Louise Green, 45, is a Vancouver-based cyclist, personal trainer, and author of the book Big Fit Girl. She recently spoke to our American sister title Bicycling about life as a larger rider.

Bicycling: How did you become an athlete?
Louise Green: Throughout my 20s I was constantly battling my weight; I’d do lots of on-and-off exercise, in extremes. One day, in 2002, in an attempt to lose weight again, I joined a running clinic in Vancouver. I was terrified because I felt like I was going to be the biggest and the slowest and they were going to ditch me. But my run leader happened to be a plus-size woman. She was super athletic and could run crazy distances. She changed my perception of what it means to be an athlete. She never talked about how many calories we were burning or that bikini season was coming. It was about digging deep into your greatest athletic power.

What does it mean to you to be an athlete?
The definition for me is that you set goals and you hold to them. There are some days you don’t want to ride, but you know that it’s part of the process, so you buck up and push to your highest degree, whatever that might be.

How did you find cycling?
I like to set lofty fitness goals. My friend had done the Ride to Conquer Cancer, which is 250km from Vancouver to Seattle over two days. In 2006, my husband’s uncle died of cancer, so we agreed to do it. This was our fifth consecutive year participating.

What challenges did you face when you first started riding?
When you’ve got a heavier body, climbing hills is not the funnest thing. Also, when you’re a size 16, you’re not a typical-looking cyclist. The sport can be very intimidating to people who look like me. That’s why it’s important for people to see that “Hey, there are people like me out there doing that!”