She cycled across four continents and 16 countries to become the fastest women to cycle unsupported around the world. Now Jenny Graham has set her sights on something closer to home: Riding the Etape Loch Ness with her niece.
Jenny, of Inverness, circumnavigated the globe by bike in 124 days last year. This weekend, she will complete the 66-mile Loch Ness sportive for the first time and support 20-year-old Lauren. They will join 5,600 riders on the closed road event.
Jenny said: “I’m coming in as a supporter rider for my niece. For us on the day it’s less about the ‘race’ and more about the experience.”
It was after Lauren’s auntie returned from her world challenge that she first talked about riding the Etape. Then, just a couple days before the closing date for entries the pair decided to go for it.
Jenny said: “We both signed up – mission complete Inverness! This is going to be a pleasure, a rare day out with Lauren and the opportunity to be part of something that has been on my to-do list for ages.
“I’ve never been around at the time of the sportive before so this will be something different for this year. I am biased as I born and bred here, but this is the most beautiful place and the most beautiful route.”
Loch Ness Sportive route
Jenny said: “It is such a classic road and I cycled it a lot when I was training for the round the world challenge. It’s really exciting that all the participants have the road to ourselves without any traffic.
“I can’t wait to be part of something this big, which brings so many people to the Highlands. There will be a massive buzz, support all along the way and such a huge variety of participants from sharp- end cyclists to novices.”
With her cycling experience, Jenny says that the hard work comes before the beginning of any cycling event – and she urges fellow participants to believe in themselves.
She said: “Getting to the start line is the hardest part for a lot of people. Leading up to that, there’s the stress of training, worrying about your bike, making sure you have the right kit, that your body is up to it and constantly questioning yourself.
“Once you get to the start line, the hard work has been done and the rest should just happen because it’s about riding your bike – and hopefully that’s what you enjoy doing.
“So get to the start line with mental strength, believe that you can do it having trained and show to yourself that you can spend four, five or six hours in the saddle.”
General entries for Etape Loch Ness were snapped within a few hours of going on sale and all the places for riders who pledge to raise a minimum of £100 for official charity partner, Macmillan Cancer Support, have also sold out.
Evening film and talk event
Jenny, who is a co-director of The Adventure Syndicate, will join colleague and fellow ultra-endurance cyclist Lee Craigie for an afternoon of film, adventure and storytelling at Eden Court in Inverness on the eve of the race, Saturday April 27.