I have been into bikes for most of my life.
I treasure my memories of getting my first bike plus stabilisers and riding home from the shop in great excitement precariously leaning to one side.
I remember the stabilisers off moment with mum running behind me holding my seat as I made my first independent pedal strokes – the shouts of “I’m still holding you” that sounded strangely far away??
Then there was the Christmas bike with the basket on the front and my first mountain bike with 21 gears which was tragically stolen from the shed.
There are probably a few in between that I can’t remember but they were all so special.
I tried to join a mountain bike (MTB) club at uni but only had a cheap dodgy bike. It was all blokes and I didn’t feel equipped at the time for the technical terrain.
I managed to get further riding with friends around the Ministry of Defence (MOD) land when I lived down south after graduation.
Having a job I was able to buy my first half decent mountain bike from Evans in Woking, which was very exciting: a Specialised Rockhopper.
I did some MTB races including the MOD championships since I worked for a defence company, I even got some medals however it always helps when the women’s field is very small!!!
I also did some cross country races organised by Gorrick MTB races, an organisation that is still going down south.
After this, I moved back up north to start a new career which kept me busy for a few years and interrupted my biking, but once things had settled down a bit on the work front I joined a large MTB club cup in the north east called the Beamish Oddsox, the longest established and largest MTB club in the country.
This is when my MTB riding really took off and I started spending all my spare money on kit, MTB holidays abroad and the occasional coaching session.
However, I was still very much in a man’s world and in a way this slowed my progress as I spent most of my energy trying to keep up.
While I really enjoyed riding with the guys, and they were welcoming and supportive, I felt that while I did progress a lot it was slow because seeing the guys ride things I aspired to didn’t translate into inspiration for me.
I felt fundamentally different from them and their achievements didn’t seem applicable to me.
Over the years I’ve loved watching more and more women getting involved as time went on I met more local girls beyond my club, joined more clubs, and some women’s specific Facebook groups which helped me meet more and more women into bikes.
I met some new friends who encouraged me to try racing downhill and enduro at some grassroots events. This is when my riding really took some big leaps forward. Racing really hones the skills but also riding with women provided the inspiration I needed, I mean, “if she can do it, so can I!!”
In 2019, I decided to move back to Yorkshire. I have discovered amazing local MTB trails on my new doorstep and have met lots of new friends in the area.
Unfortunately, the pandemic got in the way I had to tone it down a bit due to the “No Gnar Not Far” rule.
Due to lots of changes in my life and resources since the pandemic I haven’t been racing for a few years. It’s been a while since I hit the gnar hard as both myself and my bike have been broken a fair bit, but I hope to possibly amp it up again in the future and maybe race again, although no pressure at the moment.
I joined the Bingley Belles last summer. It’s brilliant to have such a large friendly women’s cycling club right on my doorstep.
As you can see from my story, my first love is MTB but that’s not the full story.
I generally just love riding a bike and I’m up for all types of biking. I currently have four bikes – two are mountain bikes, one is a cross bike I use for commuting and one is a road bike.
I’ve commuted to work by bike in all weather for years and just enjoy going for rides and exploring.
I’m keen to do some long-distance biking and bikepacking at some point.
I recently went to a women’s BMX taster session at the track in Peel Park… hmmmm… another bike purchase???
I have lots of favourite rides but if pressed to pick something my goto local route is the Bingley Bash.