Jasmijn Muller on TTing, the turbo trainer and defending her BBAR title
In 2013 Jasmijn stormed on to the women’s TT scene when she won the Le Mans 24hr race solo and in 2014 proved herself the most versatile amateur female TTer in the UK by winning the BBAR championship in her first full season. We asked Jasmijn to talk us through her goals for 2015 and how her preparation has gone over the winter and into the early season.
“After a six-week break in December-January (of which four weeks were spent on honeymoon in sunny Tanzania), I finally climbed back on my bike again at the end of January to attend the CTT Champions Night and collect that beautiful BBAR Trophy engraved with the names of true cycling legends like Eileen Sheridan, Beryl Burton and Julia Shaw.
In contrast to last year when I felt fairly strong during the spring due to a lot of winter training volume, this spring was all about getting back to fitness before trying my hand at racing again. I also took a very different approach to the long cold miles from last year and became a complete turbo bunny. Aside from my commutes, I believe I only did two or three rides on the road during the whole spring! There was always an excuse of rain, wind or the risk of icy patches. Rather than faffing around with layers of kit and bike cleaning, I preferred to jump on the turbo and put in some longer, quality sessions. Luckily the power came back again after a while and I am pretty happy with the turbo numbers.
Translating that turbo power into road power was a different matter. I have done four races so far this season and managed to win them all. However, the winning margin for the first two events was very tight, just seconds. Arguably those two races were ‘short’ distance races which are not really my forte anyway. The main reason I didn’t perform as well as I hoped though was that I was so obsessed trying out new aero helmets that all I could think of during the races was to keep the tail of the helmet on my back rather than to regularly check my power. During the third race I went back to my trusted Bambino, which may not be the most aero, but at least got me to focus again and resulted in a much more comfortable win by minutes rather than seconds and probably one of my best paced rides to date.
It would be tempting to make it my main goal to defend my BBAR title, but I am aware that there was an element of luck involved in my win last year (i.e. riding fast courses on fast days) and Julia Shaw is back in action again this year… So instead, I prefer to think of my main goal as just keeping enjoying riding my bike and seeing how much faster I can go over a range of distances as a result.”
That’s very refreshing to hear you describe your main goal in that way: enjoyment equals improvement. The idea that ‘suffering’ – in training and racing – is an end in itself has become very dominant in both mainstream cycling media and on social media. I’m sure you put yourself through all kinds of torments as part of your training, and perhaps you also enjoy to suffer, but I wonder if you could tell us how you ensure training and racing stay enjoyable?
“I’m not keen on pain or suffering at all, I just happen to like the longer distance events. Some rides have definitely been ‘character building’ with Le Mans 24hr coming to mind specifically, after that … every other event seems short!
As for ensuring that my training and racing stay enjoyable, I try to do other things such as going for a long walk with my husband, kayaking with friends or just chilling out. It is important to me to balance my racing, my training and my commutes into London (as well as the joys and stresses of my full-time job) with other things in life that make me happy and keep me sane. I try not to get frustrated if I ‘miss’ a day or sometimes more than a week of training due to project deadlines at work or unfortunate saddle sores. Time off makes me really want to ride my bike. It’s a long season, so I better make sure I enjoy it. The other thing I try to do is a bit of cycle-touring at the end of the season. Last year at the end of September, I cycled from London to Harwich to take the ferry across, then from Hoek van Holland to my grandma who lives in the east of the country, from there to my dad who lives in the centre and finally to Amsterdam to visit my best friend. Those days were pure bliss. Cycling without a car to worry about it; ignoring the power meter and just enjoying the countryside and the long slow miles.
I admire those who can train on the turbo without any form of distraction, but I definitely couldn’t make it through a training session without music or a podcast. For the shorter and harder sessions I try to listen to Spotify; for the longer turbo sessions I quite enjoy listening to the Cycling Time Trial Podcast or TED Radio Hour.”
Do you have certain rules to manage the work-life-bike balance, for instance to make sure you get good recovery in between training?
“Haha! I wish I could have such ‘rules’ for the bike to take preference. Recovery in between training and racing either comes as a result of ‘force majeur’ or because my coach tells me so. It is my job that pays the bills and allows me to spend money on expensive TT bikes etc, so that will always come first. I work as a consultant specialising in strategy, placemaking and business planning for ‘destinations’ (see www.fourth-street.com). The nature of consultancy work is that projects and deadlines come in waves and such a wave may come exactly in the lead-up to a key race. I work hard and am very dedicated to my work, but luckily my bosses are very supportive of my cycling and allow me to work from home from time to time to fit in with mid-week races, training etc. As for ‘home’ … hmm you may need to ask my husband the last time I did some DIY! I try not to, but during the season the bike often does take preference over birthday parties, nights out and other fun things. I know I often walk a fine line and am very grateful to my husband for giving me the freedom to go to all these races, stealing his car in the process. When you have a partner who is not as mad about cycling, it is important to find a balance.”
All wins, building toward the 2015 BBAR competition
10 Banjo Cycles Time Trial H10/2, Saturday 25th April – 22:46
25 South Pennine RC A25/22, Saturday 9th May – 58:46
50 Mid Shropshire Wheelers D50/3R, Sunday 17th May – 2:00:07
100 Hounslow & District Wheelers H100/88, Sunday 24th May – 4:07:30
50 Reading CC H50/8, Sunday 31st May – 2:00:05