now and then, history has a habit of conjuring up great women to
conquer, rule and change the shape of destiny.
Photo: The Champion of
Wangawallin, Helen Griffiths
© Peter Ford (Cycle Sport News)
Oolaf the Cave Girl, Boadicea,
Joan of Arc, Katherine the Great and Madame Curie, to name but a
few., made huge inroads into altering the course of “mankind”
(and you only had to view the cave drawings of Oolaf the Cave Boy to
Recently, another great female
figurehead has emerged in the shape of Helen Griffiths.
Now Helen is not your conventional
“woman in shining armour” or sparkling sequins, and you won’t
find her in the 2005 edition of Who’s Who, or offering her
services as the heroine in a Mills&Boon novel, but this Gold
Coast mum is “one in a million” when it comes to her cycling
Last October, Helen hung up her
vacuum cleaner and swapped her fluffy slippers for a pair of racing
cleats, and headed off to the Maryborough Masters Games.
Now Maryborough isn’t exactly
the cycling capitol of the world, and Susanne Ljungskog and Judith
Arndt aren’t likely to add it to their racing schedule in 2006,
but Helen Griffiths was determined to turn these Games into a splash
“I had only been back on the
bike for 4 weeks, but we’d heard what a fun event it was, and
decided to give it a go. The competition promised to be pretty
tough, so we just went up there to compete and have fun. I must say
that the jerseys were quite nice and I thought I could buy one as a
souvenir. However, I was told I would have to win it to wear it –
so maybe that had something to do with how I finished up
Photo: Helen Griffiths- First
women to be crowned Champion of Champions at the Maryborough
Masters Games© Peter Ford (Cycle Sport News)
With four tough events ahead of
her, life in the bike saddle was not going to be easy.
A ramp sprint got things rolling
on the Friday night, followed by a Time Trial and Road Race on the
Saturday, plus a Criterium on Sunday morning.
After the “battle dust” had
settled, Helen Griffiths, “mother of the year” , nurse
extraordinaire, and the pride of Wangawallin, emerged in a blaze of
Four races and four gold medals!!!
It was enough to put husband,
Peter, back into that little clinic down on the Coast, and all the
good therapy work following Helen’s earlier triumphs in 2004 and
2005, have reportedly been undone!!!
It’s no good being the husband
of a champion cyclist, especially if you fancy being “god’s gift
to cycling” yourself.
Sorry Pete, it looks like Helen
now has the points on the board…well and truly!
Helen Griffiths also picked up the
Champions of Champions Trophy, which is awarded to the rider, male
or female, who scores most points over the four events.
Four riders picked up maximum
points, and when put to a vote, officials awarded the overall trophy
This was the first time in the 15
year history of the Maryborough Masters that the top award had been
awarded to a female.
“It was a real surprise” Helen
told CSN. “Some of the other guys were world champions in their
day…so Go the Girls!!”
All up, 11 women contested the
Masters 2 races over the weekend, and 10 in Masters 3.
competed in Masters 3, but as she says. “There were quite a few
names I didn’t know, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Two girls
I did know – were Linda White and Melissa Anderson, but no one
else from the Gold Coast made the journey north”.
Photo: Helen's husband, Peter-
Coping well under the circumstances!
© Peter Ford (Cycle Sport News)
“I think the Masters 3 field was
possibly stronger – they certainly had a great road race.
In the Masters 2 road race they
all went off pretty slowly, so Linda/Mel and I attacked from the
Two or three others came with us
but after a few k’s it was only Linda and I.
Linda is a strong rider and I
wasn’t sure what she could do but by about the 12km mark her legs
were hurting and I ended up by myself.
That continued for the rest of the
I thought I was being caught about
3km to go but was only imagining things!. I was more worried about
Linda in the Crit, as she is a great tactician in criterium races.
Linda , Mel and I got away again
from the start and just rolled over. My legs were a bit tired, so I
thought I would just take my chance to sprint against her. There was
a little rise just before the line so I knew I would have to pick
the right gear and be in a good position to sprint. Luckily I picked
the right gear, got a gap and held them off for the line.
Helen recalls that the most
surprising and fun event was actually the ramp sprint.
“I’d never done anything like
that before, and I didn’t know what gear to do it in. It was only
150m on the track so not long enough to get too wound up. I was told
to do it in the 39/16 which I was really nervous about, as I have
never been much of a spinner! But it worked and I managed to break
the record by just over a second. There was also some gossip in
Woolies the next day that some woman beat her husband’s time –
however, he had a mechanical and pulled his foot coming off the
Photo: Helen shows off her Champion
of Champions trophy
© Courtesy of H.Griffiths
So after her taste of glory in
Maryborough, is it time for this cycling mother to slow down, get
back into the kitchen and to sacrifice race strategies for working
out what to put on the kid’s sandwiches?
“Slow down! Helen gasped, “I
have only just started! I have done some good ground work for the
2006 road season – just nursed the injuries along, and looked
after myself. Am still looking at what I will do in 2006 but there
are some good races about”.
“My friends who don’t cycle
think I am totally nuts, and most of my family agree!
Our 14year old hates cycling but I
decided it is payback time for the thousands of hours and money we
have spent on gymnastics and ballet – But secretly I think she
thinks it’s okay that I am keeping fit and healthy!
Peter is ever supportive and
cannot quite understand how I can work to 11pm and get up at 4.30 to
train! The two little ones are really good about my training and are
supportive in a cute way when I race – always with words of wisdom
and tactics passed to me so seriously!”