17 July 2018


If you live on the Sunshine Coast, are female and have a keen interest in road cycling or would love to find out how to get started, then Melissa Batson is your girl.

Melissa started out on a trike as a child, graduated to a BMX on the farm, then a mountain bike and finally, through triathlon she first got onto a road bike, later falling in love with cycling. Since then the Sippy Downs mother of two has been breaking down the barriers and introducing as many women as possible (and the occasional bloke) to the joys of riding.

“When I was twenty I got into triathlon just the short distance tris with the Australian Defence Force. It was funny I used to always do the swim or run leg until one day our cyclist was sick and didn’t turn up. So I rode in the triathlon on my mountain bike which was very hard. That was when I decided to buy a road bike. From then on, I fell in love with cycling and for the last 15 years I have been doing road riding.”

Melissa’s encouraging nature, desire to share her sport and strong organisation skills eventually caught the attention of the owners of GIANT Sunshine Coast and that set her on a path of establishing several rides tailored to introducing more women to cycling and breaking down the perceived barriers.”

“Louise and Ian, the owners of the shop approached me to be an Ambassador and they could see every week when I came on the ride I stood there and counted heads and they knew I wasn’t afraid to yell out if someone was doing something wrong.”

“It is part of my role to show new riders the basics and get them comfortable with the idea that cycling can be for them. We run workshops at the store. They have a bike maintenance workshop, they have a tyre changing workshop so that people can learn those skills while they are in a stationary and no pressure environment, rather than learning on the side of the road.”

The response from the Sunshine Coast ladies to Melissa’s sessions has been really encouraging.

“It is really positive. I ride with a lot of different groups but mostly with Giant Mooloolaba. I run a LIV ride every Saturday which is a female specific ride and on Wednesday we do a shop ride, which has three different levels and three different speeds.”

“I think for females starting out with cycling I definitely think is a confidence thing and the more you get them out on the bike, teaching corners skills and descending and body position and all that kind of thing it becomes easier.”

“My groups dropped off a little in winter to about 14 regulars but during summer months we can have anything from 20-25 women regularly turn up to rides. So, it often needs two of us to run the ride.”

“The riders are of all ages. We have twenty year olds up to seventy year olds. One lady is 74 and lives in two different countries. She flies backward and forward to England and when she is in town she joins up with our riding group on the short Saturday ride and has coffee with all the ladies.”

With Velothon Sunshine Coast literally in Melissa’s own backyard, preparing riders for the event and competing herself has been a very natural fit and she has been a wonderful ambassador for the event and the benefits of riding beautiful Sunshine Coast.

“I had been following the Velothon website for a few months and I learned that one of the contacts was coming up to the Sunshine Coast to the Red Shed Espresso Bar, so after our normal Saturday morning ride I decided to go down and introduce myself.”

“I got a lot of interest in Velothon when I created my first Facebook post about 2-3 months ago and I created a private messenger group so it was more specific and we had three men and 15 women join. That gave me an idea of number of who would be keen to join Velothon. From that group we had a splinter group form with younger, faster riders which has worked really well.”

“Now we have a combination of entrants in Velothon. In the last four days I have had another four people join. I am guessing probably there are four of us doing the three day and roughly 15 ladies doing the one day Velo, split up between the 90km and the 150km,” Melissa said.

If you would like to join Melissa and ride Velothon Sunshine Coast or take part in some of her regular riding groups, you can find her on Facebook or Instagram @melissabatson.

Velothon Sunshine Coast is supported by the Queensland Government through Tourism and Events Queensland as part of the It’s Live! in Queensland events calendar. Queensland, just the place to experience Australia’s best live events.