Adventurer from Saffron Walden is hoping to inspire women with new expedition

PUBLISHED: 08:29 08 March 2019

Fiona Quinn, from Saffron Walden, is setting off on a 4,000 mile expedition in April. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Fiona Quinn, from Saffron Walden, is setting off on a 4,000 mile expedition in April. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

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A British adventurer who grew up in Saffron Walden is setting off on a solo trip next month to cycle 4,000 miles from Gibraltar to Athens.

Fiona Quinn, from Saffron Walden, is setting off on a 4,000 mile expedition in April. Picture: CONTRIBUTEDFiona Quinn, from Saffron Walden, is setting off on a 4,000 mile expedition in April. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Fiona Quinn, 32, set three world records last year and this year she is cycling across nine countries in two months to discover the food and people that make the Mediterranean coastline one of the most popular in the world.

Climbing through 170,000ft of elevation on her journey, Fiona wants to inspire women and girls to get on their own bikes and explore.

Cycling was the one thing that opened up the world to Fiona and enabled her to go far further than she could have imagined.

“Cycling gave me the confidence and freedom to explore on my own and it showed me that I was capable of more,” she said. “I want this expedition to give women and girls the inspiration and skills to get on their own bikes and explore for themselves.”

Fiona Quinn, from Saffron Walden, is setting off on a 4,000 mile expedition in April. Picture: CONTRIBUTEDFiona Quinn, from Saffron Walden, is setting off on a 4,000 mile expedition in April. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Fiona will be sharing her expedition with children aged 10-16 through her three-part Mediterranean Schools Programme.

Both informative and entertaining, it will give pupils, particularly girls, the opportunity to get hands-on with her kit, to learn about route planning and to hear her tales from the road, inviting them to seek out their own adventurers.

Engaging primary and secondary schools across Britain, this programme will build upon the knowledge that 10 and 11-year-olds gain through the National Bikeability Scheme to show the next generation of cyclists that the world is waiting to be explored.

Fiona’s first cycling adventure back in 2016 saw her attempt to cycle the classic British adventure of Lands End to John O’Groats, only to be forced to pull out when she was caught out by a storm in Scotland.

Fiona Quinn, from Saffron Walden, is setting off on a 4,000 mile expedition in April. Picture: CONTRIBUTEDFiona Quinn, from Saffron Walden, is setting off on a 4,000 mile expedition in April. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Far from putting her off, she was buoyed by the fact that she had cycled 800 miles solo and self-supported, when the furthest she’d cycled before was just 80 miles. The following year she went back to cycle the whole route again, successfully, and then walked the route too.

In 2018 she set three world records by stand-up paddleboarding the route up the west coast of Britain, the first time a female had achieved the feat.

Fiona said cycling had enabled her to face her fears, building resilience through the knowledge that no matter what is thrown at her, she can keep going.

She hopes her new expedition will also show what it’s really like to adventure solo as a female across different cultures. Challenging preconceptions of danger and ability, she will share her day-to-day experiences, the ups and downs of pushing her limits and the reception she gets from fellow cyclists and locals alike.

Taking on the challenge entirely self-supported, carrying everything she needs on her bike, she said she plans to use the pursuit of her next food stop as motivation.

“When you look at life as an adventure and dare to do more, anything is possible,” she said.

“Getting to the start line is often the hardest part. You’ll never be 100 per cent ready so making that decision to just go and figure it out along the way is hugely liberating. Adventure has taught me more than anything else in life, that if I keep believing something is possible, I can push forward and make it happen.”

Fiona is flying the flag for female adventurers and her hope is that more women and girls will recognise their own potential and set out to fulfil it.

“Cycling is still a hugely male dominated sport, but women are every bit as adventurous as men. I’m excited to be part of the shift that is giving women the space they need to find their own approach to cycling.

“I hope more women will get on their bike as a result and that we can inspire young girls to take an adventurous approach to life.”

You can follow Fiona’s adventures on Instagram: @FionaLQuinn.

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