My name is Chris Castalanelli and I am just the other side of 60 years. I am a retired horticulturist having owned my own garden centre in Bayswater for 10 years, then I worked as a pest and disease information officer for The Department of Agriculture. My hobby is slideshow presentations enhanced by the photo editing software Photoshop… my best friend!
Having grown up in a small rural town in East Gippsland, Victoria it was essential one had a bike. On my 8th Birthday my wish came true with a recently painted second-hand blue 24” bike. Oh, where we rode! Leaving home at breakfast we would not to return until tea time. Water, sunscreen, hat, no way! No such thing as helmet in those days.
As life moves on, I left school, moved to Melbourne then on to Perth leaving my bike and interest behind. Then one Christmas under the tree, was a brand new sparkling mountain bike, tyres with tread thicker than a tractor and the weight to match. So my journey started again. Just by myself I started doing short rides getting the kilometres under my belt. However something was missing and that was companionship.
One day as I was leaving the Hammersley Recreation Centre, I noticed a pink brochure from the City Of Stirling titled “Women on Wheels” which not only outlined various riding and maintenance courses, but a ladies group called “Wheelie Wonderful Women”. From that moment on I became a “Wheelie Woman”. I have been involved with the group for 3 years and have gone from riding 25 kilometres once a week, to regular rides on the Wednesday, Friday and Sunday clocking up a minimum of 140 kilometres per week especially during the cooler months.
Joining the “Wheelie Wonderful Women” has been a life changing experience and given me friendship, comradery and so much fun.
My collection of bikes has grown from 1 Giant Cross city hybrid bike, to a road racer with drop handlebars and cleats, and a recentnew addition of a brand new ladies mountain bike. You can never have enough bikes! I have convinced a few of my riding buddies to invest in mountain bikes as they are so much fun, and during the winter months we have started “The Tuesday Adventurers Group”, riding every fortnight sections of the Munda Biddi Trail, Kep Track and the Railway Heritage Trail. I have ridden The Kep Track twice from Northam to Mundaring, which is 72 kilometres. It’s a gravel path and sections can be challenging, but it’s always rewarding when you hit Mundaring. As with the number of bikes, it is also refreshing to join other groups.
I joined the Cycle Touring Association a year ago, hooked up panniers for first time and rode a four day tour on back roads from Midland to Bindoon (oh those hills in the Chittering Valley!), via New Norcia to Toodyay, and finally back to Midland. A total of 360 kilometres and most impressively a personnel best of 94 kilometres in one day.
Since joining the Wheelie Wonderful Women the group has gone from strength to strength. On a rainy winter’s day in September 2014 and looking for something to do, I had the idea to start a Facebook page highlighting our activities. We have 48 members and apart from a lot of laughs and witty comments, it has enabled us to keep in touch with one of our members Nicky who has moved back to the U.K.
In June 2014 we decided a “raunchy” calendar would be interesting, all in good taste of course – lots of laughs on that day. We published 50 and many ended up as Xmas pressies to unsuspecting offspring – much to their horror! “Mum/Nana dressed in burlesque – no way!”, they said.
Apart from away weekends 3-4 times a year, we have now embarked on yearly “Getaway Weeks” which includes trips within Australia and overseas including New Zealand and an upcoming journey to Germany where we’ll ride the Danube from Passau to Budapest via Vienna.
What does the future hold for me? Well, in June this year I will be joining a group of like-minded cyclist and riding from Kununurra to Broome along the Gibb River road, which is approximately a 700 kilometre journey. Experiencing the magnificent gorges, camping under the stars and enjoying the amazing Kimberley’s – what could be better?