Naomi Freireich isn’t your average cyclist.
The full-time IT project manager and mother of two is no stranger to the saddle, however.
The 43-year-old from Edinburgh recently retained her UK 24-hour MTB Mountain Bike title and has also been crowned European champion in Slovakia.
It’s a remarkable tale for a rider who insists she had barely placed her foot on a pedal prior to her 40th birthday.
And, while racking up the miles around a specially-designed circuit for 24 hours sounds like hell to most, for Naomi, it’s heaven.
“I hadn’t really been on a bike that much in my life at all and was more into other sports when I was younger,” she said. “I got roped into doing a 24-hour race for a team event up in Strathpeffer a couple of years ago and, as crazy as it sounds, I really enjoyed it. I decided the next challenge I wanted to do was to do it on my own. So I just really got into it from there.
“It’s not just a case of having good physical fitness. There’s a lot to do with the mental side of things. It takes a lot out of you and will normally take a good four weeks to recover after competing.
“You get people that enter in a pair or a quad but I prefer to do it myself. But that’s where my strength lies. I’m in my forties now so I’m not really a sprinter but can hold a steady pace over a longer period of time.
“I usually do three per year as there’s not much more you can do by the time you build up your endurance to compete and then the time it takes to recover.
“There is a difference between the day and night time laps when you’re out racing but I just don’t really think about the time or sleeping – until afterwards and then I’ll sleep lots!
“It’s all down to the training I do and the understanding of the people I have around me.”
A broken ankle in October hampered Naomi’s preparations for this year’s races. However, she recovered sufficiently to see off some stiff competition where she is now set on completing a prestigious treble.
“I’m certainly intending racing in the world championships in October,” she said of the competition that takes place in Fort William. “I raced last year in Italy and didn’t do well. I had a niggling foot injury and it just wasn’t the right time but I know the level of competition that I’m up against and with me having had such a good year and being on home turf, it’s definitely in my favour to go and do well. I’ll give it my all.
“The winner of the men’s race in Europe was in his twenties but I was the oldest woman out in Slovakia in the elite category so I know I can still compete at the highest level.”