Super Woman - Number One

Super Woman - Number One

As you know, here in VeloFlamingo, we are in awe of all cycling women.  ALL of you!! 

So we thought it would be nice to speak to some of you and hear about how you got into cycling, what you enjoy about it and your hopes for your cycling future.  Our first super woman we spoke to was the very lovely Ms Suzanne White! 

Suzanne is a seriously accomplished Irish cyclist having won back-to-back WM40 National Road Championship Titles in 2022 and 2023.  She also successfully completed Rás na mBán in 2022 and has numerous other victories to her name!  A massive thank you to her for taking the time out to chat with us.

So, where's the best place to start?  Well, as Julie Andrews would say, let's start at the very beginning.........

The Beginning 

Q: What was your first cycling experience? 

A: It was a red trike aged 4 I think! Loved it :-)  

Q: How did you get into cycling more seriously? 

A: A friend invited me to do the Ring of Kerry Charity cycle with her in 2015, after another friend dropped out. I thought the 180km distance was insane,  not to mention the hills! But I loved the idea of it, the challenge.  So I got myself a cheap road bike and started cycling further, as opposed to just commuting. I had a fantastic day on the RoK 2015 and went back the next two years. The atmosphere at that event is second to none!! I caught the cycling bug with the RoK and it gave me the confidence to join a cycling club. I had been worried before that that I wouldn't be fast enough or have the right kit (cleats- yikes) for a club.

But I found a really friendly local club (Penge in south east London) with a range of Sunday spins to suit all. Club spins are brilliant for the sociableness, the safety of riding in a group and the opportunity to go new places (it's great when someone else is leading!). I was hooked - so much so that my friends remarked on me heading home early on a Saturday nights, because the spins started at 8am on Sundays.

Q: Does anyone else in your family cycle? / Who was the person who encouraged you to take up the sport? 

A: I was in awe of my dad growing up,  he had a Raleigh Racer and had completed the Belfast Maracycle in 1984. It wasn't until I was doing the RoK that I discovered that he'd only bought the bike for that one event, did hardly any cycling before and zero after! But he was my inspiration nonetheless.  And as it turns out, he got the cycling bug after seeing how much I was enjoying it and we then did the Ring of Kerry Cycle together in 2017 – a very special experience.

Q: When you were growing up, were you aware that being physically active was important to stay healthy? If not, when did you become aware of this?

A: I always enjoyed being active and being outdoors, but I don't think I was aware of the health benefits. I was probably well into my twenties before I really started to value the feeling of being fit and having energy to do more. A great side benefit of my cycling obsession has been learning about how things like good nutrition, sleep, strength training/mobility contribute to staying healthy - great to have this understanding for general wellbeing,  irrespective of cycling training. 

Q: What do you enjoy most about cycling?

A: I always say that I’m a tourer at heart. I love the bike as a way to see the world. Cycling is the perfect pace to take in beautiful landscapes, explore a point of interest or stop for photos or a nice coffee. It’s sociable too and there’s so much variety with it – from racing to touring, track to off-road. 

Q: If you could play another sport what would it be?

A: I played camogie for years. I really enjoy the team aspect of the sport. Now, any chance I get to cycle as part of a team, I jump at it!

The Middle 

Q: What is the best event that you have participated in to date and why?

A: The Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle was a fantastic atmosphere. I would really encourage people to get involved in sportives and charity rides like that.

Q: What female athletes were you aware of when you were growing up?

A: Growing up, in the 80s & 90s, the only sports on TV that I can remember showing women competing were tennis and equestrian, but I was also very aware of Sonia O’Sullivan given the heights she reached in athletics.  It’s fantastic how much more visible women are in sport at the highest level.

Q: Which cycling discipline is your most favourite and why?

A: Tough question! I love touring, for the chance to see new places, new landscapes. I try to get out for touring spins regularly, it keeps me sane and fresh, balancing out all the racing around in circles!

Q: Tell me about your most successful season in sports.

A: It has to be the year, 2022, winning the National Masters MW40 Road Race Championship. That day was a dream come true, I was so lucky that everything came together on the day. That race was my focus all year –  from beginning training in November 2021 to getting a race bike and getting as much race experience as possible, I did everything I could think of to prepare for it. I learnt a huge amount along the way, especially about race tactics and what kind of rider I am, what my strengths and weaknesses are- they were not what I expected! Also, nutrition, race fuelling, recovery – there’s lots of elements to it and it's part of the challenge trying to get the balance right. Winning the Masters road race in 2022 made me eligible to enter the World Champs Gran Fondo in Glasgow in 2023, an incredible opportunity, amazing to take part in that massive festival of cycling.

And what's to come?

Q: Events you hope to do in the next 5 years.

A: I will keep racing, both cyclocross and road racing. I also plan to do some Audax and an Ultra race in France in the spring/early summer. I love the idea of getting the ferry to Bilbao and cycling up through France and home again from Cherbourg/Roscoff.  I’ve seen lots of Ireland by bike over the last few years and I’m itching to get on to the continent, maybe try some of the big Cols for myself.

Q: What’s the best piece of cycling related advice you were given?

A: Enjoy it! Whatever type of cycling you do, not matter how far or how fast, make sure to enjoy it. That way hopefully, you'll get lots out of it for many years.

Q: What’s the best piece of cycling related advice you could offer to someone looking to get into cycling more seriously?  

A: Definitely think about joining a cycling club. It’s so much easier to get out at the weekend if there’s someone else setting the route and there’s people to chat to (the miles go much quicker). But do check out the local clubs on social media etc to see if they would be a good fit for you in terms of the pace and distance of their regular spins.

Massive thank you to Matthew Lysaght for allowing us to use this superb image of Suzanne in action mid race!

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