My first season as a professional cyclist has come to a conclusion having just completed my longest ever stage race at the Tour Cycliste Féminin International de l’Ardèche, a well-established seven day stage race in the undulating south-east of France. It was a great week of racing for me, getting in the break on the first stage as well as being at the sharp end of some of the other stages, but I also valued spending more time away with the team, being able to learn from them and contribute to a larger goal.
This year has been a huge opportunity for me to learn an incredible amount in the world of cycling. I have been fully immersed in the environment from the start of the year at training camp, right to the last race of the season. I know I have developed a lot of my skills riding in a peloton as well as the technical and tactical side of racing this year that you can only learn through race experience. Looking back, I can see how much I have grown in just a couple of years. Two years ago I was cycling on my commute to and from university every day, a year ago, I completed my first ever national level stage race in Ireland after my first summer of racing my bike in the UK, and now, I have finished a prestigious seven day UCI stage race with Canyon//SRAM!
At home, I competed in my first ever National Road Championships and made the select front group, finishing seventh, a result I’m really happy with, justifying the hard work I have put in all year. I also won a local British National Series city centre crit the following week in July which was so much fun having family and friends watching me.
Most of all, this year has taught me how much I just love riding and racing my bike! I had some time in August and spent a week training in Girona and then a week training in Varese. Cycling is so unique in the beautiful places you travel to and the wonderful community and people you meet. I’ve learnt how a supportive team environment is key to team success, there is a large amount of effort required to achieve the highest results from a lot of people. I’m so grateful for the whole team at Canyon//SRAM for being so supportive, not just the riders who I have learnt so much from in the races, but the staff for giving me opportunities out of my comfort zone and providing invaluable feedback.
I have found this feedback and self-reflection to be really important in my career so far. It is so easy, when surrounded by the best female cyclists in the world, to forget to take a step back, find some perspective and focus on your own personal achievements! Just like every elite sportsperson, I have the drive and determination to achieve great results and success at every race I do, and through reflecting on what I learn at every race, I gather the knowledge that is invaluable going forward; improving in small steps. I realise I can use skills I have accumulated elsewhere in my life so far, such as from achieving my Chemistry and Physics degree, but there are many more cycling specific skills I continue to develop over time, and only can develop through being in this new environment.
There is so much to continue to learn, but that is the beauty of the sport of cycling, you will never stop improving and developing. There will be immense highs and lows, which you can navigate through with experience. Relentless toughness and grit is required to stay strong and keep working hard in elite sport and I’m lucky to have an identical twin sister in a similar position as me, a rower for the Great Britain senior team which has just qualified a boat for the Paris Olympics. We can support each other through our individual highs and lows on a daily basis.
I live everyday with gratitude and positivity as I adjust to my new routine. It is okay to make mistakes and experience failure, because in these moments I learn and grow the most. I cannot expect perfection from myself but every day I am learning to become a better version of myself.
I can’t wait for next year in the World Tour with Canyon//SRAM and am excited to see where it takes me!
Thanks for reading, see you soon!