About

My journey into cycling…

I’ve always loved sport, doing athletics (hurdles, high jump and sprinting), swimming and horse riding. Whilst I’ve always had a bike, I only started really getting into cycling a few years ago. I would wake up early and spent my mornings on my ancient Raleigh ‘mountain bike’ cycling around Bushy Park and Home Park next to Hampton Court Palace. Eventually I plucked up enough courage to join a mountain biking club.. and in 2015, I bought my first roadbike: a Specialized Dolce.

In 2017 I entered my first sportive, the Prudential Ride London 46. I remember I thought 46 miles would take me hours; I’d never cycled so far! I thought people were mad to take on 100 miles! How things change…

Learning to love mountains and endurance riding…

In 2018 I began cycling with Kingston Wheelers Cycling Club; and, in May 2018, I took on my first Grand Tour climb, Prato Nevoso (if you’re a Wattbike pro user, it’s one of the HC training climbs!). Some friends and I flew to Milan and had a magical weekend riding in the mountains and surrounding wine region. Prato itself was tough: 15km at 7-9% in hot weather. I was so proud that I did it and on my 9-speed Dolce too! As always, there weren’t many women, which created a sense of camaraderie amongst the few of us riding the mountain. Italian cheers of “velocissima” spurred me on, along with the promise of a cold pint! I was hooked.

A month later and I’d signed up to Étape UK. I planned to do the long distance ride of 191km. In the meantime I started training more with Kingston Wheelers, passed my Olympic velodrome Stage 2 accreditation and completed Ride London, this time taking on the full 100 miles. I decided I’d earned a new bike and took the plunge and bought my stealth bomber: a beautiful matte black S-works Tarmac disc. I wanted something fast and light and made for climbing.

I rode the 2018 Étape UK on the Tarmac and was surprised and delighted to learn that I’d qualified for a ‘UK championship’ place in L’Étape du Tour, by coming in the top percentage of finishers in my age category. Since then there’s been no looking back…

2019: a year of adventures…

In 2019, I’ve so far cycled Mallorca twice, Biarritz and into the French and Spanish Pyrénées, the Italian Alps, The Sperrins in Northern Ireland (big thanks to Audrey Gallagher, Carn Wheelers Cycling Club and the Man of Sperrin team!), Croatia and L’étape du Tour in July. I’ve climbed Stelvio, the Gavia, Mortirolo, Foscagno, Lago di Cancano, Bormio 2000, Col d’Ibardin, Col de Lizarrieta to Spain and back(!) and during L’Étape took on Col de Roseland, Col de Longefoy and the epic 33km climb to Val Thorens in 32 degree heat! I was proud to be there as a UK qualifier and it was brilliant to be on the start line in Wave 0, ahead of a good 15000 other people!

This year I also have completed a couple of tons (Ride London, the Birmingham Velo and Étape UK 2019) and clocked up some great times. I’ve beat all my goals, in terms of distance, speed and climbing and still have some epic adventures to come…!

To round off the year, I will be taking on the Hautes Pyrénées, the Granfondo Roma and l’Étape Morocco. I’m also doing my first duathlon and have a few more multi-sport events in store including the infamous Box Hill Ballbuster.

Sharing a love of the sport…

What has struck me throughout is with focus you can make it happen. I’ve focused on my technique, nutrition and balancing cycling with weight training and different sports to make my body fit and strong. I’ve also had to learn to compromise when I need to knuckle down hard and train and when to be kind to myself and give my body a rest.   

I’ve also noticed that whilst the amount of women in cycling is increasing, there still aren’t many of us – only 7% of étape riders were women out of 16000 entrants! In ten days in the Italian alps, I only saw about 4 other female riders… and I didn’t see any in Croatia! Although slightly annoyingly now one local lady now keeps pinching my Queen of the Mountains segments!

With this in mind I wanted to do something to share my love of cycling, sports and travel. I hope by sharing the lessons I’ve learned about fuelling my body, endurance riding, building stamina and mental willpower(!) it will encourage others to take on similar challenges. I’d like to see more women conquering the mountains!

I’ve also shared a few recommendations on events, places to visit, where to stay, travel tips, eateries and useful contacts, which I hope will be of use. These are all from my own personal experience and tried and tested firsthand.

This really is written from the heart as cycling has become a true passion of mine. It’s my headspace and has allowed me to go places I couldn’t otherwise go and to see the world in a different way. If my stories, tips and tricks are helpful, please let me know! More than anything, enjoy the experience, look out for yourself and others and respect the roads and the mountains…

Liane Jackson