One of the biggest barriers I have faced to getting active has been internal self-doubt. Cycling helps me overcome it.
Work, life stress and other commitments getting in the way have stopped me from getting active. One of the biggest barriers I have faced though has been internal self-doubt rather than external pressures. As an out lesbian woman with short hair who wears a lot of traditionally “male” clothing there is the issue of the women used in cycling advertising who don’t look like me.
This “othering” can make me think that I’m not a “proper” cyclist because I don’t look like the traditional feminine women used in a lot of cycling advertising.
I first took up cycling again in 2007 to commute to work. I loved riding and came across the online community London Fixed Gear and Single Speed. I met friends here and we went on social rides together. I really got the bug for riding my bike and having fun but I started to want to do more structured training for fitness and I wanted to compete as well. After not finding the right existing cycling club to join, North London Thundercats Black Metal Bicycle Club was set up to enable us to take part in track and road racing events. The club has members from various backgrounds who work together united by our love for cycling.
It doesn’t matter who we are or how we identify because it’s a really inclusive and safe space.
We like to promote this inclusive ethos at all of our events too. Whenever we can, we run training sessions for people who want to get in to fixed crit racing. These sessions are open to anyone whatever their ability level may be. Taking part in running these sessions is a small way I can give back to the London bike community who have always made me feel very welcome.
Since 2016 I have been riding competitively in the UK and Europe. It has great fun to be part of the team, as well as competing we also organise the biggest UK fixed criterium race (Thundercrit) and various other cycling events.
I have a coach who helps me to plan my training and we work together to structure my training around other commitments as far as possible. I try to remember that something is better than nothing so if I miss a day of training to look after myself and relax I have to tell myself I can just try again tomorrow or the next day.
I’m not a professional athlete, I work full time and my cycling has to stay fun otherwise why do it!
On the weekend, I sometimes go to Track cycling training at Herne Hill Velodrome and occasionally I will go out for a longer ride outside solo or with friends. My favourite routes are out in to Essex, I have cycled to Cambridge a number of times and also Southend and Brighton. I’ve even tried a couple of 100+ mile overnight rides!