New decade, new challenges
The last decade was a complete whirlwind. I had no ‘road map’ to follow and no real plan in mind.
Having said that, getting to a position where I am able to make a full time living out of riding my bike has been no accident. I’ve worked hard, I’ve seized opportunities with both hands and I’ve made decisions that have helped me get to this enviable position. I’ve also tried a few things that didn’t work, which helped me realise what I’m good at, what’s either important or worthwhile and when it’s right to call time on something.
I gave up a life in London, choosing to leave behind all my friends, a job and everything I knew for a new life in a town I’d never even been to before. I tried and ultimately quit a secure, full-time job in the bike industry. I set up a women’s magazine (COVEN) and then put it to bed after six issues.
More successfully, I picked up some awards for this blog, set up a YouTube channel that now has over 40,000 subscribers, wrote for some quality publications and websites (Cycling Plus, MBR, Cyclist), appeared on the cover of several magazines, created stills and moving imagery for huge brands, picked up some amazing sponsors, travelled the world, became a mother, shot a bunch of ad campaigns and started bike racing.
The Dream Team
I’m not looking to make plans for entire next decade – flying by the seat of my pants is very much my modus operandi but I have made several plans for 2020; now that I have a family to consider I have to put events in the diary way in advance.
View this post on Instagram
So here’s the BIG NEWS! I’ve partnered with @pedaledjapan for 2020 and beyond and I couldn’t be happier 🎉 Their kit is superb and exactly fits the riding that I’m now doing, with lovingly designed casual and technical wear so I’ll feel like a boss when racing, training and bumming around. – Another element of this exciting news is the races and events they sponsor, which include @silkroadmountainrace @thetranscontinental @transpyrenees and more 🙀 I’m very much hoping that if I build up my endurance I’ll be able to enter one of these legendary events. I’m super excited about my goals for the next couple of years and this new partnership. . Thank you @pedaledjapan!
I’m lucky to have contracts with some amazing brands that share my vision and are happy to support my journey, whichever direction it takes.
This year I’ll be riding Marin Bikes off-road, using Zipp wheels and SRAM components, fuelling myself with Maximuscle products, protecting my head and eyes with Smith sunglasses and helmets and wearing PEdALED clothing. Stay tuned for more on these partnerships over the coming weeks.
The year(s) ahead
Like everything I’ve done over the last decade, the decisions I’ve made recently about which direction to take my cycling have been very much led by my heart. 2019 was a really interesting year for me ask the last-minute cancellation of fixed gear crit series Red Hook Crit meant I had more time to try other kinds of cycling. Some of the highlights were Tuscany Trail, Nova Eroica and Gritfest, events that really grabbed me and excited me in a way I hadn’t felt for a while.
I borrowed a gravel bike for the year and really enjoyed adding a new dimension to my training. It’s not that I was no longer excited about cycling, far from it, but the gravel bike added something that I hadn’t even known was missing.
As gravel events are always longer than fixed crits (anything up to 200 miles vs fixed crit races of 30 mins), before entering a couple I was super nervous that I wouldn’t be able to cope. I was worried I wouldn’t have time to train and fretted I didn’t have the stamina, either mental or physical. And certainly, none of the events I completed were in any way easy but the point is, I managed, in fact, I won my category and came second overall at Gritfest. And I really, really enjoyed them.
It got me thinking… could I, or should I make gravel and endurance cycling my focus for 2020? The thought gave me butterflies.
My plan is not just for 2020. Despite the fact I earn money out of cycling I am not in the traditional sense a professional cyclist. I am also sensible enough to realise I do not have the experience or fitness required to just rock up at these hugely difficult events and make it to the podium (although I am working very hard on that with the help of Train Sharp!).
A two-year plan feels a little more achievable and allows me to enjoy the process of making the transition to this kind of racing. It makes things seem potentially possible rather than too terrifying and I think a positive mindset is an important thing to have. It also means if any of the events don’t go well, I know I can use that experience to get me to my end goal and that it hasn’t been wasted.
So, my plan for this year is to do as well as I can but to view the races as learning experiences or even test events. I’ve set myself a realistic goal of just completing them. Here are some my targets (there are actually a few others but I need confirmation from a team I might be partnering with).
- Gravel Epic, Morocco
- Gravel Epic, Mt. Etna
- Nova Eroica, Italy
- Gravel Epic, Slovenia
- Gritfest, Wales
- Rebecca’s Private Idaho, USA
- Trans Pyrennes, Spain/France