Traharn Travels – ‘Rest Day’


Rest Days are just as important as training days, you need to give your body the time it needs to recover and rebuild, if not, your muscles never get the opportunity to fully recover, making them weaker and weaker.

Now there are lots of different ways to have a “rest day”,  so long as the muscles needing the recovery get to rest, then it doesn’t have to be the typical ‘couch potato’ day.

Mike and I went to Washington at the weekend and decided to hike up a super cool mountain, with 4000 feet of elevation… but what we tend to do on the way back down is, RUN! It’s so much fun, I’ve been running for years and my knees are well accustomed to downhill running, but I haven’t descended that much, that quickly in a long time! So, as you may have guessed we couldn’t walk straight for the next few days. I constantly looked like John Wayne or like I’d poohed myself… I hadn’t, I swear.

However, the more you sit still, the stiffer and more ridiculous you become… Therefore, we decided the best thing to do was keep our legs moving, get out into the gorgeous sunshine and take our DiamondBack Haanjo Cyclocross/road bikes to Rossland’s local lake, Nancy Green.

Although I’m obviously still using my quads, the focus is on a different part of them and the pressure is much easier to manage.

So off we went for a 60kilometre pedal to Nancy Green Lake…


Kinesiology… Magic

I am LOVING Spring!!!!! I’m back visiting the UK after a loooong winter in Canada, and what a beautiful time to come home.


After visiting Ben Calder at the Centre for Integral Health last week, I felt much better, I really looked forward to visiting Ben all winter.

The first thing I’d noticed after our Bowen session, was my lower back pain had decreased, still there but just lingering with certain movements rather than constantly. That’s one thing I’ve noticed with the Bowen Technique, the movements are subtle, but extremely effective; the more time you give it, the more benefits you start to notice.

This week, I wasn’t sure what to focus on with Ben, there seemed to be many areas he could help with … but which ones first, what was more important? Ben decided he was going to find out what my body needed, seeing as I didn’t have a clue. Now this is what I find fascinating: I lie there silently while Ben hold’s up my arm, muttering all sorts of questions and solutions that I don’t really understand, but as Ben asks certain questions my body reacts giving him the answer he needs. It’s like watching magic, how can my body answer something that I don’t even understand. It’s just proof that what we do, see, say, smell, touch, is a tiny percentage of what’s actually going on in our bodies and mind.

Baz Luhrman say’s it well…

“Enjoy your body, use it every way you can, don’t be afraid of it, or what other people think of it… It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.”

Our bodies really are the greatest tools we’ll ever own, if we treat it well, it will look after us. Kinesiology is a fascinating and bizarrely accurate way of finding out what our bodies truly need. More often than not we end up giving our bodies something because it’s healthy and society says that’s what we should do, but every single person is different, and a diet/lifestyle suitable for one person isn’t necessarily best for another.

In my first Kinesiology session with Ben last year, I discovered I was a Red Body Type. There are just 3 body types which every single one of us fit in to, this doesn’t change from the day you’re born, the more sessions you have, the deeper the Kinesiologist will go with your personal requirements, but once you know you’re body type you can instantly start improving the quality of your life.  Within minutes Ben could tell me which sleep patterns suit me, when I should eat, what I should eat, what I shouldn’t eat, how much I should eat. Once we’re aware of what our bodies need, we can start functioning at our best. Although I technically had a very healthy diet, my body was only receiving 40% of the nutrients from the food I ate, there were certain foods restricting the abstraction of nutrients. I discovered my body works best on a low carb, high protein and moderate fat diet, I need breakfast first thing in the morning, an early nights sleep and an early wake up, I should be avoiding wheat and gluten and surprisingly, broccoli.

I’ve always thought I was more of a night Owl, regularly falling asleep after midnight, but on those occasions where I’d gone to sleep around 10pm, the following day would be far more productive and less of an effort. I feel happier within myself if I have an early morning with a good nights sleep; I had already started cutting back on wheat and carbs as I’d discovered they made me feel bloated and lethargic, but I never really liked eating breakfast too early.

When Ben told me all of the basic traits along with my body type, it instantly made sense; I became stricter with cutting out gluten, my sleep patterns and breakfast times. Within a week I had far more energy, I no longer felt sleepy throughout the day and the bloated feeling had gone. I was fascinated by the entire kinesiology process and raved about it to anyone and everyone who would listen.

My mum was very interested, and like myself, there were no specific issues she went in to fix, she was just curious. She was rather devastated to discover her body type should avoid all the night shade foods… Chilis, peppers, cheese, tomatoes, potatoes, aubergines etc. These were Mums absolute favourite foods, but, she gave it a go, for 6 weeks she did what was advised, if there were no changes, she’d just go back to eating her favourite foods.


However, after a couple of weeks, the difference was incredible. None of us knew, but mum had been suffering with chronic joint pain, she’d learnt to live with it and suffered in silence for years. She’d had an operation on her Achilles tendon years ago and we knew the op didn’t work, which meant she had to stretch every morning before she could walk, but all throughout the day she was stiff and uncomfortable. Every night she’d call for my Dad to pull her off the sofa; she’s in her mid 40’s, full of life and a bit of a drama queen, so we just put it to Mum being a bit dramatic, lazy, and tired. However, after a few weeks on her new diet, she started jumping off the sofa to go to bed. Me and Dad just looked at each other wondering what was happening, then Mum told us how she’d been suffering with constant joint pain and it had now gone.


So… back to my most recent session with Ben, he asked my body what it needed, and after carrying out a handful of tests he found an issue with my Neural repair, which requires B5 to correct itself. He also preformed a reset procedure to help certain hormones and biochemicals to function better.

I was sent home with instructions on where to find the B5 vitamins I needed, and our next appointment was in the diary.


Sort Me Out

A winter in British Columbia, Canada, is pretty rad; I had an incredible experience with an awesome job and it allowed me to drastically improve my skiing skillz; however, there were a few factors I really missed. Apart from the obvious: my British friends, family and little doglets, it’s been the first time I haven’t been able to ride my bike or run.

Although I did lots of DH skiing and HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) classes, I really missed my cardio workouts. I’ve never felt so restricted and trapped by the weather. I know us Brits love a good moan, and for some reason it’s the weather that gets the brunt of our complaints, however, this winter really made me appreciated UK winters. Yes, it might be wet, muddy, dark, cold, but it never stops you going for a run or riding your bike, in-fact some of the funnest rides I’ve been on, was when the weather was terrible and you come home covered in mud, it’s the closest I get to feeling like a kid again.

I’m used to looking up at mountains, then going there, no questions asked. Please don’t get me wrong, Revelstoke is fantastic, full of badass athletes and professional skiers, with everyone getting out there ski-touring, but I wasn’t a skilled enough skier to head out into the backcountry of the Rocky Mountains, you need to be a good skier who’s confident enough to handle avalanches… I am not!

With only a few short sessions cross country skiing and lots of Down-Hill skiing, It was the least active I’ve been in years, I put on weight, and although I did yoga every single morning, I’ve never been in so much non-injury related pain. Everything started to hurt, but why? Eventually I realized a connection; after having a trampoline accident 15 years ago, I always suffered with back pains, until I started running and biking regularly, then my back pain finally diminished. Stop me doing my regular endurance activities, throw me into a cold Canadian winter… I’m seizing up.

It’s now spring and I’m back home visiting the UK, first things first… I’m booking an appointment with Ben Calder at The Centre for Integral Health in Shrewsbury. I worked with Ben a lot last year and I had the pleasure to experience the effects of Bowen Technique. As a masseuse, I’m used to being very hands on, the deeper the massage, the better I feel, but Bowen Technique is completely different, it uses very subtle movements to reset the fascia in the muscle. I didn’t think I had any problem areas when I went to Ben, at first, I didn’t notice much difference… But as I continued going to Ben, the results were outstanding!

You know that tired feeling in your legs when you first start running or biking, it always takes a few minutes to warm up before your legs stop feeling so heavy… I no longer had that, my legs were full of energy and ready to go, it didn’t matter how much I’d done during the week, after seeing Ben regularly my legs were ready to go 24/7. I noticed I recovered from races a lot quicker; on average, races I competed in were 3-5 days long, 2-3 days practicing with 2-3 days racing. Each day I’d be riding for 7 hours, completing daily loops of 50K, sometimes more, after maintaining this for nearly a week I usually come home feeling hung over, tired and can’t even think about biking for a few days, I just eat copious amounts of food and sleep, but after seeing Ben my recovery time dropped substantially; I’d have one rest day then I’d be back to it, without any tired legs. I also noticed something else; I do a lot of running and when I push myself, it’s the same muscles that ache the next few days, but on one particular day, I entered a Park Run, ran my usual race, pushed myself like I usually do, not only did I get my PB for Shrewsburys course, completing in under 21 minutes, the next day muscles were hurting that I’ve never felt before. I’ve run Mountain Marathons and lots of 5-15mile Mountain races (fell runs) and not once have these muscles hurt. Ben enlightened me, my body was finally working efficiently, muscles have stopped compensating allowing the muscles I truly need to do there job, I was amazed and extremely excited.

Needless to say, I’ve really missed my regular appointments with Ben, I walked into Ben’s clinic feeling a wreck, he tested my muscles to see which ones were/weren’t working properly; interestingly he found my glutes and hamstrings were weak, as he started the treatment he found they weren’t firing properly and reset them. I’m looking forward to seeing how they test next time. I’ve struggled with my lower back and hips this winter, but, as soon as I stood up after the treatment, I instantly felt better, I was no longer seized up, I could’ve cried… It’s good to be home.

I’m finally able to train every day; road riding, running and mountain biking, I feel 100% better physically and mentally. Seeing Ben is the final piece to the puzzle, stay tuned to find out what he helps with next week.

Thank you Ben

Summer Rush … Making it Count! – Final

fullsizeoutput_14Not even home for a week and there was another race, the last race of the season, the last race before I pack up and leave for Canada. At the time we didn’t know it, but it was also the last ever round of the British Enduro Series, at Innerliethen, Scotland. I thought I’d allowed myself to recover from my head injury, I didn’t feel great during practice, but I just put it down to needing to warm up on the bike, as I rode up to my first race run I started to see spots, felt lightheaded and nauseas … I hadn’t recovered. Game over, again. So once again I took the opportunity to spend time with Joel and I rode with him on his stage transitions. Joel did his usual finish on the podium, then we booked it home.

The next day the countdown really began, Mike arrived in Heathrow from Canada, I excitedly booted along the motorway, until … Pfffft, BANG, rattle, Smoke… lots of black smoke. Recorded death of Blueberry (aka, shitty bus) – Monday 10th October 2016, 10:00am. Mike sat waiting for me in the airport, while I posted up on the side of the motorway waiting for AA recovery. Just when I thought I couldn’t be busier, I had less than 2 weeks to plan my leaving/birthday party, fit in all my clients (for my mobile hairdressing, massage and beauty business) one last time, get ready to move to Canada, and get ready for my brother’s wedding!   All without my little blue van.

Canadian Themed leaving party

^Photos thanks to – Dan Wyre Photography^

We pulled it off, Joel and Corinna had a beautiful small wedding the day before I left, making for an extremely emotional day with 52 of our family members being there on Joel and Corinnas special day, and saying bye to me and Mike.

It’s been a jam packed year, truly making the most of the British summer, with my friends, family and little pooches. Stay tuned to hear how things shape up in British Columbia, Canada.


Summer Rush … Making it Count! – Part Five

Me, my Uncle Luke and Dad, racing in Eastridge

There wasn’t time for any catching up when I got home, back just in time to compete in the Welsh Gravity Enduro, in Eastridge… my back garden.

Processed with Snapseed.

Before I’d unpacked from Canada, it was time to load up the van and head back to Europe. I spent the next three weeks on the road, competing in the final two rounds of the EWS (Enduro World Series) and a regional french race, run by 1001 Sentiers Enduro, which I ended up winning.

Joel and I living out the back of the van

My brother, Joel, and I headed to Valberg-Guillaume together, It was an epic week of riding and racing in another quaint town in the French Alps.

Processed with Snapseed.

After the race I dropped Joel off at the airport so he could get back to his extremely new family, he had a 10 week old baby, 2 hyper dogs and a very patient newly proposed to Fiancé waiting for him in their construction site home.

Joel and my beautiful little Niece

I spent just over a week on my own in the south of France, I camped, slept in the van, entered random races, won them; my favourite memory was waking up at 6am, sliding the van doors open, and lying there watching the ever changing colours of the backlit mountains as the sun rose into the sky.

After a week of nothing but bliss, alone on a mountain top, with nothing but my bike and the shining sun, I headed back to the rush of the city where I picked up Joel and our Friend Dan from the airport. The three of us cramped into the questionably three seater van (myself being the only one who could really fit in the middle seat) and headed straight to Finale Ligure, Italy, for the final round of the EWS. We met up with our friends Fay and Lee, who hooked us up with a local guy doing shuttles for practice, everyone was on their own program and if you didn’t sort out anything… tough luck! We were very lucky that Fay had done this before and had everything dialled, Joel and I aren’t known for our planning and organisation skills… we have much more of a “wing it and sing it” kind of style, which seems to work, mostly because we have some very organized friends who watch over us like angels (thanks buds).

We were living the dream in Italy; dry, long, technical, fast tracks, guided by a local, he even booked us in to a local restaurant for lunch, it was tucked away in the middle of the mountain, disguised as a locals home… in-fact, I’m pretty sure it couldn’t of been any more of a stereotypical Italian family’s home, a family run restaurant literally from their home, making their own wine, jam, olive oil, pesto, this place was magic. We sat in the patio area eating a 5 course lunch, whilst picking at the juicy grapes hanging over our heads.

Unfortunately things took a turn for the worst, I crashed during practice, it didn’t seem like it was a bad crash, I’ve definitely had worse. I landed straight on my head from a 5ft drop with speed, (suppose it’s not ideal) but I just brushed off the dust and carried on riding, it wasn’t until a few hours later I realised I was loosing my vision. I’ve had concussions before and always knew they were coming, but this one seemed to come from nowhere, as my vision narrowed, I started to feel nauseous with a splitting headache. I rested and drank a boat load of water, I really hoped I’d be ok to ride the following day, I was having so much fun riding with my brother and our friends, I wasn’t ready to throw in the towel.

The realization I can’t ride, but still hoping there’s a chance.

However, I woke up with the headache and nausea still lingering, the thought of crashing again and hitting my head just wasn’t worth it, Joel then told me he wouldn’t of let me ride anyway, he just hoped I’d figure it out on my own. Head injuries are not something to chance! So for the rest of the trip I became chef cheerleader; my parents were due to arrive, having planned their holiday around this race, which turned me into their guide, we got hold of some bikes and managed to follow Joel in the race by riding to starts and finishes of select stages.


I suppose that’s the silver lining, I couldn’t race, but got to hang out with my parents and show them parts of the race they would never have been able to see without me. On Sunday morning I left early with Joel as he started the two hour climb to stage one of day two, Mum and Dad followed proudly in the car, Dad even got inspired and ran with us for the last few miles.

Me and Mum

As soon as Joel finished the race we took our parents to our favourite Italian restaurant for Mums birthday, we were so happy to be able to show them this magical spot. The family showed us where they make their wine and even gifted us with some home made jam and wine for Mums birthday.

Joel and I headed back to the tent and got ready for an early exit, come 5am we were up and on the road, we had a long, cramped, hot and sticky drive back from Italy to Calais, Joel had a great time, but was now on a mission to get home.


Summer Rush … Making it Count! – Part Four

DiamondBack Team trip video –“>Lake Tenquille Heli Trip


Next stop, I jumped on the plane for a quick visit with Mike, and to check out the hustle and bustle of Crankworx, Whistler.


Just as soon as we arrived, we left, I joined Mike and the Diamond Back crew on an epic trip to Tenquille Lake in Pemberton.


All 5 of us got heli lifted to the top of the mountain, and made our way down the insanely beautiful Alpine trails, soon ducking into the trees until we found the lake in time for sunset.



There was a huge cabin right by the lake… it was perfect, that’s where we posted up for the night. As soon as the sun made his appearance the following morning I dived into the lake, pretending to be mermaids with Micayla while Porter and Mike tried to fish. After dancing ourselves dry, we carried on riding to the bottom before heading back to the chaos of Crankworx. Two weeks flew by and it was already time to head home.



Imagery – / @mikejhopkins

Summer Rush … Making it Count! – Part Two


The EWS in Ireland was incredible, and to be greeted with Irelands long lost friend, the sun, was a treat. I have never competed in such a positive race; it was a tough day on the bike, 7 different stages, 7 repetitive climbs; with each stage hosting a burly feature, there was no time for switching off. All stages were fun with challenging monster rock gardens, but stage 6 was a personal favourite: flat out, fun, steep and tech. The Irish crowds were beyond positive, only shouting out encouraging heckles; ‘Keep ‘er lit’ stayed ringing in my ears throughout the weekend.

Another wild opportunity I couldn’t walk away from; resulted in sailing up the west coast of Britain competing as a runner in the Three Peaks Yacht Race.


Record breaking sailor, Dee Caffari, asked if I’d join her team of 5. Despite never stepping foot on a yacht before, yet alone any kind of sailing, there was no chance I’d be turning down an opportunity like that; with 3 months till the race, the bike season training program promptly switched to a heavy programme of running.

Running in the Lake District – Photo Credit Mike Hopkins

The ‘Three Peaks Yacht Race’ was the hardest race I’ve ever done, taking 4.5 days to complete, involving: 389 miles of sailing, 57 miles of mountain running, 40 miles of cycling, 26 miles of rowing, 4 mountains, 5 summits, 14,500ft ascending, wobbly sea legs, vomit, diarrhoea, sleepless nights, 4 sunsets, 4 sunrises and one epic experience!  I’m a strong advocate for the quote “It doesn’t have to be fun, to be fun.” However, this race was next level; pushing through the crippling stomach cramps whilst running down Scafell Pike, still only half way through the 9 hour excursion, and terrified to consume any form of energy (I’d also ran out of water). Crawling my way up the final mountain, I wished I would just pass out, feeling that was the only way the pain would end. My head was running wild, all the people who’d supported me kept popping up amongst the hallucinations and they honestly got me through, I couldn’t let them down. Once I got to the bike, the 20 miles back to the yacht seemed like nothing, another burst of energy kicked in and I was away, as we reached Whitehaven, finishing the 54 miles in 9 hours 13 minutes, I had the biggest smile and was stoked to do it all over again… Idiot!

Find out more about this race here … 3 Peaks Yacht Race..


Summer Rush… Making it Count!

Stay tuned, as over the next few days I’ll be posting what I got up to during my last UK summer before moving to Canada…


It’s mid-November; blissfully cocooned, swinging in a technicoloured dream hammock, entranced by the midnight sky above Nicaragua, until annoyingly interrupted by the modern day bleep of my phone, this bleep, however, added to the tranquillity; there it was, sat in my inbox, a long awaited email from Canada immigration: “Congratulations, your visa has been accepted.”

Finally!!! I’d been stuck in transit on the waiting list for over 8 months.

I have one year to activate my visa; with plans for UK and European races already in full swing, the timer was activated to make this summer one to remember!

Combining a jam packed race schedule with a serious case of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) certainly makes for an eventful season.

For the first time ever, my brother, Joel and I headed into the season competing on the same team; if anyone would’ve told me six, or even two years ago, I’d be competing with him, I would’ve laughed in their face, hard. He’s an absolute boss on a bike; you don’t come across many 26 year olds who can say they’ve got 20 years of racing under their belt. I have a different tale to my brother, quite the late bloomer in the biking world, not discovering my bike passion until six years ago. So to now be racing with Joel, competing in all four European rounds of the Enduro World Series, all rounds of the British Enduro Series and whatever else we have time for, is pretty wild, I can’t think of a better way to spend my final UK summer.

Just as I’d mastered a race schedule for the year, an opportunity arose to work closely with my sponsors, Sealskinz, bringing to life my personal story for their ‘I am Endurance’ campaign. My story focuses on how mountain biking built up my confidence and strength, enabling my escape from a violent relationship. I’d been a shadow of my former self for 5 years, and biking saved me.

This is my story..


My story not only inspired countless people, I’m proud to say it’s changed and saved lives and is being used across the country to help men and women get through abusive and tough situations. I’ve been contacted by ex-marines suffering from PTSD, policemen, Schools, Teachers, Women’s Refuges’, family members, old friends and complete strangers, thanking me for sharing my story and how it’s helped them gain and provide strength and move forward.

After the release of the story I made the finals for Women’s Sport Trust: ‘Be a Game Changer’ Awards. The awards clashed with the Irish round of the Enduro World Series, but this didn’t stop me, I did what had to be done to attend both. Joel drove to Ireland as planned, taxiing my bike; I hopped on the train, wide eyed and bushy tailed, entering the big old city smog of London; attended the awards, feeling a little star struck and out of place, surrounded by Olympians, TV presenters, film stars and journalists. My boyfriend, Mike Hopkins also burst through the door at the final hour; he’d travelled especially from Canada to be there with me, cutting it a touch fine jumping from the plane, navigating straight to the awards. All 300 guests were mesmerised by my video, and applauded me with a standing ovation; safe to say it was an overwhelming and emotional moment, with my parents sitting at the back of the room, taking it all in with me.

Finally, collapsing into bed by midnight, just to be woken by the squawking alarm at 3am ready to catch my flight to Ireland… This appears to have set the tone for the entire year…


This is my story..

Everyone has their own story, and here is mine.

It’s a story I’ve desperately wanted to tell for a while, but it’s also one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

I’ve realised as a coping mechanism I’ve blocked out a lot of what happened, as it’s too painful to think about, but I’ll share what I can, because I want to help people who are in a similar situation, to see the light and seek help.

Growing up I was always happy, calm, sensitive and caring towards everyone and everything. During my first long term relationship, which started at the age of 17, the girl everyone knew and loved slowly faded away.

I had become a victim of domestic abuse. I’ve always seen the best in people and even when it’s near impossible to see, I seek for it and do my best to help them. I guess this is why I initially stayed with ex, (throughout this story he will simply be referred to as ‘ex’) before I knew it he’d whittled me down with constant and harsh emotional abuse.

Ex put me down at any opportunity he could, and the more people to hear it the better. He would call me, fat, ugly, mock my job, disrespect my family and remind me how lucky I am to have him, no one else would have, or put up with me, no one else could ever love me like he did.

At first I laughed off the remarks, but being so constant and never cushioned with a compliment it slowly began to tear me apart. I guess the first sign of any physical abuse was in the early stages of the relationship, ex liked to play ‘games’, one of which was where he’d bite me mainly on my arms, so hard that more often than not it drew blood, each bite mark left huge bruises.. and I don’t bruise easily. He’d be laughing hysterically as the tears rolled down my cheeks, his mood would suddenly change and he’d get annoyed with me for being so miserable and not having fun.

Another ‘fun’ game was him pinning me down on the bed, and while hysterically laughing he spat on me watching me try and avoid the spit. He was a strong guy and no matter how hard I tried to free from his tight grip I couldn’t, again he’d only stop when he got bored and just have a go at me for being so miserable, and tell me to lighten up. I remember going to college and trying to hide the bruises, my friends questioned it and I ended up getting good at hiding the truth and almost convincing myself that it was all a bit of fun.

As the years passed, I became more and more of a shadow to the girl everyone knew. He controlled everything I did, I had to ring him immediately every time I arrived somewhere, I had to answer the phone quickly whenever he called, I stopped running, he didn’t like my family and tried to turn my friends against me. He told my best friend, (who is also my Aunty but only 1 year older than me, so we were raised like sisters) things I’d apparently said about her, and then tell me she’d bitched about me. I was crushed by what she’d (apparently) said, but we never confronted each other which kept his secret powerful, and for a while for the first time in our lives it put a barrier between us.

Harn and Vez

I was never allowed to visit my friends at Uni, I know you might think.. “Of course you’re allowed, just do what you want.” it wasn’t that easy, and definitely not worth the verbal abuse, jealously and accusations, you never know how you’ll react when put in that situation.. and you certainly don’t see it coming. He’d broken me down, I was constantly on edge, thinking first about everything I said or did.

After 3 years together numerous things happened and my family (who never liked him, but didn’t want to push me away) finally had to ban him from the house. Too scared to break up with him, we moved in together.

Up until this point I had no idea what he was capable of, I thought he had insecurity issues I could help him with, but things just got worse. It hadn’t even been a month in our new house and all of a sudden, completely out of the blue, he kicked off! He grabbed my orange juice from the side of the bed, poured it over my head, hit my head with the glass then smashed it against the wall causing it to shatter everywhere and splinter into the wall. He dragged me down the stairs by my hair, grabbed my jaw and didn’t let go for what felt like a lifetime. After that it’s all a blur..

Nothing was really said, I was in shock, and believed he was too. For the next few weeks my ears were black and blue, my jaw was in agony and I couldn’t open my mouth wide enough to eat properly. I tried hiding my ears and the dent and shattered glass marks on the wall. At the time I thought this was a one off reaction and it wouldn’t happen again. I didn’t, and still don’t know what triggered him. We lived together for 2 years and I lost count of how many times he physically abused me, I thought he was losing control and didn’t know what he was doing, but not once did he touch my face, so it remained a secret.

It’s only recently that I’ve learnt how controlled he actually was and how insanely predictable his behaviour was. People have literally written step by step books of a perpetrators actions, and they mirror his.

Alcohol was never to blame as he attacked me when he was stone cold sober too, it was just more inevitable it would happen when he’d had a few drinks. It was always my fault, he told me I ‘had it coming’ and sometimes he blamed my parents. I was constantly walking on eggshells trying not to set him off; I also tried to protect my family from him, conversations regularly got heated and I did everything I could to get them away from ex before he switched; on one occasion this really upset my Aunty, she wanted to go outside and reason with him, but I wouldn’t let her. She didn’t know that I stopped her because I was scared at what he might do, so she became annoyed with me too.

After living together for a year, and together for 4 years, I was severely unhappy, scared, trapped and alone, feeling unable to share my situation with anyone. He’d used my name to purchase several items on finance, found my emergency credit card and used it. With him being unemployed half the time I had to work as many jobs and hours I could to make sure they were paid off, and was still expected to give him money before entering the pub so it looked like he paid for everything. Countless times I’d come home from working 12+ hours, stuck inside while it had been a beautiful day. I’d come home to ex lying on the sofa, curtains drawn, 10’s of empty crisp packets surrounding him and multiple DVD cases everywhere, and then I’d be asked when I walked through the door at 8/9pm. “What’s for tea?”

I thought I was protecting everyone else by not telling them. Knowing I was unhappy I still convinced myself that I could live the rest of my life like this, not knowing a way out, feeling this was the best option for everyone. I’d stay with him to protect the ones I loved and keep them from ever knowing what was really happening. I felt extremely alone and for a while the only friend I felt I could be myself with, showing my sadness and vulnerability, was my little dog Chester.

However, there became a turning point in the relationship. Just after we moved house again ex had a good friend, we hung out a lot and I got on with him like a house on fire, with a lot in common. Ex always accused me of wanting to be with him which fuelled a lot of attacks but I never saw him that way. Ex would be suffocating me with a pillow whilst the friend was sleeping on the sofa in the next room, trying to get me to scream so the friend would come running in, but I never did, thinking I was protecting him. One day this friend told me how much he liked me and I didn’t deserve to be treated the way I was; all he’d seen was the emotional abuse and verbal attacks I constantly received. We became closer and for the first time in years someone other than my parents gave me compliments, it was a shock, and I didn’t really know how to handle it, but it opened my eyes to what I could have, what I should have. Someone who really loved me and made me feel special.

Meanwhile, my brother was living the dream in Canada. I’ve always been close to him and even though he’s younger than me I’ve always looked up to him. Growing up he always raced bikes, he got his first Motor Cross bike aged 4, and started racing at the age of 6. Aged 12 he started Downhill Mountain Biking too. After a few years competing in both, he had to choose just one.. So he went with Downhill Mountain Biking. I supported him with my family at every single race, he had his biking, I had my music, I played the piano, flugelhorn and any other instrument I attempted, but it never occurred to me that I could be any good at biking too.

Seeing the life my brother lived and how happy he was hit me. I could have that too, I deserved that. He is an inspiration to me. My brother knew I was unhappy, I hadn’t been the sister he knew for years now, he told me to borrow Dads bike and go out riding with his friends.

So that’s what I did. A complete novice, grabbing Dads hard tail with SPD pedals, I grabbed my skater shoes (not even a close match for the pedals) and off I went for my first ride with my new biking friend. I was awful, my butt hurt, I fell off lots, bashed my shins to pieces, but I smiled the whole time, I loved it! It gave me a sense of freedom and control, which I’d been deprived of for years.


Even though he was in Canada, I felt close to him when I rode, I wanted to make him proud. I wanted to make myself proud, I lost count of the amount of nights I lay awake staring at a picture of myself as a child, crying, saying sorry, and feeling devastated at how I’d let that baby down, by letting ex treat me the way he did.


Ex came out riding once and didn’t bother again, it was too much hard work for him (I also lost count of the amount of jobs he lost because he didn’t like being told what to do). He never took my biking seriously, just laughed at me; thankfully that attitude allowed me to be persistent on the bike, and I quickly started to improve. I started running again, but didn’t tell ex. I also saw my family every day, but tried to keep it from him. I paid the price with both physical and verbal attacks if I was caught.


I could feel myself getting stronger, more confident and determined. I loved being outside, I felt safe (even with the risk of crashing into a tree), I didn’t have to hide or prove anything, it was just me and great outdoors; the fresh air, working in harmony with the rawness of nature; It might sound cheesy and a bit hippie like, but being outside comforts me, whether it’s harsh winter conditions or the middle of summer, I am simply content. I loved the social life biking started to bring back in to my life, people of all ages, abilities, backgrounds become connected and form an amazing bond through biking. I started leading a double life and it slowly pieced me together again.


No one ever knew the extent of the abuse, everyone knew he had violent traits, but hadn’t even dreamt he was violent towards me. Mum worked with children and was delivering courses to professionals on how domestic abuse affects children. She’d come home with leaflets and get me to read them, ex showed all the signs of a perpetrator, she was warning me of the type of person he could become, having no idea he’d already become that person. At this point I knew I wanted out, I was just trying to gain the strength.


Ex knew I’d gotten stronger, every time he attacked me I didn’t care, I started to challenge him and he didn’t like that, he got worse but I still didn’t care. So he started to hit me where it hurt and threatened to hurt my family. He graphically described how he’d kill my dogs, burn the house down, or slit Dads throat in his sleep. This terrified me more than anything. I genuinely feared for their lives, I thought he was going to kill me countless times, so thought he wouldn’t think twice about killing my family who he didn’t like. This trapped me with him for a few more months.


In August 2009 my brother was home from Canada and was due to start Uni in a couple of weeks, I felt stronger when he was around, if I was going to break up with ex it needed to be now. I told him I didn’t want to be with him and he broke down, he said he’d change and to give him a chance. I knew he couldn’t change, the damage was done, I hadn’t loved him for a long time and needed out. I gave him a 2 week trial, and slowly started moving my stuff back to my parents, I knew it would be a messy break up and I’d leave with nothing and never want to go back. So I just waited for him to kick off. A couple of weeks later he kicked off, beat me up and started storming up the road to my parents threatening to strangle them in their sleep. I can’t remember how I diverted him from my parents, but the next day I broke up with him for good. We spoke for 6 hours until he stormed off to the pub, I saw that as a good opportunity to pack and leave. Then my best friend/Aunty called and asked if I was ok, she said ex had just left the pub and he didn’t seem right. I told her I’d broken up with him and started crying. She said she was coming down to see me right away. Just as I hung up ex came bursting through the door, he threw the suitcase across the room breaking it, then chased me in to the kitchen. I was backed in to the corner as he grabbed the kitchen knife holding it at my throat shouting at me. He kept shouting and through all of the attacks I’ve never seen him look so serious, so threatening.. So deadly! I thought that was it!


Then the door knocked! Literally saved by the bell, my best friend was here to make sure I was ok. It snapped ex out of what he was about to do. She didn’t know it, but she saved my life that day!

He stood there still holding the knife to my throat shouting at me in a whisper “why is she here?!”

I told him she’d come to make sure I was ok (emotionally, not in a million years did she think she’d be saving my life). He shouted at her to go away but she wouldn’t leave till she saw me. He ran out and slammed the living room door behind him, this door was broken and never closed, so he’d basically locked me in the kitchen.


He was trying to get rid of her but she refused to leave until she saw me, I was panicking like mad. She was stood at the front door, which meant behind her were 15-20 concrete steps, I feared for her life, picturing him pushing her down the stairs. I took a step back and charged into the living room door and it burst open (my shoulder hurt for the next few days, but it had to be done). My best friend ran past ex and into my arms. She held me so tightly, I was crying and whispered to her that I was ok and she should go. Once she was sure he’d calmed down she left.


Ex and I sat there in silence for a few hours, until I finally left. I believe that for the first time he actually lost control and scared himself. If my friend hadn’t knocked on the door I’d be dead, and he knew that.

I wish that was the end, but he stayed living in the flat which was half a mile from my parents surrounded by my friends and family. He continued to hang out with my family and friends; it was still a secret how he’d treated me, so now everyone was feeling sorry for him. He was trying to show people he’d changed so they’d report back to me and I’d give him another chance.

I hung out with my friends a lot less because he was there too. So I carried on biking and soon had a completely new life with friends that never even knew him. Biking and my biking friends became my new life, my escape, my light.


For the next 6 months ex continued to stay in the flat we’d rented in my home village, stalking me, harassing me with minimum of 40 texts a day changing from ‘missing you’ texts to life threatening texts. He still had control over me, I was still trapped. He’d come up to my parents’ house in the middle of the night to try and see me through my window or to see if my car was there. I received phone calls in the middle of the night with just heavy breathing on the other end. When I finished a day of college I’d come to my car and find a bunch of flowers on the windscreen, I never felt safe, he could be anywhere. It had become his life to stalk me and get me back. He threatened to kill himself so I’d talk to him. I still told no one, so still wasn’t free.


Then one afternoon I was using the family laptop to explain to one of ex’s friends via Facebook messenger why I wasn’t going back to him, ex told me this friend was the only person who knew the truth. I soon clocked that he knew nothing at all; so I told him. I went in to detail of how he treated me and why I was never going back to him. I left for a walk and came back to find that mum had used the laptop, she’d seen the message, mum was crying her eyes out and dived into my arms. The secret was out! I sent him one text saying “Mum knows” and he left and never came back to the flat again.


From here it was another long roller coaster, but mum was my rock. She approached her colleagues for advice; they immediately referred my case to the police as they were so worried about my safety. I was still scared of him and didn’t know how he’d react if I got the police involved, and also didn’t think they’d believe me or be able to help, so wanted as few people to know as possible, especially him.

The police supported me without him ever knowing, my case was heard by MARAC (Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference) a meeting which is held once a month in every area, MARAC assesses domestic abuse cases. I was put into high risk category, I couldn’t believe it, I still can’t. What I know now is MARAC is a meeting where professionals work together to share information, to support victims and to prevent murders!


I knew it wasn’t right what ex had done, but I’d learnt to live with it, spending years hiding the truth, sugar coating it, or simply blocking it from my memory, and almost convinced myself that what he’d done wasn’t that bad. MARAC was my saviour, I had daily and then weekly visits from the police, they made sure the house was secure and gave me a personal alarm.


After a few weeks the police asked how often ex was still contacting me. I replied with “Not that much anymore, it’s about 30 texts a day” somehow this absurd behaviour had become my reality.

I’d tried ignoring him, but that’s when his messages would become threatening, claiming he’d come up and show Dad a real man; which I knew all too well, meant he was threatening to beat up Dad. Now my Dad can certainly defend himself, but I knew it would’ve been an unfair fight with ex using some sort of weapon, like he’d done before. So next time he called I’d answer to keep him away from my family. The police said whatever you do, do not answer the phone. So I didn’t, ex didn’t ever carry out the threats, but continued to make them via text.


Another 2 weeks passed, and the police wanted to talk to him, it took two weeks for me to agree, (still terrified of ex’s reaction if he knew the police were involved) but I eventually said yes. They then said they didn’t want to talk to him, his actions were so unacceptable they wanted to arrest him, after another two weeks of harassment via text and dodgy phone calls I gave the green light, but first I had to go to the station to give a statement. I had no idea it would take 5 hours, they wanted every single detail on record, I’d already buried a lot of it, and after never telling anyone before, it felt traumatic, as if I was reliving it all over again.


Although the police couldn’t act on the physical abuse they wanted to have everything on record so when they read my statement out to ex, he knew, they knew what was up. They arrested him and released him on bail for a month, during his bail he wasn’t allowed to contact me or come anywhere near me. His bail was extended by another month and I have never seen him since.


I could finally live my life and that’s what I did. I have vowed to always be happy, I know exactly what I want in life and I go for it with all my heart and no regrets. I now travel the world with my amazing and completely devoted boyfriend, we explore the outdoors together, summiting as many mountains in as many countries in as many ways as possible.

Even though it was a horrible life I lived for 5 years, I don’t regret it. It has made me the woman I am now. I’m mentally and physically strong, determined and confident. I appreciate everyone and everything and never pass up on an opportunity. Being able to endure that relationship may have helped me to endure the endurance sports I love so much today.


I now compete alongside my brother in enduro mountain biking events at an international level. We spend most weekends together, racing all over the country representing Sealskinz, ONE Industries, 661 and Bird Cycleworks.

I would’ve never have imagined that just 6 years after escaping the relationship through the passion and persistence of cycling and the outdoors that I’d be where I am now. If I can do it, anyone can. Never give up, never lose faith in who you are, stay close to your friends and family, and never be ashamed or embarrassed. It’s never too late to turn things around. If you feel too weak to act then get outside, follow my steps and start cycling, running, climbing, hiking, kayaking or hula hooping. You’ll soon regain your strength. Don’t suffer alone and in silence, get outside and be happy.


I am forever thankful for the love and support from my family and friends and am closer with them than ever before, and could not be happier.