Straight To The Big Time

Bicycling (South Africa) - - INSIDE -

If you’ve been toil­ing on your lone­some for a while, you’re prob­a­bly itch­ing to join a group for a ride. These tips will en­sure you’re good enough to be there.

WHEN LEAH THORVILSON, 38, found out that the online train­ing plat­form Zwift was host­ing a com­pe­ti­tion for women – with a slot on the Canyon/ SRAM pro team as the grand prize – she didn’t see bright lights; she sim­ply saw the chance to im­prove her rid­ing. “I didn’t think for two sec­onds about what I would have to do to win,” says the for­mer elite marathoner, who had only re­cently taken up cy­cling

af­ter a mix­ture of a torn ham­string along with a se­ries of knee surg­eries ended her run­ning ca­reer.

But in De­cem­ber 2016, af­ter six months of Zwift Acad­emy – a pro­gramme in­clud­ing chal­lenges such as vir­tual train­ing rides, power test­ing, and a 10- day camp in Mal­lorca, Spain, with Canyon/ SRAM rid­ers and two other Acad­emy fi­nal­ists – Thorvilson learned that she’d topped the field of nearly 1 200 rid­ers. In Jan­uary, she gave up her job to chase the fastest women in the world – and work on de­vel­op­ing pro­level group-rid­ing skills to match her pow­er­ful aer­o­bic engine.

We caught up with Thorvilson af­ter her first few Euro­pean races. ( While she failed to make the time cut in her de­but, she re­bounded to place 74th at the 101km Le Samyn des Dames.)

Here’s her ad­vice for any­one try­ing to keep up with a faster group – on Zwift Is­land or IRL.

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