Kate Jones (@pelohun) on the Dragon Ride 2023 and Getting More Women Cycling
Kate Jones, aka. @pelohun, is a woman on a mission: to share her love of cycling with the world and get fitter and faster in endurance events (the hillier the better!) From humble beginnings on a peloton bike during lockdown to chomping up the Devil’s Elbow at the Dragon Ride this year, Kate’s on a cycling roll (pun intended) and we’re so glad to have met her at the start of her cycling journey.
We spoke to Kate about her experience at the Dragon Ride 2023, as well as her love of Wales and seeing more women in cycling. Read the full conversation below – and make sure to check out Kate’s YouTube video of the day here.
Hi Kate! We understand that you are new to cycling – how did your cycling journey begin and what impact has it had on you?
Yes, I’m a relatively new rider – one of your classic runner-turned-riders after my knees felt like they were grinding to dust! I’d always loved spin classes but was always afraid of riding on the road. However, during lockdown (remember that?!) I picked up a bargain Peloton bike to train on in the house. This gave me the confidence to practise clipping in, which led me to purchase a second-hand road bike from Facebook MarketPlace to try riding on the road. After a couple of months of wobbles, nervousness and super slow pootles, I soon caught the bug and haven’t looked back.
Cycling has had a huge difference on my life and I’ve become completely and utterly obsessed. I love everything about riding bikes – the joy it brings, the sense of adventure, the challenge, the mental switch off, the improvement to my health and fitness and how it helps my mental health.
Tell us about the Dragon Ride 2023 – how did you get on?
I absolutely loved it. I was so excited to take on the Dragon Ride, explore more of beautiful Wales and ride a few new hills. The scenery was gorgeous and I just absolutely loved everything about the event (especially those incredible feed stations… honestly, those salty little potatoes… I couldn’t get enough!)
I’d worried a little about dropping down a distance from the Dragon Devil due to a threatening knee injury. But the fact that I could drop down helped me to feel at ease, and I listened to my body on the day instead of stretching myself to the point of potential injury.
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What made you take the plunge and enter this challenging event?
Most years my husband and I look to find some kind of event or look to do something to help raise money for Maggie’s Cancer charity in Wales. The Swansea branch helped look after Isaac’s Mum in her final stages of her battle with cancer, so we try and do something each year to help raise money or donate ourselves. It’s an event that Isaac had seen before and although it looked incredibly tough, we both love hill climbing, so the tasty elevation was appealing. The fact that it is in Wales and one heck of a challenge helped seal the deal.
As for training, it was a chance to explore different parts of the UK – travelling up to the Peak District to hunt for climbs, down to Cheddar Gorge. We got to experience more of the UK and make it an adventure, which kept it interesting. The Dragon Ride was the perfect event to give a bit of Winter training motivation and helped us both come into summer feeling quite fit, which was the best feeling.
4. The Dragon Ride is undoubtedly tough. How did you overcome this?
I think putting in the time training helped me feel like I had the ability to do it and each training ride (even if some were challenging) made me feel a little bit more confident in my abilities. I also knew there would be such a supportive crowd (I am lucky enough to have first hand experience of the Welsh community having married a Welshman) and I also knew that the scenery would be breathtaking – a good distraction for the tougher sections. The fact that I’d signed up with my husband and that we were in it together was also very motivating. He definitely helped keep the training in check.
5. How did you celebrate after the event and would you ride at the Dragon Ride again?
So Isaac and I talked a big game that we would drink ‘all the beers’ – but the reality was we drank one, had a chippy tea and passed out shattered!
As for riding again, I’ve definitely got unfinished business with the Dragon Devil. Never say never.
6. You were one of a smaller pool of women doing the Dragon Ride this year – what can we can do to improve the number of women in the sport?
All of the women on the course were absolutely incredible. I rode behind one lady who was a fair bit older and was absolutely chewing up and spitting out the hills. There was also one lady keeping spirits up during the timed climb, singing as she pedalled!
We do need more women on start lines giving it beans, but more and more are coming out and giving it a go. It’s so positive to see.
Speaking from my own experience, I think the concept of cycling can induce a bit of fear- understandable fear such as of traffic and bike maintenance.
I’d love to see busy roads made safer and more educating of cars and cyclists on how to share roads in harmony. We should encourage group rides, share helpful information and skills, and create supportive and inclusive communities where women help lift other women up.
7. What does the future hold for your cycling? Do you have any specific aims or targets?
I just hope I’m riding around in bright coloured lycra, chomping up hills until I’m at least 90 years old.
I recently started working with the most amazing female cycling coach and the plan is to push myself a bit more. I want to enter more endurance events and see where that goes. Ultimately, I just want to keep having fun, getting more women out riding through my social media, and have the best biking time.
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Thank you Kate, and we hope hope that you make a date with destiny to finally take on the Devil route soon!