You can but dream

Cece Moore from Gosport quit her job after she ‘found’ mountain biking and now travels around Europe looking for the next trail or event to ride.

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Cece recently took part in the Roc d’Azur last weekend in Frejus, France. Four years ago though, Cece sadly found out she had a patent foramen ovale (PFO) or in layman’s terms, a hole in her heart. Cece was a keen scuba diver at the time but unlike other divers, she was not able to have surgery to correct the hole and as a result, had to make the tough decision to give up scuba diving and go in search of an alternative sport.

Cece: “I was a very passionate scuba diver for around 15 years and was also a scuba instructor for around three of the latter years. About 18 months before I picked up a mountain bike I experienced something that only happens when you have a PFO and dive which, to cut a long story short, meant I had to make the decision not to dive again. This was a very sad day.”

Cece was determined to find a new sport that could provide the same rewarding experiences. “I was invited to join a mountain biking ride with some friends through the place I worked at the time … Having never properly ridden a mountain bike in earnest, I was somewhat excited to know how the ride would go.

“The group lent me a hardtail and we went to a local country park and because I was a beginner, they led me along an easy route which made use of the fire roads. The route was around 10 miles and involved some hill climbing which hurt my legs and lungs but afterwards, back at the country park café digesting what had just happened, I realised I absolutely loved it! It was hard, but it really got me excited and moving around the quiet country park was fabulous and the camaraderie was great fun too.”

“A few months after my first ride, I met and fell in love with my now partner, Leon, who managed a local bike shop and who was a very keen mountain bike rider himself.

“Three years ago, for Leon’s 40th birthday, we undertook a big trip to America, we flew to Denver where we hired a vehicle and spent three weeks driving across USA stopping at some of the well-known MTB areas to hire and ride bikes. We managed to ride in places like Boulder, Buffalo Creek and Fruita, Colorado; Moab, Utah; Lake Tahoe, Las Vegas & Grand Canyon, Nevada. Riding bikes really has taken us around the world, and the USA trip had just whetted our appetite.”

Both Cece and Leon knew they wanted to travel more and see more of Europe so they both decided to make changes to their lifestyles that would allow them to travel more.

Cece: “I very much enjoyed my job but the time came when I felt that it got in the way of allowing me to explore and travel more. We wanted to buy a motorhome/camper and live in it during our travels. With money saved up over a couple of years we bought our camper van.

“We rented out our house and moved into the van. The last thing to do was to resign from our jobs.

“To be honest, once we were in this position it was easy to decide to resign; we had worked hard to get to this position and of course it was very exciting but also worrying to not have a regular, solid income from here on.

“Our family and friends were very excited for us, some said they were ‘jealous’, and were supportive of our plan.”

Over the last 18 months Cece and Leon have explored and travelled through 11 European countries. They’ve been to the World Champs in Val di Sole, the final EWS round at Finale Ligure and most recently the Roc d’Azur.

Cece: “I think more people, period, should take up mountain biking, it is a fantastic way to stay fit and healthy and it can increase your pool of friends.

“Mountain biking is still such a male-dominated sport and it shouldn’t be, women are just as able to ride bikes and get enjoyment from them. Certainly, I am very much in the minority of women in the UK who keep fit through mountain biking and I would like to see change.

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“The progress I have witnessed on my bike has given me so much self confidence in my ability and it would be great if other women could benefit from this confidence improvement too. Other people should experience the feeling of having a big smile on their face, that riding bikes gives!”