After becoming a cycle coach, Heidi Blunden set up a programme aimed at encouraging women to take up racing and worked to ensure that racing was accessible to any women who wanted to be involved. She has also supported disabled riders in her area and being involved in selection for the Invictus Games. Now a high-performance coach, Heidi sits on British Cycling's regional board.
Heidi Blunden said…
“Cycling has always been part of my life. I grew up in rural Somerset on the edge of the Mendips and was fortunate to be surrounded by countryside.
“As a child I enjoyed cycling with my family. One of my early memories was sitting on the back of my Dad's bike and going on rides around our local villages with my Mum and sister. On Thursday evenings in the summer Dad would sometimes ride me out to watch the finish of the local club time trial. The club would let Dad ride us through the finish line and they'd wave the chequered flag for us, which I found incredibly exciting!
“When I was old enough, I was free to explore local bridleways and quiet lanes on my mountain bike, visiting friends and going on picnic adventures.
“Cycling didn't feature much during college and university, but I started to cycle again as a commuter. This was the point where my bike collection started to grow because I rediscovered mountain biking living in Devon.
“Over the next eight years mountain biking got me through some very difficult times. I took a career break and moved to Spain to work as a mountain bike guide where I unfortunately broke my shoulder, and this took me over to road cycling.
“Back in the UK I got involved leading rides with Breeze and pursued coaching qualifications. I was successful in getting a job with British Cycling as a Regional Coach. During this time, I coached thousands of women and youth riders.
I am particularly proud of the programme I set up to encourage women to try racing and I worked really hard within my region to make racing more accessible by establishing coaching sessions that led into events, an approach that has been widely adopted across the UK
“I am particularly proud of the programme I set up to encourage women to try racing and I worked really hard within my region to make racing more accessible by establishing coaching sessions that led into events, an approach that has been widely adopted across the UK. I've also been fortunate enough to support disabled riders locally and further afield, including rider selection for the Invictus Games.
“In 2018 I was selected for UK Coaching's Women into High Performance Coaching programme and received their valuable ongoing support along with other female coaches on the programme, as I worked towards my Level 3 performance coaching qualification.
“I also sit on British Cycling's Regional Board to help guide cycling within the region. I'm keen to get more people cycling and break down barriers to the sport. As a coach the most satisfying thing is to help people achieve their goals and challenge themselves.
I'm keen to get more people cycling and break down barriers to the sport. As a coach the most satisfying thing is to help people achieve their goals and challenge themselves.
“My own cycling often takes a back seat because I spend a lot of time coaching others, but I enjoy club rides and some racing. I enjoy local hill-climb competitions and have competed twice in the National Hill Climb Championships.
“I still love riding off road and these skills have led me towards racing cyclocross. I'm always looking for ways to challenge myself and inspire others on the way.”
Heidi was nominated for the 100 Women in Cycling by Sally Crocker who said:
"Heidi inspires me because she tirelessly works towards developing confidence in new riders (male/female, young/old) in a number of disciplines in cycling.
"Heidi takes time to understand riders and (especially with female riders) uses her own experiences to help and give advice in a friendly and supportive way that encourages and develops riders’ abilities.
"Heidi has helped and supported numerous female riders in our local region and continues to be a support whether through cheering on female riders at local races or volunteering coaching sessions or marshalling at events to ensure they go ahead and female participation grows.
"Heidi is also a local community activator, a cycling coach, has led many rides specifically for female cyclists in the past through being a Breeze champion and Specialized ambassador, ran development sessions for women at our local circuit, sits on the BC South Region board often representing female riders and ensuring events remain accessible and inclusive for riders with additional needs."