Tag Archives: womens cycling

Q&A with Specialized


Hey I did this a while a go for Specialized and thought I would share. #happyRiding

What bike(s) do you ride?

Specialized Era Carbon Comp

Very old Carrera road bike

–          Favorite ride?

Wow, that’s a tough one there is so many! Locally to me I love riding around the South Downs exploring new trails and usually getting very lost!

I love being in the mountains and have spent a lot of time walking, climbing and now biking in Wales. There are so many trail centres and plenty of natural riding too if you know where to go.


My favourite trail centre at the moment is Afan Forest because you can easily link more than one trail together to make long rides.

Afan also packs in lots into its trails with technical rocky descents, big hard climbs, fun rooty singletrack through forests, board walks and stunning scenery where ever you look.

–          Favorite food?

I love Greek and Italian food, there is nothing better than fresh pasta and pesto with some scrummy olives!

My favourite riding food is salted peanuts, or malt loaf. On long training rides I use nuts as a source of energy which is a change from sweet training ride food.


–          How long have you been riding?


When I was growing up I used to go mountain biking with my Dad to Wales and around our local Dunwich Woods. When I was 10 I went to Slovakia on a mountain bike holiday which was really hard work, at times Dad had to tie a rope around my handle bars and help pull me up the hills. I loved the experience of being outside and the freedom of exploring trails.  I then discovered horse riding and it wasn’t until 2012 (some 12 years later) when I was watching the Olympics at Hadleigh I felt inspired to get back on my bike and try racing.


–          How did you get into it?

I got into racing when the Olympics came to London. I was watching the girl’s race at Hadleigh on the TV and was so inspired by these incredible riders that I wanted to try it myself. After my first race I was hooked and decided to set myself a goal, to see how far I could take cross-country racing.

–          Who inspires you?

My parents have always been very inspiring to me both competing for Team GB in Judo and Canoeing. They have always taught me to go out and push myself for what I want to achieve.

From the world of cycling I find a lot of the women racing inspiring but lately watching and hearing about Annika Langvards training for the Cape Epic and how she runs up 16 flights of stairs in her local hospital 10 times has really helped to keep me going in my Trans Alp training.

–          What kind of riding do you do?

Mountain biking is my passion and where I compete, but I enjoy the freedom of getting out on any bike, I just think it’s a great way to experience your surroundings and to be able to go places by your own steam.

Hannah 1

–          What’s your favourite thing about riding?

One of my favourite things about riding a bike is you see the world in a different way, on early morning training rides I often see deer, badgers and owls all creatures that you would usually never see in your car.

I love the freedom cycling brings when I clip into those pedals it’s just me, my bike and the trail, nothing else matters. My mind is clear from everything apart from what’s going on in front of me and I find that is a magical feeling.

–          What’s your best cycling memory?

My best cycling memory has to be travelling around Scotland with my boyfriend Martyn ticking off as many trail centers as we could in a week.


There has been many from a coaching point of view the first time I taught a child to ride their bike with confidence.

–          What’s your least favourite thing about cycling?

Working full time, like most people my training time is squished in around work. I am an early bird so tend to train around 6.30 before work. I actually love this time of day but when the wind is howling and its chucking it down or icy outside it makes training a lot harder, but it’s about having the resilience to get out, endure the bad weather and know when it comes to racing you will be stronger for it.

–          What advice can you give to people starting out?

If you’re new to mountain biking I would suggest you go with friends who have some experience and head for either your local bridleways or a trail centre and try out green/blue graded trails.


The key things to mountain biking are:

  • momentum – speed can be your friend it’s going to help you when the ground is muddy or sandy so remember to keep the bike moving
  • look where you want to go – this sounds easy but when you start to progress onto steeper terrain or more committing trails the key is to look where you want the bike to go, looking down at the tree stump usually means you hit it!
  • gear selection – using your gears effectively makes climbing so much more enjoyable, don’t change down to your smallest gear as soon as you start going upwards, ‘reward’ yourself with a change down gear as you go up the hill this will make it easier going and again you will keep your momentum

Getting some coaching is always a good option as you will learn things correctly and stop any bad habits.


–          What advice can you give to people who want to improve/ potentially start racing?

There are two options when you’re looking to race if you’re thinking you want to do it seriously you need to look at you strengths and weaknesses to choose the type of racing which will suit you, or if you’re just keen on mountain biking then just getting into cross country is the most accessible type of race with regional races all over the country for different abilities.


The best way to improve your riding or racing technique is to practice, analyse your strengths and weaknesses, then set yourself a plan of how to improve. Getting a coach is a great way to keep motivated and reach your goals.


–      What’s made you want to do the Trans Alps?

In 2012 when I started racing I set myself a goal of a stage race. Now 4 years on I feel my fitness and ability is ready for such a challenge. My aim is to encourage and inspire other women to get outside and have adventures on bikes whether they’re big or small. I want to show that with hard work, determination and focus you can achieve your dreams.

–      What will be your biggest challenge?

The Trans Alp will be a huge challenge both mentally and physically, we will be climbing over 17,000 m which is twice the height of Everest over 7 days in heat, so getting enough fluid will be really important. The altitude makes its harder work too and it’s something I can’t really train for in the UK.

The Passo Gavia

Mentally getting up each day for 5/6 hours in the saddle is something I have not yet experienced, but something I can practice. Michelle my Trans Alp team mate and I will be going to Wales to do long rides over a few days to get an idea of how this will feel!


–      Tips to improve confidence?

Look at how far you have come and what you have achieved, when you are faced with a new challenge look back at the last challenge and how you achieved it and think positively about how it will feel to overcome this new obstacle.

Please can you add these social details:

Follow Hannah’s journey to the Trans Alp and beyond on Instagram @hannahlifeon2wheels

Twitter: @Hannaha87


Trans Alp Specialized

Earlier in the year I took part in the Trans Alp bike race. For the race I rode the Specialized ERA Comp the women’s version of the Epic. It was a wonderful bike to ride and race great handing both down and up hill. The brain technology in the shock made for a super comfortable ride without loosing power going up hill.

Thanks to MA-Aerial Worx for the video!

The transition from racing XC to endurance races

I started racing cross-country mountain biking four years ago, after being inspired by the Olympics to get out and give it a go.

last year I decided to try a new challenge and turned my attention to endurance racing. This is a very different type of riding which is as much about mental strength and physical.

Here is a little video about the transition. Please subscribe to my channel and follow my blog for more updates on training towards my next challenge.

The Trans Alp.

Give it a go, you never know where it might lead.

My first ever race was near Oxford so on the morning of the race Martyn and I travelled up to the race from Southampton, I was so nervous! Whilst I went to get my number Martyn got my bike off the car. I had changed into just a gym top and shorts, only to be told I really needed to wear a t-shirt style top next time, they thought I was a triathlete! I went back with my number and had a banana, I was so nervous I wasn’t sure I could even race. There were people around me with different bikes, changing tyres and it all seemed very technical but, at the same time there was a buzz and friendliness. In this massive field, on the side of a forest, everyone had come together to enjoy mountain biking and I loved that feeling. As my nerves settled whilst in my practise lap, the sun came out and it just felt like this is what I was meant to be doing!

My first ever XC race 1

I was racing against four other girls in the open category. The race was a bit of a blur I tried to keep up with one of the youth riders and stuck with her for about a lap and a bit before she disappeared into the distance. I couldn’t remember who was in my category so I just pushed as hard as I could, even though my lungs were burning and my legs felt like lead. The course was tight single track through a wooded area which had faster sections along the edges of fields, where my hard tail bike seemed to be trying to shake me off! I ended up winning the race and felt really good. I was tired but not exhausted. One thing was for sure, I was totally hooked on the buzz of the race. I brought my racing license the next week and entered the National series thinking how tough can it be? Little did I know what was to come!

My first cross country national race experience was at Langdon Hills in Essex, I was living in Southampton at the time. I got up around 5am and drove myself to the race. I remember arriving really early before most people because I had left myself so much time in case of traffic. There was a big truck with the British Cycling logos all over it, a stage and an event ‘village’ with lots of bike manufacturers branded gazebos. To my surprise there were already a few people going around the course. A whole different world away from the previous race! I had a banana, gave  Martyn a call and went out on a practise lap. I was really excited and nervous. I started off up a hill, across a field and then reached a road….It then dawned on me I had taken a wrong turn, and had to track back. I found my way back and continued enjoying the course. There were no really big drops, but a couple of big roots which I clumsily banged into and over luckily without getting thrown off!

I felt pretty good. I got to a sign which said 4km and thought wow that was quick 4km gone already! Having done things like the Race for Life I should have known that it actually meant I had done 1km! I carried on. There was a huge hill close to the end which felt never ending and just about finished me off! I wasn’t sure how I was going to do three laps of this course. The course was very up and down so my decision was to pace myself on the first lap and then go for it on the last two.

After the practise lap I registered and gridding began. Straight away all riders had to ride round in this little holding arena in front of the British Cycling van, each category was called individually and then was sent off by the starting gun. Finally sport riders were called, there was only me and one other female rider, she was really friendly. We joked about being able to take it easy because there was just the two of us but I said well we should really race as I had come all this way to see how good I was!

The gun sounded and Fern (the rider I had been speaking too) shot off up the hill so quickly I thought ah! We have three laps she will be knackered by lap two and I’ll catch her up! Well it didn’t exactly go to plan! I stuck with her up the hill and into the first bit of single track. She was a lot faster uphill than me and on the downhill’s had a lot more confident letting her bike run out, where I was cautious. I stuck with her as long as I could but soon felt the gap opening up. I did everything I could to cling on and came back into the finish about 500 meters behind her but the thought of another two laps was slowing me down and she seemed to just be getting quicker! My legs were burning and screaming at me on every uphill and my arms were being shaken to pieces on all the rooty downhills. The rest of the race went by quickly and I actually felt better on my third lap and picked the pace up. I crossed the finish line exhausted, but full of achievement and pride at finishing what had felt like a really tough three laps. I came second and was chuffed to receive a really nice plaque. It turned out Fern was the series winner and had not actually lost a race ever!

This experience taught me the value of having the courage to just have a go and test what you’re capable of, to see how far you can go and what you can achieve, even when your nervous and full of doubt.

Sometimes in life it is too easy to say “I can’t ”  than, “let’s have a go!”

Life is so high pressured we are all constantly under pressure to perform well in our careers and family life. Personally I think this can sometimes makes you nervous to try new things, because you get worried about other people’s perceptions.

We all have moments when we feel we can’t do something and in some circumstances you may be right, but if you don’t try how will you ever know?

My tips for anyone thinking about entering a XC race are:

  • Arrive in time to ride the course and warm up properly
  • Believe you can, set yourself a challenge
  • Take a spare change of clothes, you never know how muddy it may be
  • Try out any gels/bars/energy drinks on a training ride before the race
  • Take your own loo roll, especially if your a girl it always seems to run out
  • We all have negative thoughts. It’s how you let them affect you which determines whether you can or cannot
  • Ride your own race