Vera in her own words:
"My cycling journey really began four years ago when I was lured into riding a tandem for a charity ride under the false promise that as the stoker, I didn’t need to pedal and could just drink prosecco and enjoy the views. This turned out to be a lie, as I had to work very hard, but I caught the cycling bug! A year later I bought my first road bike and joined my local cycling club as a way to build my solo cycling skills and meet new people.
During the first lockdown in 2020 when we could no longer cycle in groups, I was forced to plan and follow my own routes and become a more independent cyclist. I also longed for a cycling community, which led me to starting my Instagram page @pedalling.to.and.fro where I wanted to share my love of cycling with others and also to find a more diverse community of cyclists, something I had been missing in real life.
I was awarded the Ultra Distance Scholarship aimed at increasing representation of BAME cyclists in ultra distance racing. This incredible opportunity has provided me with the resources and support to prepare me for my first self-supported endurance cycling race this summer. The lack of ethnic diversity in ultra-distance cycling has prompted me to document and share my journey with others in the hope that more women and BAME people are encouraged to give this type of cycling a try.
Cycling has given me a sense of belonging. It has also helped me manage my mental health, reduce my anxieties and build my confidence. Getting into endurance cycling has made me more self-sufficient and independent, and taught me how to persevere when things get tough; all valuable life lessons that have been useful both in and out of cycling.
My hope is that by sharing my honest experiences of my journey in cycling, that it will encourage others, particularly black women, to have a go at it too.”
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- Who is Vera and what she does
- Thinking of herself as a new adventurer
- Starting to discover adventure
- Being a member of Women of Colour Cycling Collective (WCCC)
- Working to increase the representation of Black Women in adventure and engineering
- Growing up in Malawi
- Not doing sports or physical activity after her gap year
- Coming to the UK for University
- Moving to Cardiff for a Graduate Job
- Joining a work football team
- Doing a charity tandem cycle ride with her boyfriend (became future husband)
- Starting to cycle commute to work
- Joining a cycling club and buying her first bike
- What to do if things go wrong
- The practical steps taken to overcome worries and fears
- Wanting to do a self supported race
- Looking for a new challenge before her 30th birthday
- Setting up her instagram account @pedalling.to.and.fro
- Learning about the Ultra Distance Scholarship
- The brilliant start to 2021
- Training and planning for the race
- Having 6 months to go from zero to hero
- Being coached by Alison Wood https://www.veloqi.cc
- Figuring out wild camping and sleeping outside
- Food and nutrition and fuelling for the race
- Developing a stomach of steel
- Working with a sports psychologist
- Dealing with negative self talk
- The start of the race
- Celtic or Celtic!
- Meeting Jenny Graham at the start
- Dealing with the rain and the challenge of getting out of the car
- Wanting to complete the race in 10 days and make the finishing party
- Getting warm, getting dry and eating food before making a decision
- Deciding to try
- Listening to your body and making the right decisions at the right time
- Magical moments from the race
- The amazing supporters and dot watchers
- Knowing by day 7 that she would be able to make it to the finish line
- “You’ve not come so far, to only come so far”
- Getting to the finish line and having mixed emotions
- Not reaching her limits and maybe there is more
- Adventure blues?
- Booking in another race ASAP
- Recovery afterwards
- How her body adapted during the race
- Documenting the ups and downs of her cycling journey
- Final words of advice for other women
- The power of setting a deadline and why you should sign up for something
- Can’t or won’t?