Always try something different
COLLINGWOOD — Julie Moss-Kujala will be representing Canada later this month at the UCI Gran Fondo World Championship cycling event in Albi, France.
The 43-year-old mother of three and full-time physiotherapist is thrilled at the opportunity to represent Canada and compete in such a prestigious amateur race through the Union Cycliste Internationale organization (UCI).
Her 100-kilometre road race will be held on August 27 with her husband Ken and three children Kameron, 15, Kory, 13, and Jaimie, 10, cheering her on regaled in Canada’s red and white.
“I’m so excited to be able to wear this (Canada jersey) and stand at the start line with all these other inspirational women wearing the jerseys from their countries and heading off on a ride of this caliber. My goal is to enjoy it and having my family there is everything.”
The physiotherapist at the Collingwood Sport Medicine and Rehabilitation said she qualified for the Gran Fondo “un-expectantly” through the 112 km Grey County Road Race June 17.
Qualifying for the Gran Fondo by placing third in her age group wasn’t the reason she competed.
“I just wanted a challenging race to try with more experienced riders to ride with to learn more. I ended up qualifying and I didn’t realize I had,” she explained.
But it provided the perfect opportunity both for Moss-Kujala and her family.
“We really wanted to take our kids to Europe before they started to leave. That was our goal. The timing was ideal,” she said.
While the race seemed to fall in her lap, it was no stroke of pure luck. Moss-Kujala earned it. She has been riding bicycles since she was a young girl, following her brothers when she grew up in Timmins.
“I just love to ride and I have since I was a little girl. I grew up mountain biking but I never raced. I just rode with my brother and his friends,” she said.
Having lived in Collingwood for 18 years, the active family all enjoy mountain biking on the Niagara Escarpment.
When she turned 40, Ken bought her a road bicycle.
“I just fell in love with it.”
She joined the Collingwood Cycling Club and got involved with racing as a way to ride more.
“It gave me a goal and I love have a reason to go out. It’s so enjoyable the hills.”
Obviously a skilled rider, she started competing three years ago at the fall 160-km Centurion race.
Two years ago, she helped a 79-year-old cyclist get a time record when she was the only female among the six-member Team Marinoni, adding that it is her best competitive finish.
On Sept. 30, Moss-Kujala will be riding in the 200-km Growling Beaver to raise money for Parkinson’s disease. She is raising funds particularly for Parkinson’s patient Heather Birchall.
Anyone wanting to contribute to the fund can go to the Growling Beaver website through raceroster.com and click on pledge participant and type her name in the search bar. She is also collecting pledges through her Facebook page Julie Denise Moss-Kujala.
As a full-time working mom, cycling is her outlet. It keeps her healthy and enables her to balance her life.
“It helps me juggle life and I love it. More women need to cycle,” she said.
“Fitness has always been important to me and I enjoy it so much and that little competitive edge takes it that extra step.”
Moss-Kujala has been training extra kilometres and riding more hills in preparation for the street race in France through vineyards and over rolling hills. Her family is very supportive.
“I would love to tell the readers to be inspired by something they love and don’t be afraid to try something different,” she said.