On the last Sunday of October each year, south Canberra’s mountain ranges team with over one thousand road cycling fanatics. Hosted by Pedal Power ACT, Fitz’s Challenge is one of the toughest road cycling competitions in the country. Five hilly race circuits ranging from 50km – 255km test riders’ ability and agility, with the longest ride featuring the legendary event’s name-sake, Fitz’s Hill.
Fitz’s Challenge Community Ambassador Jen Faerber is no stranger to a long distance hill climb. She’s also closely connected to the competition’s official charity partner, The Kids’ Cancer Project, who raise much-needed funds for children’s cancer research projects.
Fitz’s Challenge Community Ambassador Jen Faerber.
How would you describe your cycling experience? What kind of rider are you?
I’m a recreational rider. I love being out on the bike, enjoying the speed, the scenery and the weather. I used to live on Vancouver Island and use my bike for transport, which meant a lot of riding in the rain. Now I’m a fair weather rider, on a road bike and a mountain bike. I most enjoy riding alone. I find it slightly meditative to just go at your own pace, exploring and taking in the scenery.
Why are you tackling Fitz’s Challenge this year?
I do enjoy riding, and I don’t feel like I’ve been doing enough lately. Knowing this event is around the corner will encourage me to get out regularly and take on some hills. I think it’s really important that women claim some space in the sports and activities they enjoy, most of all to give other women and girls the idea that they might enjoy it, too.
Have you done anything like this before?
I had never even been on a road bike until I got myself on the 2013 team riding the Tour de Rock, a huge fundraiser on Vancouver Island for the Canadian Cancer Society. We rode 1200km in 13 days, stopping in at lots of schools and fundraising events along the way. For that ride we trained three times a week for about six months – around 40km of hills on Tuesdays, 40km of speed/intervals on Thursdays and a long ride of up to 140km on weekends.
Cotter Road Climb. Photo: Epsom Road Studios, supplied by Pedal Power.
Fitz’s Challenge has five ride lengths ranging from 50-255km – which ride are you doing?
I’ve chosen to do the 50km ride. I generally enjoy hills, but it’s been so long since I’ve done any regular training that I think it might be a rude shock when I try the route. I have no desire to ride 100km in one go ever again, so I hope this will be a nice day out! I’m also not competitive at all and I know a big focus of Fitz’s Challenge is individual achievement – not racing the other participants.
What does The Kid’s Cancer Project mean to you?
Cancer has been a big part of my life. I had non-Hodgkins lymphoma when I was 11 years old, but was considered totally cured after about 10 months of chemo and two years of check-ups.
I have a few ‘late effects’ as they’re known (holey teeth, low fertility) but the most significant lasting effect has been how close my family is and how we appreciate the most basic things, like having a meal together. The Kid’s Cancer Project funds research into childhood cancer that has already totally transformed the experience of a child undergoing treatment. My treatment was primitive and blunt compared to how targeted they can be now. I’m so grateful that people like my oncologist Dr Luce Dalla- Pozza are still working, 22 years later, to make even more improvements and that they’re receiving funding from the Kid’s Cancer Project to do it.
Fitz’s Challenge takes place on Sunday 28 October 2018 at various locations across the Brindabella Ranges, ACT.
Abode Hotels is proud to be the preferred accommodation partner for Fitz’s Challenge 2018.