Deep breaths

Story by Beth Bryn Hodge

May / 11 / 2016

We are very happy to welcome Beth Bryn Hodge as a guest writer on the Grand Tours Project blog.

Beth is a mountain girl at heart, who has been negotiating life in black tights and a suit for a number of years. Over the past 6 years, she has lived in the Middle East and London. Now completely obsessed with cycling of all forms, Beth has taken some time out in the French Alps to ride, write, and figure out where her path in life should go.

In a series of stories, she will share with us how she is embracing the Alpine lifestyle on two wheels. We may not all be able to quit the rat race like she did but her adventures will undoubtedly inspire us to take a break from time to time and live meaningful experiences on and off the bike.

Beth is a freelance writer, blogger and advocate for women's cycling and racing. She is a Rapha Ambassador and also represents the global women's cycling platform, Strongher. You can follow Beth’s adventures on Twitter @bethbrynhodge or Instagram @brynridesbikes

In her first piece written last week, Beth reflects on where she's coming from, and tries to figure out where she's going.

I'm sat typing this blog at a coffee bar in Geneva Airport heading back to London. This is pretty confusing right? You thought this blog was about the 'big move to the mountains' not the other way around!

With a few things on in London this weekend, I've done a move to the Alps and I'm just doing a quick trip home in between. When the guys at Grand Tours Project asked me to write about my experience of quitting the rat race and moving out to the mountains, I jumped at the chance. So now sat here nursing this coffee, here goes.

The last month saw me do one of the biggest things I've done so far in my 30 years. I've travelled, moved cities, climbed mountains and ridden bikes where bikes should not be ridden. But this latest thing is a touch different. I've left my big city job to take some time out and to suss out what life really means to me. Having worked and studied in law for the last 9 years, it's time for a break. Very often in life we get stuck on a career treadmill, unable to control the speed nor able to quite reach the stop button. I was there. Of course various life events require us to keep going. Salary in. Rent out. Fancy phone, new clothes, £30 nail treatments. But around 6 months ago, as I sat in a very quiet, corporate office in the heart of London, completely surrounded by people I didn’t know and who didn’t know me, something inside me clicked. I knew this wasn't the right path for me, and perhaps it was the turning 30 thing- I could see my life slipping away from me in an endless routine of flex desks, crap coffee and never ending meaningless targets.

The way out was daunting- completely terrifying in fact- but things worth doing are very often not the easiest. Luckily I found a way to rent out my flat and live for cheap in the mountains, with the support of my friends, family and ever so patient boyfriend.

Fast forward 6 months and I'm sat at this coffee bar waiting for the plane, drinking a not too shabby coffee and having just had the first taste of life in the summer mountains. The outlook is good. My partner JC and I drove to the small French alpine village of Sainte Foy last week, with bikes on the roof, and climbing, running, skiing gear and hiking boots crammed into the back of the car. The summer adventure starts here - and I'm looking forward to sharing it with you.

We've got lots planned, especially on the bike, and yesterday we took the cross bikes out for the first time to see what we could find in our back yard - the back yard being a big lump of a mountain. It gave us a taste of the summer to come. Map in back pocket, plenty of inner tubes, and a large sense of adventure. Following signs just to see where they go, testing the legs up seemingly impossible vertical paths.

The deep breaths required to make brave decisions are exactly the same as the deep breaths required to get up those rocky paths. The wheel slips out, the lungs get tight, but as long as you focus on the path ahead and breathe deeply, anything can be achieved. The mountains are my happy place- even when that path gets steep. Every now and again I'll need a push up, so feel free to offer a hand.

I'll be back to tell you about my first proper adventure in the Alps soon. But for now, it's back to the city that I've only just escaped for a few days!

A bientôt,


- to be continued -

Take a short break and join Grand Tours Project in the Alps: participate in the Maratona dles Dolomites or explore Switzerland!

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