Delia Beddis is a teammate of mine, so I know the crazy hours she works ensuring the legacy of the Olympic Park. At the same time, she has somehow managed to become one of the country's top cyclocross racers, this year winning the legendary 3 Peaks Cyclo-Cross, a four hour race across the Yorkshire Dales which bears more resemblance to a fell running event than a bike race.

Last year she was ranked eighth in the UK in cyclcross, and finished seventh at the National Championships, an impressive result in a field where at least three of the riders ahead of her are full-time professional riders.

London Athletic caught up with Delia in the Olympic Park in East London, early one November morning.

Name: Delia Beddis
Age: 30
Which area of London do you call home: South East London
Sport: Cycling (and a bit of running)

What came first - living in London or being an athlete?
I was already interested in sport before I came to London, particularly cycling and running. I started riding at home in Yorkshire, mainly around the hills with my Dad and also running off road on the moors and trails. I moved to London after graduating from the University of Edinburgh. I started in East London, then moved North to Archway. After about four years I moved South East to be closer to better cycling routes out to Kent.

Where’s your favourite place to train in London?
There are some decent roads out in Kent and Surrey. The biggest challenge is finding roads that are quiet for decent training – the sheer number of people in London means you invariably end up with someone chasing your wheel. That's pretty much why I avoid Box Hill at all costs!

Where do you do the majority of your training?
The majority of my rides are out in Kent. Head out along Pilgrims Way and take one of the hills like Toys or Ide Hill to get out in the countryside a bit more. Routes out to the Ashdown Forest are always good for a long ride. I try to get back up to Yorkshire when I can, especially when training for the Three Peaks – it's really hard to replicate that terrain in London. I also use the local parks for cross skills training in the winter; Crystal Palace Park is great for practising running up steps.

What’s your favourite memory of competing in London?
The Smithfield Nocturne is the best race of the year in London. It's a great race for spectators and racers, and one of the few races that my non-cycling friends come to see me ride my bike.

London is dirty, noisy, congested and full of distractions. Do you find it difficult to avoid those distractions and concentrate on training and competing? 
I generally avoid training in central London but I do commute to work every day and try to cycle between meetings when possible. The stop and start nature of the rides drives me pretty mental at times, but you can find routes that avoid the majorly busy roads. Also, the traffic riding and driving between races can be really frustrating at times. However, there's nothing quite like riding home over Tower Bridge at night and seeing the whole of London lit up.

One thing I would say about riding in London is that the quality of the women's racing is really strong. There's a concentration of women in London who are really up for racing and there's a good range of events – especially on the road racing side.

What do you do for a living? And does your employer understand what you do as an athlete and allow you time to train?
I work as a Project Manager for the legacy of the Olympic Park. The hours can be pretty hefty which makes if difficult to find time to train. I have to plan training around work – either doing it later at night or early in the mornings before work. The one thing I always make clear though is that I have to race Crystal Palace crits on a Tuesday night in the summer, so no meetings after 5.30pm! My colleagues were really nice after the Peaks – they stuck a 'Well Done' note and a photo of Rob Jebb and me to my computer.

Is it hard to balance work, family and your athletic career?
Well I don't have kids so that makes life easier! I do find it hard to get the right balance between work and training, and invariably work ends up taking up most of my time. I commute to work by bike which helps but it's not really the sort of quality training I need. I find I can squash in the time for training but the recovery time is never really up to scratch.

If you were mayor for the day, what would you do to make life easier for athletes in London?
I'd declare Wednesday afternoons as sports time so employees could train and play sports. I figure it would encourage companies to arrange inter-company competitions in all sorts of sports. Not sure how this would work for important things like hospitals though... I might have to think this through a bit more!

What’s the best athletic performance you’ve ever witnessed in London?
This might sound like a bit of a weird answer but I love to see the kids razzing around the new BMX track in Burgess Park in Southwark. It's amazing to see them, especially at night when it's all floodlit – they're so young but they properly go for it and are fearless. It looks like such a good facility for kids in the area.

Which London based athletes do you most respect?
I'm going to say my team mate Claire Beaumont, because she's always keen to go on adventures and step up to the highest levels of competition. We've been to Belgium once already this cyclocross season to compete in top level televised events, and we're going back a couple more times before the season ends in February. It's really good to have someone who's super-keen and helps drive me forward.

If a fellow Londoner wanted to try your sport, how would you advise them to get started?
I'd advise them to get a decent but affordable bike and start riding to work. It's the easiest way to get around town, get fit and save money. It's also not as scary as many people think. I'd also advise them to try a local cyclocross race – I've never heard anyone come away from their first cross race saying they didn't enjoy it.

Any sponsors/supporters/coaches/clubs you’d like to thank?
Of course the mighty ViCiOUS VELO for standing in muddy pits up and down the country (and in Belgium) and for Specialized for helping me out with my cross bikes a couple of years ago.


  1. I found this very inspiring. How do you overcome the fear of cycling in London? I have a touring bike but keep it in Wales. I am planning to take it to Devon and other tours. I did try in London but not to commute. Also admirable motivation.

  2. Simeon, in my experience cycling in London doesn't feel as dangerous as cycling in many smaller towns - drivers in London are used to seeing cyclists on the road so know how to behave. In smaller towns where cycling is less common, drivers seem to get more irate more quickly.

    Also, London is covered in really good routes that motorists don't or can't use. When I used to commute into Holborn, a 40min ride, I'd spend the first 33mins riding along the river Lee tow path and the regents canal, then use the back roads of Bloomsbury for the last mile or so. It didn't feel threatening at all.

    My suggestion would be to have a good idea of where you need to go, check the map in advance, look for small roads that lead in the right direction, and once you get on the road be assertive in your manoeuvres - it's hard for motorists to distinguish between fear and just dithering, and in my experience, unless you aim for eye contact, and move confidently to take your position in the road, they'll try and take advantage of you.