Lina and Jess from the UK's first women's Fixed Gear racing team will be speaking at Vegan Futures. Ahead of the festival we sat down with Lina to discuss her passion for racing bikes fast and veganism.
What first got you interested in fixed gear bikes?
I was dating a guy 2 years ago, who had two really nice fixed gear bikes and I was getting a new bike for commuting through cycle scheme, so he encouraged me to try riding fixed bikes. And it was an article by a bike wizard Sheldon Brown, that completely convinced me to take the plunge and soon enough I was hooked.
The Redhook Criterium race came to London for the first time this Summer and Lina you took part. How would you describe the experience of racing there and later in the year in Barcelona?
The London race was the first ever time I raced on a bike, so it was a little intimidating with all top athletes there. I really didn’t know what I was letting myself in for, but as long as I was doing it with my mates, it was going to be fun!
It was a really tough race, but being on the home turf helped a lot with loads of friends supporting and screaming your name on every corner. Barcelona was a lot different, with the course being a lot more technical, hairpin turns and tricky corners it ended up in a couple of nasty crashes. Women this time were really fighting for it and you could really tell from the many attacks made.
The race got also stopped after 12 laps due to a crash and a couple of women were allowed to come back to the front and complete the race. I was hoping to do a little bit better in Barcelona, but the second crash on the last lap didn’t help and I ended up 24th out of 41 women. Not too bad for someone who just started racing this July hey?
Velociposse is the UK's first women's fixed gear racing club. What has the response been from the cycling community so far?
Everyone has been really supportive and I feel like the women field has been growing a lot more lately with various teams popping up and many more female riders at other races too. We are really thankful to all of the people who stand behind us and support everything we do. We have some really exciting things in the pipeline for 2016, so watch this space!
Who are your cycling heroes?
Anyone doing awesome things out there, from films like Mash and Macaframa, to people riding in the mountains on fixed gear bikes (Patrick Seabase) to track cyclists like Laura Trott or badass friends completing mad adventures (yes I’m looking at you Joseph Kendrick).
Do you have any crazy cycling ambitions?
Nothing out of the ordinary I guess – London to Paris or Amsterdam is on the list, maybe some awesome cycling holiday next year in Europe. Other than that I would love to start doing really well on the track and also attend all RedHook Crit races next year starting with Brooklyn in April.
What's your advice for someone interested in starting to ride a fixed gear bike? How do you get a good bike and master stopping safely?
The only advice is just to do it! It’s the best way to commute in a city, simple, yet makes you fitter than riding most other bikes as you don’t get to coast, so you need to pedal all the time.
Bike maintenance is also very minimal and you get to learn how to fix your own bike pretty quickly as there are very few parts and few things that can go wrong. I think most of us started with the simple beater (that’s what you call a bike you’re not afraid to trash around on) and then moved on to building our own bikes the way we want it.
Once you get into it properly, you will find that you want to have more than one bike for different things. But really the best way to getting a good first fixed gear is perhaps speaking to people in the community (we have an awesome East London Fixed community page on facebook) as well as a couple of bike shops we trust – Cycle PS Battersea (speak to a guy called Ian, he knows his stuff and is a massive fixed gear hipster), The Red Bike Shop, possibly Condor Bikes too. These guys will be able to give you more advice based on your budget.
What is the best bit of cycling advice you have ever received?
That’s a tough one! I guess something that Durian rider (a famous vegan youtuber) and Freelee always say – just get out there and do it.
Veganism is an increasingly popular choice for endurance athletes. Do you think we will see more cyclists choosing a vegan lifestyle?
Oh definitely! I’m seeing more and more of my friends, who are into fitness starting to appreciate the lifestyle and reap the benefits of it. Now we have 3 people in the crew who are vegan, so that’s almost a third. When you eat plant based, you recover a lot quicker and are able to train for hours. Who wouldn’t want that?
In one sentence tell us why anyone and especially women should start cycling?
Best high intensity, low impact, fun training you can ever do without getting various injuries, whilst being able to travel to awesome places.
What started both of you on your Vegan Journey?
I was vegetarian for about a year for health reasons, but then I came across Durian Rider and Freelee the banana girl, who advocated a high carb low fat low protein wholefood kind of lifestyle and it was something I could easily stick to. It was also thanks to many really helpful documentaries like Forks over Knives, Cowspiracy, Earthlings, that I’ve decided it was time to ditch diary and eggs.
What is your favourite on the bike snack?
I really like some of the protein bars like the vegan Bounce Ball, Cliff Bars or The Primal Kitchen stuff. Other than that I’m a big fan of bananas and medjool dates! And in terms of drink I totally swear by Vita Coco.
If you could manifest one thing in your life instantly what would it be?
Ooohhh interesting! Never really thought of it, but I would absolutely love to travel all around the world on a fixed gear bike making a long stop in Japan – totally in love with this country!
Lina and Jess from Velociposse will be speaking at Vegan Futures- make sure you get one of the last remaining tickets to discover more about their story: https://veganfutures01.eventbrite.co.uk