12 July 2019


In the sporting landscape elite rowers are well known for their ability to absorb pain and possessing what is colloquially known as ‘big engines’.

Former Australian junior and under 23 representative Hedda Cooper and her rowing mates in their mixed team “The Chaingang” will need to draw on all their sporting prowess as they tackle the three day Velothon Sunshine Coast (19-21 July).

The Queensland based medical student’s love of rowing was fostered on Melbourne’s Yarra River with her school MLC, competing at Nationals for ten years and making her first Australian team as a junior in 2013.

“I had always ridden from a very young age, even doing 100km with my family when I was only seven. I moved to Queensland to attend Griffith University in 2017 so I didn’t do much cycling until then, just a lot of commuting while living in Melbourne. Since I moved to Queensland I have really enjoyed it.”

“We have done a few training camps in the High Plains in Victoria and NSW and I just love the hills and relatively alright on the climbs. Better on the hills than I was at rowing. This year I have put my rowing on hold and I thought I had better find something else to do.”

“I rowed pretty much full time until March-April this year and now I am riding by myself. I have done a few rides with Brisbane Cycling club on a trial with them. I am used to solo training but there are a lot of ex rowers around that I ride with.”

As a rower Hedda is used to early starts and nothing has changed, she is regularly first out on the road getting in some valuable mileage.

“I have been riding with a friend who is a lawyer, who has to be in the office at 7am, so we start riding early. In Brisbane there is a little ticker on the river loop that tells how many cyclists have gone through that day and there is usually only 20 by 4am. We are usually number 20, so we are some of the first out there and that is half way through my ride.”

“I am just riding regularly but at Velothon I know I will be relying on my base fitness from rowing, although I did do a ten hour 270km ride the other day.”

Hedda said Velothon will be a great opportunity to get some good riding in with friends, in a beautiful and challenging location. “It was the hills that appealed to me when I looked at Velothon. I love the hills, a steady incline is good, although I hear some of them are more than a steady incline.”
With four high performing athletes in the one team we can be assured that the ‘Chain Gang’ will be in the mix from the first gun.

“I am in a team with a friend who is a track cyclist but she was a rower, also an ex rower from the Gold Coast and another friend of ours. A few of us did the Tour de Brisbane and we found we were relatively similar speed.”

“The plan for Velothon is to have a red hot crack, while having fun,” Hedda said.