There are less than 100 days to the Olympics and that has made me think about the woman I want to be on the start line. I’m not the same person I was when I started cycling and it’s been the bike that has changed me the most. From thinking I could maybe be a cyclist, moving to Europe to ride pro, becoming an Olympian and all the crashes in between, it has been the challenges on the bike that have taught me the most about who I am and who I want to be.
When I started out in the women’s pro peloton, I had a lot to learn about cycling. I knew I had to be a student of the sport but, all too often, I thought that meant being quiet, going with the flow and just accepting whatever I was dealt. If I made a mistake, it would throw me. If I succeeded, I almost wouldn’t believe it. The ups and downs were unpredictable and I finally realised that I only had myself as an anchor.
That anchor was my self-confidence. It wasn’t my values, thoughts, or passion that were lacking, it was my confidence to stand up for my values, thoughts and passion. I was afraid to rock the boat and stand up for what I believed in but, the more self-confidence I gained on the bike, the steadier I became off the bike. If I failed, it was on my terms. I would learn and move on and I was okay with that. And so was every one else. Even if people disagreed, having the self-confidence to act according to my true beliefs meant at least I was respected.
It’s taken a lot of lessons, a lot of people, and a long personal journey but I know now that it’s not about being loud or liked, it’s about being true. That’s the woman I want to take to Rio. That’s the woman I want to show the world. That’s the woman I am on the bike.