Thursday, August 24, 2023
Mackay and Whitsunday Life
When Lesa Ashford discovered there was no ultracycling record for circumnavigating Australia set by a woman, she said “there damn well should be”.
The Brisbane cyclist has taken it upon herself to set the female record, hoping to inspire other women and prove what’s possible.
She embarked from Brisbane on March 8, International Women’s Day, passed through Mackay on Monday and hopes to complete the ride on Mother’s Day.
“I’m starting for the women and finishing for the women,” Lesa said.
“For all the girls out there, I just want to set it.”
Lesa hopes to complete the 14,200km ride in 67 days, averaging 211km a day.
She departed a rainy southeast Queensland six days prior and was met with uncompromising central Queensland heat.
“I’ve actually decided I want to keep the rain because it’s so humid up here,” she laughed.
“I know I can do over 200km, but I’ve just had a head wind the whole way, relentless head wind, relentless humidity.
“The guys that have done this before, they haven’t had that through this section, so I feel like I’m behind, but I’m not.
“While I’ve got a head wind, I’ll just keep turning that bike and moving it forward.”
Travelling with Lesa is a support crew of seven, all with unique roles and responsibilities to keep her on the road.
“They’ve got their own expertise in a lot of things across a lot of different rides that we’ve done,” Lesa said.
“Our first ride out, on our first day, was pretty much our first training day.
“We’re all still learning and working out who works best with who and what’s the best way to go.”
Lesa also has many supporters watching from home, including her daughter who manages her social media platforms from Brisbane and her nutrition coach who is monitoring her glucose levels all the way from Ireland.
As well as riding to set the record, Lesa is raising funds for Fortem Australia, a charity supporting the wellbeing of Australia’s first responders after a relative, his partner and their unborn son were killed by a drunk driver in Brisbane in 2021.
“This is my way of giving back to the first responders that attended that scene, because it was horrific,” she said.
Lesa has a great appreciation for healthcare workers on the front line.
Last time she was in Mackay, she spent five days in Mackay Base Hospital after an accident while riding from Brisbane to Townsville.
“I did a full degloving and the emergency and my aftercare in Mackay Hospital was exceptional,” she said.
To find out more about Lesa’s journey and follow her progress, visit Lesa Ashford - World Ultracycling Record: Circumnavigating Australia on Facebook.
Lesa Ashford passed through Mackay this week on her way to becoming the first woman to circumnavigate Australia on a bicycle
Lesa’s support crew is made up of cycling enthusiasts she has met throughout various rides