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by Jessi Braverman
August 29, 2015
Photography by Kirsty Baxter, Sean Robinson, Balint Hamvas, Cor Vos
WOMEN'S CYCLING BROUGHT TO YOU BY ORBEA
The tip section on the homepage just below the featured stories and newsletter sign-up is populated by responses to the question: “What do you know now that you wish you knew then?” It’s a question we ask repeatedly in interviews. We ask professional cyclists. We ask industry leaders. We ask the women we met on group rides and in the bike shop and cheering on the side of the road. We’ve asked beginner riders and experienced racers and everyone in-between – because everyone has something to offer.
What do you know now that you didn’t know then – when you were new to the sport or to riding with a group or to knocking out a charity ride or lining up for a race? What can you offer and share to those that are just starting out or trying something new?
We’ve collected these responses and featured them in our tip section weekly. We put them out on Ella Instagram and on Facebook. And while we hope you enjoy them there, we know that you might be missing these hilarious and serious and thoughtful and helpful and responses.
So occasionally, we feature them here, too. These tips come from Orica-AIS riders. We sat down with Amanda Spratt, Gracie Elvin, Valentina Scandolara, Melissa Hoskins, Lizzie Williams and Emma Johansson earlier in the season and asked them to share their lessons learnt. And they kindly and candidly obliged. Here.
If you take up racing, your life as an elbow and knee model is over. Crashing is a part of racing. There will be scars. Lots of scars. You have to learn to love them.
You also will want to develop a tactic for tan lines. I used to think the arm tan was the coolest thing ever when I was young. I would deliberately have a perfect tan line. I have since realised that it’s not so cool, and I have several tactics to help with that.
Mel: I’ve suntanned with arm warmers and leg warmers to get ride of all my tans. It did the job.
I used fake tan at a school carnival once. I thought it looked awesome, but when I looked at photos later, I was so orange I was practically glowing.
Find a coach that’s aligned with your personality. Don’t just choose a big name or someone that coaches a friend or an athlete you admire. Work with someone that works how you work.
Bonus tip: Be sun smart. I’ve always been super sun-conscious because I’m so fair, so my parents beat it into me, but I think a lot of the other riders in the peloton are going to be pretty sorry when they’re in their 40s and 50s that they got so much sun and never wore sunscreen.
Eat properly. Eat balanced. Eat during your rides and after your rides.
I still hear from a lot of the Italian riders that have these ideas that skipping meals or not eating during long riders will help them be skinnier and faster. Their teams have a problem if they eat an apple. I lost many years eating like this and, of course, not getting any stronger or smaller. I get really annoyed when I hear that nothing has changed.
I’ve learned a lot from this team about what it means to eat properly, and I feel so much better. I don’t want to see other riders hurting themselves the way I used to hurt myself. Eat during your rides. When you get off the bike, eat again.
Gracie: It’s also important to keep in mind that what works for one rider might not work for another. Don’t just copy your teammates. Find out what works for you, and if you don’t know what works for you, talk to a professional.
If you ride as much as we do, you’re going to be ruined downstairs. It’s what we’re all thinking but no one wants to say. I run a double programme – on the road and on the track – and it gets no rest. None.
Make sure you’re in a long-term relationship before you start riding your bike.
Gracie: Or date a cyclist
Vale: Or be single
Don’t compare your journey to anyone else’s journey. Focus on yourself and your journey. And don’t be so hard on yourself. As professional athletes, we’re always striving to be better and better, and it’s easy to lose sight of how much we’ve improved along the way as we strive to continue to improve.
I actually don’t wish I knew anything then that I know now. I’ve thought about this a lot. I’m happy to know what I know today, but I’m also very happy that I didn’t know things before I got to know them. I can’t think of a single thing I wish I knew earlier. If I didn’t know it sooner, it’s probably because I wasn’t ready for it.
Being a good rider is about growing as a person and learning at your own pace. I believe you know the things you need to know when you’re ready to know them.