Adele Mitchell is our newest member of team FINDRA and joins us to coordinate our social media posts and keep in touch with our friends and followers. Adele lives in the heart of the Surrey Hills and is an avid mountain biker and fan of FINDRA.Hi Adele, and welcome to the FINDRA family! Let’s start by you taking the time to introduce yourself.
Hi and thanks. I’m the newly appointed social media coordinator at FINDRA and live in the Surrey Hills, 30 miles south of London, with my family, several bicycles and a Springer Spaniel. Previous to this role I have been a cycling writer for titles including The Telegraph, Total Women’s Cycling and Singletrack, and spoken about women’s cycling at the Cycle Show, Look Mum No Hands in London, and FINDRA! I’m also a copywriter and, in my previous career, a fashion and beauty journalist.
How long has the outdoors been a part of your life?
I grew up in Stoke-On-Trent and my dad was a keen rambler so, as a child, I spent most Sundays striding out across the Staffordshire Moorlands or the Peak District. The rest of the time I could usually be found with my head in books about ponies. I day dreamed of gymkhanas, galloping across moorlands and endless sunny summers surrounded by green fields and leafy bridleways: in my imagination, I was always outdoors!
In my early 20’s I moved to London and pursued a career as a beauty editor and fashion writer, which was a very creative and exciting period of my life. Eventually I decided to up sticks and move out to the Surrey countryside to start my family. It just so happened that we moved to what has now become the best area for MTB in the South. I took my husband’s bike out one day just to see what it was like, and got the bug. Not long afterwards I noticed that there were very few women writing about mountain biking, so I used my experience as a journalist to pitch some ideas, and made sure I got myself noticed on social media too. So then the outdoors became part of my career too.
These days, dog walking is another great excuse to get outdoors – especially with a Springer Spaniel to entertain! His longest walk to date has been Snowdon. He was quite tired after that one, but would have happily done it again straight away if we’d done an about turn (we didn’t!).
When did you discover FINDRA?
I have followed FINDRA since it’s launch. The brand stands out for me because, as a former fashion journalist, it perfectly combines my passions for the outdoors and great design! I first met Alex at at the Eroica cycling event in the Peak District, then again at an event at Look Mum No Hands in London. I also travelled up to Innerleithen to give a talk at the store. I just love everything about this brand so I’m hugely excited to be part of the team now.
What has been your favourite trip or adventure?
I have been fortunate to enjoy some fabulous mountain bike adventures with amazing friends who make those trips all the more special.
One highlight was a trip to ride the Cami de Cavalls – an ancient track that encircles Menorca – with three girl friends. It is a stunningly beautiful – and very rocky so quite technical – route of 180km in total, with the sea to your right side and amazing scenery to the left for most of the way. Parts of the island are also surprisingly remote, so when one of our bikes broke we were very relieved to discover that we within walking distance of the only building for 20 km – which happened to be a restaurant. The owner kindly called a bike mechanic for us, and we tucked into a seafood lunch and a couple of glasses of wine on the beach while we waited (seemed rude not to!).
Another highlight was a five day off-road cycle ride in the breathtaking (in more ways than one!) mountains of Northern Spain – which also took in the vineyards of the La Rioja region. I rode that one with a great bunch of Aussies and we never stopped laughing.
I also love a day out at Bike Park Wales. Last year I went with a group of girl friends between lockdowns, and it was just so wonderful to get away for a couple of days and have some fun. The park is incredibly well organised so all you have to do is focus on riding, which is bliss.
As you can probably tell, I like my adventures to be challenging – but served with a side order of indulgence and a lot of fun!
How do you make find a balance between being active and life’s other responsibilities i.e. work and family?
Like most people, it’s a balance that’s best described as precarious!
Is there anyone who inspired your love of the outdoors?
My dad. He was a window cleaner during the week and a rambler at the weekend – so never indoors!
Do you find that being outside has a positive impact on your wellbeing and mental health?
Yes – feeling in tune with my surroundings puts me in tune with myself.
What is it about mountain biking specifically that you love?
Apart from the fun and friendships, it has taught me so much about myself. I used to find MTB riding quite intimidating because I don’t consider myself to be sporty or brave. Then, when I was doing some research for a feature I was writing on fear, I had the opportunity to interview a rider who competes in Red Bull Rampage – the ultimate in danger on a mountain bike. His advice to me was to forget about worrying that I wasn’t fast enough or what others thought of my (admittedly average) skills, and instead aim to be the one who gets to the bottom of the trail with the biggest smile on their face. Because that way you are always a winner.
That advice made me realise that I need to look inwards to find what makes me happy and to stop worrying about what I think everyone else is thinking – it was a game changer for me.
So that’s what I do, and that’s why I love it.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
The one from the Red Bull Rampage rider (above)!
On writing this blog, what do you feel is the key motivational or inspirational message you would like to highlight to our followers that would inspire them to get outdoors more?
That we are happier and healthier if we go outside. You can run marathons or throw yourself down MTB trails, or simply go for a walk. Just aim to put a smile on your face.
Thanks Adele and I’m sure we all look forward to hearing more from you over on our Facebook and Instagram accounts!
BOOK OF THE WEEK
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy is the most beautifully written novel that transports me to a world very different to my own. It is set in India and, through the story of one family, explores Indian politics, the caste system, forbidden love, social discrimination, and betrayal.
It is magical in its use of description, and I am in awe of Roy’s extraordinary way of looking at the world. For instance “With the certitude of a true believer, Vellya Paapen had assured the twins that there was no such thing in the world as a black cat. He said that there were only black cat shaped holes in the universe” which reminds me to approach every situation with an open mind.
MUSIC OF THE WEEK
No Cars Go by Arcade Fire
It has to be said that the holder of my ‘favourite song’ award varies from day to day, but a consistent contender for the crown is No Cars Go by Arcade Fire. I love the way its energy builds and builds to an exhilarating climax – and also its theme of escapism.
It was originally recorded in 2007 and ever since has been a favourite go-to whenever I fancy listening to an uplifting song.
At the beginning of this year it popped up again – this time as the soundtrack to Danny MacAskill’s mountain bike film, The Slabs. I love his films, and, the first time I watched it and realised what song they were using, I had tears in my eyes. It is the perfect antidote to all the sadness of 2020.
I like its honesty and think we all have our mountains, but are wonderfully optimistic about our potential and possibilities in life. I love it!