Amy Cuthbertson is a cyclist from the UK who started riding in late 2016 and is taking on a big challenge this year. She joined us for our Girona Women’s camp in April in training for her goal of completing the Trans Pyrenees Challenge in June in aid of two charities: The Brain Tumour Charity and Duchenne UK.
We caught up with her to find out why she decided to take on the challenge, and how she’s preparing for it.
Describe your personal journey and why you are taking on this challenge.
I started cycling in October 2016, having previously been allergic to exercise, unless you count snowboarding which is, if I’m honest, more drinking than exercise. My first ride was 3 miles and I was toast! That first year on a bike is pretty exciting because everything is a milestone. My first 20 miles, first 50 miles, first 100km, and then first 100 miles, each box ticked was a nod to the progress I’d made. In March 2018 I went to Mallorca with Queensbury Queens of the Mountain CC, my all-female cycling club, just for a weekend, but I got to tackle my first long climb in Sa Calobra, and I discovered a love for climbing. So in June I headed off to Italy in search of some more long climbs, and it didn’t disappoint, ticking off a few more 10 km+ climbs along the way and still hungry for more! With my new love of climbing I decided I needed to find myself a mountain challenge that would allow me to raise money for some charities close to my heart. Having lost 2 people in recent years to brain tumours I am passionate about raising as much money as I can for The Brain Tumour Charity, and then with a friend’s son being diagnosed with muscular dystrophy last year I decided to split the funds with Duchenne UK as a charity that was helping them to support their son. And as everyone knows I like riding my bike up hills, I had to make sure the challenge was suitably epic so that everyone didn’t just think I was off on a holiday!
So here I sit, challenge accepted, 7 weeks out from attempting to ride from Girona to San Sebastian.
How are you preparing both your bike and your body?
I’ll be riding my Canyon Ultimate for the challenge, albeit with the front end brought back up to a more comfortable position for long days. Having tested the legs and the bike in Girona on ESC’s Women’s Week in April I’m going to add a 34t chainring to the front before the Pyrenees. You can never have too many low gear options right? The 52/36 I have at the moment gets me up climbs just fine, but riding multiple mountain passes each day it can’t hurt to have an even more spin-friendly option for tired legs.
I’m on the turbo or in the gym most days in the week, and the weekends are now dedicated to seeking out hills. In the Pyrenees they built roads that snake around the mountains, in Yorkshire they just decided to build them straight up! Maybe I’ll be eating my words soon enough, but at the moment I think Yorkshire and the Peak District are way tougher than the Pyrenees!
What are your goals for the challenge?
If I make it to the finish line without having to get in the van at any point I’ll consider that a massive success. I’m not in any rush to make it there, I just want to make it. I’ve been training hard, but for a still novice cyclist this is a challenge of epic proportions. I’m travelling solo for this adventure, not knowing anyone quite as crazy as me to want to take this challenge on, so I’m hoping to make some good friends out on the road.
What are you most nervous about?
It’s the weather I’m most worried about for the adventure. I can get myself fit enough, I can make sure my bike is in good shape, but I can’t do anything about the weather, and unlike on the Women’s Week if I look out of the window and see the heavens have opened there’s no option to go for a nice walk around town and have lunch instead, there are miles to be covered to the next hotel. The weather in the mountains can be highly unpredictable, could be 35 degrees, could be snowing, maybe both on the same day! But at least we have van support so that we don’t need to carry kit for all conditions in our pockets. And I have no desire to descend mountain passes in a snowstorm, so if I need to make a decision to stop for safety then I will. Always safety first!
What are you most excited about?
I’m incredibly excited about tackling the Aubisque, assuming I make it that far! And I’m really hoping there’ll be a moment in the last day or two where we get to the top of a climb and can see across to the ocean at San Sebastian for the first time, knowing that we’ve ridden all the way across the Pyrenees from Girona to the opposite coast. I think that would be the moment that makes the whole trip special.
You can support Amy here: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/AmyCuthbertson2
Photos courtesy of @openautograph
You can follow Amy’s progress via social media @snowtosea and @ridelikeagirlrs
We look forward to supporting Amy this June! If you would like to join her and take on the Trans Pyrenees Challenge for yourself then don’t hesitate to email [email protected] or call +34 972 754 301 to secure your place!
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