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Interview with ALice Lethbridge - Gemma Felstead Veloccino Cycling Podcast

34: Alice Lethbridge on how to overcome challenges

In this new episode of Velocino podcast, our host, Gemma, speaks with Alice Lethbridge about overcoming challenges in amateur cycling. Get ready for this exciting episode as Alice shares her journey!

How Alice started cycling

1:13 Alice was then a runner competing with quite high-level competitions however, there were major stress factors that contributed to her as a runner which was injuries which placed her out of action. While waiting for her foot surgery, she was persuaded to watch the road race Olympics at Box Hill, London and this made her think that cycling is so much fun than being a runner. It all started when she bought a bike and joined with the local cycling club.

Alice’s whistle-stop tour with cycling Highlights 

3:57 It took Alice a few years for her to get the head round cycling. Always running with the wrong gear for the first few year. She didn’t get the concept of resting when going downhill. It took her three years to get head round. Moving forward, she got her first national medal in the circuit time trial championship. Alice won just behind Julia Shaw, a legend of time trialing. Alice considered it as a huge confidence boost. 4:40 The following year, she considered herself to be a time trial cyclist considering her achievement previously and this led her to buy an expensive time trial bike through the help of the insurance. In the first full year, she became very successful in her new found passion because she had a coach/mentor. 5:23 She won the national record which was a big shock to her. She couldn’t believe it!

Obstacles on her journey

12:00 The first mistake that Alice made was the one she was wearing. Alice recalled upon her first winter cycle ride and she was wearing a running kit instead of cycling kit because partly she wasn’t really sure whether cycling was going to be her thing. She was surprised of how expensive cycling kit compared to running kit. Now, she got a hypothermia. It was a really big mistake. 13:09 About a year ago of riding, she moved to Kingston because there were no women who wanted to race. She didn’t know how to ride the bike properly, no idea about gearing, no idea about how to descend and cornering. It took her a while before someone came along to teach her the fundamentals of riding a bike. She spent months of making mistakes. 15:21 The most dangerous in her journey was that not knowing how to ride downhill, not knowing not to use the breaks all the time while descending. It came to her knowledge that always hitting the break while descending was not the correct thing to do.

Cyclist, Training, Racing and Full-Time job

16:23 Alice is a teacher. She teaches Biology. It challenged her to manage the sport around mostly. Because the actual teaching job is quite unpredictable in the sense that you can plan the lessons, planning the marking and stuffs that made her awake at night working more hours and hours unexpectedly. It prompted her to switch the training to keep all things up. 21:07 Some people it might work for them to go at lunch time, some people will prefer to train in the evening but then try look up week on week and see which time is not stressful for you. 22:45 Alice had a lot of trainings by herself despite the motivational benefits of having someone. She trains early in the morning. It is a way for her to take the stress away and making things more of controlled. But she told her coach that she needs to be coached at least every week.

Flipside

29:32 2017 was an amazing year, she breaks records, won national medals and everyone said that she can be the same on to the next year. However, at the end of 2018 she started to get on to a downward spiral. 30:21 In 2018 Alice was overtraining. There was too much pressure on her because she was taking all the weight on everything around her sort of like people were expecting her to do well. Work was also incredibly busy at that time and she also had a quite of difficulties in her personal life. She escaped all of these burdens by burying herself with biking, trained harder and harder and harder.

Realizations and turning point

33:41 The only reason that I had friends in cycling was because people wanted to cycle with someone who was breaking records and winning national medals. I thought that no one in my local club would want to ride with me. I thought I can talk with anybody with about what was going on. I thought that overnight I lost my ability as a cyclist. 35:10 There was a time that Alice’s sponsor, a doctor, asked her to have her checked because she was incorrectly fuelled, not eating sufficiently until the end of her work teaching. 36:10 Her doctors basically said that she is not well and needs a time off riding. She didn’t want to do time off from cycling because she loves doing it. She spoke to her team mate, Liz, and Liz’s husband who happened to be a coach. They offered Alice some advice and offered her to stay with them for a couple of weeks to look after her. 39:00 Alice cooperated, she was just training 90 maximum minutes of training a day and she completely restarted her unhealthy eating habit into healthy eating habit. 43:47 If things aren’t going quite right, set a different target and do some road races with the men because she enjoys having some races with the men without getting pressured of winning.

Outlook

46:37 I got a different outlook in my training and my cycling but also life generally. I have learned not to put so much pressure on myself. I have learned to take breaks when I need it. I have learned that if I miss a training session because I am exhausted at work, actually it is going to be beneficial in the long run. 48:00 I learned more into what different powers are there, what different heart rates meant, make myself eat better. I educate myself a bit more about nutrition in terms of recovery. I just made more friends in sports. 49:45 I think the thing that people sort of spoke to me is the most about that they’d realized was about getting carried away with work and then stressing away with training. They were also not eating healthy. 50:21 It taught me to train a bit smarter and this is something that I could talk to people about. I also learned to plan things a bit better at work. We are amateurs and we have a life outside of work so its better plan things and be kind to yourself.

Motivations and plans

52:00 I would like to come back at time trialing at some point because I still feel that I could improve different distances and in different aspects. Like this year I will focus on road racing so I have something to do a bit different. 52:40 I am keen to support just to promote women’s side of the sport more. For me, it was more going to be part of amazing part of history for women getting the biggest field ever like 30 percent but my goal is to get women into the sport up to 50 percent of it.

Key notes: 

19:57-20:11
“I need to make some changes. I realized that if I wanted to achieve the goals, I had in cycling then I have to make some sacrifices.”
21:00-21:06
“If its not working for you at the moment, having a sit down and having a real thing of what might work better for you.”
24:00-24:15 “It is important to speak up. Dialogue is so important. You need to tell them which things aren’t working and all things that make you lose your enjoyment.” 25:00-25:04 “Working on your weaknesses improves like your strengths as well.” 28:53-28:56 “I think its so crucial to be able to trust your own judgment.” 56:00-56:03 “Push yourself out of the comfort zone and have a goal at something and I think you are the only person who puts limits to yourself, really.” You can keep track and follow and see what Alice is doing on Instagram or Facebook. Also, drop Alice a message if you want some help. Thank you for listening!
Written By:

I started veloccino a couple of years ago. I like riding bikes, taking photos, spending time outdoors and travelling. I am originally from Bochum in Germany. Lived in Copenhagen and Cape Town and finally found my new home in Wendover, England.

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