I’ve always lived by the premise that we should just go out, create our own adventures and if anyone (or a brand) wants to come along for the journey, then that’s a bonus. So in essence, that’s the very short version of how I became an Ambassador for Liv Cycling UK.
If you’re interested in a slightly longer, and more detailed version, then grab a cuppa and I’ll tell you what I know.
2014 My First Adult Bike
I always cycled as a child and young adult – I think I spoke about it in this podcast – but essentially, I didn’t realise that cycling was something adults did, outside of commuting.
It was during a stint of living pretty close to Central London that I decided to get a bike to commute to my part time job mostly to save the time and hassle of using public transport. At that job, I got to know one of ,my colleagues – Anneleen – who was into cycling, and she encouraged to cycle beyond the commute.
2015 Duathlon To Triathlon
By this point, I’d already been running for a few years and when I realised you could do events where you run and you ride, I thought why not. I signed up for my first ever duathlon – the London Duathlon – and loved it.
At this point, i didn’t know how to swim but I made a decision to start private lessons. I signed up for the Windsor Triathlon and had about 6 months to crack front crawl. I loved documenting my journey here on the blog and it sparked so many conversations with others who similarly, had never learnt how to swim.
During this time I was also doing a lot of exciting stuff like starting the first ever lululemon UK run club at the Covent Garden store, then starting my own Winter Run Club in East London and who even remembers what else!
2017 Training To Ride London To Paris
As I remember it, it feels like I was searching for my next adventure and decided on London to Paris. But not the crazy ‘do it in 24hrs’ kind of ride – that sounded like no fun. I wanted to take my time, enjoy the journey, take in the sights and get some down time each day.
Somehow, I managed to rope in some of my blogging friends – Sophie and Mollie, along with one of Sophies friends and Mollies husband. We had about 6 months to train and get prepared throughout the start of 2017.
But it was also the year that I realised how much I didn’t look like everyone else in the cycling world. They was a stark lack on women in cycling to start with, and when you broke it down further, I barely, if ever saw another woman of colour on a bike.
2019 Becoming What I Needed To See
But personally, that didn’t stop me. It did the opposite and made me want to show up for other girls and women, especially those who look like me, but may not think cycling is for them.
Becoming a Liv Ambassador
This story probably starts somewhere back in 2017 actually… when I went along to a PR event and got to learn about Liv and what they were doing for Women in cycling. It naturally resonated with me as I was starting to really get a feel for the industry and had my own lived experiences.
I tried out some of their cycling kit over that year and loved it. The fit and quality were both great. Then around the Autumn of 2018, I reached out to Liv and asked if they would lend me a mountain bike so I could try out cyclocross.
I’d recently done my first ‘cross race on a bike borrowed from a fellow Womens Cycling Ambassador and looooooved it. They said yes, and I got to ride the sexiest bike I’d ever ridden in my life at that point, which was the Liv Obsess.
January 2019 was then when I got invited to join the Liv Cycling UK Ambassador family, shortly before I headed off to Lanzarote with Red Bull for a few days fo Triathlon training with Lucy Charles-Barclay. I then shared the news in February 2019 when I picked up my bike from Giant Loughton.
Here’s the caption from the Instagram post I shared:
“Sometimes you don’t realise how much it matters to see people that look like you doing the things you dream of doing…⠀
Until the moment you see that someone and realise that you never saw them before.
For me, it’s like that in cycling 🚴🏾♀️I turn up to sportives, rides, races and the lack of women is evident. Drill down further and the lack of BAME women is even more stark. ⠀
💥 So, my goal is to be the change I want to see in the world. And I can continue to do that now with the support of @livcyclinguk …and hopefully with your support too?! 🙌🏾”Me, February 2019
Becoming A Breeze Champion
At this point, I had already expressed an interest in becoming a Breeze Champion. I’d joined many Breeze rides during my training to ride to Paris, as I struggled to find a club or space in cycling where I felt comfortable.
But Breeze rides were always welcoming – the only issue was that there were never any rides locally to me. So I decided to train up as a Champion / Ride Leader and lead rides in my area. Over the couple of years that I’ve been a Champion, I’ve led mostly road rides but also a few off road rides in Epping Forest once I got my cyclocross bike.
I’ve loved meeting women who live locally and enjoy cycling too. And I’ve loved giving back to the community that supported me on my journey into cycling.
Being a Breeze Champion and a Liv Ambassador at the same time has worked well together to be honest. Before the restrictions, I would combine my rides and lead them from the Giant Store in Loughton which is a short 5min cycle from my house.
Being A Champion For Womens Cycling
Now this is the hard part for most people, especially if you’re not a woman of colour. Because if you’re not, it easy to advocate for women who look like you. And when you champion womens cycling, it can come across very exclusive. To be an ally for women who are ‘othered’ takes effort and energy. But first and foremost it takes awareness.
Of course, being a Black Woman, I advocate for other Black Women. However, I am mindful to consider that ‘other women’ – fat women, women of other backgrounds to myself, non-binary, LGBQT and as many intersectionalities as I can learn about. Because it does take a lot of learning.
Road Cycling To Cyclocross
I try to immerse myself in cycling as much as one person can, in order to meet as many women who are already cycling and to inspire others. As mentioned, I’ve tried track cycling, but I’ve also had a go at BMX, mountain biking and cyclocross.
Whilst taking part in cyclocross racing the opportunity also came up to train as a Commissaire which I did back in the Summer of 2019. As a Trainee Commissaire, I then needed to shadow at events, but due to ill health and then the pandemic, I’ve not been able to complete that as of yet.
When it comes to Officials in cycling, that’s another area that has a lack of diversity. And this includes Coaches too.
What’s Next For Me?
Despite not having a clue how 2021 would turn out, I did put some plans in place which I felt could be achieved regardless of the odds. When I think about it, although I have personal and professional goals, my personal goals still have an outside element as I love to share what I do here on the blog and on my social channels in order to inspire others to create their adventures!
Working With Cyclists & Runners
With my own passion and expertise being in cycling and running, it meant that I naturally gravitated towards working with those who have similar aspirations.
As a Fitness Professional, I launched my own online classes when gyms closed, back in March 2020. Rather than just creating a random section of classes to chose to focus on workouts that would make runners and cyclists stronger but would also suit ‘anyone’ who wanted to join in and have a good sweat.
Very soon, I’ll be launching a couple of memberships via my Ko-fi page. Firstly, I’ll have an on-demand Studio Membership (which will supersede my weekly on-demand offering I think) and an Athlete Membership for running, riding and recovery.
Becoming A Cycling Coach
I’m excited to finally be starting my coaching journey this Summer. I was due to start in 2021, but things worked out for the best as I’ve been able to skip Level 1 (due to my other qualifications) and jump in at Level 2.
The Women of Colour Cycling Collective (WCCC) have been great champions for getting women of colour supported and I’m proud to be one of those women. I’m currently fundraising for them with proceeds of my 2020 bike raffle being donated to the the new formed charity.
The plan is to use my learning as I acquire it through my Athlete membership programme, my cycling club Vekociposse and of course through delivering sessions for the WCCC members.
When I think about it, the moral of the story is still the same. If you’re keen to become a Liv Ambassador too, just keep on doing what you’re doing. Also give it some real consideration about ‘why’ you would want to be an Ambassador and why you want to work with a specific brand.
I don’t know the intricacies of how Liv (UK) choose their ambassadors but they’ve got a wide range of athletes across disciplines, ages, life stages and abilities. I’d definitely love to see even more diversity in future but I’m sure that’s coming!