From a young age, when I started to learn to ride horses, I was highly competitive. Always aiming to be the one in the group who managed to rise trot first, be the one who could canter on her own and I was more than capable of getting my pony ‘tacked-up’ and ready with very little help.
This determination saw me quickly progress, and in a short space of time, I was incredibly lucky to have the chance to have my own pony who we kept in the back garden for the first winter, fortunately, our garden was quite big. We had two years together and he taught me so much and gave me a real feel for show jumping and cross country competitions, but he didn’t enjoy it as much as I did. When the opportunity arose for me to try out a bigger competition pony from the same family, I jumped at the opportunity and that was just the beginning.
Together, Tosca and I went on to win just about every class and season championship over the coming years. But the biggest thing I learned from her was that rosettes, prizes and trophies are won at home, you can’t just turn up at a show and get on and expect it all to happen, it just doesn’t work like that. Hours of fitness work, schooling and lessons made up most of my after school time and weekends, and my teenage years were very different to that of my friends, but I loved the commitment and the thrill of winning big classes and achieving all of what I did.
While I no longer compete with the horses, I still have that competitive edge and the desire to challenge myself with the aim of making myself a better person. After all, the quickest way to get me to do something is to tell me I won’t be able to do it.
I’ve run 5k and 10k races and a 1/2 marathon too, but my latest challenge is to take part the 2017 Wales Velothon. The Velothon is an 110km cycle event in July covering the scenic (and hilly) areas of South Wales and the valleys. This is by far the biggest challenge I’ve faced, both mentally and physically, especially as I only started riding a road bike a little over six months ago.
I’m riding as part of Team Breeze with the support of HSBC UK Breeze and Welsh Cycling.
The breeze initiative was set up in 2011 and was started to encourage women to get fit and have fun on their bikes, led by women for women. Breeze rides were started by British Cycling, Sport England and Sky with funding from the National Lottery. To date, Breeze has encouraged over 20,000 women to get back on their bikes, including me!
Over the coming weeks and months, I shall be writing a blog covering my training, the hills, the thrills and no doubt the spills too in my build up to taking part the Wales Velothon.
Feature photo by Huw Fairclough Photography.