Alison is one of our Sponsored riders and for the 2019 season will be competing upon the brand new Ribble Eliminator AL track bike.
Back in March we uploaded a blog for International Women’s Day in which Alison shared her amazing story. The interest the story generated was so impressive that we thought it would be a good idea to post regular progress updates. With the UK Track Masters National Championships just around the corner we thought we would ask Alison to provide an update on how training is progressing . Here then is the blog written by Alison titled, Alison Salthouse – The Pre- Season Update.
The love affair begins
Alison Salthouse, new sponsored rider with Ribble. You may remember from my recent blog that I’m 60 this year and started cycling aged 53 for health reasons. I was overweight. My parents both had diabetes and I hadn’t done any exercise since I’d played football in my teens. I work full time as an IT Project Manager as well as running a home, tending a garden and looking after my husband (of 33 years) – Nick and boisterous Border Collie – Ben.
So, if you recall – I couldn’t ride half a mile initially without getting out of breath and jelly legs. By setting small goals, I improved from 5 miles to 10 and then took part in my first sportive of 13 miles. After that, I bought my first road bike and joined a local social cycling group (similar to those found here (https://www.letsride.co.uk/social). I slowly increased to my next goal a year later, this time a 52 mile sportive! I started to lose weight, I felt brighter in myself and I really enjoyed the social side of the group. It helped me to find some ‘me’ time.
Well and truly hooked
I really hadn’t expected to get hooked but I found that I really didn’t want to ever give it up. As winter approached (and my 55th Birthday) I wasn’t looking forward to being off my bike until the Spring. I was given the chance to go to Manchester Velodrome with a group of friends to try out track riding on a taster session. Wow! No brakes, no gears and no freewheel (so, no coasting or resting when tired). Oh, and the banking is 42 degrees so you need to ride fast or you will slip off! My head said ‘no’, but my heart said ‘yes. I was so nervous not sure that I’d ever let go, let alone stay upright or be able to stop!
Once I learned the basics I found another lease of life indoors. I loved the fact it was my own legs directing the bike and found working ‘with’ my body to get around the banking exhilarating. It is awesome to feel so free and to use the banking to make ‘free’ speed. Before long I had started riding at Derby Velodrome (a 120 mile round trip from where I live in Shropshire) which is my nearest indoor velodrome. I secured my Track Accreditation (levels 1-4, including assessments to demonstrate you are safe and competent on the track) and started riding Track League.
I was the oldest lady rider but I didn’t mind. I was lapped several times by the youngsters but again I didn’t care. I was enjoying myself and coming home from track with a huge smile on my face.
Finding the correct event
My husband encouraged me to carry on but I was finding the 40 lap races against the youngsters hard and a bit scary in the bunch. I looked around and found sprint sessions – shorter, but harder. I trained for the 500 metre (2 laps) Time Trial. That involves a ‘standing’ (stopped and released from a gate). Think about setting off from traffic lights, finding you are in the wrong gear and then have to immediately go uphill. All whilst clipped into your pedals. I can get up to 25mph+ quite quickly and then have to hold on until the end of the second lap…. Then I can go for a lie down!
I also ride the ‘match sprint’. That consists of a qualifier, 200m ‘flying’ start efforts from the top of the track, swooping down to the start line and getting to over 34mph. You are then paired with other riders (sometimes 2) to ride off in a ‘cat and mouse’ prowl round the track ending in a sprint for the win on the last lap. Last year I entered the UK Masters National event in Newport, Wales. Masters is age related and I was in the 55-59 age range. Guess what – I came 4th in both events! I was so proud. It lit a competitive flame inside me and I wanted to continue.
Training is hard work!
I love the Masters (age related) events and have also found the League of Veteran Racing Cyclists (LVRC) an amazing support. I now have a coach, the awesome Steve Cronshaw (a world champion in my events). I also feel so lucky to have been offered support from Ribble. I know it is unusual to get sponsorship a) when you are older and b) when you haven’t really won anything yet. I’m really grateful for this opportunity. I wont lie , it is hard. I work full time and run a home, have a family and additionally have to train 5 days out of 7. Training is hard!
My ‘rest’ days are usually in the week as I also have to work. That can make the weekend hard, luckily though, my husband is super supportive (and a great cook). My training is structured by my coach. 2 days in the gym, including weights, (squats, dead-lifts, bench) lunges, box jumps and stretches.
Two weekdays are on the bike, either track or road. Concentrating on starts, then quarter and half laps or other aspects of my events. I train the areas most needed, but do need to work on the whole event. Chunking it into jigsaw pieces helps the muscle memory for when the whole piece is put together. I also have a roller or turbo session each week.
My road rides are low intensity (Zone 2 heart rate) and this means I can still support my ladies Breeze rides (https://www.letsride.co.uk/breeze ). These are rides to encourage ladies to get out on their bikes and it’s really important to me to support these so I can give something back and hopefully encourage others.
My goals for 2019
Alison will compete on the Eliminator AL throughout 2019. View the bike here.
I now have the new Ribble Eliminator AL Track bike and they are due to send me some of their new TR51 track wheels. The geometry suits me as a rider as it has a longer top tube than my old frame. That means I can have a shorter stem and the bike is super strong. My power is now all going into my riding and I’m hoping for improved times. It’s early days and i’m looking forwards to my competitions this year. My first competitive ride on the Ribble was on Easter Saturday, on the boards at Derby Velodrome. I achieved a PB in the flying 200 with an average speed of over 31mph! Then, another couple of similar Sprint Events in May and the Nationals again at the end of June.
Amazingly this year I will also be competing in the age 60-64 age bracket at the World Championships being held in October at the Manchester Velodrome. Sometimes I’m shocked to realise how fast I’m riding. Today I am now 5st lighter than when I started and i’m just a normal person. I haven’t got a sporty background or sporty parents, husband or siblings. I’m learning (fast) about changing wheels and gear set up. I only started this at 53. But hopefully, the best is yet to come and I can podium this year with my Ribble. I’d love for you to follow my journey through Ribble.
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