I’ve been working on an ongoing project for Evans Cycles Coffee Stop blog recently, for which I am interviewing a series of women who inspire us to ride. I’m thrilled to be part of it because I believe that highlighting the positive energy in women’s cycling is as important as discussing the not-so-good stuff that occasionally knocks us back. Every single one of these cycling athletes is awesome – and each in different ways. These are my favourite quotes from each interview (although to be honest it was very hard to choose!).
My first interview in the series was with former The Hour world record holder Bride O’ Donnell who told me:
“I wish we were braver in our 30s and 40s, and worried less about ‘what if?’ – our children need to learn that women’s bodies are strong, capable, resilient and fast; that being a mother or a wife doesn’t mean your physical and mental health and wellbeing needs to be discounted.”
You can read the full interview with Bridie here.
Next in line is British and European CX champion Helen Wyman:
“I have basically given up my career as a physio and possibly the whole family thing, possibly the expensive Bahamas holidays, newest car etc. But I don’t really see this as much of a sacrifice. Sure I have had moments when I have had to sell stuff to pay my rent or when I didn’t know how much money I have to spend on food that week, but I have also had the most amazing experiences a person could ever have.
Right now I am one of the luckiest people in the world. I get to ride my bike every day, travel the world, meet incredible and inspiring people – and do all of this alongside my husband – while calling it my job. Seriously who wouldn’t want that? My life is hugely rich in experiences and for that alone I would say I haven’t really sacrificed anything just switched philosophies!”
You can read the full interview with Helen here.
I spoke to British Downhill Series champion Manon Carpenter who gave this excellent piece of advice on braking (and yes, I am certainly guilty of this when I ride!!):
“Have fun and, once you are confident in your skills, trust yourself and let go of the brakes: comfort braking will slow you down, tire you out and make the ride rougher, so only brake when you need to.”
Read the full interview with Manon here.
Paralympian Lora Turnham gave a fascinating insight into her life as a professional athlete, as well as her relationship with her tandem pilot Corrine Hall:
“As soon as Corinne and I got on a bike we just clicked. We’re similar I guess but we also have slightly different strengths which compliment each other. She is an extremely good bike handler and also very good in a race environment as she has done it all her life. I sense her confidence and this reassures me.
Although we are good friends it is important to confront any problems we have straight away so that it doesn’t become an issue. We spend so much time together that we are like a married couple at times: we can finish each others sentences and also at times will say exactly the same thing. It’s also good to respect each other and recognise when we just need a little space or sometimes a good talking too and I think we’re both good at this.”
Read the full interview with Lora here.
The Matrix Fitness Grand Prix Series, 19th May – 11th June 2015, is a women’s event that runs alongside the men’s Pearl Izumi Tour Series. It consists of five rounds on city centre circuits and, if you’re anywhere near Redditch, Motherwell, Croydon, Peterborough or Bath then I heartily recommend you take an evening out to go along and watch. Find out more here.
Last year I got a ‘back stage’ press pass for the Woking event. It was a fantastic opportunity to witness an event from warm up to post-race interviews, as well as see top riders such as Sarah Storey, Eileen Roe and Helen Wyman in action. And the sun shone, which always helps a photo pop!! My 2014 pictures are below:
How to tap into the best version of yourself and get the most from every bike ride.
I recently went to a talk by life coach Bonnie Rasmussen from Rise on how to get the most out of taking part in a sport’s event. It was hosted by Lululemon and Bonnie focussed on running. I was particularly interested in what she told us about self-awareness, and here I have shared some of her ideas over to cycling. I hope you will find them inspiring.
When it comes to riding we all have our strengths and our weaknesses: I don’t know anyone who doesn’t struggle with some aspects of their riding skills. You may love riding downhill but get intimidated by climbs (or vice versa), a particular technical section may remind you of falling off, or you might just believe that you simply cant ride a trail, no matter how many skills sessions you’ve signed up for, nor how often your friends tell you it’s actually quite easy. If you are competing, you might believe you cant win, or that someone deserves to win more than you. Or you just be fighting the fear of coming last, or the often held but rarely admitted fear that no one will like you if you mess up.
A ride will always be unpredictable and can throw up challenges at any point (isn’t this one of the reasons why we love our bikes?). Knowing that you have resources within that you can tap into quickly and effectively can mean the difference between a pulling a great ride out of the bag when you feel challenged, and going home with your tail between your legs.
Increasing self-awareness enables you to use your mind, body and state (your feelings and mood) to your advantage. It’s not difficult, but you do have to practice if you want to be able to switch into a more positive mode effortlessly.
Make it a priority before you start the ride: you check your bike is ride-worthy so why not make sure your self-awareness is too.
So let’s break it down:
What you’re thinking affects your body: for example a funny thought will make you laugh whilst a phobia increases your heart rate). Focussing on positive, confident thoughts will benefit your physical performance and affirmations that you repeat as you ride can be really helpful. Here are a few to in inspire you:
I am strong
Fast and flowing
I can do this
Relax and breathe (one of my favourites)
I am nailing this
I deserve this (I used to use this one when my children were small and I felt guilty about exercising).
Please do share your any that work for you in the comment section below!
Adopt the posture of a strong, focussed and confident person – relax your arms, wrists and face, breathe and have a soft gaze – and you will ride like one. This is easier said than done, of course, when you’re heading for the edge of a huge, rooty drop-off – but it’s so effective that’s it worth persevering.
Feeling calm, light and focused is always going to be preferable – and more enjoyable – to feeling nervous and distracted from the task at hand. If it helps, visualise someone or something that personifies that state:
I tell myself to ride as if I was a very nonchalant Kate Moss – by which I mean self-contained, relaxed and not terribly bothered what anyone else thinks.
I am aware that this sounds a little unusual – but it works for me!
It’s also worth taking a moment to experience gratitude for the opportunity to ride, no matter how well you do. When all is said and done, being able to get out there and love the experience is what really matters.
Photo credit: Adele Mitchell.