2021 has been a whirlwind of a year, and it’s been nice to take the time to reflect on everything that’s happened as I look forward to some exciting new opportunities in 2022.
From Tennis to Cycling
I started the year off in Durham as we went into the 3rd lockdown of the pandemic and probably like everyone at this point, I wasn’t especially happy.
I felt pretty lost as tennis wasn’t allowed again and to make matters worse, there was so much snow in Durham that it was too dangerous to ride outside for most of January and February, so I switched to the turbo I got for Christmas.
Long rides indoors can be a bit torturous, so I ended up watching a lot of GCN and the early races of the season to pass the time. I got hooked on the excitement of the races and started thinking I wanted in on the action.
I felt like I needed an aim to all the time I was spending on the bike and that led to entering a Duathlon and qualifying to represent Great Britain at the Duathlon World Age-Group Championships in 2022.
A month later, I was selected for the SKODA DSI Cycling Academy and from there my whole year really did change. Rackets swapped for bikes; tennis tournaments were being scrapped for races.
I am so grateful to SKODA for the opportunity as if I’m really being honest with myself, I wasn’t enjoying the competitive side of tennis anymore and I don’t know if I’d have had the courage to step away from it if they hadn’t selected me for the team.
It’s such a hard decision to move away from something that has been the focus and fabric of your life growing up. Change can be tough and uncertain and if that’s you right now, I’d just like to say be open to new challenges and you’ll find something that suits you or it will find you.
I’ve been asked by lots of people over the last few months if I wished I’d found cycling and stopped tennis sooner. I think my answer is both yes and no.
While I think cycling is a sport that suits my personality more than tennis ever did, I am grateful for all the lessons that it has taught me that I don’t think you can understand unless you’ve been through junior competitive tennis: it’s brutal.
It can make the calmest person genuinely want to scream and break rackets. I have so much respect for the people who do it professionally because I know how mentally tough it can be. It has taught me so much about myself so now I have this clean slate in cycling, I won’t make the same mistakes as I did in tennis.
Personally, I think it is one of the best sports for highlighting how key developing the right mindset is for performance and the importance of staying in the moment, not looking too far ahead or beating yourself up about the past.
My tennis coach, James Turner, at my club, Bramhall Lane, from the age of 13 helped me to move towards a healthier mindset and while I’m stepping away from tennis, it has already helped me handle all the experiences cycling has thrown at me in 2021.
I’ve raced the tour series, national series, achieved my cat 2 and had trips to both the men’s and women’s tour of Britain.
If you’d told me even in June that I would have finished the year racing all the National Championships after I got spat in my first race (wearing short socks- oh dear), there is no way I would have believed you.
If you’d said that to me this time 2 years ago, I would have called you crazy as at that point, I probably hadn’t touched a bike in over 5 years!
On my first team trip we went on in June I had no idea how to ride in a group or even clean my bike!
I’ve picked up a lot of knowledge since then but there is so much more to learn. I’ve loved the journey I’ve been on so far and just want to continue to enjoy and develop on the bike.
So get on your bike!
If you’re on the fence about getting your bike out of the shed or even buying one for the first time, just do it!
Cycling opens up a whole new world, and I am a true believer that it has something for everyone. Whether it be a love of café stops (like me), strava K/QOMs or feeling like you’re helping the environment and helping your health by using it for commuting, just to name a few.