Somehow the rides got longer and then a few days of big miles were linked up. When I looked up, my bike was donned with some bikepacking bags and 200km on the bike seemed ok.

It started with organising weekends to cycle the length of the Thames or the circumference of the Isle of Wight, this moved onto riding the Etape, the first being the 2007 whopping 190km, 5 col, Foix to Loudenville in 2007.  Two years later it was riding London to Paris and then a four day jaunt down to the Pyrenees to do the Etape, it was here, having completed 7 days of 180km days that I truly fell in love with long stage rides. It was also the place I met some of the most amazing cycling friends one could ask for.

Toughing out the 3,500km Giro course followed by the London to Paris two days later, was a bit nuts, I was absolutely cooked and when I arrived at the Gite to do the 2011 Etape  finishing up Alpe du Huez, I was so exhausted that I could only sit and watch the boys go out on their bikes to warm up the fews days before the event. I thought, “I’ll just take this one easy”. Unfortunately I was in Pen 1 and when the gun went off, my competitive side kicked in, while I struggled on the slight gradients, I floated up the steep bits (I weighed nothing at this point). So getting 7th lady and 741 overall (out of 10,000) was a real bonus to a tough month in the saddle.

Then I discovered bikepacking, watching a group of folk race around the globe. I was hooked, it tied in my love of cycling with my love of sleeping out under the stars while being self-sufficient.