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

Cycling Plus - - FIRST RIDE -

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

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