Although my website is heavily focused on cycling and art, it’s not what I’m all about! I’ve had a very varied and interesting life so far, and I know that there’s a lot more to come. You can read about the ‘stuff to come’ on the regular BLOGS, but here I will tell you about some of the things that have shaped me so far
I was born and brought up in the North Yorkshire village of Cawood with one older brother and one older sister. Primary school and high school were not so local so I didn’t get to know so many of the other ‘kids’ in the village until my college years, however this didn’t perturb me. I was usually out in an evening attending gymnastics club, swimming club, lifesaving club or pantomime rehearsals. My mum certainly had her work cut out, but the taxi was always so willingly there; thanks mum! Swimming became my primary focus when I was about 13, for 3 years I threw myself into a fairly rigorous training regime with the York City Baths Club; progress was very rapid and before I knew it I was at county level. I chose to branch out to teaching the sport, my training hours dropped as I began to study for my A-levels and take on a couple of part time jobs.
With 4 A-levels under my belt I headed off to Bath University to study for a BSc in Mathematical Sciences. The degree course included a one year industrial placement in combination with three years of studying. This was the most academically testing challenge that I have ever undertaken, but they were four years I would do again if I had the chance! Just like most students I fitted in everything that I possibly could. It was during my university years that I took up triathlon and indeed bought my first ever bike- a Specialized Allez! Around studying and training I regularly attended the Bristol University Officer Training Corps; I benefited from the experiences there no end- Hill walking in Wales, the Lakes and Picos de Europa, military training in Gibraltar, Army Triathlon training in Cyprus, Cambrian Patrol and of course the frequent training weekends in the delightful outdoors during January and February.
My placement year was spent in an agricultural research station on the outskirts of Bristol, here I was involved in statistical analysis of data, teaching of statistics to MSc students and even I managed to publish a paper! It was an enjoyable year and a great opportunity to earn money which in turn allowed me to travel a little- destinations included the Gambia and New York! However, it made me realize that an office was not the place for me!
I combined my final year studies with triathlon training for the World Age Group Championships in Edmonton, Canada, as well as an RAF flying scholarship. All three had successful outcomes!
In September 2002 I began my first ever full time job as a teacher of mathematics and resident tutor at Dean Close Boarding School in Cheltenham. I made the decision to narrow down my sporting activities to ‘just the bike’. This was a decision I would not regret after a month or so of working at the school; ‘busy’ just doesn’t begin to describe the life there. I found it really challenging but unbelievably fulfilling. It is such a beautiful profession and I hope to one day return to it. With teaching, sports coaching and resident tutor duties I had little time left for the bike, but I made the most of what I had. If I could cram in a couple of two hour rides during the week- 5.30am was the best time, then one long weekend ride around my residential duties I was doing well. Competition was limited for women as most British female cyclists will know- time trials and racing with the men filled in the many gaps. I continued to satisfy my thirst for travel- usually with the bike; Italy with the Cheltenham and County ‘boys’, touring in Morocco and touring in Wales- a very under-rated country!
Touring in Morocco
I was making good progress on the domestic racing scene and was contemplating sampling racing in Belgium when I suffered a severe accident in the garden. I am not happy discussing the details of this but it left me without the popliteal vein I my left leg. I lost it from the knee down and it has left me with permanent circulation issues in that leg. Not one to be easily defeated I fought hard to get back to where I had been. It really was back to basics as I spent several weeks of physio learning to walk again. I am a firm believer in the fact that ‘all things happen for a reason’, such experiences really make you reflect on things, I was lucky to still here and just as lucky to have my leg,
I had to do the ‘cycling thing’ while I could. I continued to work at the school for another year to get some more funds behind me. I then took a brave step- one year to establish an art based business while stepping up training and sampling racing on the continent. On reflection these two things were not a perfect match; not if you want to do them both properly! When the year was up I was chose to focus 100% on the cycling, the art work could sit in the sidelines. I moved out to Belgium and the commitment paid off. At the end of this first year as a full-timer I was approached by Lotto- Belisol and signed a contract for 2008.
Launcing the business with my first exhibition in England
Large scale mural work was a unique feature of the business
The art work has had more interest on the continent than it ever had in England- the sport of cycling has a huge following here so it is inevitable really. I have had one exhibition here and substantial press coverage, I will build on this solid foundation over the coming two years.
In 2010 I took another step forward in my cycling career by signing for REDSUN Ladies team, here I rode alongside some extremely talented girls who were a great group to work with. The team was headed up by Beijing silver medalist Emma Johansson. Redsun unfortunately folded and 2011 saw me sign with a brand new team; Sengers Ladies Team. Despite a patchy season struggling with a herniated disc in my lower back I continued to learn and resigned with the team for 2012 as they took a step up with a UCI licence. The team is young and full of talent and I am in a position to share my experince of the past 4 years as well as continue to grow as rider myself; a fantastic situation to be in.
The art work had greater recognition on the continent!
In 2010 I was a rider with Redsun.