Get Inspired: Inspire a Jen's post-Olympic challenge

Jen Offord
The London 2012 Olympics turned civil servant Jen Offord from a sport hater into a sport lover

When the London 2012 Olympics began 29-year-old civil servant Jen Offord was a sport sceptic.

By the end of the three week event Offord had been so wooed that she set out to not just get active but get active by trying out every single women's Olympic sport.

38 new challenges later the positive effects of exercise had indoctrinated her. Three years on her impressive list has been refined into two pet sports - boxing and cycling.

Jen is currently using the latter for her next challenge - a 2,500 mile bike ride down America.

"It does sound quite cheesy but the Olympics changed my life.

Once I had opened myself up to the possibility that I might enjoy sport - through doing the Olympic challenge - it was impossible not to.

Jen Offord
Jen Offord tried 38 women's Olympic sports having been inspired by London 2012

I think we can lose our sense of fun and adventure as we get older; sport helped me rediscover mine.

Physical activity gives you a sense of confidence because you're learning skills.

I hadn't been happy in my job (as a civil servant) for a long time and I'd always wanted to be a writer. Life had just gotten in the way and like many other people I'd fallen into my day job.

The Olympics challenge opened up this whole new unknown world I could write about and gave me the confidence to try something new, having just spent a year trying new things all the time.

So I packed in my sensible career to pursue my childhood dream of writing.

Why cycling? It was one of the sports I tried in the Olympic challenge and I just really took to it, in part because it is quite practical and in part because of the independence it gives you. Cycling was the sport that really stuck with me.

Jen Offord
Jen Offord tries her hand at archery

I started the trip riding between 50-60 miles a day and will look to increase that as I get fitter. I am allowing myself two months such that I don't rush too much because there are some inspiring people I want to meet on the way.

Prior to discovering sport I hadn't realised how prevalent sexism still is in this world. And I have continued to notice in the last three years the extent to which women's achievements in sport, and more widely, are not reflected in the media.

Partly because of that I have set up meetings with some inspiring women on my ride down America. Women's boxing pioneer Christy Martin is one of the people I am planning to meet as well as many others.

I wanted to do something that raises the profile of women's sports a bit and challenges the stereotype that women's sport and wider achievements are lesser than men's - less bold, less adventurous, less interesting.

I'll be writing about my journey - and my chats with inspiring women - for my blogexternal-link and various media outlets. I hope to also write a book about the whole trip.

The people close to me are of course worried about the fact that I am riding all this way, mostly on my own and doing a lot of camping. Prior to the Olympics there is absolutely no way that I would have even contemplated doing such a thing and people do comment on how much they think my outlook has changed.

Jen Offord
Jen Offord is riding 2,500 miles down America

There is so much you can take from sport. The social element. The trying of new things and obviously the health benefits. I have been happier in myself since taking up sport and I absolutely attribute all this to having done my Olympic challenge.

I can change a tyre and fix a puncture but that is about it - it's fair to say I won't be trying to break any records. But that isn't why I've taken this on.

Cycling is a really nice way to see places. As long as I don't see any bears or alligators over the next two months I'll be happy."

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