Tara Neyland calls Melbourne, Victoria home. MAAP was established in the same city, and has thrived thanks to the booming, enthusiastic and supportive bike community there – of which Neyland is a part.

Neyland makes her living as an osteopath – a musculoskeletal practitioner that emphasises the interrelationship of structure and function, with a focus on manual therapy, exercise rehab and education to assist with pain, injury and preventative care – but cycling is integrated into everything she does. She rides to work at her clinic, and a large chunk of her client base are from the Melbourne cycling community.

These riders choose Neyland because she understands what they’re going through. Having ridden everything from track to mountain bike, her experience on two wheels is extensive, just like her passion. A typical week involves a variety of cycling disciplines.

“On a Wednesday morning I host a women’s road ride, in the warmer months you can find me moto pacing at Brunswick velodrome on a Thursday, and most weekends involve an off-road adventure. I’ve recently been doing a bit more structured training with a coach, as I’ve been working towards a few cyclocross and mountain bike events. I’ve found it useful to have guidance with structured training sessions, practicing cross skills and learning how to ride MTB,” she says of her complex training plan

For many riders, Melbourne is a combination of things. There is the hustle and bustle of the city, but there is also the hills and solitude found further afield. Neyland uses the varied geography to her advantage, from mountain biking in Plenty Gorge, to a hard road loop in Kinglake.

“Kinglake or Nutfield are my go-to training loops. I grew up near Eltham, in Montmorency, so from when I was 15 or 16 and started road riding, that’s where I’d go. It’s nostalgic and a beautiful location to ride. Every Christmas morning my brother and I would go out and do a Nutfield ride, a little tradition,” she says.

Indeed, Neyland says the descent off Kinglake is the only Strava segment she has “ever really paid attention to.” Citing the mind-blowing speeds others manage to do it in, not to mention her own “hyper-focused meditative state” when descending.

When it comes to favourite routes, she has a handful of great suggestions.

Tara Neyland’s top five rides around Melbourne

1. Nutfield
Forever my favourite roads to ride in Melbourne.

2. Kinglake
If you want a climb that’s a bit longer and good to do efforts on, KL with a side of Nutfield will satisfy all needs.

3. Kinglake gravel
For some reason I've only recently explored the gravel side of Kinglake. There are some incredible roads and so many more to uncover, looking forward to more summer adventures out here.

4. Plenty Gorge MTB
Plenty Gorge is incredible. So many wonderful trails maintained by some epic humans in our community. I'm still new to exploring PG, but the advice I've been given is to go with someone who has been there before, as it's a bit of a maze and easy to get lost. If not, here are two rides I have done there for guidance.

5. Gisborne - Daylesford Dirty Wombat mashup
If you're up for a little drive out of Melbourne, this was a gravel route I did with friends over summer one year and absolutely loved. It uses a lot of the same roads as the MAAP-hosted Dirty Wombat ride.

As an osteopath, Neyland is in tune with her body, perhaps more than most. Not only can she self-assess if something needs attention, but this experience transfers over to her patients. Something she says is important for clients who want to know she understands their sport.

“I go to the gym outside of cycling and have found it really helpful for all disciplines on the bike. Cycling puts various demands on the body and in different positions, so understanding the impacts personally enables me to apply that knowledge professionally. I do treat a lot of people within the cycling community, I think they appreciate seeing someone who understands what they’re doing and why, and the load they’re putting on their body. Understanding where they’re coming from, what treatment is going to help the individual and how it’s relevant to the discipline they’re focusing on is valuable insight.”

Stretching and mobility exercises can provide great preventative care for cyclists who might be prone to injury, or just want to keep themselves in top shape. Below are her top three stretches for cyclists.

Tara Neyland’s top stretches for cyclists

1. Hip flexor stretch

  • Kneeling, one leg forward one leg back with knees at 90 degrees.
  • Tuck pelvis forward.
  • Slightly shift pelvis/torso forward to feel a stretch through the front of your hip (the side with your knee on the ground.)
  • Reach overhead with arm (same side as knee on ground.)
  • Side bend towards the other side to increase the stretch though your hip flexors.
  • Hold for 3x20-30 seconds or as comfortable.
  • Perform to both sides.

2. Glute stretch 

There are two options for this one.

A. Pigeon Pose

  • Start on all fours. Move your right knee towards your right wrist, placing your shin on the floor. Move your right ankle towards your left wrist.
  • Slide your left leg back, point your toes, and keep your hips facing forward. Your spine will be extended.
  • You can stay here, or gently come down to rest your forearms on the floor in front of you.
  • Hold for 20-30 seconds and repeat 2-3 times.
  • Return to the starting position, switch legs and repeat the above steps.

B. Supine Figure Four

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. 
  • Place your right ankle on your left thigh just above the knee, letting your right knee relax out to the side. 
  • Lift your left foot off the ground and bring your left knee toward your chest. 
  • Grasp the back of your left knee with both hands, and gently pull it toward you to feel a stretch in your right glute. 
  • Hold for 20-30 seconds and repeat 2-3 times.
  • Return to the starting position, switch legs and repeat the above steps.

3. Child’s pose

(targets hips, spine and shoulders and ankles)

  • Kneel on the floor/yoga mat and sit back on to your heels.
  • Widen the knees to the width of the mat or as comfortable.
  • Walk your hands out in front of you with pushing through the palms, keeping your buttocks towards your heels where possible and allow the arms to rest on the mat.
  • Relax the shoulders, head and neck and hold for 20-30 seconds.  
  • You can then slowly walk your hands to one side, to increase the stretch through your sides (latissimus dorsi muscle) and repeat on the opposite side.
  • Repeat 2-3 times. 

Before a ride, Neyland enjoys a “good breakfast and a coffee”, and is someone who enjoys savouring the mornings rather than rushing out the door. One thing she definitely cannot leave the house without, however, is a portion of her partner’s creation: the FJ bar. This is a delicious muesli bar, with plenty of carbohydrate for a mid-ride top up on resources, “He created this,” she explains. “I simply reap the benefits!”

Melbourne is just like any other city, it’s busy. But it also has more than most to offer cyclists. From the MAAP LaB in Collingwood (where else?) you can head north for undulating, hilly terrain, and south for calmer rides. Further afield, you’ve got mountain bike trails and gravel roads to dive into as well. Isolation and natural escapes abound, but civilisation is also never too far away. And if you’re feeling really crazy, you could always ride to Bright

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