Bethan is a competitive cyclist who is inspired by people who work hard and has a true love for her sport. She talks to Sundried about life in the saddle.
Have you always been into sport?
I have always been active and enjoyed the outdoors. I come from a family who enjoy being fit and healthy so as children we swam, biked, walked - looking back I imagine it was to get three wild children out of the house and burn some energy out of them! My mum not only cycled but had a love for horses and I had my first pony when I was 10. I grew up riding and competing, this took much of my spare time and I was totally dedicated to it. I travelled around the country training and competing and definitely had some highs and lows!
I have always been a keen gym go-er and runner but after a horse fall I had a niggle in my leg that stopped me running. My mum suggested I tried cycling and I caught the bug!
What made you decide to enter the world of triathlon?
I have only competed in one triathlon; my brothers encouraged me as they have entered and competed in many themselves. I was a bit dubious as I hadn’t swum for years and didn’t really run anymore. There was a local sprint triathlon at the end of the summer and I thought I can definitely do one out of the three so I signed up.
Over the summer I got back into the pool and was surprised at how tiring it was, how could I not swim a length without being breathless?! I had a coached session and realised I was holding my breath most of the time! Things improved after that!
On the day of the triathlon, I had no idea what to expect. I pushed off way too fast in the swim and felt myself getting tired. I slowed up and got back into a rhythm. I was one of the last out of the pool and then couldn’t find my bike in the first transition. On the bike, I felt good and soon caught up the people from my wave and the one above gaining good time going into the run. The run was uphill to start into some woodland, this suited me and I again made more time on the climb.
I finished first in my category which I was amazed at! It was a brilliant first triathlon to take part in and I definitely learned a lot!
What’s been your favourite race to date and why? And your proudest achievement?
Last year was the first year I became brave enough to enter cycling races with encouragement from some of the guys I trained with at my cycling club. I competed in a few circuit races and then entered the Welsh Champs. It was my first road race and seemed super daunting. The women and masters rode together over the 60-mile circuit and the pace was fast!
It was the hardest 60 miles I have ever ridden but the atmosphere and support were amazing. I came 7th, a placing I was really pleased with as it was a totally new experience for me. Some of the women were amazingly strong riders, especially the juniors who dominated! Since then, I have learned so much more about nutrition, training and have made a few modifications and upgrades to my bike which also makes a world of difference.
How do you overcome setbacks?
Sometimes it can be really difficult not to be disheartened when you have a setback or a bad ride or training session. I have a few close people around me who keep me on track, it is important to have supportive and positive people around you. I think you need to remind yourselves of the positives and how much you have already achieved or improved. Break down a problem into smaller chunks, work on one thing at a time or just leave a bad training day behind you and come back at your next one fresh and with a good attitude.
What advice do you wish you'd been given before you started competing?
I think luckily I was told this - enjoy what you are doing! Of course it is good to be competitive but remember why you have chosen to do it in the first place - because you love it and it gives you that buzz! I never would want to get to the point where it becomes so serious I don’t enjoy it anymore.
What are your goals?
I have recently started learning to mountain bike (and how hard it is!) I am keen to get into a bit more off-roading so maybe the end goal is to enter a cross country race but I have a long way to go and a few bike skills to master. So I have loads of mini goals in terms of adapting from the road bike to a cross country bike. I am super excited though as it combines lots of things I really enjoy doing. I would also like to enter a few more hilly time trials and wouldn’t say no to another sprint triathlon!
Who do you take your inspiration from?
I am inspired by anyone who has fun in what they are doing and masters their sport. Even competing at low level you realise how much time, dedication and determination it takes so anyone that is competing at the top of any sport is fascinating to me. Away from competition, there are many inspirational riders that I can look to. People who have a positive mental attitude, good focus and the ability to push on when it is not easy!
What do you like about Sundried and what’s your favourite bit of our kit?
I love the fact that Sundried value sustainability and offer an eco range, when you spend so much time outdoors, appreciating every minute of it it is good to know you are working with a brand that cares about the environment. The kit also looks so sleek and feels great. My favourite kit is the Stealth jersey and bibs, the fit is brilliant - like a second skin, they are super comfortable and instantly put you in the right frame of mind.