At just 32, Meg Bichard has competed in the Enduro World Series (EWS), shattered records (and bones) and is now putting her veterinary skills to the test.
“I’m just taking a bit of a break from biking at the moment and focusing on my veterinarian career,” Bichard said.
Travelling the world, with her four bikes and becoming the seventh best female enduro rider in the world has been an exhausting experience and Bichard wants to focus on helping animals, and gaining experience in her chosen career.
Bichard is a British-born bike enthusiast who has been “biking” for 10 years and endurance racing for the past three.
Endurance racing, or enduro as it is most commonly known, is a type of mountain bike racing where the downhills are timed, and the uphills are not. Riders are timed in stages that are primarily downhill, with neutral “transfer” stages in between. The transfer stages usually must be completed within a time-limit, but are not part of the accumulated time.
The winner is the rider who accumulates the lowest combined time from the times downhill sections, and enduros typically take place over one or two days.
However, the sport does not come without its issues. Bichard has been involved in countless crashes, a number of which have resulted in two broken wrists, a slipped disk in the neck and a torn pancreas.
“And that’s just from mountain biking. So yeah, I have had a few major injuries from biking, that’s why I am kind of keen to get back in to veterinarian work, a little bit safer,” Bichard joked.
On the plus side, the sport has given her the opportunity to travel the world, meet new people and experience different cultures - something she says wouldn’t be possible without the continuous support of friends, families and her sponsor, Fuji bikes.
Having just returned from Europe, where she was competed and travelled for nine months, Bichard has said her volunteer work in Rarotonga acts as some well-deserved “R & R”.
“I came here because I really wanted to volunteer, and see the island – and the two just happened to go hand-in-hand.
“I saw that Rarotonga needed a veterinarian, because there wasn’t one on the island at the time, so I thought why not.
“I have been here for 10 days and I am here for another week, but I am thinking of extending a little bit. Although I do have work lined up afterwards, so unfortunately I can’t stay forever,” Bichard said.
The world-renowned rider says she has loved her time in Rarotonga, has convinced friends to come over for a visit, and can’t want to come back herself.
“I love the people here, they are so friendly, and I love working at the clinic; everyone here is so lovely.
“Owners and animals are treated equally. There is no “you haven’t got the money so no we can’t help you” and that’s amazing and one of the things I love here,” she said.
However, Bichard says the limited supplies and lack of personnel has been a struggle, for both herself and for fellow veterinarians and nurses.
“The hardest part about being here would have to be the major orthopaedic surgeries. There is nowhere to refer them to – we (Esther Honey), are ‘it’.
“So it’s hard when it comes to major injuries or sicknesses because often we have to euthanize .
“But we all just do the best we can.”
The first-time volunteer says she hasn’t scheduled any future endure races, and is now set on helping animals wherever she can.
Bichard says her experience in Rarotonga has kept her “on her toes” and there is always something her to do, be it by de-sexing newly-adopted pups, saving goats attacked by dogs or jist cuddling the new kittens at Esther Honey.