Spa Six Hours 2019

Spa Six Hours 2019

There was a plan for this blog post to be how amazing Belgium is for cycling, but Belgium weather scuppered those plans a little bit. Especially weather around the Spa-Francochamps motorsport circuit. Weather can change at the click of your fingers. You can leave the paddock in a t-shirt, but get to the other side of the circuit needing a thick winter jacket and hood. Clouds just roll in and out like waves in the sea.


Off what people told me prior to my trip, my image of Belgium cycling was long roads that were fairly flat. Yet I don’t think that exactly goes for the part of Belgium I was in. Travelling through Belgium the wide expanse of crop fields quickly turned to rolling hills covered in trees. The track itself is known for being technical to drive. It’s certainly the most hilly motorsport circuit I’ve ever been to.

Spa Six Hours 2019

I’d love to be sat here saying that I got the chance to ride around it, but I was there to watch the Spa Six Hours race. One of the biggest races in the historic motor racing calendar, teams race for 6 hours requiring driver changes and two fuel stops. The best part about it I guess is going back to the roots of motorsport. There’s minimal fancy equipment. The cars have to be original. Feeling the vibrations through your feet as they come flying down the pit straight is sometimes enough to kick the old adrenaline into play. It’s all systems go in the pits for 6 hours providing drivers with lap times and directing them when to pit. There’s no radios here.

Spa Six Hours 2019

Whilst the 6-hour race was the main event, the weekend was packed with other races too. The alarm clock for each day would be a car engine warming up. And I’m not talking about sitting there early in the morning waiting for the ice to melt off your car, I’m talking full on jump out of your skin wake up call.


One of the most memorable races for me was the Aston Martin Masters Endurance Legends Race, which was full of LMP1 and LMP2 cars. Essentially old Le Mans cars up until around the year 2012. Engines that echo through the forests surrounding the circuit and headlights that light up the sky like fireworks. After my brother and I had made our way up to one of the infamous corners, Pouhon, we could here the cars leaving the pits. It felt like we had the best seats in the house as we looked down on the pit straight and paddock area at the other end of the valley. We watched their headlights come around the circuit with the echoes getting louder as they came along the Kemmel straight. Suddenly they were in view, but quick enough it was back to watching they’re headlights break through the trees. It’s a spectacle I’m struggling to put into words if I’m honest, so hopefully I’ve done these amazing cars justice.

Spa Six Hours 2019

Spa Six Hours 2019

If you take anything away from this blog post, and you are a motorsport fan, I’d recommend going to the Spa 6 Hours endurance event. When the majority only watch the Spa 6 Hours, I’d really recommend heading out to watch the Aston Martin Masters Endurance Legends too. That spectacle topped Bonfire Night fireworks.

Spa Six Hours 2019DSC_8232Spa Six Hours 2019Spa Six Hours 2019

So I started this post talking about cycling didn’t I? Yet I’ve spent a most of it talking about cars…oops.

Not thinking the wet weather would pass anytime soon; I managed to get out on my bike on our first day in Belgium. The cars were out testing, so I thought it would be a good time to get out. I had no clue what the route had in store for me, but I forced myself to go out. It was probably quite stupid going out in such horrific weather on my own in a foreign county, but you’ve got to push the boundaries sometimes I guess.

Cycling in Belgium

I committed the cardinal sin of road by going out with a small rucksack, but it put me at ease that nothing could fall out of my pocket. I definitely wasn’t finding anything again if it did!

After some cyclocross-esque fire road riding, my route eventually turned to roads and landed me in the centre of Malmedy. After nearly turning back when the road became gravel, I’m glad I pushed myself on to get to Malmedy. Tall townhouses, a cobbled bridge bustling with flowers along it and a church steeple all came into view. I breathed a sigh of relief that I could hopefully complete the ride I set out to do now I was off the gravel roads.

Malmedy, Belgium

Climbing out of Malmedy I was soon on a climb that I later found out was 9 miles long. Granted it was not as steep as Sa Calobra, but enough to get the old legs burning. The road just kept meandering up and up.

Eventually I’m on a road that seems to never end. I look ahead and I can just see a pin straight road lined by trees that will probably get felled at some point. Winds blowing at me. Rain is somehow coming at me from the left. Then there’s the small drama of my Garmin going to sleep. I knew roughly where I was going, but I hadn’t seen a road sign for a really long time…

Eventually a junction came into view with a village I recognised. I was starting to think I was riding into the abyss.

I didn’t think I could have beaten the mental capacity to get round Welsh Champs when everything seemed to be against me that day. But somehow a 28 mile day came close to 50. I’d followed the route, but there was an 8-mile ride to the start point and back because of the paddock we were in. There was no cafe stop, just a Clif Bar. (Ok there was an insta photo to take in Malmedy obviously). Sitting writing this I still don’t know where it came from. I haven’t trained for months. But I’ve never been so glad to hear the rumble of engines as I got close to the circuit again.


I had to ring my kit to get rid of the excess water. There were puddles in the bottom of my shoes. There were points where I didn’t think I enjoyed it, but looking back it puts a smile on my face. I saw more of Belgium than I would have if I hadn’t taken my bike. There wasn’t much chance to take photos, just grey sky. It was just a day I dug deeper than I thought I could.

It was a random weekend, so I guess that makes for a bit of a random blog post. If you’re still reading this rather lengthy post, thanks for sticking with me. My first trip to Belgium has been and gone. Who knows if I’ll head back.


Silverstone Classic Photo Epic


If you follow me over on Instagram you’ll know I spent last weekend at the Silverstone Classic, which attracted the crowds to watch the cars of years gone by return to the track. I spent the weekend around the Volvo S40 which Rickard Rydell had come from Sweden to drive again.

I was forever behind the lens of my camera like always, so got quite a few pictures over the weekend. A weekend that saw original mechanics reunited with the driver they use to spanner check for, whilst current mechanics kept the car running in tip top condition.


A team put together by Jason Minshaw it was all hands on deck to make sure the car got to where it needed to be over the weekend.


With unpredictable weather, a few wheel changes took place as well as alterations to the tracking and gearbox over the weekend.


Qualifying on Friday turned out to be quite eventful with some cars facing issues that lead them to retire from the weekend.


Luckily the Volvo didn’t suffer such issues and Rickard placed the car in pole position for the race the following day.


Celebrating 60 years of the BTCC, the JET Super Touring Car Trophy was a popular collection of races over the weekend.


With plenty of fans coming to meet Rickard when he wasn’t driving the Volvo.

In between its time on the track, the Volvo was checked and adjusted following feedback from Rickard.


Despite biblical downpours at one point over the weekend, the heatwave meant hydration was key before and after jumping in the car.


The cars waited by garages 1 and 2 to get to the pit lane and out to the track.


Rickard’s biggest competitor over the weekend, James Dodd, who was driving the Honda Accord.


Despite the multiple position changes on track making it impossible to predict who would come out on top, Rickard and James showed impeccable sportsmanship off the track.


James Dodd pipped Rickard to the top spot of the podium, to which Rickard responded in good spirit “if it was my car he wouldn’t have got past”.


I was possible too young to remember these cars racing in their day, but I surprisingly still recognised some of the liveries thanks to the countless motorsport books on the bookshelf and not a BTCC race missed on the TV.


Bjorn and Daniel flew from Sweden to help with the car over the weekend.



With a few season back racing, the hype around the Volvo S40 was even greater with Rydell back in the driver’s seat.

Head over to the full album of photos by clicking here.

For more on what Rickard Rydell thought of the weekend, you can also read this article on his website.


International Womens Day

8th March marks International Women’s Day and rather than a long rambling post about equality amongst other things, I thought I would keep things positive by sharing a few women that inspire me to lead the life I do.

#1 Leena Gade

Since I ventured into the world of engineering, Leena’s achievements have definitely helped encourage me along the way. In the ‘man’s world’ of engineering, a career in the industry can sometimes be a little daunting.

#2 Lucy Charles

Whilst the thought of doing some of her training sessions makes me shudder, I love following Lucy’s training for Triathlon and Ironman competitions. If she’s not swimming she’s cycling, and if neither of those she’s probably running. Then there’s her gym work too. It makes me tired just typing it all!

#3 Jazz Carlin

I met the GB Swimmer when she came to my local gym for an event with Speedo and she is one of the most down to earth people I have met. Keen to help people with their swimming! I am always jealous however when she posts about training camps from somewhere much hotter than the UK.

#4 Joanna Rowsell Shand

I’ve been lucky enough to meet this incredible athlete at a Time Trial her and her husband organised in the West Pennines. I certainly didn’t expect to see her marshalling on the side of the road in the pouring rain warning us about a rather big pothole! With a big involvement in British Cycling’s Breeze programme, she’s doing more work than ever encouraging people to get active by riding bikes.

#5 Claire Rose

I met Claire at the Isle of Man in 2017 in the hours before she won her National TT Championship title. Her relaxed personality was a breath of fresh air from the ‘serious athlete’ personalities that were in abundance on the day of the big race. With a big team change this year, I’m looking forward to seeing how her season turns out!

Happy #InternationalWomensDay !

Who are your inspiring role models when it comes to being a #girlboss ? Leave them in the comments below!

Women Working in STEM: Georgia Shiels

Coming out of the bubble that is education and into the real world can be a daunting thing.

What on earth do you do next?

When that was me a few years ago so many questions went through my head…

Do I find a job? Should I do a BTEC at college? Am I clever enough to study A-Levels?

It is a minefield if you ask me, but what always stuck out for me was engineering. I enjoyed maths and fixing my bikes; both things that could help me follow an engineering career path. I was always fascinated in how things work, which kind of helps too!

Now engineering isn’t for everyone, but I think the only reason it took me time to take the plunge and give it a shot was not knowing much about working in the industry when I was leaving school.

Enter my series of posts finding out about the women who are either working, or studying the STEM industries (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mechanics).

First in the series is Georgia Shiels, who at 21 years old is studying Automotive Engineering at Bolton University. When Georgia isn’t studying she spends her time rallying.


So, take people back to the beginning. When did your interest in engineering start? Was it at a young age or later on? Do you think it matters if people grow to be interested later on?

To be totally honest… I don’t think I ever had an interest in engineering. My dad is a systems engineer but I never understood what that was. I always dreamed of being a teacher, then a pilot and finally a lawyer. My career ambition changed daily, as you can tell!

However, I was a total adrenaline junkie and loved anything that went fast; cars, bikes and aircraft. I learned to ride a bike without stabilisers at 3 years old and to drive a car at 15, so I suppose an aspect of engineering was always in my interests.

Engineering makes the world go round. Almost everything we see has been designed, built, and used through engineering processes. This is what makes engineering so interesting and so freeing. You don’t have to be interested in cars to be an engineer, you just have to have an interest in how things work, problem-solving and development.

“You just have to have an interest in how things work, problem-solving and development.”

I vowed that I would never attend university. A-levels put me off education for life! That was until I stumbled across Bolton University’s Automotive Performance Engineering degree and their course focusing on hands-on experience in motorsport! Despite still not knowing what engineering was; it was the best of both worlds for me, cars and engineering.

I absolutely love university and more importantly, I love the engineering degree. It is so diverse; applying maths, physics, project management and more to real-life “things”. The amazing thing is that you don’t have to be an engineer after graduation… the world is your oyster.

What interests you about it? Is it due to the driving side of things, or is there more that interests you about it? When did it occur to you that you could turn your interest into a career?

I passed my driving test at 17 and entered into the world of senior rallying. Forest rallying enhanced my passion for motorsport. I fell in love with rallying and this is when I decided I wanted to be the first ever female World Rally Champion. What better way to improve my chances than with an engineering degree from an up-and-coming university?!

All the pieces of the puzzle came together when I turned twenty. Following two gap years, during which so decided university was the right place for me, I now want to be there everyday. At 18, I don’t think I would have approached university in the same way. Everybody’s path in life is different.

“Everybody’s path in life is different.”

There’s plenty of ways to go into engineering now, such as apprenticeships and universities. What made you choose the university path?

I chose the university path for engineering as it offered me the time off I would need to go rallying. Apprenticeships are amazing and offer so much hands-on experience, but they couldn’t offer me the time to go rallying I needed.


You’re studying at Bolton University. What’s it like to study there?

Studying at Bolton University is so much fun! The lecturers know their stuff and their individual expertise combines to create a huge wealth of knowledge. We have recently set up a motorsport society to bring everyone together through their love of motorsport. It’s a really exciting time and I can’t wait for the new engineering building to be open in September! It looks beautiful!

You’ve obviously got to strike a balance between studying and your rallying. How does a typical week pan out for you? Is the course more theory based or is a lot of time spent in the workshop?

It can be difficult. I won’t lie. I don’t watch TV, I don’t go out drinking very often and I use my time wisely. Gosh I make my life sound so boring! Ha! However, I get to go rallying. I have so much fun and still socialise. I spend time with family and friends and follow my dreams.

To strike a balance, you have to make sacrifices and be organised! Organisation is key! I’m very fortunate that my motorsport career adds value to my engineering degree and fits in with all the hands-on work experience we get at Bolton Uni.

“To strike a balance, you have to make sacrifices and be organised!”

What could you potentially do when you complete your degree? Is there a particular job role you’re aiming for?

I wanted to do an engineering degree to be a valuable asset to any motorsport team or manufacturer. It is such a competitive world that every little bit of knowledge and experience helps. I think it’s so important to be able to work with your engineers in a motorsport team and understand how your car works.

There’s still an essence of engineering being a male-dominated industry. What’s the ratio like of male to female students on your course? How do you find being in the industry?

There are very few girls on my engineering course, which Bolton University and I are actively taking steps to change. We have set up a motorsport society with girls on the board and I am a STEM ambassador to inspire young girls to get involved in engineering and/or motorsport. It’s so much fun and certainly won’t be a male-dominated environment one day!

“I am a STEM ambassador to inspire young girls to get involved in engineering.”

Dare to be Different are trying to help more females get involved in Motorsport, whether they’re driving or not. Do you find your involvement with them is helping you progress?

Inspiring more girls to get involved in motorsport starts from a very young age, usually primary school, and therefore it’s important to show these young impressionable girls that they can get involved and it can be a career path. A common problem I have seen is parents of teenage girls saying “I would never let my daughter drive rally cars.” And this is an issue. We need to work together to defy the stereotype of a male driver as this just isn’t the case anymore. Both girls and boys drive cars and both are involved in motorsport.

Want to be kept up to date with Georgia Shiels and her 2017 endeavours? Head to her website or social media profiles here:


Twitter: @Georgia_Shiels

Instagram: @georgiashiels

Facebook: Georgia Shiels Rallying

All photos taken from Georgia’s website & Facebook page.