A Midlife Cyclist: My Two-Wheel Journey To Heal A Broken Mind And Find Joy, is out now and is perfect to refresh your New Year’s resolutions!
Rachel is a cyclist. But she was never meant to be.
After gaining mental strength and healing through running, she thought she was free. Her depression alleviated, she came off antidepressants, winning races and collecting medals at marathons.
But when an injury stopped the only thing helping to quiet the voices in her brain, Rachel found out what she is truly made of. As body dysmorphia began to grip her in earnest, she knew she had to find a different way to kick her mental health demons for the sake of her sanity.
So, she went down to her cellar, heaved out her old bike, and started pedalling.
Like her life depended on it.
A Midlife Cyclist is a tale of two wheels, across the Yorkshire Dales, Vietnam, Costa Rica and beyond, and a rider in search of peace.
Praise for the book:
‘Masses of heart… frank and funny’ Melanie Sykes
‘Gritty and glorious’ Ruth Field, author of Run Fat B!tch Run
‘A truly inspiring tale’ William Pullen, author of Run for Your Life
‘Thrillingly honest and hopeful’ Jools Walker, author of Back in the Frame
‘Heartwarming’ Jo Pavey
‘Brave and inspiring’ Ruth Field
‘I love Running For My Life’ Louise Minchin
On the publication day of Rachel’s second inspiring book, we thought we would catch up with her and ask her a few questions:
Q. How old were you when you got your first bike and what did it mean to you then?
A. I got my first bike when I was 8 years old. I’ve written about it in ‘AMC’ - where I fondly refer to it as the ‘RGR’ or Rusty Green Relic. I won’t say any more than that for ruining that part of the book, but no - I don’t have any fond memories of it!
Q. Is there anywhere new you would eventually like to cycle to?
A. OMG loads of places! I have a book called ‘Epic Bike Rides of The World’ and really you could scroll down the list of contents and I’d love to do any of those! Particularly cycling along North America’s pacific coast, and I’ve set my sites on a 345 km ride across Africa from Kilimanjaro through the Great Rift Valley. So watch this space!
Q. Are there any other sports you would like to try out?
A. I’m very happy with running and riding, but I do plenty of other activities including hill walking and trekking - I climbed the 3 Yorkshire peaks over the Christmas period which was a fabulous experience, so just being in the outdoors works for me!
Q. How did you find the overall writing process? Is there anything you would change?
A. It really helped that I wrote journals throughout which I could return to, and which took me right back to how I was feeling at the time when things were particularly difficult. That way, I had a contemporaneous note of my experiences, thoughts and feelings which was invaluable as part of the process of writing this second book. In addition, looking at photos helped me to piece together some of the cycling experiences and that bizarrely made it easier for me to remember that journey - from the tiny, incremental personal challenges to the big events. A photo diary, I guess. That was also a fabulous resource. In terms of changing anything, no - I think I would do the same again. Make notes and write journals documenting the experiences as they happen, so the details aren’t lost.
Q. Lastly, any advice for any budding writers who might be reading this?
A. Yes. Don’t expect any short cuts! There aren’t any. Write your story. Believe in it and write it - whatever it is. And when you believe you’ve done enough (that can and should take a long time, in my experience!) then be brave and get yourself a copy of ’The Writers and Artists Yearbook’ - a bible of all literary agents and publishing houses published annually. Work diligently and methodically through that, working out where your masterpiece sits. Focus on those agents / publishers relevant to your work, and then do exactly as they say when making your submissions. It is arduous, time-consuming, and emotionally draining work, but it is what you must do if you are serious about your work.