In 2007 I spent an accumulative time of 2 weeks on an aeroplane travelling to various project sites around the world whilst working for Rio Tinto, the mining company. In the December, after a panicked month of training, I entered a 3 day stage race in the Victorian mountains in Australia. I won. Someone suggested I got myself a proper bike and a coach. Three weeks later, to the surprise of all – including myself, I came 2nd at the Australian Open Road Race Championships.
I was asked by the British cycle federation to take a sabbatical from work to race with the National team. I finished work in March 2008, my first race in Europe was Fleche Wallone World Cup in April, in May I finished 6th overall in the 10 day Tour de l’Aude, in June I broke my fibular whilst filming with the BBC and in July I competed in the Beijing Olympics where Nicole Cooke won the Gold Medal. It was a whirlwind beginning.
I never went back to the office job. I’ve since represented Great Britain in the Road Race World Championships from 2008-12, the Commonwealth Games in 2010 and the European Mountain Bike Cross Country Championships in 2009. In 2013 I will be riding for Lotto Belisol in Europe and Momentum Toyota in South Africa.
BackgroundIn 2001 I participated in a mini adventure birthday weekend, borrowed a bike and was hooked immediately! I bought a mountain bike the next weekend, threw myself into adventure racing that summer in the UK before moving to South Africa for work with the United Nations at the end of 2001. It proved to be the perfect place for adventure sports. Over the next 2 ½ years my weekends were packed with mountain bike races and adventure races. Running around at night with a head torch, abseiling, paddling and mountain biking became the weekend norm. The fun came to an end when I accepted a job back in the UK with Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew in 2004. My career took priority and work took me all over the world and there was little time for racing. In 2007 I moved to Melbourne, Australia, to work for Rio Tinto. The road cycling scene was huge. I had little time to race and the one I won in December was only the second during my time in Australia and my 6th ever road race.
- 2008: National team. Highlights – Olympic Games, British National Time Trial Champion. Lowlights – breaking my fibular 6 weeks before the Olympics.
- 2009: National mountain bike talent ID programme. Fell down the stairs at home and dislocated my shoulder. 7 weeks on a trainer didn’t help the technical skills or confidence. In August I returned to the road with the National team.
- 2010: My first year with a pro team; Cervelo Test Team. Highlight – first UCI stage win and 2nd overall at the Tour of Ardeche. Lowlight – breaking my collar bone in stage 2 of the Giro Donne and never making it to the mountains.
- 2011: Cervelo-Garmin. Highlight – 2nd place on stage 1 of the Giro Donne. Lowlight breaking my fibular (yes again) at a mountain bike race in South Africa.
- 2012: AA drinks. Highlight – British Road Race Championships, 7 podiums in UCI races, Bronze medal in World Championships TTT. Lowlight – not being selected for the Olympics despite having my best season ever.