International Women's Day - Miranda Balfour

International Women's Day - Miranda Balfour

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Name: Miranda Balfour

Age: Let’s say I’ve just had a large and significant birthday and my eldest child is 22 this year.

What type of cyclist are you?
I’ve come into cycling from a background in mountaineering, so I guess it’s not surprising that mountain biking is my passion. I love journeying through the mountains and I love tackling challenging terrain.

Are you a coach, leader, official, event organiser, athlete?
I am a leader and coach with Peebles Cycling Club’s Kids Club and currently do the job of Head Coach. I have also been involved with Scottish Cycling’s Youth Girls Skills coaching and Performance and Cluster sessions. I’ve been Team Manager and Team Coach for Scotland South teams competing in the Inter Regional MTB Championships and accompanied the Scotland Team to the European Youth MTB Championships. Having got into cycling later in life, my personal racing has been at a recreational level, but has included cross country, enduro and mountain bike orienteering.

How did you get involved with/ start cycling?
My 80 year old Dad still cycles to Tesco for his shopping, so I grew up in an environment where bikes were a mode of transport, both as a child and when I was a student. My original recreational sports were mountaineering and rock climbing, and then that became hill running Post-Children. But a historic knee injury came back to haunt me and my orthopaedic consultant recommended cycling. To start with it was frustrating that routes I used to run over the hills took just as long on my  bike… but then I got a bike with front suspension, we happened to move to Peebles and I discovered what fun you could have coming down the hills! So circumstances, an excellent cycling facility, lots of like-minded people and an active local club were what got me into cycling.

Did you get involved with cycling because your children were cycling? If so why did you get involved?
Yes and no! I would have cycled bikes whatever, but my youngest child was six when we moved to Peebles, seven years ago, and he had always been particularly skilful on his bike. Peebles Cycling Club had a Kids Club that was looking for new leaders and somehow I got sucked in and trained up, first as a leader and then as a coach. That then led on to the stuff I also do with Scottish Cycling.

What’s the best thing about cycling?
Getting out on my bike makes me a happier person. All those extra endorphins and adrenalin from the exercise and the exhilaration of flying down hills is mood enhancing and addictive! I’ve also met so many great people through riding bikes.

Who inspires you?
In the competitive world, Tracy Moseley inspires me. She’s had so much success in downhilling and now enduro but she’s such a lovely down-to-earth person and a great coach.  Crawford Carrick-Anderson is the same, and he’s still riding at a high level, despite having a busy family life and his own business to run. In my day-to-day life I’m inspired by all my girlie friends who keep fit and enjoy their bikes.

What’s your cycling highlight?
Can I have three highlights? (1) Epic journeys with my biking buddies through the Scottish mountains, maybe a stand out one being one in sunshine finishing down Glen Tilt. (2) Surviving the Tweedlove round of the Enduro World Series to stand on the lowest step of the EWS2 podium with two other girls young enough to be my daughters! (3) Twirling with the baton during the Opening Ceremony of the Commonwealth Games, representing youth development in cycling

What would be your advice for someone wanting to get involved with cycling?
Find a like-minded person, or people, who are at a similar level to you, and commit to get out together, regularly on your bikes. Join a local club and get some skills coaching.

What one thing would help encourage women, like you, to get involved in cycling?
I think readily accessible skills coaching would be particularly helpful for encouraging women into cycling. As a generalisation I think women are less likely to just launch themselves off things blind. If they are equipped with the skills first they are more likely to believe in themselves and have the confidence to try things and take their riding further. And for many women that is best done in a women only environment.

And every cyclist loves cake… so what’s your favourite?
The girls I ride with on a Monday have a signature cake, which has to be my favourite. Sue Lawrence’s Date Cake with Fudge Topping; a death by cream and butter variety but the dates must make it healthy?