INSPIRATIONAL WOMEN IN CYCLING: JULIET ELLIOTT PART 2
On the search for inspirational women making their mark on the cycling world, we spoke to Juliet Elliott. Juliet is one of our original Sheroes at Strongher. She’s a professional bike rider, writer and keen gardener too! Originally starting sporting life as a snowboarder, Juliet tells us what is about bikes that make her tick, training tips for race ready cyclists and her up-coming coaching for girls keen to get sharpen their skills on two wheels
Many women are keen to know more about how to fix their bike – we’ll be looking at this as another feature for Strongher in the coming weeks – how would you describe your mechanical skills when it comes to bike maintenance? What’s the one thing you’d like to know how to do better?
Mine are pretty good really! I like to work things out for myself and I used forums and the Internet to work out how to build my own fixed gear bike – but saying that, now I’m married I do less of my own mechanics! The thing is, I really resisted at first, but my husband pointed out that it’s not that he thinks I can’t do it –he’s just being nice! So I’ve learned to chill out about it. I’d like to be able to index the gears better – in theory I know how to do that but they always seems to be clicking, and in reality I never get it quite right!
Can you tell us a little more about the cycling clinics you run?
A friend of mine put on a Cat 4 women’s only race earlier this year and it was really popular. It made me realise there are lots of women out there who do want to race and progress but they don’t feel comfortable just diving straight in and racing with everyone else. After speaking to people in the area it made me realise there are riders out there who need a bit of practice at skills like cornering. This isn’t just for newcomers either; there are women who are currently racing but still want this time to practice. During a race it can hard to focus on skills. So once a month a group of women can get together, decide what our needs are and then my husband and I will be coaching them. The aim is to create something that’s progressive. A lot of what’s out there is aimed at pure novices so this is a chance for women to polish up their skills on an on-going basis. You can find out about it on Facebook.
For women wanting to up their riding endeavours and get more focused on racing, what’s your advice regarding training? Are there any ‘must-do’ sessions for those who can’t afford a coach?
Definitely, the thing I’ve found most useful to include is high intensity interval training. You don’t have to have a heart rate monitor, but it does help. You want to be focusing on sprint intervals – like a minute on, two minutes recovery. Doing that for just half an hour will make a big difference – but make sure to warm up first! Fitting in a long day of riding too will help with endurance. What you do will depend on your goal of course; my focus is crit racing so intervals are the most beneficial.
What’s your favourite bit of cycling kit and why?
My Assos bib shorts are the most comfortable shorts ever! They look really cool too! I love the winter bibs; they’ve got amazing panel work and seam detail. For mountain biking, Fox have just realised this AMAZING women’s clothing for this summer. They sent me this hot pink, animal print kit that’s technical but cool, fun and girly too and I really love that!
You recently had a thumb injury from racing enduro – it’s the risk we all take on the bike but never one we wish to suffer - how do you find coping with injury when it’s such a part of your life and work? What would be your advice to others?
That’s fine now thanks, the problem now is my back, which I’m having trouble with. I did race at the weekend and that made it worse… I find it hard to cope with injury but I have tried to chill out about it though and make a conscious effort just to do others things. Stressing about it just doesn’t help. Rather than battling it, it works better to take a step back from training. I’m into gardening too! We’ve got an allotment and I’ve been growing vegetables as a distraction to injury. My whole life revolves around cycling so without it I feel a bit lost really.
As a veggie – do you find you need to take more care with protein? What’s your advice to women wondering how to best fuel themselves for racing and training?
I do eat fish, but it’s not really something I’ve had to change – my meals are filled with protein as it is, so it’s not an issue training and racing and being vegetarian. The only thing I do try to do is have a protein shake after if I’m going to struggle to get food right away. Having an interesting in food and cooking really pays off though, so you know what you’re putting in your body.
Where’s your next cycling adventure?
We’re off to Verbier for a few days mountain biking, and then I’m off to Eroica in Limburg, Germany, which is a retro bike festival. After that it’s Red Hook crit race in London, which was my first race last year. I’ll be busy after that with guiding – travelling never stops and I’m never bored!
About Catriona Sutherland
Catriona is an avid mountain biker from the UK, favouring endurance events. She has competed in various 24 hour, marathon and stage mountain bike races around the world including the Joberg2c, Epic Israel and the Strathpuffer. Currently working as freelance marketing consultant, mountain bike guide and serial adventurer, Catriona is happiest riding her bike, drinking coffee and planning her next trip!
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