Beth Hodge is a full-time lawyer in a city law firm in London but six years ago she took up a new hobby that would completely change her life.
The 29-year-old decided to find the perfect outlet for her high pressure day job – cycling.
Beth explains: ‘Last September I wrote an article for a cycling magazine after I went to a cycle sportive and realised there were hardly any women there. It made me really frustrated. I wanted to put out the message that women are as capable of being successful in this field as men, there’s no need to be put off – but often it’s the network that women need in the sport – and I got people talking on Twitter and really kick started the conversation and I’ve met some really inspirational girls since.’
‘They took me on as an ambassador,’ Beth says. ‘Then I took over as women’s secretary at London cycling club Dulwich Paragon. I look after 120 women in the club, I train and race myself and on top of that I got selected by the prestigious cycling brand Rapha to be a women’s ambassador for them.’
Beth is now keen to become a mentor and coach women in sport and business.
‘We don’t push cycling as a sport through juniors in schools like they do in Europe,’ she says. ‘And it’s daunting joining a club as an adult, especially for women who more often than not think they’re not good enough. Women regularly say “if I’m not fast enough leave me behind”. It’s not about being fast. It’s about being strong and confident, and the journey you take to get there with the people that help along the way, and realising that when you get there, it’s your opportunity to pay that back.’
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‘When I first went along to my local road cycling club with my shiny new road bike, full of enthusiasm for racing I was told by the men running it to get back in my box straight away and directed into charity bike rides. I want to encourage girls to feel more confident that they can be competitive too.’
Beth now gives talks and writes articles encouraging women to get into the saddle – all while still doing her day job.
‘I’m passionate about it and determined to change people’s attitudes.
‘I train early mornings before work – I’m usually on my bike at 6am. I then get home from work at 8/9pm, have some food and spend an hour responding to emails.
‘It’s a lot of work but I really enjoy it. I’ve met some amazing people, it keeps me fired up and wanting to do more. People are sitting up and listening now which is great.’
While Beth takes part in cycling races around the world she says she’ll never be a professional cyclist and is ‘a happy amateur’.
She adds: ‘People often say to me “you’re not a professional, why do you bother taking things so seriously?” But this is my passion, I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. This is my life.