Mary-Jane Hicks

Why did you decide to sign up for Vélo Birmingham in 2017?

The West Midlands isn’t that far away from where I live in Oxfordshire and it’s an area I’ve not explored so what better way to see the landscape than on two wheels in a great closed road cycling event.

How experienced were you on a bike before signing up to the event?

Over the past few years cycling has become my main and favourite form of exercise so I am a regular club rider, setting a goal of riding 3 times a week if possible and covering approximately 120 miles.

What, if anything, were you worried about ahead of the event?

I wasn’t really worried, more excited and hoping and praying we would have good weather conditions.  Obviously 100 miles is a huge challenge but it isn’t a race and you just need to find a pace that you’re comfortable with and take as many breaks as you need.

How did you train for Vélo Birmingham?

I don’t think there is a formula for training, you just need to try and get the miles in! I just did my three times a week club rides and went out all weathers excepting snow and ice.

How did you prepare on the day of the event?

I had a list of everything I needed, familiarised myself with the local vicinity and read up on all the useful literature Vélo Birmingham supplied.  I kept my eye on the weather leading up to the event so I had a good idea of what I should wear and stocked up on energy drinks and snacks to maintain my energy throughout the event.

What was the best thing about the event?

The build-up and anticipation the day before, meeting up with friends and comparing notes.  The huge support from locals who lined the streets to cheer us on and of course the beautiful route.

What is your favourite thing about cycling?

Sense of freedom, the physical challenges, friendships made and being outside in beautiful parts of the country. The positive feeling after you get back home from a long ride is pretty tough to beat!

What was the hardest part of the event?

The route was quite undulating and some of the hills were towards the end of the route which required a lot of determination.

What advice do you have for other riders looking to sign up to next year’s event?

Give it a go! It’s a great event to train for and there is no complicated training formula, just find the time to get out and pedal. If you’re like me, you’ll be amazed at how much stronger and faster you’ll get after a few months.  100 miles seems a ridiculously long bike ride, but the day passes quickly and it’s the best fun ever with an amazing united atmosphere.

How did you feel after crossing the finish line?

Exhausted but euphoric and hugely chuffed that I’d completed it.

How did you celebrate after completing the event?

Sharing my experience with friends and celebrating in a local restaurant with a huge meal!