Shauna Finn - 2023 Women's Cycling Advocate
Current cycling club?
Arcane Cycling Team
What is your current age?
What cycling disciplines are you involved in?
Track and Road
What age did you get involved?
Why did you start cycling?
I’ve been cycling for as long as I remember. As a sporty person, I’ve tried and fell in love with a variety of sports. From rugby, to karate, to my biggest passion cycling. When I was younger, I could have spent hours cycling around my house. I would make up different games to keep it entertaining. I.e., do a lap as fast as possible, do a lap without pedalling, without breaking etc. I thought I was very creative.
I think my parents eventually got sick of hearing the rumble of me constantly cycling around the house, so they volunteered to take me mountain biking at the local trails in Ballyhoura. I was only eight, so the six km route felt like the hardest thing I’ve ever done but despite that, I was hooked. It wasn’t long before I joined the local road cycling club, Newcastle West CC, with my dad. I loved the sense of satisfaction and achievement I would get after doing a long, tiring spin. It became an addiction in a sense.
What has been your involvement in cycling, your story?
After a few months training with my club, it was suggested that I should do the local race run by Currow CC. I was the only girl racing, but I loved battling with the boys that were so shocked to see a girl next to them. What was meant to be a onetime thing, turned into a regular occurrence and I began racing nearly every weekend. I did my first national championships in Kanturk when I was U11.
I was truly inspired watching the older girls race and knew I wanted to become them and inspire future girls to race as well. It would be another few years before I started track. When I was thirteen, I was invited to go on a girl cycling camp run by Orla Hendron. I thought it was an amazing opportunity because each day was focused on a different discipline of cycling. I was terrified by the thought of no brakes or gears on the track bike, but as soon as I was up on the track I felt at home and have felt that way ever since.
This year, I turned Junior. It’s been a huge adjustment from U16 but it was made easier by the support of friends, family and the racing community. I feel I have accomplished some things this year that I think would have made U11 me proud.
Do you have a quote that you live by or inspires you?
I currently love, “Courage, sacrifice, determination, commitment, toughness, heart, talent, guts. That’s what little girls are made of; the heck with sugar and spice.” —Bethany Hamilton, because it sums up my personality. I’ve always been heavily involved in male dominated sports and I was often overlooked as just the “little girl” who was in the background. I’ve always advocated that anything men can do, so can women and just because we’re underestimated doesn’t mean we aren’t worthy of respect.
I’m also fond of “The only one who can tell you ‘You can’t win’ is you and you don’t have to listen.”—Jessica Ennis-Hill because I do believe a lot of the battle to win is mental.
What has been your cycling highlights?
My biggest highlight at the moment is winning the Junior National TT Title this year. Historically TT’s have been my worst event so I decided this year to put a lot of work into improving it. Still, going into the event, I didn’t expect to win. I remember finishing the race and being in a state of shock that I won. I think I asked my poor mother about fifty times if she was joking and did I truly win.
I’ve won about thirty national medals/titles in my seven years of racing, and this is the one I’m most proud of. As well as the TT, I’ve also won multiple national medals this year in both road and track. I won my first senior national medals in team pursuit and team sprint with my current team, Arcane.
I think out of that experience, what was nearly better than winning the medals themselves, was the team spirit and atmosphere. When you have a team that gels together and supports one another so well, it makes everything more enjoyable. I’ve also been on both the Irish and Munster team the last few years, which has been an honour.
This year I got the privilege to be selected for the Athlete Development Programme, which has afforded me amazing opportunities such as biometric testing, access to a sports psychologist and sports nutritionist and an extended network of friends and like-minded people. I think one of the most physically demanding, yet most satisfying thing I’ve done in my cycling career is finish Rás na mBan.
It's five days, six races, totalling over 450km. I was lucky to get a place on the most amazing team, the Women’s Commission team. At the end of every day, I felt like I could barely walk, no mind race another 100km the following day, yet the support from the team and the satisfaction of finishing every day kept me going till the end.
How do you feel cycling has benefited you?
I think one of the main benefits I’ve gotten from cycling is the support and community. In 2021, my dad was in the hospital for several weeks following an accident. I don’t think I truly realised the support system and community I had around me until then. My dad was my main training partner, he ensured all my equipment was ready for races, he was my coach and he generally kept me sane.
I was lost without him. But my community, both at home and around the country kept me afloat. My local clubmates ensured I was never training alone, my bike was running ok and was checking in with my mom to see if we needed anything.
The racing community also kept me afloat. The very girls I was racing against were checking in with me to make sure I was ok. Their dads were double checking my bike was race fit, ensuring I had enough nutrition for the race, had enough water etc. I don’t know what I would have done without them. Thankfully my dad came out ok and is back to annoying me about training and eating properly. But during that time, I realised that the cycling community was more than just the people I cycled with or raced against. They were like family.
What is your favourite thing about cycling?
I love the freedom of it. It’s an amazing opportunity to just go out into the fresh air and think about nothing for a few hours. It’s great for the mental health as well as your physical health.
What would you say to other females who may be interested in cycling?
Do it. There are loads of amazing opportunities out there. There is a discipline out there for everyone. Road, track, mountain biking, cyclocross, bmx etc. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Getting into any new sport can be daunting but we were all beginners once. Asking questions will only benefit you in the long run and trust me, cyclists love to talk about cycling, we love to share information.
How do you feel about becoming a Cycling Ireland Women in Sport Advocate?
It's an honour and a privilege I don’t take lightly. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am constantly advocating for more women and girls to get involved with sport. And I look forward to working with likeminded individuals.
What is your * when it comes to the IT’S NOT A RACE* campaign?
It’s not a race, it’s family.