Monthly Archives

September 2017


By | Cycling Tips | No Comments

So is it?

I was riding with a couple of clients in the weekend and this question came up.

Now some of you might think this is a silly question.  If I was asking (or someone was asking me if I wanted another bike), then YES of course it would be a silly question.  Everyone who knows me well, understands that bikes and bike related items are the best gift this girl could want and Diamonds are not her best friend.

Yet to someone relatively new to the sport the thought of having more than one made her feel a little guilty or greedy.  She felt she might be judged for having more than one.

As you could imagine I quickly justified the reasoning behind Rule #12

My reasoning that she should not feel guilty or greedy for purchasing another bike are.

  1. She had a nice dual suspension bike that was over specced for the trail we were riding
  2. She worked hard and could afford another bike
  3. Since taking up cycling she had been on a number of adventures and just wanted MORE
  4. The time using the bike justified another bike
  5. It would mean if one was at the repair shop then she could use the other
  6. She wants to experience different types of riding ie Mountain Biking to Road Cycling

And the list goes on.  My answer is……

YES it is OK to own more than one bike, but please make sure you are USING them and they are not collecting dust.  For the ones that you are replacing or not using them any more.  Find a new home, there are always people who can’t afford a bike or organisations that could use them.

Be Sensible and yes I have three bike and use them all.  How many do you have?


By | Events | 2 Comments

I can get on my bike, ride by myself and not fear for my own safety AND VOTE

For those of us who live in New Zealand, either by choice or your country of origin, we have so much to gain.  It doesn’t take long from your door to ‘get’ to somewhere beautiful.  For me it is the beach or the local regional park.

I have the freedom to own a bike, to live in a house with my family.  My political views or beliefs do not put me behind bars.  I have food on the table and ‘too many’ things in my home, while others around the world do not.  As a women I can make my own choices, study, run a business, ride my bike, be a mum & a wife and VOTE.

In the 1880’s New Zealand women found freedom in the Bicycle – a frame and wheel size that they could actually ride was designed & made.  It soon become obvious that Victorian layered skirts were not easy to ride in.  A new dress fashion was born.  Women started to explore our beautiful country, connecting with other women further afield.

New Zealand women wanted a greater say in the running of our country.  They wanted the right to vote. Many of the 32 000 signatures that were collected around the country were BY WOMEN RIDING THEIR BIKES.

New Zealand became the first self-governing country in the world in which all women had the right to vote in parliamentary elections.   This all happened on the 19 September 1893.

Take a moment to remember these pioneer women who fought for our rights to be equal and don’t forget to VOTE.


By | NZ Cycle Trails | No Comments

The Great Lake Trail Women’s Retreat

One of my favourite things to do is to encourage other women to get out of their comfort zones and experience new things on a bike.   Hosting a weekend in the very changeable weather of Spring down in Kinloch, NZ turned out to be just that!

We braved wind, rain and cold temperatures while taking in glimpses of the beautiful Lake Taupo and down to the waters edge.   The trail is split into three parts making logistics at little bit complicated.

We used the services of Chris Jolly Outdoors and had Erik as our driver and all round good sort.

On the Saturday Erik came and picked us up from the holiday home we were staying in.  Kinloch is a fantastic base if you want to ride these trails.  We used a house from the Bookabach site.  Prefect for a group.

Erik dropped of us at Whangamata Road car park all ready for riding the first two sections of the trail

Orakau to Kawakawa Bay 9.8km

Kawakawa Bay to Kinloch 9.2km

What a stunning trail, mostly downhill and only small bits of uphill riding.

We spent Saturday afternoon drying out and relaxing waiting for the sun to come out.  About 4pm we got on our bikes and rode to the start of the W2K & Headlands track.  The decision had been made that we would just ride to the Lookout and back to the house due to the lateness of the day.

W2W Track Kinloch to Whakaipo Bay 13.5km

Headlands Loop 9.5km

Sunday came around quickly with Erik picking us up and taking us to the start of the Waihaha Trail.  Wrapped up in lots of layers and waterproofs we started off with the treat of rain in the air that soon turned into rather wet stuff!

Waihaha Bridge to Waihora Bay 32km

This trail was more demanding than the other two with its elevation and trail conditions.  Lots of muddy patches, twists and turns, ups and downs.  It tested the girls with a flat tyre, cold temperature and rain.

But WOW what a trail.  This is the highlight of the three.  The remoteness, bush and setting is something very special.  I will be back to ride this trail again.


By | Cycling Tips | No Comments

Can you balance on a bike?

On Friday I had the pleasure of taking a group of ladies riding at Craters of the Moon in Taupo.  We meet there to kick start our GREAT LAKE WOMEN’S RETREAT.  I decided to challenge them on a very cool track called SCRAGG’S, which has some purpose built balance wooden structures.

Balance is an interesting thing that seems to come naturally to some and not others.  The young appear to make balance look like an easy thing and somehow as the years tick by our balance ability slowly seeps away.

Is this because we forget to be kids running along edges or try new things with out the ‘risks’ popping into our heads?

I have been challenging myself and my clients to return to ‘being a kid’ and re learn how to have fun on a bike.  That might mean riding no hands or having fun on low down wooden structures like those on the Scragg’s Track.

So my questions to you are:

Can you balance on a bike?

When did you last ride with no hands on your handle bars?

Want to be that kid again?

Want help??  Come along on a coaching session to kick start your fun on a bike.


By | About Me | 4 Comments

Janet Stark is not a normal mum, according to her kids, and that’s okay with them.

Most mums are not out loading up the truck in the mornings, and heading off to take lucky mountain bikers around the beautiful trails of Auckland.

Janet qualified as a mountain bike guide and cycle skills instructor through Skills Active, and is the owner of She also recently became a Skills Active assessor, which means working with keen bike-riders who are completing national qualifications, just as she herself did a couple of years ago.

Asked what’s great about her job, Janet says it’s the looks of delight on people’s faces as they navigate the world on two wheels.

“I just love seeing people gaining confidence on their bikes. But it’s the smiles in particular – I love seeing someone grinning away as they are riding a bike.”

Pedal power has been Janet’s preferred form of transport ever since she was a toddler, and her parents gave her a trike which used to get around everywhere – including off to the park by herself, before anyone had noticed. Later on, when she was busy with kids and life, Janet formed a group called Spokeswomen with some friends, aimed at carving out a bit more time in their schedules to go cycling.

“We met regularly on Fridays. During that time, I found I was quite good at guiding, and getting people on bikes,” Janet says. “So I thought, ‘I wonder if I can get a qualification?’ And that is how I stumbled across Skills Active.”

That was five years ago. As growing numbers of friends and acquaintances asked Janet to take them out for rides, and the word spread, a successful business was born.

On a typical day, after checking the weather report, Janet is off to work. That might mean helping people develop their cycling skills in one-on-one or group coaching sessions, or leading cyclists on expeditions around the trails or in the city. In the afternoon she can often be found cleaning her gear and her bike, and possibly fitting in another coaching session.

Although Janet is thrilled to have earned her cycling qualifications, it wasn’t always easy, due to a shortage of assessors that specialise in the discipline.

“It was a very frustrating process for me, particularly the mountain bike guiding certificate. There are not many mountain bike assessors, and there were even fewer then,” she says.

“My assessor was great but he was running a successful business and he was busy with that. Trying to get time to be assessed was difficult. All I could think was: ‘Why don’t I do this? I’m still growing my business, and I can add this into what I do.’”

Once she completed her qualification, Janet’s assessor advised her to clock up some more experience, and then complete her assessor training. In July this year, Janet completed her registration period and is now assessing her first two trainees.

Assessing adds a whole new level of fulfilment into her work, she says.

“One of my trainees is starting her own business, a very similar one to mine, down in Rotorua. It’s very rewarding, because she is using that knowledge I’m passing on in her own business. It’s not someone doing it just for the hang of it; she’s got a goal in mind.”

Janet wants to see it become easier for bike-lovers to earn their qualifications.

“I’m stubborn, so there was no way I wasn’t going to finish, but it was really frustrating at times. So I want to be part of making it better.”

She says she would never have been able to complete her two qualifications, train as an assessor, and build up her business, without the support of her fellow Spokeswomen, who helped her get the practice she needed, and gave her a sounding board for her ideas.

“And then, for me, it’s been my family – they have been fantastic. They have always given me the time and space I needed, and said to me, ‘You’ve got this mum. You don’t have to be a normal mum – it‘s okay if you go cycling!’”

For more information on cycling qualifications in New Zealand please contact Janet on

Written by Esther McLaren Communications Advisor for Skills Active NZ for the Assessors Month Newsletter