Brisbane News Magazine Mar 27 - Apr 2, 2019. ISSUE 1219

Page 25


Breakaway bird Barbara Spooner’s cycling clothing range for women of all shapes and sizes has gone from strength to strength Emma Schafer


orget about a red convertible or a Harley-Davidson, when Barbara Spooner had her midlife crisis, she was on a bicycle feeling like “sausage meat squeezed into Lycra”. The self-employed graphic designer loved cycling with her fiance, Michael Ryder, 54, but finding flattering activewear was like riding Mt Coot-tha on flat tires. “I would try on cycling pants and found I couldn’t pull them past my knees. I am a size 14 and would have to buy a 3XL in the standard cycling brands, and then I’d still be squished in like a sausage,” the 56-yearold from Tarragindi says of the moment in 2015 when inspiration struck. “I wanted to feel comfortable and stylish when I went for a ride, and I thought, how hard can this be? I’m going to come up with my own range of cycling gear for women of all sizes – lumps, bumps and all!” So Barbara set about designing her first range and, in 2017, Birds on Bikes took flight. Using a “perfect mix” of polyamide microfibre and Lycra, Barbara made flattering jerseys, shirts, jackets, bike pants and cycling knicks to cater to all women. Last year, she joined a Fashion360 Accelerator program, run by QUT Creative Enterprise Australia, and the business picked up pace. “I think I’d still have been plodding along if I hadn’t done the accelerator,” she says. “This is my midlife crisis. When I think about the future and ahead to when I will be 60, I don’t like the idea of not working and not chasing a passion. I didn’t like the look of that future so I changed it.” The program finished in August last year with a runway show, and Barbara’s

Artist collaborations will be a key element in the future of Birds on Bikes … it adds something special CHAIN GANG … (Far left) Barbara Spooner and (above) models in Birds on Bikes kit. friends – a fabulous, vibrant and diverse group of women – were the models. “I wanted to not only show the clothing on all shapes and sizes, I wanted to show that it was a community and about having fun. Birds on Bikes is much more than a range of women’s cycling apparel, it’s friendship, it’s laughs, it’s tears, it’s coffee, it’s a glass of wine, it’s a cheer, and it’s often a hug. It’s a community.” In April, the latest Birds on Bikes collection, Wild Weekends, will strut the catwalk at Pedal Power Street Style in

West End. The Brisbane Cycling Festival (March 28-April 14) event includes an athletic wear runway show and a panel discussion with local cycling legends. You’ll have no trouble spotting Barbara’s range – it will be the one covered in technicolor gumnuts and cockatoos designed in collaboration with Brisbane artist Tina Dinte. “Artist collaborations will be a key element in the future of Birds on Bikes,” she says. “It adds something special and keeps it Australian, as well as supporting local artists.”

The sky’s the limit now for this bird and her bike. “I’d like to design more of an offthe-bike range. A lot of the ladies who buy my gear are going on touring bike rides, so a range of gear that you could wear off the bike would be awesome,” she says. “The plan is for Birds on Bikes to be my full-time gig and to launch the range offshore in the UK and US this year.” Pedal Power Street Style, Apr 5, Vacant Assembly, 266 Montague Rd, West End. Free.

KNOW A LOCAL SPORTS SUPERSTAR? Keen to celebrate the up and coming talent in your community? Here’s your chance! Nominations are now open for the 2019 Local Sports Stars Awards – and Quest Community News wants you to join us in proudly recognising our next generation’s extraordinary talents. Whether it’s juniors competing at elite levels, kids who show great sportsmanship, or even the off-field heroes - volunteers, coaches and supporters - who make local sport possible. We want to celebrate them all! Our supporting partners

Visit to nominate those who you think are most deserving! GOLD



Nominations open Monday 18 March, 2019 and close 11.59pm Saturday 31 August, 2019 for QLD residents only. Winners determined during the judging period 2 September, 2019 to 13 September, 2019. Publication and state winners names will be published following the awards presentation event in October 2019. Total Queensland prize pool valued at $13,700 AUD. Full terms and conditions available at

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