JANE Barr was a late arrival to the world of cycling, making her competitive debut at the ripe old age of 27.

But only a year later she was on a plane to Delhi.

The former middle distance runner had bought a mountain bike to keep fit in the hills near her Clackmannanshire home. A friend told her about the Gold4Glasgow scheme, an initiative launched by the sportscotland Institute of Sport to uncover talent for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, turning ordinary Scots – office workers, students, recreational enthusiasts – into medal winners.

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Intrigued, Barr decided to check it out. That was in 2009. The following year she was at the Commonwealth Games, riding in support of fellow Scot Kate Cullen in the women's road race. Cullen finished 17th and has now retired from competition, but it is Barr's belief – and that of Scottish Cycling – that a podium place in Glasgow is a realistic ambition for at least one of the women in the Scotland cycling camp.

Alongside fellow Scots Eileen Roe, Kayleigh Brogan, Laura Murray and Anne Ewing, Barr, 31, rides for the Breast Cancer Care Cycling Team. Scottish Cycling are a major partner in the 16-strong professional road-racing outfit – an investment aimed at helping the five in their preparation for the Games.

Married to Wayne, 37, a director of a groundworks company, Barr works three days a week as an admin assistant, devoting the rest of her time to training, racing and travelling. Her unwavering focus in pursuit of Glasgow 2014 has undoubtedly meant sacrifices, but the rider is determined to have no regrets.

"It's been a steep learning curve," she admits. "I do take some pride in what I have achieved so far. It makes all the hard work worth it. I have a goal I want to achieve. I don't want to look back and think: 'what if'?"

Barr has already had to overcome bigger challenges than most. She broke her neck in a crash while racing in the Netherlands last May, fracturing her C6 and C7 vertebrae. It was October before she was fit to compete again.

"At first I thought I'd winded myself," she says. "I had pain in my shoulder blade, but not in my neck. It wasn't until we got to hospital that I realised how bad it was. The scariest part was waiting for the X-rays and scans to come back. I spent six hours on a backboard, although I could wiggle my toes which brought some comfort."

Testament to her tenacity, within a fortnight Barr was on the turbo trainer, putting in 10-minute bursts in front of the television while watching cycling races. "From the outset I was determined it wouldn't be the end of my career – I will decide that not something else," she says. "It's been tough getting back, but it's made me realise all the more how much I want this."

While much of this year has been spent racing in Belgium and the Netherlands, today will see Barr – and team-mates Brogan, Roe and Murray – compete at the 2013 Scottish Road Race Championships in Alford, Aberdeenshire. Barr won the title in 2010 and 2011, with Brogan claiming victory last year.

With Ewing out through injury, the quartet will decide who among them has the strongest chance of victory over the 54-mile course, with the other three then riding in support.

"The ultimate goal is to have a Breast Cancer Care rider on top of the podium," says Barr. "I'd rather that than us racing each other and no one from the team winning. It's a challenging course, quite hilly and lumpy with a steep climb in the last 10k. If the main bunch hasn't split by then, it most likely will going up there. There are a lot of headwinds and crosswinds up in that area which will play a part too."

The field includes Charline Joiner (MG-Maxifuel Pro Cycling), a Commonwealth Games track silver medallist who is in her first road season, and Jay Burgess (Sandy Wallace Cycles), winner of the Scottish Cycling 10-mile Time Trial Championships last weekend. Paralympic tandem pilot Fiona Duncan (Ythan CC), Julie Erskine (Granite City), Louise Borthwick (Edinburgh RC), Gemma Neill (Pedal Power RT) and Flora Gillies (Team ASL360) are also among the names to watch.

"I don't think we can count anyone out," says Barr. "It would be foolish to think we could go there and win easily. We are going to have to work hard for it. We can't let anyone get up the road in a breakaway or gain any advantage."

While today won't afford an opportunity to bag a Commonwealth Games selection standard qualification, it will allow riders to gauge form ahead of next month's British National Road Race Championships in Glasgow.

Barr's best chances of qualification will likely come later in the year. "The hillier races will suit me better," she says. "This season has started with mostly flat courses with sprint finishes. Hopefully I'll get my qualification from June onwards; there are a couple of races in the British National Women's Road Series that could be good for me."

In the men's 87-mile race today, James McCallum (Rapha Condor JLT) will be looking to retain his title in a field that includes David Lines (MG-Maxifuel Pro Cycling) and Craig Wallace (ASFRA Racing Team), as well as Scottish Cycling under-23 performance riders Tom Evans, Jack Barrett, Ryan Fenwick, Callum Wilkinson, Stuart McCluskey and Finlay Young.