All Ride With...?
We from “The Women All Ride” – collective want to represent the cycling world in all its diversity. Therefore we have initiated the category: ALL RIDE WITH… Every month we present a unique personality here: A person who has caught our attention by her presence, her appearance, her sporting achievements or thanks to her ability to inspire and motivate. Each one is different and unique.
In the form of an interview, the persons presented can choose their preferred questions from several and answer them.
Can you think of someone immediately? Then send us a message! We are looking forward to your suggestions and can’t wait to meet more inspiring personalities!
ALL RIDE WITH... VERA NGOSI-SAMBROOK
FROM MALAWI, NOW LIVING IN WALES
Ever since a 200-mile tandem ride in 2 days, cycling has been an integral part of Vera’s life. In July, she is racing her first unsupported ultra-distance race. The Pan Celtic Race had announced a Scholarship for BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic) cyclists. Vera won it.
A few words about you?
I love the freedom, fun, and mental-health benefits that cycling has brought me. I love to share this with others in the hopes of encouraging more people, especially the underrepresented group of black women, to take up cycling.
Dieses Interview mit Vera wurde aus dem Englischen ins Deutsche übersetzt.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO CYCLING?
I got into cycling four years ago (2017) when I got tricked into riding a tandem to raise money for a charity. I was promised champagne, endless beautiful scenery, and was told I didn’t have to pedal at the back of the the tandem. The first and third of these was a lie, and after a very physically challenging 200miles over 2 days, I caught the cycling bug. A year later, I bought my first solo road bike, joined a local cycling club and started going on social rides, meeting people, eating cakes and building up my fitness. I’ve enjoyed trying out different kinds of riding over the last few years, including indoor and outdoor track, mountain biking, tandem touring, and most recently venturing into endurance racing.
WHO INSPIRES YOU ON THE BIKE?
I feel most inspired when I see elderly people (people in their 80s, 90s) on their bikes. In a world where we constantly hear things like “I’m too old to do…”, or people finding excuses to put themselves down, there’s nothing more uplifting than meeting an octogenarian out on a ride, giving it their all and being a total badass. I always say to them “I want to be like you when I grow up”
I’m also inspired by anyone who takes cycling at their own pace and isn’t pressured into taking it too seriously (if they don’t want to). People who are able to stop during a ride to admire something that’s caught their attention, or take a photo of a beautiful scene, without obsessing about the drop in average speed on their Strava stats.
YOUR OLD SELF IS SETTING OFF ON HER FIRST CYCLING TOUR - WHAT TIP WOULD YOU GIVE YOURSELF?
There are so many things I would say to my younger self setting off on her first cycling tour, but to keep it brief:
- Keep eating! One of the main reasons you may be feeling weak, tired or emotional is probably because you aren’t eating enough. Take advantage of the fact that you are doing an activity that’s burning loads of calories and indulge in all the treats you can find. Stop for an ice cream, get a slice of cake, keep eating!
- It won’t always feel this hard. I promise you will get fitter, and one day this mountain that you are struggling up will feel little more than a hill.
WHAT'S YOUR NEXT BIG GOAL?
My next goal is to get skilled at riding off-road. After my endurance race this summer, I would like to take up more gravel and mountain-biking, and go on off-road bikepacking trips. What I am most looking forward to in this challenge is allowing myself to be more flexible and follow uncharted paths.
Being a roadie, I can be quite regimented in my riding and I often pre-plan and follow a route exactly. I dream of being more carefree, allowing myself to get lost, revelling in this and not panicking that I’m off course.
AT WHAT EVENT DO WE MEET YOU NEXT?
My next event (and first cycling race ever) will be the Pan Celtic Race in July 2021. This is a self-supported endurance race covering a distance of 2024km and an elevation of 28,600m. This is a monumental challenge for me as I am very new to endurance cycling and have only gotten into it since the start of 2021 when I won a scholarship to participate in this race.
What is your future vision for the bicycle industry / bike scene?
My future vision of the bike scene is one where the demographics of those riding bikes truly reflects the demographics of society. I dream of seeing people of all ages, genders, ethnicities etc., being able to enjoy riding their bikes, whether they are commuting to work, showing off some skills on a bmx track, or bikepacking around the world.
For too long, as a black woman, I have stuck out like a sore thumb when I go to any cycling events or group rides. The future I hope for is one where I’m not the ‘odd one out’.
WHAT CAN MAKE CYCLING / THE CYCLING SCENE EVEN BETTER?
The cycling scene can be made better and more inclusive when there is less of an emphasis on having expensive kit or the lightest Carbon bike on the market.
I think the obsession with expensive gadgets and kit can sometimes put people off from taking part in cycling activities.
Personally, I know it had an effect on me for a while and put me off taking part in some activities because I couldn’t justify the price of things that I had gotten the wrong impression of as “necessary”. If we can focus on the results that cycling brings, such as the joy, freedom, fitness, and less on the inputs, such as how many nanograms your bike weighs, then we are moving in the right direction and can take more people with us.
WHAT'S YOUR BEST LIFE HACK FOR CYCLING?
Two words: “Chamois cream”. As with most things in life, it’s just better to keep things well lubricated to minimise friction, Whether that’s your chamois, your chain, or your…
WHAT'S YOUR BIG DREAM?
A world where seeing another black woman on a bike isn’t a rarity.
FOR ME, CYCLING IS
YOUR FAVORITE SNACK?
Salt and vinegar peanuts
WHAT SHOULD NOT BE MISSING ON ANY TOUR?
Pizza and ice cream. Lots of it!
I WOULD VERY MUCH LIKE TO RIDE WITH THIS PERSON …
My mum. I’d like to re-introduce her to the bike and go on a ride with her. I think it would give her a new lease of life at the age of 65.
In case the answer of ‘my mum’ is too lame, the other person I’d like to ride with is Marley Blonsky (@marleyblonsky on Instagram). I just love her energy and what she campaigns for, and I think she would be great fun on a bikepacking trip and take it at a pace that I like.
Many thanks to Vera for the interview and her answers! If you want to learn more about Veras cycling life, check out her social media profiles!
Foto-Credits: Matt Ngosi-Sambrook