Guest Blog by Julie Leth: 10 reasons why you should ride.
I’ve been sitting on this guest blog for a while and thought before the next block of racing begins in Scandinavia later tonight it was the perfect time to share. With the first ever Women’s Tour of Halden literally hours away and the Women’s World Cup Vårgårda, Scandinavia’s only world cup event, being raced next weekend it seemed like the perfect time to share my Danish teammate Julie Leth’s guest blog.
I first met Julie in June last year. Karl Lima, the Hitec Products team manager, spotted Julie earlier in the season when she had great rides in races like the tough Dutch classic Gelderland. Known for collecting Scandinavian talent Karl signed Julie midway through the 2013 season and she immediately settled into the team, winning a major mountain bike race in Norway and finishing on the podium of a Norwegian cup the next day.
As the leading female road cyclist coming out of Denmark Julie has had a break through season in 2014. She won the Danish time trial championships and sprinted to her first UCI podium in late April when she finished third on the final stage of the Elsy Jacobs tour behind Marianne Vos and Emma Johansson.
Not long ago Julie was in Girona for a summer getaway with her family/training camp and I asked her a simple question; ‘Why do you ride your bike?’
It’s something we – as professional cyclists – get asked a lot and most of the time our answers come out in random words that don’t really make sense, or even worse, we simply answer ‘because’.
But Julie has a way with words. So while women’s cycling is booming in Scandinavia it only seemed far to share why one of the best Scandinavian riders in the peloton rides. In this guest blog Julie talks about how she got into cycling, why she’s still doing it and why she thinks more women should ride their bikes.
When I was 6 years old I started doing track and field. I competed in pretty much all disciplines until I decided to focus on long and middle distance running. I was running on a competitive level, but unfortunately I got an Achilles’ tendon injury.
I was advised to start cycling to stay fit. My dad used to be a rider, and my brother, Patrick, had just joined the local club, which meant I had good training buddies from the beginning.
By coincidence I went to a club training, and started going regularly. My dad had never been keen on the idea of any of us – my brother, my sister or I – racing, but after long time I convinced him to get me license.
Eventually my sister, Pernille, joined Patrick and I. When I had gotten over my injury, I started running again, but raced alongside for about a year. In the end I knew I had to choose between the two, and when it came down to that, it wasn’t hard at all. I chose bike racing.
That was back in 2007 and I haven’t stopped pedalling since. Now my life pretty much revolves around my bike. I’ve gone from riding my bike around the Danish roads, to racing against the World’s greatest female cyclist all around the World.
I can’t say I always love cycling; there have been days where I wish I had chosen another sport. I especially doubt my choice of sport during the cold Danish winter months. Using what feels like half an hour to get dressed, before walking out into minus degrees, looking like a Michelin man, and barely being able to move. Despite all the layers I will still come home frozen, needing help to get undressed.
“I get to meet fantastic and inspiring women from all over the World, and together we not only race, but also have fun off the bike.”
In those situations badminton or handball can seem tempting, but my ball-handling skills are very poor. However, even the coldest ride can be great if I’m riding with friends. All convinced that a coffee and cake stop halfway is a great idea, until we realize how cold it is to get started again.
For most of the year my suitcase is my home, and the Hitec Products girls and staff are my family. Together we travel the World, and get to experience new and beautiful places. I like to say, I get to choose the view from my office every single day. This is definitely one of the joys of being a bike rider.
There are tons of reasons why I love riding my bike. Everything, from seeing new beautiful places, and enjoying some time alone on solo rides, to the competitive part of the sport; the tactics, speed, and action.
However, one of the things I love the most is all the friends I’ve made over the years. I get to meet fantastic and inspiring women from all over the World, and together we not only race, but also have fun off the bike.
Just thinking about some of the fun we’ve had makes me smile. We’ve tried to win a trip to Africa, made a “Beat it” music video, and played a practical joke on Chloe, making her panic in the shower because she thought a man called Arnold was entering the room. There are a ton of other fun stories, which I could tell you if you ever decide to come for a ride…
Riding my bike, is one of the things that brings me most joy. So if you’re not already riding, here’s 10 reasons why you should get started:
#1. Travel the World eco-friendly on two wheels.
#2. You’ll get toned legs and a killer butt. #cansquat
#3. You’ll get to go and discover new places, and beautiful landscapes.
#4. Get happy – when exercising your brain releases endorphins that make you happy.
#5. It’s a great way to meet new people, and make new friends.
#6. When not riding with friends, it’s a great way to have to quality time with yourself and clear your head.
#7. When exercising you’ll burn more than you usually do = you can eat more, without gaining weight (win)!
#8. The majority of bike riders are men. Therefore, it’s a great place to meet (athletic) men!
#9. Ride with friends while catching up on gossip, like discussing the latest episode of “Keeping up with The Kardashians”
#10. Eat guilt-free snacks; pretty much everything can be used as ride-food!