It’s October. It’s my birthday month, its autumn, its Black History Month. And it’s time for my latest lil life update… since back in the midst of Summer. I just re-read that previous update and it feels like moons ago, so much has been happening.
So grab a cuppa and a few biscuits, let’s catch up!
Level 2 Award in Coaching Cycling
I started my Level 2 Award in Cycling Coaching back in June 2021, and just this weekend, I (unofficially) passed! I say unofficially because a) I still have one more skills session to deliver and b) I also have some paperwork to complete and submit.
Although at times I’ve felt like I’m on the back-foot because I skipped Level 1, I’ve also felt like I’ve got an advantage having been a Group Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer for well over a decade. I also completed the Preparing To Teach In The Lifelong Learning Sector course a while back which adds to my teaching knowledge.
The plan once I’ve completed this course is to find the money to complete the Level 2 discipline specific courses. Ideally I’d do the Road course so I could progress onto Level 3, but also the cyclocross Level 2 so I could deliver skills sessions more locally in 2022, run by a woman and a woman of colour.
Hopefully with the support of the Women of Colour Cycling Collective and my club, Velociposse, I’ll continue my coaching journey successfully.
‘Cross Is Here
On the topic of cyclocross… the season has started and I wasn’t as prepared as I wold have liked with my duathlon training running into the start of September. However, I’m not looking to win anything… my goal is purely fun so I don’t need to be at peak fitness.
I’ve been sharing my cyclocross season journey through the British Cycling #EveryoneWins campaign and have enjoyed capturing what I’ve been up to so far.
You can check out the introduction video for the campaign on my YouTube channel and then this video is my race day experience.
I’ve also got some fab new kit to support me this season including some Shimano XC5W (XC501W) shoes, a KitBrix bag, enough MucOff to keep my bikes sparkly, and topped up my vitamins and supplements thanks to Healthspan.
I reckon I can fit around 3-4 more races in before the end of January without overdoing it. The plan is to get back into a consistent training schedule (Zwift, I’m coming back!) and to add some structured skills sessions in – either joining sessions or coaching myself.
Diversity in Cycling
The past 18months or so, have been exhausting not just because of the pandemic, but also with the added focus on racism that has come about due to events that have taken place.
Personally, one area that I have always championed for diversity is in cycling. It’s why I’m proud to be an Ambassador for Liv… to be the representation for Women (and girls) of Colour so others can be it, because they can see it.
So when I recently stumbled upon a thread which had posted a story about the collective ‘Black Girls Do Bike’, I realised how much work is still to be done. Here are some of the comments:
“Why do we feel that a colour needs to be mentioned? Anyone can ride a bike. It’s just an individual choice.”
“I can’t get my head around the complaints about discrimination when people seem happy to label themselves.”
“How is it ok to have ‘black girls do bikes’ but a group called ‘whites girls do bikes’ would be classed as racist?”
“Look out for the next exciting BBC article … black girls in camping, closely followed by black girls do swimming, black girls into breathing and sitting on the sofa looks like a good instalment.”
I’m personally too exhausted to explain why all these comments are problematic, but if you honestly wanna understand, and be an ally, I can highly recommend the book – The Good Ally – by Nova Reid. Even as a Black Woman I learn a lot from soaking up Nova’s content on Instagram.
Womens 100 Ride (September 2021)
Although championing diversity is exhausting, to the point that sometimes I feel like not bothering, I know that my little bit is hopefully doing something. And when I speak about diversity, yes, race is what I’m talking about but there are so many other intersectionalities.
First and foremost, I’d love to just see more women on bikes. Then we drill down further to welcome women of all shapes, sizes, colours, backgrounds and more, into the world of cycling.
And part of making cycling inclusive is providing a safe space, so for the Womens 100 ride which took place on September 12th, I planned a set of ‘clover’ rides (3 x approx 33km) through the Breeze platform so that people could join us for the whole 100km or less if they didn’t feel ready for that distance.
I planned the ride starting from a cafe, ending at the same cafe with cafe stops at various times which meant we were never too far away from our start point. This also meant people could see how they felt as the day went on, potentially staying for more of the ride if they felt up to it.
We ended up with a day of glorious sunshine and an amazing group of women. Margaret (pictured top right corner) was co-leading with me on the day to support all the riders that came along. I took these portraits during the second ride, so missed a few riders who left after the first part.
The group was mixed abilities and mixed experienced but we stuck together and kept everyone going to complete the full 100k. I hadn’t ridden that distance in quite some time so I was super proud to have achieved it.
Black Unity Bike Ride (BUBR)
During the Summer, I also braved the weather to take part in the Annual Black Unity Bike Ride across London. The BUBR Alliance consists of 20+ black-led cycling collectives and utilises its collective power, network and influence to bring about positive change in the Black community.
In August, I also made it along for one of their monthly meet ups at Lea Valley Velopark (pictured above). I can’t even explain the power of being surrounded by people who look like you and who have a level of understanding of the complexities which you face to be involved in the sport of cycling.
I couldn’t make the September meet up, but I’m signed up for the October meet up this coming weekend.
Rapha For The Culture Event
Another event that took place recent was For The Culture which brought together a panel of speakers from elite sport, brands, governing bodies and more to elevate the conversation of diversity and inclusion in cycling and what the future of the sport could look like.
It was a pretty overwhelming event to be honest especially with some negative news also circulating at the time. If you missed it, or didn’t know about it but would like to catch up, you can view the recording here.
Personally, although I enjoyed the event, I felt it didn’t really cover much or everything it set out to. The panel was too big so not everyone fully got to share their thoughts and then when it came to questions from the audience, only a couple were taken due to time constraints.
But… it’s a step in the right direction, huh? And this should just be the start of the conversation.
Moving onto blog stuff, I somehow got nominated for Fitness Influencer of the Year at the Blogosphere Awards 2021. I’ve no idea who nominated me, but Thank You! Although I didn’t win, I had a great evening out of lycra and met some epic people in the industry.
- I got to hang out with the team at Velovixen again to shoot their latest 2021 range. As usual, the morning was full of laughter and the images look ace!
- In August I got to chat with Ian Wyatt on BBC ESSEX about cycling in Essex. Jeremy Vine shared a video of a group of cyclists riding “4 abreast” which sparked the usual drivers hate cyclists debates! Have a listen to my segment here.
- Last year I was lucky enough to win Best Health & Fitness Influencer at the Vuelio Awards and although no awards have been announced for 2021, I have stayed ranked in the Top 3 for both Running Blogs and Fitness & Exercise Blogs.
- I featured in the NHS Better Health Campaign which provides tools to help people improve their health. Part of the campaign is to encourage adults across the nation to use the NHS Couch to 5K app, which you know I’m huge fan of! Below is a video put together as part of the campaign:
What’s Coming Up?
Right now, if I’m honest, I feel a little burnt out. A lot of my time has been dedicated to volunteering and then working of course, to cover the costs of volunteering and pay my bills. I’ve not had much energy left for myself but I’m hoping that’ll change sharpish.
Sweeping for Black Celebration Series Ride with WCCC
I’ll be sweeping on another global Zwift ride this weekend coming. These group rides will be at a social pace, lasting 45 minutes and you’ll get to hang out with me if you’re a backpacker. Sign up here.
I think I’ll be bringing back our weekly social Zwift rides too – most likely late Saturday mornings so you can squeeze in parkrun before the ride. Download Discord and join the ‘keep it simpElle’ server for all the info, and to join voice chats for the rides.
KISE 10 Year Celebrations
I know KISE only just turned 9, but it’s got me thinking. In 2022, my corner of the internet will celebrate 10 years! That’s a decade! I think it needs to be an epic celebration, so I’m gonna start putting together ideas and plans from now. If you’ve got an idea for me… get in touch!
In regards to my online classes… I’m not really sure what steps to take next. Classes have still been quiet and maybe that’s my fault as I’ve not posted much about them on Instagram etc. I also didn’t run ads like I had planned to in September.
A few months ago, I applied for a grant to support my business and my application was actually successful! I never for one second thought anyone would want to invest in little old me, but I was wrong.
So I’m taking some time out to reset my goals, my vision and my plans for the future of ‘keep it simpElle’ and everything that encompasses. I have no idea what that will look like… but I’m excited to see what happens.
Tell me, how’s 2021 been panning out for you?! Any exciting plans coming up for the Holiday season?!