Christina Riley ,47, transitioned from male to female in 2014. She rode the De lo it te Ride Across Britain in 2016 and 2017 to raise awareness of LGB Tissues
Ilived for 25 years as Chris never allowing Christina to come out. Coming out was the hardest thing I have had to do in my life, and I’d suffered panic attacks for years linked to my gender dysphoria. Transitioning was a huge relief, but I had to tell my children, my parents, the rest of my family and work. The overwhelming response was amazing.
I wanted a physical challenge to raise awareness of LGBT networks and mental health support [Christina runs the LGBT Construct network on Twitter, promoting Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender support for people working in the construction industry].
That challenge was the Deloitte Ride Across Britain (RAB) - 969 miles from Land’s End to John O’Groats. I hadn’t been on a bike for 30 years so riding up to 130 miles a day was a huge ask. I cycled my 100-mile commute from Bicester to Heathrow and back some days and did weekend hill climbs in the Chilterns to train. RAB was incredible, but at times it broke me. The first two days were really tough but it was good to get the hardest part out of the way and amazing to see Bath and Ludlow, and cross the Severn Bridge on a bike. There was a rolling thunderstorm on day four, which was frightening but exhilarating. On day seven – the killer day because it’s the longest at 130 miles – we reached Ben Nevis and the end was in sight. On the ninth and final day we rode with a large group across the finish line at John O’Groats. I had done it! I returned last year and rode through near constant rain. It was more exhausting and it took months for my hands to recover from the effect of gripping the handlebar in the cold and rain, but again it was such a life-affirming journey. Everything nature could throw at me – everything I didn’t believe physically or mentally I could do - and what a way to do it. It’s an amazing way to see England, Wales and Scotland, which I plan to do again to get my golden jersey for completing the ride three times.
Ride Across Britain was incredible, but at times it broke me