Rachel Madge is determined to overcome the gruelling climb up Caerphilly Mountain no matter how long it takes after navigating a rocky road of personal challenges.
Rachel was left immobile and frustrated after a fall in the bathroom left her with damaged meniscus in both knees. She was powerless to stop her weight and BMI soaring - but cycling, and the HSBC UK Breeze Cycling programme turned out to be her saviour.
Breeze provides cycling inspiration to get women from all over the country in the saddle. Rachel, who by 2016 had battled back from her debilitating injuries, found her local Breeze Champion Mary Trenfield, and got the go ahead from her doctor to kickstart her fitness journey.
Her first ride around the Newport Wetlands in October 2016 seemed a million miles away from the challenging VELOTHON Wales 125 route she will complete next month, but two years and five stone later, Rachel is ready for her ultimate test.
“VELOTHON Wales will be the pinnacle for me,” said Rachel. “I got into cycling mainly because I wanted to lose weight. I was nearly 18 stone and had a BMI of 40.3 after my injury, but since getting on my bike I am down to 12 stone 13 with a BMI of 29.2.
“HSBC UK Breeze and my Breeze champion Mary helped start me off, I never liked going out on my own so finding a group was crucial for me. I’ve improved so much since then, and now I can’t wait for the VELOTHON 125. I haven’t tested myself and it will be a mammoth test to get up Caerphilly Mountain, but I will do whatever it takes to get over it.”
There was to be another fork in the road for Rachel ahead of her biggest challenge yet. While preparing to take on the 125km route around Wales’ most iconic landmarks and stunning scenery, she came off her bike, breaking her distal radius and damaged a metacarpal bone in her hand.
The setback only inspired Rachel to kick-on and take part in the Isle Of Wight Randonnee just four weeks later. A 14 and a half hour, 100 mile ride at the Eroica Britannia was the next event ticked off the list in the build-up to VELOTHON Wales on Sunday 8th July. And she cannot wait to race across the finish line on Cardiff’s King Edward VII Avenue next month.
“I haven’t thought about how I’m going to celebrate getting over the finish line at VELOTHON Wales,” she added. “But it will be an amazing feeling after all of the hurdles I’ve overcome to even get here. Knowing the area as well really helps, it should be a brilliant day.”
Emma White, South Wales Women and Girls Development Officer for Welsh Cycling, commented: “We are so lucky to have such fantastic support from our HSBC UK Breeze Champions, who work really hard to break down the barriers to cycling for women and girls. It’s an amazing feeling seeing both women and girls confidence flourish on the bike, and it’s all down to the champions. We wish everyone taking part in the Velothon, including Breeze Champions and Participant, the very best of luck!”
For more information on the HSBC Breeze Cycling Programme, or to find a ride near you, visit www.letsride.co.uk/breeze.