Escaping the Rat Race

Escaping the Rat Race

Woman's Own Interview with Heather Cooper

Read Heather's interview with Woman's Own magazine, as she discusses her former life as a daily commuter from Birmingham to London and her new life, as founder and guide at Hike and Bike the Sierras in the beautiful town of Ronda, in southern Spain.

I was interviewed for a feature all about women making big life-changing decisions - about work, where they lived and how they spent their time. It was strange thinking back to how different my life was just 3 years ago, when I lived with Wayne and his children in Tamworth and commuted each day down to my job in London.

Things changed very fast after we first visited Ronda in spring 2012 and then decided to set up our business here. Unlike so many Brits who travel to Spain with a house purchase high on the agenda, our trip had not been the first stage in a plan for a new life under the Spanish sun. We hadn't gone there with a dream of a life of sangria and cheap G and Ts down on the coast, nor a rose-tinted fantasy of rural escape on an olive farm. We had simply decided to holiday in Ronda because I was fed up of cycling in the UK's cold and wet winter weather and wanted some early sunshine. I also had a vague whim to learn Spanish.

We had no idea that we would find such beautiful, green countryside all around Ronda and yet how little information there was to help non-Spanish speakers to explore it, particularly on a bike. Wayne had been both intrigued and frustrated by the situation. By the end of that holiday, we were unexpectedly discussing the pros and cons of upping sticks to set up a mountain biking and hiking business to fill the apparent gap in Ronda's tourism market.

Building the business has not always been an easy journey but it's good to take a moment to reflect on how it all started and how different our lives are now. We feel happier and heathier and enjoy going to work much more than we ever did in our old lives!

Heather Cooper, Hike + Bike the Sierras  2/6/2015