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Century and Double Century

Sarah Gillis | Published on 10/21/2023

Congratulations to Ride Leader Andrew Elliston

For most of us, when we register to join a ride with Bike North, we may take for granted that ‘someone’ has thought up and mapped the route, ‘someone’ has verified that it is safe and suitable, ‘someone’ has undergone training to lead a group of cyclists and ‘someone’ has then volunteered their time to do so.

Well, that someone is a Ride Leader.

Not content with having achieved Ride Leader status, Ride Leader Andrew Elliston has now achieved Hall of Fame status by leading 100 ‘different’ routes from the Bike North route database. Not content with sticking to the same old same old, Andrew has gone out of his way to scour the Bike North database for interesting and different routes to appeal to a range of members.

But wait, there’s more. Andrew wins a double gong for having now led 200 rides for Bike North! This is not only a fantastic achievement but is indicative of a real commitment to sharing his time, skills and passion with other Bike North members.

In the interview below, we find out more about what makes Andrew tick!

When did you get interested in cycling?

From childhood – my sister recounts the moment I was provided with her “hand me down” blue bike with training wheels on it. I was off around the corner before my parents knew what had happened. I have ridden essentially my whole life except for a brief period where having a car distracted me.

When did you join Bike North?
I joined in 1999 after having ridden with Bike North on a number of occasions. At the time a Bicycle NSW magazine listed the rides, and eventually I joined them. I remember seriously struggling up hills around Eastwood following Carolyn New, who inspired me to join up. Gradually I worked up the ability to join Michael Chow when he would lead Botany Bay Bacon – a favourite of mine back then.

Records show you were assessed as a Ride Leader in October 2015. What drove you to train and get accredited as a Ride Leader? I wanted to share my joy of cycling with others, and even back then I had a host of new route ideas in the back of my mind. It was also a way to have more rides on the calendar through which I could enjoy the company of others.

What does it take to be a good Bike North Ride Leader? Genuine care for others – their health, their safety, and their enjoyment. As a ride leader, it is a way that we can give to others. I have come to appreciate how important Bike North is to people.

You have now completed leading 100 different routes for BN. What do you think of the Bike North Routes Library? Yes, I have lead 100 different routes amongst the 200 rides I have now led for Bike North. The Bike North Routes Library is by far the best of any club that I have come across. Our Routes library is interesting, diverse, suiting a wide range of ability and developmental aspirations.

How many of those routes did you ‘invent’? Of the 100 different routes I have led, I created 26 of them! Additionally, I’ve enjoyed helping others in the creation of their routes, making modifications to existing routes to improve their interest, safety, or simply performing updates to reflect changed conditions or new opportunities that have arisen over time. Keep a look out for further ideas that I have as I bring them into reality.

What are your top three favourite rides? Oh that is a tough one. It is easier to tell you what is my favourite feature on a route: water !! Whether it is the ocean, harbour, river or lake, I enjoy riding beside water. Three such rides are Sydney Harbour Foreshores, Brisbane Waters Loop and Wyong Loop.

What do you love about cycling? Freedom, activity and friendship. I am a person who needs to be up and about experiencing something, and exploring. Cycling allows me to spend time with interesting people who have a common interest. I have gained numerous friends all over Sydney through being part of Bike North.

What’s next? Bike North has an important role in people’s lives. It provides community, is an aid to mental and physical health, and provides activities where safety is a key feature. I look forward to an ongoing relationship with Bike North, and its members past, present and future. Congratulations and thank you Andrew, for your commitment and contribution to Bike North!

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