Settling in to her new job as editor of Total Women’s Cycling, Kirsty Medlock talks about how cycling the coast of Britain lead her to the role and how she was thrown in at the deep end in her first week on the job.
After completing Lands End to John O’Groats in August 2011, I realised I’d been bitten by the long distance cycling bug. At the time, I was working in healthcare publishing and becoming rather disillusioned with the industry. While reading Mike Carter’s One man and his bike in early 2012, I had a flashbulb moment. Mike, who was also in need a career change, decided to quit his job and cycle the coast of Britain, so that’s exactly what I did.
It was an incredibly tough decision to quit, leaving my safe and secure job to take on a cycling challenge I knew nothing about. In my eyes it was kind of now or never: I wasn’t enjoying work, I didn’t have any children, no mortgage to tie me down, so in July 2012 I took the leap and left.
Deciding how to tackle the coastal ride was daunting. I’d originally wanted to go it alone, but my other half and family understandably had concerns about this. In the end, my Dad, a cycling veteran, got on board to cycle the distance with me.
Plotting the 4000-mile route, sorting bikes, kit lists, accommodation and nutrition took me the best part of a month. Dad and I were lucky as we had the support of my Mum and future father-in-law following us in a motorhome - a mobile hotel and restaurant all in one.
The ride itself was an absolute rollercoaster of emotion. Nothing can prepare you for the physical and mental strain of cycling for 62 days straight. For the first week or two we were running on adrenaline, the realisation that we were finally on the ride. After that, we settled into a routine, trying to get 40 miles in during the morning and another 35 - 40 in the afternoon. By the end though, with tiredness setting in, it was a case of taking every day as it came.
I miss it: not knowing what tomorrow holds apart from a day of cycling. The sheer freedom of being out on the open road, nothing to worry about apart from checking the Garmin to make sure we were on the right course. It made me realise that I needed to have the outdoors and more specifically, cycling feature in my next career move.
I was at quite a low point for the first couple of weeks post-ride. No more ride, no job, no real plans - apart from to find a job in the cycling industry. To get me out of my frump, my best friend suggested I continue writing on my blog that I’d set up to document the ride. So I did, blogging from a female perspective - using the experienced I’d gained from the ride.
By the end of the coastal ride I was down to one pair of bib shorts that I could comfortably wear. It hit me that although there were a lot of bib shorts out there to buy, knowing exactly what to look for pre-purchase would have helped me no end. I decided to take action, to save other women spending hundreds on shorts they couldn’t wear by writing an article, giving the pros and cons of bibs and the features to look out for.
I felt it was my duty to share these thoughts with as many women as possible. Tweeting a link to my article to as many female specific cycling companies as I could, I stumbled upon Total Women’s Cycling Twitter feed. When they re-tweeted and asked me in to discuss reviewing bib shorts I was utterly over the moon.
I’d been applying for jobs in the cycling industry, from being a bike shop sales assistant right through to being a brand ambassador. When I met the folk at Total Women’s Cycling I mentioned that I was on the look out for jobs and that’s when I got wind of the editor position. I leapt at the opportunity, putting my all into the interview – giving them an overview of the vision I had for the site, I think they were a tad taken aback with the enthusiasm I had.
This week has been an absolute baptism of fire; by the end of day one I can truly say I’ve never felt so happy but so overwhelmed. Knowing how well liked the site was after such a short time, I want to make sure I build on this to create a Total Women’s Cycling community. Where ladies (and blokes if they wish) trust us to deliver content that will inspire, motivate and entertain them, whilst making their every day cycling lives easier.
On day four in the job I was thrown in at the deep end, being taken to IceBike - an annual trade show hosted by Madison, the UK's biggest bike components distributer. Trying to hold my own in a room full of blokes that had been in the industry forever was pretty daunting. I think I coped well, although that may have had something to do with the bottle of wine I nursed throughout the evening’s events.
Some people have said that mixing cycling, a passion of mine with work life is a recipe for disaster. I think they’re wrong. The drive I have to make cycling more accessible to women at all levels is something I’ve always had. At previous jobs, I’ve always managed to get cycling crowbarred in somewhere: getting female colleagues to cycle London to Paris, making employers sign up to the Cycle2Work scheme and just generally getting friends, family and even my fiancé out on their bike.
Yesterday, we had the first Total Women’s Cycling social 60-mile ride. It was absolutely fantastic to meet and engage with our readers. It definitely gave me some inspiration for the site. As corny as it may sound, I feel that I’ve landed my dream job. I’ve made it my mission to get Total Women’s Cycling to reach as many women as possible to inspire them to get out and ride their bike.