#Ride2Unite Podcast with Orla Walsh: “I Was as Far Away from a National Champion as You Can Get”

By Frantiska Blazkova

In the third part of the #Ride2Unite podcast, our host Anna Glowinski sat down for a virtual get-together with Orla Walsh, an Irish elite track cyclist and self-made woman of cycling.

Orla showed up on the scene late by the athletic world standard. In her own words, she knew about bikes only as much as that “people use them to get to work and [I know] the Tour de France”. Then everything changed when she was 26 and friends introduced her to bicycles, suggesting that it would be fun to ride.

Starting as a casual commuter with no background in competitive sport plus a history of unhealthy habits including heavy smoking, she didn’t think much of her new hobby. Surprisingly, she started to enjoy it and quickly improved and, in only two years’ time, she entered the pro realm and became a podium regular. To this day, Orla has represented Ireland on the international stage and has won several national championship medals and became Irish National Champion.

She has documented her journey on Instagram where she shares snippets of her life including training, nutrition and recovery. Orla also co-hosts the Pedalling Heroines camp in Mallorca while continuing to pursue her goals in the international track scene and holding down a full-time job.

It’s clear that Orla Walsh isn’t one to lose determination in the face of a new challenge. With Anna, they first recapitulated her road to success from a party girl to a pro, the introduction to cycling world and all the obstacles and surprises she encountered on the way. It’s obvious that cycling wasn’t a career path Orla had been dreaming of. After Anna asked her if she could imagine being a cycling champion if anyone were to ask her five years ago, she replied: “No, not a hope. I was smoking 20 cigarettes a day, drinking heavily, regularly. I was as far away from a national champion as you can get.”

Yet, she made it and in a spectacular fashion on top of it all. Tune in for 55 minutes of information, advice and a motivation-packed podcast.