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Girl on an adventure: riding less like a nana

Good’s wellness writer Rachel Grunwell is gearing up (literally) for her latest adventure – a 100km bike ride from Christchurch to Akaroa. Check out her third blog in this series about the challenge ahead.

If you’re having a mid-life crisis, then you should start cycling. I’m not having a mid-life crisis (just yet!) But talking to my coach felt like a darn good therapy session. He’s just so nice!

Richard Greer, from Team CP, must like a decent challenge; He’s agreed to help me train for Le Race. Poor bloke.

My Le Race coach and mentor, Richard Greer

I was expecting a tough talking to after I skipped a training session, but he was actually really sweet about it. He praised me for listening to my body and taking a rest day if I felt like I needed it. This is important: It’s not “slacking”, but rather “smart training”.

He told me about the importance of recovery and that if you feel like you are sleep-deprived or too shattered, then it’s important to give the body a break and let it bounce back.

He likened getting on a bike when you are sleep-deprived, or tired, to feeling “slightly drunk” on two wheels. What he means, is your reaction time and perception might not be as razor sharp. And when you’re on the road around thousands of cars then it’s wise to be super alert.

Richard also wants me to enjoy training and enjoy this journey. He’s so right. It was a good reminder.

Richard has me on the Training Peaks App, which means I can log into my account and check my training schedule anytime. After each session, I click that I turned up (or if I was a no-show) and note how I feel. So, Richard’s watching what I’m up to in Auckland – all the way from Christchurch. And he cares about how I’m feeling on this journey. He wants me smiling while I’m cycling.

Richard has trained an Ironman winner, Braden Currie, but he says 60% of his clients are like me – women who have a cool goal and ask “how can I get across the line?” 

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“Maybe guys think they can do it all by themselves. While women are willing to ask for (coaching) help. That’s my theory anyway,” he quips.

I’m like most of Richard’s clients. I’m not too silly to ask for help. And I have no aspirations (or delusions) of winning this race. I’ll feel like a “winner” just reaching that finish line come March 25.

That’s the aim. And to enjoy the journey.

Richard meanwhile has a mix of styles of training in my schedule: running, strength stuff, stretching and cycling. He says I can even do a spin class at Les Mills instead of getting out on the road once weekly.

He says someone like me - with a busy life juggling kids and work - can train smarter too, not harder. There are tricks like if you are time poor, then you can just do a higher intensity training session for a shorter time and get similar results to a long, slow ride.

Richard says the key is being consistent with training. But if you need a day off then it’s okay!

Meanwhile, I went on a training ride with my friend Michael Keall, who speeds with ease on the downhills. I meanwhile, go downhill at a “nana-like speed”. He thankfully waits for me at the bottom of the hills like a gentleman. However, I told him I would be able to see him for miles in the distance anyway and eventually catch up – given his multi-coloured t-shirt could literally stop traffic. He teased me back for wearing professional-like Le Race lycra when I can’t barely ride a bike, and quipped “you would NEVER guess between us who was sent sponsored gear”…

That’s what I like about cycling with a mate. We can give each other stick. It’s not just about the cycling.

Michael’s right. I look like a cyclist. Now, I just need to learn how to be one. This includes learning to feel the thrill of riding down-hill, rather than “chills” and squealing like a girl...

So, next week I’m going riding with Emma Hadley, an experienced cyclist who works at Mt Eden Cycles. I’m hoping she can give me some amazing tips on how to ride less like a nana…

Rachel is Good’s wellness columnist and the director of the lifestyle website . Follow her on Inspired Health’s Facebook and Instagram