We sat down to chat with Cheryl from the Cheltenham Dames to talk all things Vélo!
Hi Cheryl, great to meet you! Would you mind introducing yourself to the people who may not know you? (name, age, family, where you live etc?)
Hi, my name is Cheryl, I’m 56 years’ old and live in Cheltenham with my partner, Ian, and our gorgeous Weimaraner dog, Gunner. I have two step-children, Max and Molly, who are both at university. I’m a qualified British Cycling Ride Leader and currently the Chair of the Cheltenham Dame Road Cycling Club.
You mentioned that you are part of the Cheltenham Dames Road Cycling Club. Can you tell us a little more about this group, who they are and what they do?
Cheltenham Dame Road Cycling Club, a women-only cycling team in Cheltenham, was launched in 2015 to make the sport more accessible for women, especially those who already own bikes, but do not have the confidence to ride as part of a group.
With almost 50 members, the club’s membership has increased by over 20% in the last year.
The club has three qualified British Cycling ride leaders and a British Cycling coach and holds regular Saturday rides for cyclists of different abilities. Our existing club members act as friendly guides to newcomers, giving many their first chance to try a group ride.
The Dames have competed in various indoor track cycling events, sportives and cycled overseas in Spain, Tenerife, Chile and Argentina.
Fantastic – What a great initiative. Can you tell us a bit more about your goals for the year ahead, as a club, and how you hope to achieve these?
The club is aiming to increase its membership by 10% and to achieve a 25% turnout on Saturday club rides.
We are currently working with Cheltenham Borough Council on the Festival of Cycling event in May 2019. The focus is getting more people active and on bikes.
We are also working with Active Gloucestershire on their Glos Girls Can campaign which is a national campaign developed by Sport England to inspire more women and girls to wiggle, jiggle, move and prove that judgement is a barrier than can be overcome.
Will we be seeing many of the Cheltenham Dames at Vélo Birmingham & Midlands in May?
Inspired and encouraged by three Dames who completed the VeloBirmingham in 2017, 17 Dames have signed up for this year’s event. This is absolutely fantastic as some of the ladies have only recently joined the club so it’s great that they are ready to take on a 100 mile sportive themselves.
Is there anything you are particularly looking forward to ahead of the 2019 event?
I was born in Solihull so I’m looking forward to going back home to the Midlands and completing the sportive with the Dames. It will be a fantastic achievement for everyone.
Finally, do you have any top tips for people who are taking part?
Saddle time: Try and focus more on the time in the saddle without stopping, rather than miles covered on your training rides. Try riding at a lower intensity and see if you can stick it out for longer.
Rest: This is so important. Include active recovery in your training weeks and make sure you are resting properly. Keep the legs turning in the week leading up to the big ride, but don’t do anything that will make you excessively tired.
Fuelling: Learn how to fuel before, during and after the event.
Bike fit: When you are on the bike for several hours, little imperfections in position or fit can evolve into very major issues. If you have any niggles or particular localized discomfort during your normal rides, then it pays to get these seen to before the century ride.
On the day: Ease into the ride pace. It isn’t a race, and if it’s your first century, the goal is to finish comfortably. Change your position often, take breaks at the feeding stations, and ride with a friend as you can take advantage of drafting and save some energy in the wind.
Anything else you wish to add?
If you have prepared yourself well, there isn’t much more to be done on ride day than sit back and enjoy the scenery (and maybe plan your next century).
That’s great. Thank you so much for your time Cheryl, we hope the rest of your training goes well and we look forward to seeing you in 2019!