Thea hated PE in high school but after realising in her 20s the enormous benefits to her own mental wellbeing, she fell in love with cycling. After qualifying as a cycle coach, she left her old job and decided to focus on cycling full-time. Since then she's developed specific programmes aimed at giving more women the opportunity to get involved in the sport.
Thea Smith said…
“I didn’t grow up sporty, in fact I hated PE in high school. But, realising that cycling benefited my mental health in my late 20s, I joined a women’s cycling club, Velociposse, and fell completely in love with the sport.
“I qualified as a British Cycling Level 2 coach just over a year ago in order to coach Velociposse and have since gained discipline-specific qualifications in road and track.
“I left my previous line of work to become a full-time cycling coach and haven’t looked back (I also teach Bikeability in schools around London).
“I’m usually to be found once a week coaching bike skills to members of the club on a disused road in East London: any woman can come along and improve their confidence on a bike – it’s been a really valuable session for so many women in the club. I’m looking forward to being able to resume these sessions as soon as lockdown measures are lifted! I also volunteer at the women’s session at Herne Hill Velodrome, which has a fantastic community of riders and is a great place to develop my coaching.
I get immense satisfaction from enabling people to have the opportunity to ride and race, and it was a great affirmation that with the right approach, more women have the opportunity to take up bike racing
“Last summer I developed a specific coaching series aimed at novice women racers. With five weeks of focused skill sessions at Lee Valley Velopark, attracting around 60 women, we held a Go-Race crit in which 25 women participated, most for their first time. I get immense satisfaction from enabling people to have the opportunity to ride and race, and it was a great affirmation that with the right approach, more women have the opportunity to take up bike racing.
“With Velociposse I’ve been able to mould the voluntary role of Development Officer around my unique skillset and passions. As a coach I realise that I come from a background of zero sports knowledge – my learning curve has been steep, but it’s a challenge that I’ve relished. If I can develop this passion for myself, I can help others too.”
The person who nominated Thea Smith for the 100 Women in Cycling said:
“[Thea] works really hard… in the face of tedious opposition, racing in, coaching and organising inclusive cycling events across London."