Published: 04th Apr 2024 Images: Scottish Cycling

BlogHER: Nadine’s Cycling Journey

For April’s BlogHer we asked Nadine Reilly of Trilogy Cycling Club to share her cycling journey.

Hello I am Nadine, I have been asked to put together a short blog about how I got into cycling so here goes!

I turn 50 this year, I don’t know how that happened!  I live with my partner Paul and two cats, Sprocket and Squeak. My day job isn’t the most exciting, but I love it. I have worked 23 years for the same financial services firm in Dundee as their IT Manager. I get to fix everyone else’s IT problems; it makes me a hero!

I haven’t been cycling all that long. Sure, I had a bike when I was a kid and messed about with my pals, but I didn’t take it seriously. I bought a mountain bike again in my late 20s but I never really used it, then I had the crazy idea in 2008 to take part in the Maggie’s Bike and Hike challenge which included a 30 mile section on the bike. Cycling 30 miles was the most physically challenging thing I had ever done. I can’t say I enjoyed the cycling part, and the bike went away in the shed never really to surface again.

I didn’t cycle again until 2017 when I bought a gravel bike. I got this to go out with my husband who had recently taken up cycling, so that we could spend more time together.   However, he had different ideas and was much fitter than I was, so I ended up cycling on my own. When we split up in 2018, I had a decision to make. I could ditch the bike (again) and give up, I wasn’t getting much fitter or faster on my own, or I could take a leap of faith and join a local club. It took me almost six months to pluck up enough courage to make contact, as their rides were much faster than my average speed. However, I eventually got in touch with someone and it was THAT decision that really changed my life.

I hung up the gravel bike and bought a road bike. I was getting out three or four times a week, cycling with new friends, loving the sport and getting fitter and stronger. It was all just social cycling though with some sportives and challenges thrown in. By May 2019 I had completed the Deeside Loop which is 140 miles, and in August that same year I did a 200 mile challenge which took over 12 hours to complete. I was hooked on cycling by this point, and it was all I wanted to do. If it rained it didn’t matter, I was still out. Even the cold winters didn’t keep me off the bike.

In 2020 I met my current partner Paul through the cycling club. Although Paul enjoyed cycling on the roads, mounting biking and gravel biking was more his thing. He convinced me to dust off the gravel bike and take to the trails. I found a new love for cycling all over again. Away from the busy roads and traffic, there was something magical and exhilarating about cycling on remote gravel trails through forests and over hills.


In August 2021, Paul entered the Deadwater 100 MTB race. Originally, I was just going along to support him, but then I thought to myself, this is going to be a really long day so I might as well enter too. For anyone who doesn’t know what the Deadwater 100 is, it’s a mountain bike marathon. Sixty miles of trails and 9,500ft of climbing in Kielder Forest. I had absolutely no idea what I had let myself in for, having only started riding a mountain bike two months previous. I didn’t even have my own bike, I was using Paul’s bike which was too big for me.  However, despite this, I ended up sixth vet, and 13th women overall. I was delighted just to have finished. It was two 30-mile laps, and going out for that second lap was a real mind over matter challenge! I got the mountain biking bug that day though, and I still remember it like it was yesterday.

From there, Paul convinced me to enter one of the Scottish Cross Country Mountain Biking series events in 2022, competing in the vet 40s category. I wasn’t sure at first, but I thought what have I got to lose, I’ll give it a go. I raced most of the series that year, and even managed to get on the podium a few times, which definitely helped spur on the enthusiasm. I think I finished second in the series overall by the end of the year.

In February 2023 I was probably the fittest I had ever been, then I had that day every women dreads, I found a lump. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2023. I was scheduled to have a full mastectomy and TUG reconstruction from my inner thigh in July 2023, but I was determined to get a good few hundred miles in before then. I did the Dirty Riever, 10 Under the Ben (where I was 3rd vet), 70 miles round Loch Ness with some friends, and then finally a Glorious Gravel event of 80 miles in Galloway forest. The final ride was just a week before my operation. I was told it would be at least 8 – 12 weeks before I would probably be able to get back on the bike again. I was out of hospital after five days and back on the bike after three weeks. I’m not saying it was the longest cycle or that it was easy, I think I did ten miles, but that didn’t matter, I was back on my bike!

It’s been a challenge all over again to build my fitness up, and I struggle with my energy levels now, which I put down to the cancer medication, but I was determined to get back to doing what I love most, which is racing.


I started racing cyclocross in the winter of 2023 and it’s great to see so many women taking part too. It’s a good way to keep fit over the colder months. You really have to not mind getting a bit dirty though, there is usually plenty of mud involved.

This year I moved into the Grand Vets category for mountain bike racing and my first race was Cathkin Braes in March 2024 My determination to get my fitness back paid off as I managed to finish the first place podium in my category. I can’t even describe how happy I was. For me it wasn’t just about winning a race, it was about proving to myself that I wasn’t going to let cancer beat me and that I can be fit and strong again.

Paul and I set up our own cycling club in 2023, Trilogy CC. We are trying to encourage more people to get involved in mountain biking and gravel biking.  Everyone should be able to take part and enjoy this sport, no matter what your fitness level is.

I’ve made some amazing new friends through racing and met lots of great people along the way, but Paul has been the driving force behind my inspiration the entire time. I truly believe I am the person I am today because of his encouragement. If you know Paul and I, you will know that he shouts at me to pedal faster most of the time and asks if my brakes are stuck on!

It’s a real shame that women are still in the minority when it comes to mountain bike racing, but hopefully my story can inspire some more of you to have a go! I can’t do wheelies or jump off huge rocks. You don’t need to be able to do that, it’s just about having fun and taking part.   It all starts with turning the pedals.

Cycling has changed my life and I am determined to keep riding my bike for as long as physically possible.

Thanks for reading my story.

Nadine Reilly

Thank you, Nadine, for sharing your experiences in cycling and recovery from breast cancer. For anyone affected by breast cancer, you can visit Breast Cancer Support for information and support.

If you would like to tell your cycling story for our monthly Scottish Cycling BlogHer article, please email Melanie, our Women and Girls Development Manager, on: [email protected]