Alice Monger Godfrey: professional cyclist
The best bit is when you cross the finish line first!
Alice Monger Godfrey now earns her living as a pro cyclist with the Belgium based Hotchillee Cycling Team. Like many people, she had not considered bike riding could be a career; she had no idea that this was even possible. In fact, she found her vocation not through her will to ride, but her desire to skive.
"At school, I was talent spotted by the Olympic Talent Team when they came to my school. I was about fourteen, and I only decided to try out for them to get out of a maths lesson! Before that, I’d only ever ridden a bike on holiday. But as I got to know more about cycling and get through each stage, I began to love it. Even then, I only started to realise that I could actually do it when I won my first race."
But even though she had the backing of the Olympic Talent Team, opportunities were still few and far between.
"As a girl in cycling, I do feel that males get a better deal and dominate the sport. For example, there are more races, better prize money, and better teams and sponsorship for men than women. That means it is quite hard as a girl to take it seriously because there is less money to be earned. That can make you feel that it’s harder to justify why you are committing full time to sport."
So given those difficulties, what is it then that keeps Alice focused and wanting to improve?
"It’s wanting to succeed that motivates me the most to train and race. I’ve not always been that motivated as cycling is sometimes very tough, but it is the support from my family, friends, coach and boyfriend that keep me riding well. And I do enjoy it –I wouldn’t be there doing it if I didn’t! The best bit though, is when you cross the finish line first! That is the feeling that does keeping me wanting to train everyday."
Alice clearly dedicates a lot of time training and riding, and for some, this would be off putting, or simply not worth the effort. But as far as she is concerned, it suits Alice completely:
"I think I have a very nice life; I get to ride my bike everyday and live the life of a pro. Also, to me, cycling is a passion that gives you freedom and allows you to explore different places."
Britain has some of the most successful cyclists – men and women - in the world, both on the road, on the track, and in BMX. Yet unlike those at the top level of many other sports, even successful cyclists can often find themselves on their own, without any support mechanism or backup. This is something that Alice has experienced, and is keen to encourage other women to circumvent and keep riding:
"I would say to girls, if they really want to cycle then it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks or what they look like. I think the equipment is very fashionable on the bike and women can look good whilst cycling. Finding a tight circle of people who will support you with everything you want to do is the key."
And as Alice is showing, it can be done.