She Rides leader profile: Alison Hugo

Launceston native and the newest coach to Cycling Australia’s She Rides program, Alison Hugo, tells us a little bit about how riding a bike has impacted her life in such a positive way, and why she wants to share this story with others.


How did you first get into riding?


My love for riding was fuelled by movies such as BMX Bandits and ET but some of my first memories of riding were heading off exploring with the neighbourhood kids. We would meet up after tea on those long Summer evenings and just ride. Probably the highlight of my riding was when at the age of nine I won a shiny yellow Dragster with all the trimmings in a local competition. The dragster was the prize to win and that prize was mine, I was the envy of the all my friends.  


Where ever I have lived and wherever I go there is usually a bike involved.  I am proud to say I don’t take myself or my riding too seriously. It is totally about the experience, not the outfit or the fancy bike you might have. It is about the ride and the journey.


How did you become first become a cycling coach?


I completed the Cycling Australia Skills Coach Instructor Course last year after it was recommended to me by some of the cycling community. In order to build a strong and vibrant cycling culture, it’s important to have a pool of enthusiastic qualified instructors and I was keen to be one of those.


What’s your background?

A year ago my husband and I decided to combine our love of riding and our love of Launceston by starting our own tourist business, On Your Bike Tours. We run a range of bike tours in and around Launceston


In terms of riding, I have always ridden a bike recreationally. I have ridden commuter bikes, mountain bikes and any sort of bike all my life.  I started riding a bike when I was 4 so in total that is 42 years of riding. I have embraced the opportunity to ride wherever I have lived or travelled.  This includes pedalling through the busy streets of Sydney when I was on a six month round trip with the family riding around Australia through to riding some remote wilderness locations in the wilds of Tassie.


Today you can find me hurtling down the fabulous new mountain bike tracks in Northern Tassie with my family, cruising to work as a commuter rider, or guiding an ‚On Your Bike Tour’ through the delightful city of Launceston.


Why is Cycling Australia’s She Rides program important to you?


I have always loved riding and the opportunities, experiences and feelings that riding provides. It’s empowering, keeps me fit and my bike can take me anywhere and show me new things. Plus it’s super efficient and fun. I am really keen for others to experience this.


Launceston has improved its bike infrastructure immensely over the past 2 years including better cycle lanes, cycle ways and local mountain bike tracks. This has opened the door for everyone to jump on their bikes and get rolling. For some women, it’s just a matter of brushing up on old skills or learning a few new ones to gain the confidence to use this great infrastructure.


How do you aim to get more women riding locally?


I see the She Ride Program as a pathway to connecting women to the type of riding they want to be part of, whether that is social, fitness, competitive, recreational or commuting reasons. Once they gain their confidence then it will be just a matter of connecting them to the right groups and the right situations for their skill level and interest.


Since we started our bike business a year ago it has opened a whole range of opportunities to use the On Your Bike tour bikes for other things other than for the tours. This has included being part of a program to teach recent migrants, predominantly women, how to ride. My book club friends joined the local Tweed Ride as part of the Junction Arts Festival last year for a dress up and ride experience through the streets of Launceston. We also support new riders to come and join the local Tamar Bike Users Group once a month of their social rides.


What is it that you love about riding?


There are many things I love about riding. One of the main ones is the feeling of liberation that comes with riding. The independence and the freedom of being in charge of the how and where you go.  I also love the stories associated with riding and how through the centuries and decades there are intriguing tales that reflect a time and a place in history. Plus I love how cycling influenced women’s fashion and increased their independence.