On any given Saturday afternoon, Sue Henry’s smiling face is one of the first you’ll see at Heffron Park. As well as staffing the sign-on desk, the secretary of Randwick Cycling Club keeps busy with work, admin tasks and her own racing. She also happens to be married to the club president, David Jackson.
We caught up with the industrious volunteer and Masters rider outside her Maroubra clubhouse.
How did you get into cycling?
Well, I think it was about nine or ten years ago. I was doing running and swimming and just keeping fit and this person at work said, “Oh, you know, why don’t you do a triathlon?” That was how I actually started.
I said, “Oh, I don’t have a bike,” and then they helped me buy a road bike. I remember getting my first bike from Frank Fortuna at Bikebug. He told me that a carbon frame would last forever, so I thought my investment in a bike was just going to be this one-off: just get it once, and I’ll be set up for life. Then like a year or two later he’s going, “You need a new bike! What’s wrong, why are you still in this riding this old bike?”
Then I was doing triathlon, but I was always sort of riding with the Randwick Club and did all my training on the bike with them, and just did running with other people. Then I just had enough of triathlon after a while and decided that I loved the cycling part of it, and I’d just keep that going.
what do you do for randwick cycling club?
I’m the secretary. I feel like it encompasses lots of things. I’d always been in the club, and it looked after me from the start. Everyone was always so welcoming, and I felt quite loyal to it.
Over the years, I thought it would be nice to give back. It was always run by quite a small group of people, and then we had a few changes of personnel and there was an opportunity to step in and do it. I thought, oh well, I’d give it a go. And it’s good, it’s rewarding—I mean, it’s a lot of work.
Behind the scenes, you’re doing all the, I suppose, “adminny” things like booking the track and making sure Council’s happy, making sure we’re doing everything we’re supposed to do with Cycling NSW. But then with the races in particular, I do all the sign-on sheets, make sure there’s prize money, and all those adminny jobs, you know? I do a lot of communications stuff, all the newsletters to members. We don’t really have a separate person who does the social events, so I sort of organise social events. I do all that, so it’s a real mixed bag.
what’s your day job?
My actual job, I’m an executive assistant for a headhunting firm called Egon Zehnder. I work normal hours; 8 till 5:30, 8 till 6 every day. I get up early before work and go riding—that’s when I do my training—then I go to work, come home, get on the computer again and do all my cycling stuff!
How do you balance CYCLING WITH THE REST OF YOUR LIFE?
I find my racing, I haven’t been doing as much probably. Down here on a Saturday, you’re sort of helping and doing stuff and it’s hard to find time to race, but I try and do that on other days like a Sunday instead of a training ride. But it is quite hard, you know. I get up in the morning, you’re tired, you think, “I’ve got to go training, got to do this, get it done.”
I don’t have children, so I often think you couldn’t do it if you had a family as well and you were doing all your duties like that. I think it would be impossible.
What’s it like being married to the club president?
David is now the president, but I met him through the club. He’s been in Randwick for 20 years or something. We’ve been married two years and I think we met about six years ago.
I think it actually works, because you talk about a lot of stuff at home. Once a month we have a committee meeting—we’ve got ten people in the committee—but it’s great to be able to just bounce things off someone as you go, rather than waiting for the committee meeting each month. So [there’s] a lot of it around the dinner table!
When we met, I was doing a lot of the country races, going to all the Masters events, and he wasn’t doing any of that. Then he got a real bug. He loves doing it now, it’s almost flipped. I’m a bit like, “Oh, do we have to go to Cootamundra to do that race?” and he’s like, “Yeah, yeah, I want to go!” So it’s funny how we motivate each other at different times.
What’s your favourite race around NSW?
I probably have to say here [Heffron Park] because it’s close and it’s easy for me, but I quite like other circuits. I like going to Eastern Creek and I like Lansdowne … I do like them but I don’t race there as much any more.
I suppose they’re just a bit different, a bit up and down. Around here, here it’s quite tough. It’s just hard the whole lap, whereas on some of those other courses you get a bit of a downhill, you get a rest. I find you have to work hard here the whole time.
Any other thoughts about cycling?
I love it. I think the people you meet through cycling is amazing. You’re riding along … you don’t know necessarily who you’re riding next to. You start talking and you find out whatever they are, brain surgeon or whatever. It doesn’t matter what they are, but everyone’s got their own little story and it’s lovely isn’t it, to be able to meet people?
Thoughts on women’s cycling
You feel like you can make a difference, I reckon, like watching the racing and people enjoying their Saturday afternoon. I think it’s fun. I’ve enjoyed the Masters racing. The highlight for me was racing against other girls at that level, State and Nationals. I’ve got friends for life out of that.
Initially when you rock up, it’s quite intimidating. You think, “Oh my god, I’m not going to be able to …”. That’s what I see a lot of girls going through now, so part of my job, I feel, is to try and encourage women to give it a go.
Here, you’re racing against blokes and you’ve got to be tough. Then you go to Masters and you’re racing just against girls, and it’s really nice.
I think that’s one area, isn’t it, still that’s got a lot of work, especially with Cycling NSW. A lot of girls just won’t travel to State Masters for some reason, yet you know that they come and race here every week … I don’t know why.
Find out more about Sue Henry’s club at their website: Randwick Cycling Club.