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Dr. Carla Benton - Clinical Psychologist, queer vegan and a lover of all things outdoors.

Renata Chlumska  - Adventure athlete who became the first Swedish and Czech woman to climb Mount Everest and in 2005 did a circumnavigate of the lower 48 States of the United States by her own power.

Carla is a Clinical Psychologist, queer vegan and a lover of all things outdoors; adventurer, runner, endurance cyclist and lapsed climber based near the Peak District in the UK. She is an advocate for the LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC communities taking up space in the outdoors and is a committee member with the awesome Peak Queer Adventures (PQA) based in Sheffield and member of the Women of Colour Cycling Collective (WCCC).

Carla’s love of the outdoors started from an early age, however gender roles and expectations sadly stopped her from fully embracing that love as a teenager. She reconnected with the outdoors and solo adventures after moving to North Wales to undertake her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology in her mid-twenties, and hasn’t looked back.

She was awarded the Ultra Distance Scholarship in 2021, which is aimed at increasing representation of BAME cyclists in ultra distance cycling and getting them to the start line of an ultra distance race, a typically overwhelmingly white and male niche of cycling.

This amazing opportunity has been life-changing and she’s gone from not being confident at all in her cycling abilities, to cycling 500km off road from Edinburgh to Manchester, her longest, hardest ride to date. She’s met the most amazing people, grown in confidence and felt like she’s found her people.

She started an Instagram account after winning the Scholarship, to document her journey from (almost couch) to 2000km with the hope of inspiring queer people and people of colour, particularly black womxn, to get on their bikes and enjoy nature.

You can find her at @acurlyoutdoors; check out Peak Queer Adventures at @peakqueeradventures and the Women of Colour Cycling Collective at @wccc_uk.

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Show notes

  • Who is Carla

  • What she loves

  • Being based in the Peak District, UK

  • Wanting to encourage others to take up space in the outdoors

  • Her early years and growing up with a passion for the outdoors

  • Getting to explore in the woods

  • Her love of nature and wanting to protect the environment

  • Not feeling comfortable in secondary school with her body and spending time in the outdoors

  • Training to be a Clinical Psychologist in North Wales

  • Going out early in the morning to avoid people

  • Spending time in the mountains

  • Feeling the fear and doing it anyway

  • The Devils Kitchen - located behind Llyn Idwal nestled within Cwm Idwal in the Ogwen Valley, Snowdonia National Park.

  • Gaining new skills and knowledge

  • Feeling brave

  • Thinking about becoming a Mountain Leader (ML) but not seeing herself represented and not feeling comfortable

  • Recording good quality mountain days and keeping a track of what she was doing

  • Getting new gear

  • Looking for opportunities in the mountains

  • Getting into wild camping, trail running and climbing

  • Finding community and connecting with other people who are interested in the outdoors

  • Enjoying spending time on her own

  • Meditation through movement

  • Getting into cycling and connecting with the cycling community

  • The Ultra Distance Scholarship An initiative increasing diversity and representation within ultra distance cycling and racing

  • Being inspired by Vera Ngosi-Sambrook

  • The power of taking action

  • The reality of taking on an ultra cycling challenge

  • Focused training from November 2021 - August 2022

  • Dealing with injuries and saddle sores

  • Wanting to do long rides with other people

  • Using instagram to reach out and connect with people

  • Learning how to cycle off road

  • The Pennine Rally - 100 riders, 500 kilometres and five days of testing off-road riding from Edinburgh to Manchester down Britain’s backbone.

  • Fuelling as a vegan

  • Outdoor Provisions make Natural Energy Bars & Nut Butters - Use code TRYOP for 25% off Starter Packs

  • Accidental vegan food

  • Being on the start line and what the rally was like

  • Cycling approx 100k per day

  • The impact on her confidence after completing the rally

  • Dealing with the low points and self doubt

  • Mental resilience and the mental challenge of taking on a challenge

  • Drawing on her skills and knowledge from working as a Clinical Psychologist

  • Using the grounding technique

  • The power of music to change your mood

  • Dealing with her nerves

  • Being optimistic and calm

  • Giving herself permission to get off and push if she needed to

  • Taking the pressure off

  • Plans for 2023 and wanting to do an ultra cycling race

  • How to connect with Carla

  • Her beautiful bike - “Betty”

  • Frame bag by Wizard Works

  • Final words of advice

  • The power of finding your people, your tribe and your community

  • Sharing your passion with other people

  • Getting into climbing via taster days


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