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Bicycle NSW is on a mission to make a change among women, and you can join in too. The annual Heart Foundation Gear Up Girl ride fosters a growing movement of advocacy, activism and support for gender parity. Building on over a century of tradition, International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic and political achievements of women, and marks a call to action for accelerating gender equality.

International Women’s Day is not country, group or organisation-specific – it belongs to all groups collectively, worldwide. Bicycle NSW is here to help celebrate International Women’s Day with you on Sunday, March 11.

“Gear Up Girl is our way of providing a safe and fun space for all women. Regardless of culture, religion, age or fitness level, we are here simply to help get women moving in a fun and active way. We’ve been running Gear Up Girl for 10 years now, and the change you see in the women who ride over the years is phenomenal. Providing them a place to gain confidence in their skills and celebrate with other women is integral to Gear Up Girl,” commented Craig Meagher, Chief Executive Officer, Bicycle NSW.

Founded in 2008, Heart Foundation Gear Up Girl has expanded into a mass community bike ride from Sydney Olympic Park to Cronulla ultimately showcasing some of the most scenic bike riding paths Sydney has to offer. With 90 per cent of the route on dedicated cycleways, local infrastructure is at front and centre of Gear Up Girl. Last year, it attracted 1500 women and children, and this year’s ride will draw an even larger crowd. Gear Up Girl is now the largest female community bike ride in Australia and has seen riders from all ages, body types, fitness levels and cultural backgrounds participate.

“With only 26 per cent of all riders in NSW being female, Bicycle NSW encourages all women to get on a bike and join us for Gear Up Girl. We’re here to make a lasting change among the bike riding community. It is why we choose routes to showcase Sydney’s cycling infrastructure to ensure the participants have knowledge of riding paths all year long,” commented Craig Meagher.

As global activism for women’s equality is gaining traction, this years International Women’s Day theme of #PressforProgress hopes to continue the momentum towards gender parity. Gear Up Girl has a number of ambassadors who not only represent Bicycle NSW’s ambition to increase the number of women and girls cycling in Australia, but who also represent strong, independent, everyday women who empower others to stay healthy through a more active lifestyle.

One of the Heart Foundation Gear Up Girl Ambassadors riding the wave of change is Rachael Nicholls, a 13-year-old powerhouse who discovered cycling in her youth. In her quest to become a professional female cyclist, she has raised over $5000 for Children’s Cancer Research and ridden over 2850 kilometres. Rachael has become a member of her local cycling club and has also began competing in rides as part of a cycling squad. She serves as an inspiration to young women across Australia, and embodies the theme of International Women’s Day #PressforProgress.

Once again partnering with the Heart Foundation, Gear Up Girl is encouraging all women to get active and on their bikes, while raising funds and awareness about heart disease. Regular exercise is important to keep our bodies and minds healthy – it’s essential for good heart health. Just 30 minutes of exercise daily can increase someone’s heart health by up to 50%. So stay heart-healthy, and join friends and colleagues for an active day out at Gear Up Girl this Sunday 11 March for the 20, 40, 60 and 80 kilometre rides. Register today at gearupgirl.com.au

Image: courtesy Gear Up Girl