Mayumi Takeuchi thought she could never complete the Fitz’s Challenge.
One sunny spring day a few years back, she was out on her bike on the Uriarra Road, when she saw some “tough guys” riding (and battling) ahead of her along the same road.
She rode up to them for a chat (as bike riders tend to do), and found out they were riding an event called the Fitz’s Challenge. “They said they were riding the 255 km Fitz’s Extreme,” she recalls. Her first thought? “No way could I ever ride the Fitz’s”.
Fast forward to the same time the next year, and Mayumi says the same thing happened. “I was out on my Sunday ride when I saw another group of riders up ahead,” she says. “I caught up to them for a chat, and once again, the group (not as tough as the previous ones, but cheerfully sweaty) said they were riding the Fitz’s Challenge. Only this time, the riders told me they were doing a 50 and a 105 km ride, and that there were different rides to choose from, starting at 50 km. I wondered if maybe I could do the Fitz’s after all,” she recalls.
‘I wondered if maybe I could do the Fitz’s after all’
“I decided to sneak in to see the finishers at Stromlo Forest Park, and saw all those riders crossing the finish line with such a glorious expression of accomplishment, pride and exhilaration. I was then determined to complete the Fitz’s Challenge next year”.
The next October, after months of training, she found herself at the start line, ready to have a go.
Following a couple of exhilarating descents near Mount Macdonald, she faced a steep climb out of the Cotter, and was plagued with self-doubt. “I was exhausted. My legs ached, I was puffing, exhausted, sweating. I thought I’d never make it to the finish line,” she says. “I told myself ‘never again’! I wanted to give up”.
An encouraging cheer by volunteer marshals spurred her on, and she made it up the hill, then stopping for a quick stretch. A passing group of riders stopped to check on her, and the sense of camaraderie she experienced was enough to get her back on her bike, pedaling for the finish.
Mayumi says she was completely overcome with emotion at what she had accomplished
As soon as she crossed the finish line to an exhilarating soundtrack of cheering riders and spectators, Mayumi says she was completely overcome with emotion at what she had accomplished.
“This was such an achievement for me. I felt so amazed at myself. I had thought I couldn’t do it, but I did it anyway”.
And… you guessed it, she ended up doing the 105 km the following year, and now rides Fitz’s every year.
“I love to see others overcoming their self-doubt, as people of all shapes, sizes and levels of fitness, with road, hybrid and even mountain bikes push themselves to their limits and achieve something they never thought possible.
“For every Fitz’s I have completed, I have a unique story to tell that I either experienced or witnessed during the ride,” she says.
The Fitz’s Challenge is a personal challenge, not a race, with distances varying from 50km to 255km. It’s one of Australia’s toughest hill climb cycling events, winding through the spectacular hills of the Brindabellas and Namadgi National Park. Registrations are open now: www.pedalpower.org.au/fitzs