This year’s Gear Up Girl SA ambassadors are an impressive duo – Rachel Henderson and Carla Franson. They both ride tandem bikes competitively, however they’re not your ordinary sporting pair. Rachel is vision impaired – and so relies on Carla to be the eyes whilst competing in the Velodrome. Bicycle SA has a chat to the pair and asks them about their cycling habits.
Bike SA: Tell us a bit about what your involvement in cycling and the bike your ride?
Carla: I currently ride as a pilot on the front of the tandem with Rachel, who is vision impaired. We race on both the Road and the Velodrome at the State and National level. Tandems are an expensive investment, but we love riding together so much that Rachel bought two custom tandem bikes. The road bike is a Duratec custom frame with 11 speed Ultegra whilst the track bike is a fully custom ‘Co-motion’ frame hand made in the USA. Both bikes are bright green in colour, which is now our signature within the tandem scene.
Bike SA: How did you both get started?
Carla: I started cycling after I rode in Pedal Prix for my primary school. I loved the idea of riding really fast, and a friend of my family introduced both my brother and I to the world of cycling. I have been hooked ever since.
I started riding tandem bikes after a small break in riding during Year 12. It gave me a way to ease back in to the sport with a fun, friendly environment whilst helping people ride who wouldn’t normally have that opportunity.
Rachel: I started riding as part of rehab after an ankle reconstruction. I was invited out to the velodrome to have a go at track riding with Carla as my pilot, I was petrified my first time on a tandem but fell in love with it soon after.
Bike SA: Why do you think some women are put off by cycling?
Carla: More females should get involved to see what they’re missing! Fun, social rides which keep you fit and make new friends for life. You can go for a ride and end up anywhere, the possibilities are endless. You can ride on flat and easy roads, or challenge yourself to ride some of SA’s famous hills. Everyone can have a go, and everyone can do it.
Rachel: Cycling is a great social sport, with a good coffee waiting for you at the end. Many women may feel that cycling is a man’s sport and might be a bit dangerous but it’s definitely female friendly.
Bike SA: Do you have any funny / interesting / ridiculous cycling stories or memories?
Carla: Not really any notable funny moments, but we often get asked if Rachel ever takes a turn riding at the front steering the bike. We always have a bit of a chuckle thinking what would happen if she did. (She is a little bit blind) haha
Rachel: People always say Carla and I talk and laugh on all our rides 🙂 we don’t think we do, but they could all be right. 🙂
Bike SA: Which ride will you both do in November for Gear Up Girl SA?
Rachel & Carla: 40km, it’s one of our favourite routes. Along the beach, it’s sunny, scenic, mostly flat and when you’re chatting it feels like the kilometres fly by!
Bike SA: Favourite spot to train in Adelaide?
Carla: Definitely would be along the beach. There is always a good view, there are lots of friendly bunches to have a chat too and there are always good coffee shops along the way 😉
Here’s a little video of the pair having a chat to the cameras late last year
You don’t have to be a sports star to take part in Gear Up Girl SA. The ride offers a choice of three routes making it suitable for women of all ages and abilities to ride. It’s a great day out on the bike and is taking place on Sunday 22 November. You can find out about the day at www.bikesa.asn.au/gearupgirl