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In the Mind of a Professional Cyclist

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At Wahoo, we employ and sponsor athletes of all shapes, sizes and disciplines. We understand the incredible work and fearlessness it takes to reach your goals and compete against others just as talented as yourself. The drive, perseverance, motivation and ambition come together to fuel a champion.

We find ourselves continually inspired by our Wahoo-sponsored athletes, so we decided to ask some of our successful cyclists to find out how they train and what inspires them to push harder day after day. These cyclists included Trixie Worrack and Mieke Kröger from the Canyon-SRAM team, Yuri Hauswald from M-Bassador and Lucia Deng on This Team Saves Lives. Two of these women, Worrack and Kröger from Canyon-SRAM, recently won National Championships in their home country of Germany.

Here’s what they told us:

How did you get into cycling?

Yuri Hauswald:  I’ve been an athlete my whole life, but picked up cycling at a relatively late age (24). After playing lacrosse in high school and college, I moved to Pennsylvania to teach at a prep school and that’s when I discovered mountain biking. I was introduced to the sport by fellow teachers and immediately fell in love with the adventure and adrenaline rush that came with exploring a new place.

When did you choose to do this competitively?

Lucia Deng: After I moved back to NYC from upstate New York, I joined a local recreational cycling club. I kept pushing myself to ride with faster groups, and although sometimes I got dropped, I always came back for more. I guess I had that competitive spirit–more so pushing my own perceived limits, rather than trying to beat others. But, eventually, I got fast enough to try an Intro to Bike Racing Clinic specifically for women offered by the Century Road Club Association. That made me realize how much fun bike racing can be from both a fitness and tactical standpoint. I got a coach, found a team that took me under their wing, and the rest is history!

What steps did you take to help you train for competitive races?

Lucia: For me, finding a good coach was extremely important. Working full-time and being a total noob, I wanted to find the most efficient way to get better at bike racing (both in terms of fitness, handling skills and race tactics), and getting a coach was a no-brainer. Also, I had the benefit of teammates who had experience I could draw upon. CRCA also has weekly free coaching sessions for its members. I took full advantage of those to improve my in-race attacks and techniques, and improve my pack riding skills, like wheel touching, shoulder bumping and leaning. I also started to watch and follow professional bike races–it was fun to see how the pros do it. And finally, I raced–A LOT. The season when I saw my biggest gains was a season I raced 40+ road races!

Mentally and emotionally, did you experience a change after becoming pro or winning races?

Yuri: I’m not your typical pro in many ways. First, I  turned pro at the tender age of 36 after doing well at a number of 24-hour solo events. Since I was balancing racing and my full-time job as an elementary school teacher, turning pro was purely just a category change on my license and not a big time contract which meant that I had accomplished a goal that had been floating on the horizon for years that seemed unreachable.

My motivation to be the “best pro” that I could be was all that really changed. I did and still do feel some added pressure to live up to that title, even now at 46.

How do you maintain this level of athleticism?

Mieke Kröger: I think I haven’t reached the highest level of athleticism yet, but I believe a main key to staying on a high level is variety in your training.

What keeps you motivated?

Trixie Worrack:  The challenge of trying to win the race as the team keeps me motivated. There is always something different that you can’t plan for, so working as a team keeps you going.

Describe your training process for a big event.

Yuri: For an event like Dirty Kanza, which I’ve been doing since 2013, I begin my training about six to seven months out with progressively longer weeks of Zone 2 base training. I try to stack big weeks of say, 15 to 20 hours of riding on top of each other so that I’m building a big aerobic base of fitness that I then can build off of.  After about eight weeks of this type of training, my coach begins to mix in some intervals based on my power zones tailored to mimic the types of efforts I will need to be successful at long races like Dirty Kanza. Yoga is the only other activity I do to augment my cycling fitness.

What advice would you give to cyclists who may not want to go pro, but want to get the most out of every ride?

Mieke: I would say, just do it. You only need a bike and yourself to explore your surroundings

and nature. But always take an emergency banana with you, if you start exploring the world. That might take a while.

What is the one attribute a championship cyclist can’t be without?

Mieke: The ability to suffer and a strong fighting spirit.

Trixie: Ambition.

Yuri: Passion. If you don’t love or have a true passion for what you’re doing, you won’t be willing to make the necessary sacrifices and changes that it takes to reach the top step, wherever that step may be for you.

Lucia: Believing you can win the race.

As you can see, being a champion takes more than just a structured training schedule. It takes hard work, ambition and a fighter’s spirit. We are so proud of all our Wahoo-sponsored athletes and all they do to win the next race. Keep up the good work, team!

We would love to hear from our #Wahooligans too! How do you stay motivated? Share your thoughts in the comments or on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/

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