LOCAL COMMUNITY CHAMPION
Founder of the Conwy Valley Vixens
The following editorial is attributed to CyclingUK at https://www.cyclinguk.org/biography/samantha-winnett
Samantha began cycling after the birth of her son and then began entering fundraising events and Sportives. After discussing with a friend, the lack of women’s cycling opportunities in the area, she joined a Breeze ride and then later formed a new women’s group the Conwy Valley Vixens. Samantha’s partner tragically died in July 2019 whilst out on his bike but with the support of her cycling friends she has continued to ride and inspire other women.
Samantha Winnett said…
“I cannot take all the credit for the success in North Wales of women taking up cycling. The women that join me have made it the success we know.
“I suppose I have always cycled especially after moving to North Wales at the age of six and spending many hours with my friends riding up into the mountains. I then started my career as a nurse in 1988 and lost the passion to ride.
“After my son was born in 2001, I felt the urge to cycle again and I would cycle a few miles up and down the promenade in Colwyn Bay.
“It was when I met my partner Stephen in 2012 that I started to cycle more regularly. Through my involvement with Parkinson’s UK charity (following my father’s diagnosis) I decided to enter my first ever sportive at the Tour de Mon in Anglesey completing 46 miles. It was an incredible achievement and I have carried on competing in each year.
“In 2016 I met my friend Louise on Twitter as we were both talking about the lack of women only cycling opportunities in North Wales. Louise mentioned she was going to attend a Breeze ride in Bala and we met there. From then we started cycling together and decided that we both wanted to become Champions.
“We started putting on regular rides every week and it soon started to attract many women. We have cycled all over North Wales including road cycling and mountain biking. We also hook up with many other Breeze Champions across the region participating in their rides.
“In 2018 and 2019 we held two successful Breeze taster evenings on Llandudno promenade attracting many regular cyclists and newbies, successfully recruiting many more women to the campaign. ITV Wales even came and interviewed us live on the six o’clock news.
Following the success and the great friendships formed from these rides the Ladies wanted an identity and kit they could call their own, so together we created our own and the group Conwy Valley Vixens
Samantha Winnett says:-
“Following the success and the great friendships formed from these rides the ladies wanted an identity and kit they could call their own, so together we created our own and the group Conwy Valley Vixens.
“We have completed many sportives together, raising funds for charity and organising weekends away. Myself and Louise were nominated in 2018 as finalist at the CONWY sports awards for services to sport.
“I then went on to complete my level 1 coaching qualification with British Cycling in 2019. The bond between us all as cyclists is stronger than ever and we all look after each other especially at this time of the pandemic. My role as a nurse advisor with 111 in Wales means that now more than ever I can re-focus and boost my mental resilience through cycling.
“Tragically, my partner Stephen collapsed whilst out cycling in July 2019. He had suffered a cardiac arrest near to home and died in hospital a few days later. We had had many a cycling adventure with the ladies and their partners and they all attended his funeral. I could not have got through the trauma of losing him without the wonderful friends I have made through cycling. It has been my saviour and in those very dark times my ability to keep on cycling has helped me heal.
“So, this nomination is for all the ladies and their partners who have made cycling in North Wales so enjoyable and rewarding. They have enriched my life.”
This nomination is for all the ladies and their partners who have made cycling in North Wales so enjoyable and rewarding. They have enriched my life
Samantha was nominated for the 100 Women in Cycling by Louise Simpson who said:-
“I have known Sam since 2017 when we met on a Breeze ride. We quickly decided that we would like to become HSBC Breeze Champions too and so we trained in July 2017. We started leading rides together to encourage ladies back on their bikes. Sam has a natural flair for this, knowing the Conwy/Gwynedd area like the back of her hand, she makes her rides interesting, and most of all fun. A fluent Welsh speaker she is happy to run rides bilingually too. She is well known for the use of her ‘selfie stick’.
“The ladies attending our Breeze rides wanted a group of their own with kit, and so the Conwy Valley Vixens was born. Whilst not a club, it is a group of likeminded women who like to ride together, fully inclusive and welcoming to all. Sam designed the group kit/jersey and organised the ordering of it. The ladies we have met through Breeze/Conwy Valley Vixens have now all become firm friends.
“Samantha had a huge loss last year when her partner sadly passed away suddenly while out riding his bike. Despite this, at the start of this year she was back on her bike, leading small rides with Breeze with the support of her close friends, she was back encouraging ladies of all abilities on their bikes.
Sam is a huge inspiration to me; she has coped with all that life has thrown at her the past few years with such strong determination. She doesn’t only inspire me; she inspires everyone who rides with her or joins one of her rides. She really does have everyone’s best interests at heart
“Sam is a huge inspiration to me; she has coped with all that life has thrown at her the past few years with such strong determination. She doesn’t only inspire me; she inspires everyone who rides with her or joins one of her rides. She really does have everyone’s best interests at heart.”