunities are oozing out of the woodwork, coming at you, Brodie the all round cyclist.
"I raced the SuperCrit with Rapha - they know how to bring the party to a race! Coffee machine, DJs, food and the most styling kit around, was stoked!
For the Bay Crits I raced with a Chain Reaction Cycles team - it was the major sponsor for Bay Crits and the team was made up of a mix of a whole bunch of us from other teams. We all became friends very quickly and were looked after very well for the weekend! Bay Crits are known to be some of the hardest racing in Australia so I can only look forward to doing them faster next year. I'm gonna get fast. It made me so indescribably hungry to just. get. fast."

12466221 789986321105872 2474757689096042660 oAnd NOW just the other weekend, you had yourself a little chase group to the leaders in the National Road Champs! You did some courageous work there, and joined a team for the race and the NRS season coming up right? 

"Road nationals was such a learning curve! I had the worst preparation going into it - the day before I worked on my feet all day, I worked late, missed meeting my new team, missed the team meeting and was stressed to the eyeballs. The next morning my housemate Lewis bless his cotton socks drove me to the race at 4:30am. I was sure that by now Holden would be having second thoughts about getting me on the team because I rocked up with only 2 gels, a terrible warm up and had no idea what the plan was. I wanted to just finish. Was really stoked to hear that the initial break away occurred because my team mates attacked/counter attacked and got away for a while. I like that style of racing! At a later point 2 girls broke away (who I now know was winner and second place Amanda Spratt and Ruth Corset) and so I thought why the hell not just see if I can catch them. I took off and put my head down and found that I had a significant gap on the bunch with only 2 x Australian Crit Champ Kimberly Wells on my wheel. She was telling to roll here and there and asked me what I was doing what was my "speciality" and I was like "sorry I have no idea what I am doing I have come from downhill mtb I just want to catch these girls tell me what to do and I will do it!" She gave me a crash course in working together to chase, which paid off because we eventually caught them - however not long after on the first bit of the climb I got popped, and later so did Wells. It was cool to be riding with her. For me it was worth taking the risk and giving it a crack because it was fun and at this point I had nothing to lose. I finished just behind the main bunch. Pretty happy with that for first nationals, can only look forward to hitting it with some more game plan and proper training under my belt next year. Looking forward to NRS season!"

Love to hear a bit more about this if you can share your thoughts, your expectations, your hopes and what it felt like to be with Australias best and know you have something in you that can match it with them one day soon. 
"It all feels like it has happened pretty fast, I am riding amongst some very experienced road cyclists. Maybe being naive and eager has worked to my advantage so far, but its waaaaaay far from getting me on the podium at this level. So I want to race against the best, commit 110% to doing what it takes to get faster and stronger and see what happens. Why not? I feel like a bit of a fluke so far, but wouldn't it be cool to race and travel? The two things I always felt were competing for a priority in my life, if I persist, maybe I could do both?"

So whats your plans Brodie for 2016 and beyond? We know you could do whatever you wanted on the bike, DH, Enduro, XCO, BMX, Road, what do you want?
"This is the hardest thing! I love mountain biking so much, I feel like it is at the core of me and what keeps me stable. Road cycling has been like this blossoming thing from the root (this metaphor looks better in my head) which can keep growing and changing, there is so much progression and opportunity. I have to sacrifice MTB for a while if I really want to put all my energy into this, but it will always be there and my road cycling wouldn't exist without it. Racing or not, I will still have a rad time riding mountain bikes, even if my elbows are mostly in these days while I try to get aero on downhill tracks. I kind of skipped out on XCO completely, because when I do get on a mountain bike I really just want to ride down fast and get my wheels off the ground, I don't care so much for riding up at a crazy pace. I spent the weekend at the Thredbo Cannonball Festival recently where I got it all out of my system for a while, raced my favourite DH track in Australia on my trail bike, raced the flow trail (but crashed), it was SO fun like there is no feeling like drifting around corners ! The pump track I snagged a 3rd by only 1 second, man do I love pump tracks. In another life I think I would really like BMX racing. Anyway you can see that it is a challenge for me to stay on track with one discipline! However, I am going to be racing some CX this year because it is kind of like just being a roady on the dirt . I can do that."

Photo credits: Kirsty Baxter. PDitty Images.

Thanks to Holden, Specialized Australia, Chain Reaction Cycles, Curve Cycling, Rapha Australia, NSDynamics, UQ Cycling Club and Ladies of UQCC, Brisbane Cycle Messenger Association, Cycles Galleria, Andys Fat Tyre Bike Lodge, Bike Buller  and everyone I have ridden with on the dirt and the road - many more kms, skids and wheelies to come! Thanks of course to my FAMILY for being super super supportive in this new adventure.