amazing women

Have you ever lusted after medals, or longed to complete amazing journeys, but thought you came to cycling too late in life to achieve great things?

[related_articles]Think again. Cycling in an endurance sport - many athletes peak in their mid 30s, and they can still be producing phenomenal efforts long after reaching middle age.

We've shared stories of some of the women who came to cycling later in life - from those who picked it up in their 20s and 30s to become pros, to those who are completing amazing challenges in their 60s and 70s. It's never too late!

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Evelyn Stevens is a 31 year old pro cyclist. Yes, in the grand scheme of life, she's still very young - but for those with their eyes on the pro peloton, she demonstrates that you don't need to have been cycling from the age of two to achieve great things.

Stevens now rides for Boels Dolman - she bought her first road bike in 2008.

She says she gets her stamina from her previous life, working on Wall Street for Lehman Brothers, and later a private equity firm. When working, training meant 1-2 hours on the turbo trainer, after getting home around 8 or 9pm.

It's been no easy journey, but Evelyn shows us you don't need to be a product of a children's development programmes to make it as a pro. You need talent, and dedication.

How to: Get Into Road Racing

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Admittedly, American rider Armstrong had a very strong background in swimming, distance running, and triathlon when she came to cycling, aged 27.

Kristin was told she could no longer run in 2001, and by 2004 she was racing the Olympic Road Race, in Athens, taking 8th place.

By 2008, she took a Gold medal in the time trial in the Beijing Olympics, and matched the result at the London 2012 games - aged 39.

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS - WOMENS TT

Julia Shaw represented England a the Commonwealth Games, in 2008 - taking a bronze medal in the time trial event, aged 45. She completed the 29-kilometre course in 39 minutes and 9 seconds.

Shaw wasn't sporty at school, and started cycling in her 20s, only taking it seriously in her 30s.

Shaw won an astounding number of domestic Cycling Time Trails championship events, taking 1st place over 10, 25 and 50 miles right up until 2013. Chapeau.

What to Expect at a Club 10 Mile Time Trial

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Glynis is an inspirational personal trainer and life coach. In a past life, she was the Head of Youth Service for Manchester, but swapped it all in 1999.

She'd always ridden a bike, but had never raced competitively. Discovering the track, it took her only 9 months to transition from being a total beginner on the boards to competing in the World Master Track Championships - and winning, aged 46.

Between 2000 and 2004, she won eight World Masters titles, including setting a world record in the Women's sprint in 2002. Wow.

Now, Glynis works to help others discover their potential, as a trainer, and organising the fabulous Team Glow women's cycling club. Amazing all round.

Maggie and Oscar cross Great Yarmouth Bridge

At the age of 65, Maggie Scorer shows us that adventure doesn't stop once you pass 60.

She's riding 5,000 miles with her 4 stone Labrador in tow this year, to raise money for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research and Stillborn & Neonatal Deaths.

When we spoke to her about the challenge, she told us: "Life is for living and I like to think this might be an inspiration to other people that just because you are over 60 you don’t have to stay at home and wait for the next visit from the grandchildren, as welcome and lovely as that may be."

TWC_Awards_judy robinson ed

At the age of 77, Judy Robinson won our Unsung Heroine Award last year for showing that age really is no barrier.

The oldest Breeze Champion in the nationwide network, she came back to life on two wheels after a 50 year break - and went on to lead over 100 bike rides, and set up the Breeze Network Bradford.

Best of all, she has no plans to give up cycling anytime soon!

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We hope these stories show that you don't need to be a child prodigy to be a pro, and you can compete well into your 40s and over.

You might notice that where Evelyn is still living it up in road races, both Shaw and Armstrong performed best in time trials.

Research shows that it is the higher end, Vo2 max efforts (super hard, short bursts) that decline first as you age, followed by lactate threshold (efforts held for around an hour), whilst exercise economy is unchanged much later into life.

This study determined: "Peak endurance performance is maintained until ∼35 years of age, followed by modest decreases until 50–60 years of age, with progressively steeper declines thereafter."

And where were the declines? "A progressive reduction in vo2 max appears to be the primary mechanism associated with declines in endurance performance with age. A reduction in lactate threshold...also contributes... although this may be secondary to decreases in vo2 max. In contrast, exercise economy (i.e. metabolic cost of sustained submaximal exercise) does not change with age in endurance-trained adults."

Effectively, performance over shorter events is more affected by age, whilst endurance is less affected, even improved as riders develop in skill, and learn to better understand their bodies.

Of course, Glynis' track Sprint medal shows us that there are no rules -and age most certainly is not ever a barrier. What are you waiting for?