Hi, I am Caroline and I have been asked by Scottish Cycling to say a few words about my cycling story. Mountain Biking is my discipline of choice, I am a qualified L2 MTB coach, MTB Leader and Trail Therapy Practitioner. I love so many aspects of it, but I will start with a little bit about me and how I got here.
I have two boys, they are now 18 and 15. They are very active boys and through them we joined a local cycling club around 10 years ago. My husbands’ friend gave me his old bike so I could go along and join in and join him and his family on some rides (hilariously swapped for a hoover – go get that symbolism). Wow, I was hooked. So much fun. The wife of my husband’s friend (who is now firmly one of my closest friends) then suggested we join a local women’s event called ‘Muckmaiden’ that gave women a taste of trails that were being used in their enduro event the following week. Armed with my new bike, helmet and knee pads I went along. I loved it so much, I gave everything a shot, realised I could do it, the feeling of strength, of belief in myself and just fun with some really awesome women, I was all in. My friend and I agreed to enter the enduro the following week – Fair City Enduro here I come!
Through this I met some of my now closest friends, found my tribe, something we could do as a family and a realisation of how good I felt on my bike and being in nature. I never ever regretted getting out on my bike, with this awesome group of women and cycling amongst the trees. It felt like I had found my place and I will be forever grateful to the Muckmedden team for creating this space for women. Years later I was back there as a leader, giving back and taking a whole new set of women round the trails and empowering them to believe in themselves and give things a go.
As part of the Tay Titans Cycling Club, the coaching team encouraged me to do my leader qualification. The leader course and assessment was the next big turning point for me, not only did my bike skills come on, I learned trail side repairs from the coolest female bike mechanic friend, met more new friends and further built my confidence. I love leading, it’s what I do at work in leading teams, I felt like I was using the skills I had for good. It is such a great source of energy for me, seeing kids, women, anyone try something and realise they can do it better than they thought they could.
I recently took on the lead coach role at the club. My good friend Julz is the Chair and we have focussed our energies on three things while we hold these roles. To build the number of girls in the club, to support the amazing coach and leader team and to help other new parents (male and female) come into club, get their own belief and realise they can be leaders and coaches too, which in turn keeps the club going from strength to strength.
In the last couple of years, I’ve had the privilege to help out at other women’s events. Dirt Divas has elevated this to another level again, meeting even more awesome women giving up their time and energy to get more women to try out this sport and have fun in the most inclusive space I’ve ever experienced. Safe to be yourself, rock up how you are and give different disciplines a go. That is inspiring.
With how good I feel in nature, the work I do in mental health area through my day job, the counselling skills qualification I undertook after Covid and my own experience of neurodiversity in my family and myself, I became interested in the Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland Trail Therapy programme. When the opportunity arose recently to do the first practitioner course, I jumped at the chance. This felt like a real logical next step for me, and I am excited now to see where this can take me and how I can continue to give back in this awesome sport.
I will finish with a quote from my (who knew) very insightful teenage son… “ everything changed positively for you mum when you started mountain biking and became a leader and a coach, you had more confidence in you and worried less what others thought of you” He saw that… wow!
Interested in becoming a coach or leader? There is a British Cycling Ignite Bursary which is a bursary pot specifically for women and girls, offering discounts of up to 55%, please email [email protected] for further information.
If you would like to share your experience of cycling for our monthly Scottish Cycling BlogHer article, please email Melanie, our Women and Girls Development Manager on: [email protected]