sharon2Sharon Locke lives in Launceston.
In her late 40's, she is living a new way of life where she is realising that there are no limits, only those she puts on herself.
Its exciting to see women evolve into something bigger and better than they ever believed possible and this is why she is our Ride Like A Girl story - we hope you are inspired by what she has shared with us today.

What sort of upbringing did you have?

My upbringing was your normal stereotypical nuclear family with Mum, Dad and my younger brother. I always felt safe and loved. I was born in Brisbane and lived there til I was 9, then we moved to Tassie. I remember spending lots of time outdoors growing up either swimming or fishing and lots of family picnics. I still love being outdoors.

Did you play any sport?

When we moved to Tasmania we lived in a small town called Longford and my brother and I did Little Aths. I couldn't out run my shadow (still can't) but I wasn't bad at throwing things (still quite good at throwing things) like Shot Put and Discuss. We moved into the city when I was in grade 6 and changed Athletics club, didn't make me run any faster though.
The first sport I played was at High School when I joined the Hockey team in Grade 7 and ended up being the goalie. I was ok at this and in Grade 8 I started playing at club level, working my way up to A grade at the end of High School and for a few years after that. I really enjoyed the camaraderie of team sport and loved learning from the older players in the club. I stopped playing due to injury when I was about 19 and always meant to go back to it but never did.

Sharon relaxing

I met you one day at a chance opportunity at a cafe in Launceston, I thought it was pretty cool that you just made the time to hang out with a stranger, have a coffee and from then on we became friends.
Knowing this, I reckon you have a crack at life, so what sort of person would you say you are?

It's very, very hard to describe the sort of person you are, or think you are. I think we are all a work in progress. I used to be  scared of everything and was very good at telling myself I couldn't do things. I think that mind set came from years of being very overweight after having our boys and wallowing in self pity and having no self esteem. I am definitely better at having a go at things now and even challenging myself to do things that I never dreamt that I could do.

My motto of late is "That voice inside your head that says you can't is a liar"

I suppose I am "having a crack at life" but that hasn't always been the case. I can be very hard on myself and am slowly learning to cut myself some slack.

Tell us about your camper? It's pretty spesh. What's the story behind that? What biking adventures have you been on and what does the future hold for your camper?

Buying the camper has been one of the best things we have ever done! It's a Trayon and sits on the flat tray of our Mazda 4wd. It folds out to give us a bed and there is a cooker, fridge, sink and table. Col and I were starting to get into bushwalking and as our boys were old enough to leave at home we thought some sort of camper would let us do overnight trips.  We bought it about 5 years ago from a guy in Cairns who drove it down to my aunt's place in Brisbane and we drove up to check it out and buy it. We then took 5 days to get home and had our first away from children trip. We spent 3 months travelling around WA,NT and SA in 2013 but didn't take bikes. I actually didn't miss riding that much then, we were having too much fun doing other adventurous stuff, but it was very, very hard to get back on after the break.

sharon camper

Last year we put a bike rack on the 4wd and headed off on a 6 week mountain biking holiday around the south east corner of the mainland (what us Tassie folk call the big island) That trip culminated with an awesome MTB Skills Retreat at Mt Buller.

Col did a 24hr race at Kellevie in March and having the camper setup with the annexe on was like a home away from home.
2 weeks ago we both participated in The Hellfire Cup again at Kellevie, this was a 4 day multi stage event so  being able to come back to the camper after every stage and have everything there set up was so easy.
The little Tassie Tardis is staying with us for the foreseeable future and the bikes are always on the back now.

Since meeting you a couple of years ago, I have watched you evolve as a mountain biker. When did you start mountain biking?

I have always had a bike in some form with the good intentions of riding to lose weight and get fit but just never had the motivation to ride them consistently. That changed though when I started riding with a ladies group that rode their mountain bike for fitness, about two and a half years ago. There are some excellent trails a 20 minute ride from my house so I started playing on those with my husband and spent a lot of time on the ground but kept persevering. I think the shift came last year when we spent 6 weeks riding nearly everyday in lots of different mountain bike destinations. My confidence grew and the skills got better.  I noticed when we got back that I would ride stuff I used to get off for.

Sharon trail

What and why did you start?

I saw the group the ladies group advertised somewhere,  and thought it sounded fun. I had bought my first proper mountain bike a couple of years earlier but it had sat in the garage unused and thought this was a good place to start. Looking back that was a huge thing for me to do, go and introduce myself to these girls and actually ride my bike in front of people.

It has possibly been the best thing I have ever done for myself ever!

I'm onto my third bike since then and am happiest on my new one.

When you first started what was some of your greatest fears?

I think my greatest fear was failure and embarrassing myself, being too slow. Then when I started riding trails it was fear of hurting myself which I did anyway and of course that silly voice  in my head saying "you can't do this, what do you think you're playing at?"

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What did you love most about it?

I loved the social aspect the most to start with. I had a house full of men so hanging with the girls was was a lovely change and some of those girls are now good friends. As I said before I hated being slow though but as I got fitter and the weight started to move I got a bit faster. Then I started riding more, I started buying lycra and went to clip in pedals and before  I knew it I was addicted.

I love the challenges mountain biking throws at you, that sense of accomplishment you get when you ride something you used to get off for is just amazing and gets the biggest grin on my face. I love being out in the bush as well away from the traffic. Recently at Hellfire I finally rode all the way through a tricky rock garden I used to put my foot down for.

At the point I realised I was going to make it I whooped and yelled  and may have said "flip yeah" the poor guy behind me must have thought I was slightly deranged!

Sharon Colin lookout

Who have been pivotal role models, or assistants in getting you to to go beyond what you thought you could?

Without a doubt my husband Col. He has been and is my greatest supporter even if he does yell at me to put my foot back in the pedal when it unclips by itself.  He has never once assumed his riding is more important than mine as some partners can do. When I say I can't do something he just says 'of course you can" He has the patience of a saint!

The girls I ride with regularly and I won't name them all who support each other no matter what we are up to on a bike. We are all at different levels of ability and speed but support each other none the less.

At the completion of The Hellfire Cup recently I was on such a high and completely knackered, but standing around me were my riding partner Nic Carter, Col and his riding partner Liz Smit and Su Sprott (MTB Skills Instructor) and I realised everyone of them had contributed to me being there in some way. There was a lot of hugging going on.  

You, Jess, have played a very important role in all this as well by doing what you do on a bike and providing encouragement and guidance to fellow riders whether they are male or female, elite or weekend warrior.

sharon colin

I reckon Colin has paved a pathway for you to realise what is possible.  When he did his 24hr I did warn him that you might see it as a challenge to match him on, he didnt think you would be up for endurance racing...before I knew it you were signed up for a 3hr I think? Since have your goals evolved?  And why?

I think it comes back to being surprised by what I can actually do. I had set myself little goals such as riding up to my local trails instead of driving and then riding the whole trail and then I realised it really wasn't that hard if I gave myself permission to try.  I'm 47 years old and I have used that as an excuse to not do things before . But why can't I ride and race my mountain bike if I want to. So now the goals have gotten bigger, I entered a 4hr in October this year with the goal of doing 4 laps of the 10km course. I did 5 laps, I didn't place but I was the oldest solo female rider and actually did the third fastest lap. To say I was stoked was an understatement even if it did take a week to get over it!

Tell us Sharon, if you could give 10 tips to women starting out mountain biking, or even cycling in general, what would they be, what have you learnt over time that you wish you had known earlier?

  1.  Join a group, there are lots of women's riding groups around now that offer rides for women of all abilities. It's a great way to gain confidence in a safe environment.

  2.  Have fun and don't be too hard on yourself.

  3.  Buy the best bike you can afford and learn the basics of how it works and what you can do to keep it running smoothly. Learning to change your own tyre is a must as well  because sometimes it can be a long walk back to the car or home.

  4.  Invest in a good set of knicks! Nothing will turn you off riding more then having a sore under carriage. If you aren't comfortable wearing lycra, stick some baggy shorts  over the top.

  5.  Don't compare yourself to others it's not good for the soul! There will always be someone fitter and faster than you! However there is nothing wrong with training hard to  be the best YOU can be.

  6.  A social ride is just that, a SOCIAL ride. If you want to go for a smashfest go alone or with a group of similar speed. Wait for the slowest rider remember they are trying as  hard as they can. Encourage and support each other.

  7.  Do some skills clinics and get some basic skills under your belt then go and practise and then practise some more. I can highly recommend MTB Skills.

  8.  Nourish yourself, eat well and look after your engine. You only have one body treat it well.

  9.  Pass it on.
     By that I mean if you are a more skilled rider share your knowledge on a ride if you can and if you're asked. But don't be a know all and make other s feel inadequate!!

  10.  Repeat all of the above

Sharon racing

2016 - whats in store for you on the bike?

Well I was looking for a new challenge so I have entered the Kellevie 12hr race........ SOLO!!!
Still pinching myself and still feel slightly nauseous when I think about it. I have also decided to get a coach for this event so I can be prepared as I can be. At first I thought having a coach was for elite riders and that I wasn't really worthy of  one (stupid voice in head talking again) but I am worthy.  I'm not thinking about this as a race but a huge personal challenge with the aim being to just finish.

Hopefully there will be more camper trips and more bushwalking which we just haven't been able to fit in. There will always be riding with good friends and alone but I can't see past the 12 hr at this stage for challenges.