Mountain bike world champ inspires women to ‘give it a go’
OVER the weekend, Wondai had the pleasure of hosting the world's best female masters mountain bike rider and cross-country cyclist.
Sharon Heap entered the world of cycling 25 years ago, and has pretty much won everything you can win in Australia since then.
With more than 30 national cross-country, marathon, and cyclocross titles secured down under, Sharon headed to the cross-country Masters World Championship in Vale di Sole in Italy in 2016, where again she took out 1st place.
At 35, the future champ was inspired to jump on the bike when her husband took up the sport.
"I thought if he can do it, I can do it," she said.
Since taking to the trails more than two decades ago, Sharon has noticed a drastic change in the demographic of Australia's mountain bike riders. What was once a male dominated sport, is now attracting more and more women and girls.
"It really has come ahead in leaps and bounds now," she said.
While progress has been made, Sharon still believes many women, who would perhaps like to get involved, are still holding back. In an effort to change this, she actively encourages groups of aspiring female athletes to overcome their fears and doubts by taking them on rides.
"I try to encourage more women to ride and slowly they are getting out there and having a go."
"If you dream that you want to ride, just do it. You can do it."
"I never thought I'd become world champion. It was the furthest thing from my mind."
"I just had a go and it happened."
For all those hopeful mountain bike riders out there, Sharon says it is best not to over think it. If your brother, father, or friend are going out for a ride, just join them.
"Just do it. You'll have fun. They will love it, when you love it."