Sarah Strawson

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

I signed up to Vélo Birmingham last year after hearing about it through another female cyclist at my local cycle club. I had already done two different closed road sportives so I was keen to have a go at riding 100 miles on closed roads in a different area of the country I had never been to.

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

I have been road cycling for a few years now. I was initially into off-road cycling but now I just stick to road cycling which I love!

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

I was a little worried about the distance as you don’t tend to cycle 100 miles in training very often, so I knew it would be a big challenge.

How did you train for Vélo Birmingham?

In training for the event I cycled with my partner one evening a week, cycled to and from work a couple of days a week and then did a longer ride with my local cycle club at the weekend.

How did you prepare on the day of the event?

The night before I made sure to have my kit out ready, my bike ready with numbers on along with a drink and some food in a crossbar bag as I like to eat real food as well as the sweet treats on the way round. In the morning I had a good breakfast and made sure to arrive in plenty of time to find my start pen which was easy. I also wore layers as it can be chilly early in the morning but you soon warm up when you’re cycling, making it easy to take arm warmers and a gilet off and stuff them in your jersey pocket!

What was the best thing about the event?

The best thing about doing the event was the atmosphere at the start where everyone is really excited and chatting to each other. The main highlight has to be out on the route when the locals were cheering us all on – they were amazing. Also, there is nothing better than cycling on closed roads – no worrying about cars and especially being able to use the whole road including going either side of the roundabouts!

What is your favourite thing about cycling?

My favourite thing about cycling is being outside in the fresh air, whether it’s in the summer in shorts and jersey or wrapped up in the cooler weather. I love being part of a cycle club, going out on a Sunday and stopping mid-ride for coffee, cake and a chat.

What was the hardest part of the event?

The hardest part of the event was getting myself up early ready and out the door on time as it’s an early start!

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

Do it! It is a challenge but that’s the idea of doing these rides. The event was really well organised and everything was so easy both at registration and then on the start line. My advice would just to be organised with kit the night before, familiarise yourself with where the start line is to save stress early in the morning, wear layers and have food on you!

How did you feel after crossing the finish line?

Crossing the finish line feels like a real achievement, I was tired but excited when I got that medal around my neck.

How did you celebrate after completing the event?

I celebrated finishing by going for a big feast with my partner who had done the ride with me!