In our latest InternationElles blog, we meet team rider Helen Bridgman
I started cycling about seven years ago when my knees, hips and frankly most of my joints were screaming at me that it was time to give up netball finally after 25+ years! I dabbled with a bit of triathlon first but got bitten by the cycling bug good and proper when I started racing two years ago. Since then I’ve done a bit of crit and road racing and TTs and I’ve just become accredited so I can give track racing a try too. I love the thrill of racing and the camaraderie. We may be rivals in the race but we have a laugh together the rest of the time!
After having a blast racing in the London Women’s Racing (LWR) leagues, I became a volunteer on the committee and I am now co-chair of LWR. In this role I try to demystify everything around racing, help make it more accessible and encourage more women to give it a try and discover the thrills of this cycling discipline.
I’ve taken part in many different sportives and events over the years. My problem is I just say yes to everything! My very first one was the inaugural London Revolution in 2012. I had to buy a road bike and learn how to ride in cleats just weeks before I did it with a team from work to raise money for charity. I cried at least once – when I fell off my bike because I was so tired I couldn’t unclip – but I loved it! Never shy of a challenge, since then I’ve done the Marmotte, Tour of Flanders, Maratona, Red Bull Time Laps and the Vatternrundan to name a few. I also rode for GB in the World amateur GF champs in Italy last year after breaking my collarbone in a race just eight weeks earlier.
I dabbled with audaxes earlier this year too, the longest of which was a 300km ride which took us from London almost to Stonehenge and back! Nothing, however, will come close to what I am about to undertake with my fellow InternationElles in July.
In every day life I work in marketing for a global law firm. It’s a very demanding job and it’s always been difficult to juggle work and training. I am very lucky that they have let me take a three month sabbatical to enable me to focus on the Tour. I’ve been making the most of it and training hard – lots of long rides mixed with interval training and plenty of double days too. I’ve been lucky to have lots of friends to ride with to keep it fun and social so it doesn’t feel too much like hard work!
The opportunity to join InternationElles was a dream for me and one that was too good to miss. I am passionate about equality in all walks of life and was quite frankly gobsmacked when I started to understand the uphill battles there are for women in cycling at every level from grassroots to professional. Everything from lack of media coverage, lack of races and paltry prize money needs to change. There’s a lot of infrastructure that needs building around the sport to ensure that having another grand stage race for women is successful. I am really hoping that this summer we can shine a spotlight on these issues to help bring about change as well as inspire others to get on their bikes. All of this will drive me to keep pedalling, even when things get really tough in the mountains!