Tamaryn Stevens: Triumph on Two Wheels

February 16, 2024 6 min read

Tamaryn Stevens: Triumph on Two Wheels

We are delighted to introduce you to Tamaryn Stevens, an absolute beacon of resilience in the cycling world. Today we share her story with great pride. Tamaryn’s life, shadowed by chronic kidney disease and marked by the challenge of transplants, reveals a profound truth: when you're truly passionate, nothing can stand in your way.

Tamaryn's relationship with her bike began as a necessity for rehabilitation but swiftly transformed into a deep-seated passion for the sport. Despite facing daunting health challenges, including a failing kidney and the rigors of dialysis, her spirit remained unbroken. The call for a second kidney transplant marked a new chapter in her life, one filled with grueling recovery but also renewed hope and strength found through cycling.

As necessary rehabilitation evolved into a relentless pursuit of cycling, she not only embraced the sport but excelled in it, competing at National and World Transplant Games and playing a pivotal role in establishing the Transplant Category at the AusCycling Australian Road National Championships. Her journey, a blend of grit, grace and a pioneering spirit, saw this category flourish, symbolising her commitment to inspiring the transplant athlete community.

Tamaryn's remarkable resilience, supported by the cycling community and brands like FOHER Co, underscores the power of sport to conquer life’s toughest battles. Her story is a resounding reminder that with unwavering determination and support, any barrier can be overcome. Celebrate with us the inspiring journey of Tamaryn Stevens, a testament to the belief that with true passion and a zest for life, no obstacle is insurmountable.

x Kylie and the FOHER Team


Mount Buninyong has been the home of Australia's road cycling national championships (RoadNats) for over 20 years. It's steep, it's hot, and it burns the legs. In the last few years, I've ridden that climb as part of a world first category in Paracyling- the Transplant category!


I'm Tamaryn, and I've lived with chronic kidney disease for most of my life. I got sick as a child, and received my first kidney transplant when I was 13. A lot goes wrong in your body if your kidneys don't work! I lost muscle mass- simple things like walking, or being able to stand on my toes, were totally out of reach, and I had issues with my bones and joints. So when my transplant allowed my energy to come back, my go-to tool for rehab was my bike!


Pic: Tam in her full custom FOHER Co jersey in the lead up to 2022 and first ever Roadnats. Spot the kidney!


This quickly evolved from simple rehab to a love of riding. I started going further, faster, and after some years I started racing consistently. I fell in love with all things bike - road cycling, track cycling, cyclocross and gravel riding. I competed at National and World Transplant Games, earning a world title in Spain in 2017! But life, as we know, never goes fully smoothly. My kidney started to struggle, and just after I won a bronze at the 2019 World Transplant Games in Newcastle, UK, it failed completely. I was back relying on dialysis to keep me alive.

I still rode my bike during this period, to keep my spirits high and my body in the best shape I could. This paid off one random Tuesday evening in 2020, when I got the call that my doctors had found me a kidney!


A transplant is a massive operation- your body suddenly has to learn how to work with a new organ, and that new organ has to learn how to work with you. The recovery period is long and hard - I was on very high doses of medication, which impacted my body and my mental health. I'm incredibly glad I had my bike to help me through this. Riding gave me a really good foundation, and once I was allowed back on my bike, it really helped me find joy on some of the hardest days.

Fast forward a year and a half - I had been for a ride, and was recovering that afternoon when I received a very simple, but exciting, message from a friend:

You racing transplant in Buninyong?


This led to some frantic googling, and I was delighted to discover that for the first time ever, AusCycling had created a transplant category in the Paracycling races for RoadNats! I suddenly had a new training goal - with just over a month to go, I started making trips to Mount Buninyong to see exactly what I was up for. I also reached out to FOHER to get a custom jersey made to celebrate this (thanks Kylie for working with me to get it done in such a short time!) It featured a little graphic of a kidney, sitting low on my left, where my current kidney transplant is!

2022 was the first year the category ran, with just myself in the women's race, and a friend in the men's race. I really wanted to see the category grow, and so I shared my excitement with the transplant community through social media. In 2023, the men's category had five competitors, but I was still the sole competitor in the women's category.


Transplant cyclist Tamaryn Stevens at Road Nationals

Pic: Tam riding at the top of Mount Buninyong during the 2024 Roadnats.


2023 also played host to the World Transplant Games. The event was being held in Perth, which meant we had a large team of Aussies competing. Having earned my National Champion's jersey at RoadNats that year, I got to race in it on the world stage, riding into 3rd place in the road race! More importantly, I got to connect with other transplant cyclists and encourage them to come compete at RoadNats. My dream for 2024 was to have a full women's podium. As RoadNats 2024 approached, there were three of us entered!


However, part of having an organ transplant is that we still have a lot of health issues. It's important to understand that transplants are a treatment, not a cure. I still live with low kidney function. On top of that, I need to be on a lot of immunosuppressive medication. These are hard on my body and make it difficult to develop muscle and fitness. They also make it very easy for me to get sick and get sick badly. As you can imagine, this makes living in a pandemic VERY complex. Less than a month before nationals, Covid snuck past all my defences.

I was absolutely wiped out. I could barely move for weeks! I had just begun to get back on my bike when another virus got me. With only days to go, I went into hard core rest mode. Three of us were entered in the women's transplant races - all I needed to do was show up, get to the finish line, and finally, we could make history.


The time trial came first. I woke up that morning feeling so grateful that I'd managed to shake off the virus, but with no idea how my legs would be. During warm up, my body was still quite cranky! But being in the atmosphere, and meeting up with my transplant friends again, had my spirits flying high. I got onto the start ramp, launched, and while my plan had been to take it easy and just prioritise finishing, let's face it - race day adrenaline is something else! I couldn't help putting down whatever power I could and shocked myself to come in at only a minute slower than my best time.



Pic: Tam starting the TT. Credit: Behind the Ride Photography


This lulled me into a false sense of security. On road race day, with no preparation, Mount Buninyong had never hurt so much! By the last lap, I was genuinely wondering if I could get up that final pinch. I managed it, thanks in no small part to the encouragement on the side of the road from friends, family, and fellow FOHER Co Ambassador Emily. The final descent was enough of a relief that I had something left in the tank to sprint to the finish line (I may have needed to lie on the grass for a good twenty minutes after, but it still counts!)!

History had been made! We had a full women's podium in both the Time Trial and the Road Race. I was so incredibly proud of all the riders, and proud that despite the awful lead up, and all the doubts, I'd managed to compete with them. It was such a joy!


Pic: Podium picture from the TT. Credit: Behind the Ride Photography


I am still so keen to see the category grow. I would encourage anyone who has had a transplant to consider taking part. In Australia, there are categories in swimming and athletics too! We remain the only country that has incorporated this category into our cycling championships. If you're a transplant recipient interested in cycling, feel free to reach out!


x Tam


Transplant cycling competitors at the Australian Road National Championships

 Pic: All the TX recipients for the 2024 Roadnats.


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Still not sure about what size you could be? Our two product models are good examples.

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