Emma Wallace
Strength & Conditioning Coach

Tell us about yourself and your cycling or adventuring achievements
Hi! I’m Emma! When I’m not out on my bike, running or lifting weights, I’m helping others do so in my role as a strength & conditioning coach. I work in an array of environments: digitally as an online coach, in a neurorehabiltation centre for people living with Multiple Sclerosis and in a performance studio assisting private clients to reach their athletic potential.

Although I’ve been working in fitness for nearly a decade, I only recently got into cycling (2020), when I met my partner, Rachel. Rachel defined being cycling obsessed and it soon brushed off onto me. I ordered my first bike in the height of the pandemic (along with everyone else – there was a long wait!). Tragically Rachel lost an ongoing and turbulent battle with depression in late 2020. We never got to ride together as my bike took so long to arrive, but I still feel she is a huge part of my cycling journey, past and present… she’s lit a flame that won’t go out.

Cycling has been central in the maintenance of my own mental health – I literally cycled through grief, riding for hours at a time processing everything in my mind. It still hurts now, and cycling always provides a meditative state to recuperate. Furthermore, I am diagnosed with Bipolar Affective Disorder; I struggle to maintain ‘normal’ social patterns when I experience periods of depression/mania. Cycling has been a life changing activity – I have been able to connect with amazing people through Instagram, Strava and friends of friends; some of which share similar mental health experiences. We’ve gone out on rides and formed friendships that wouldn’t have happened without our bikes. Cycling provides a support network and a shared passion. Once on two wheels, we are all the same, problems fade, conversation flows and we are left with a shared love for the open road and adventure!

What are your favourite things to do on the bike?
The classic coffee ride. As highlighted above, mental health and cycling are intertwined for me, and based on my experiences with others, I am not alone with this. Cycling provides the opportunity to connect – it is surprising how much more open we can be once out and about. A cruise to a coffee shop is the ideal way to make time to talk, or sometimes more importantly, listen.

Where is the most exciting place you’ve ridden your bike?
This isn’t particularly exotic, but I always find my breath is taken away by the view at the top of the notorious Box Hill (or maybe it’s just because I need to work on my climbing fitness?!). The Zig-Zag road is such an iconic route up to this glorious spot of natural beauty. We are lucky it is on our doorstep.

What is your goal in life, cycling or otherwise?
I would love for mental health to become considered as important or relevant as physical health. We have progressed leaps and bounds with this in recent years but there is still so much stigma and misunderstanding. I use my Instagram platform (@emmawallacecoach) to be completely transparent about life’s journey with a serious mental health condition – I won’t stop talking about it until it is better understood and normalised. As discussed, cycling is a big part of this for me, I am keen for the sport/activity to become as inclusive as possible no matter what demographic an individual comes from… age, gender, sexual orientation, financial status, ethnicity, level of (dis)ability and more should never be a barrier to participation. I want cycling to be a tool for good mental health for more people. 

Who are your sporting heroes?
Growing up I was amazed at the achievements of Dame Kelly Holmes and now even more so as I have learnt about the depth of her journey. I think seeing such a strong, confident woman being celebrated on TV screens was really influential in my love for sport & fitness.

Tell us how you know spokes of Bagshot
I live close to Bagshot and have heard of Spokes’ brilliant reputation from other locals. I first popped in a couple of years ago with aforementioned Rachel and we both swooned over the amazing selection of bikes. The team are so knowledgeable without making the environment intimidating – I’m proud to be associated with Spokes!

What does being a Spokes ambassador mean to you?
I’m thrilled to be working with Spokes. James and I are formulating plans to promote inclusivity in cycling and to make it a more accessible and inviting sport for all. It’s a very exciting time – watch this space!

If you had one piece of advice for someone new to cycling what would it be?
Get talking to other cyclists, whether that be online, in cycling cafes or at your local bike shop. I mainly started out cycling on my own and initially found everything quite overwhelming – there’s a whole culture and language that goes with the sport: a lot of mechanical know-how and inside knowledge on the best local routes. But the more you put yourself out there, the more barriers are broken down and cycling becomes a whole lot more welcoming than it may seem from an newbie’s outside perspective. There are so many people that are willing to help you get started, you just need to ask.


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