Adventures of an intrepid Mountain Bike Queen

22 Dec 22 | By pp-admin | News Wheel

“You can start something new at any age!”  Says Rosemary Dupont enthusiastically. “I have great balance and I am a bit of a risk taker.”

Rosemary learned to ride as a child but didn’t really ride much in her adult life, until in 2012 the doctor prescribed cycling as a way to recover from a serious skiing accident. She had sustained severe knee injuries, with a torn ACL and a fractured tibia. The latter meant there was nothing to re-attach the ligament to. She was given two options: painful surgery that would only partially fix the issue and likely lead to arthritis, or taking up cycling to strengthen the muscles around the knee.

The choice was easy. Initially, Rosemary was busy caring for her elderly mother and opted for a stationary bike. This helped her build some strength. Then after two years, Rosemary joined Pedal Power’s New Horizon’s program, which helped her build skills and confidence on a bike.

Rosemary started really enjoying road cycling and begun riding regularly and building her fitness. When in 2016 a Pedal Power member organised a cycling tour of the South Island of New Zealand, she immediately signed up. Then realised it was a mountain biking tour!

Some people might have thought of pulling out of the tour if they had no mountain biking experience, but Rosemary did the opposite. “I went and bought myself a mountain bike and enrolled in a mountain biking course for women. It was good, it taught me the basics.”

To practice before her trip, Rosemary joined Pedal Power’s Monday Mountain biking group. “On my first ride they were cycling up Mount Majura” she recalls “This is a fairly technical ride and other riders were not sure I should attempt it as a beginner, but I love a challenge and decided to give it a go. I started off at the back of around 35 riders and by the end I was riding in the middle of the pack”.

After the South Island came another trip to New Zealand to explore the North Island and by then Rosemary was on her mountain bike multiple times a week.

She has not stopped and is now really committed to mountain biking. She is now Pedal Power’s representative on the Stromlo Forest Park Consultative Committee which makes sure the needs of all Stromlo users are considered in the imminent developments of the site.

Rosemary has cycled on just about every mountain bike spot in Canberra and various other Australian destinations. “I recently went to the Gippsland and Thredbo.” She says “I understand that Thredbo gets as many visitors in the Summer for mountain biking as it does in the Winter for skiing. Mountain biking is a booming sport with multiple competitions and tourism opportunities”.

One of Rosemary’s favourite aspects of mountain biking is being out in nature, especially at this time of the year with all the wildflowers. “I like the more technical single tracks, but you don’t have to do that to mountain bike. The rail and fire tracks are just as enjoyable and there are places in Canberra for beginners and families, like the Arboretum” she points out.

Rosemary’s top tip if you are just starting out is to get someone to teach you the basics and to practice. Pedal Power members can join the Wednesday dirt bike social ride designed for beginners or those cyclists less confident and experienced. Pedal Power also organises mountain bike rides on Mondays and Fridays for a range of skill levels.

“Having the right equipment also helps have an enjoyable ride. A good quality helmet is a must have for this sport” she says “most mountain bikes will have front suspension but increasingly riders are looking for dual suspension and dropdown seats. And in Canberra it helps to wear long sleeves to protect yourself from blackberries!

Rosemary’s latest bike upgrade was somewhat incidental. She needed a new bike, but in COVID times the only available ones were electric mountain bikes. So, after riding a manual mountain bike for 6 years, Rosemary now has a lovely e-mountain bike, which is a pleasure to ride. Rosemary says, with a smile, that her e-bike will enable her to keep riding into her nineties.