Training tips from the Stilettos on Wheels team

Stilettos on Wheels, women’s only MTB racing in the North and South of England.

With just four weeks to go until the first Stilettos On Wheels race of the year, the team behind the women’s mountain bike races have been discussing how best to prepare for an event.

Stilettos On Wheels is a girls-only mtb race open to all abilities, with events at Rother Valley Country Park, South Yorkshire, and in Brighton, East Sussex.

The northern round will take place on Saturday 18th May in South Yorkshire, with more than 50 women, undaunted by recent weather, already signed up. The race will feature two and four hour solo events, and a four hour pairs race. The 3.5 mile course includes swooping singletrack and some challenging up and down hills to keep the legs working.

Emma Peasland, organiser of the northern round of Stilettos On Wheels, said: “Rother Valley Country Park is a new location for this year’s race so we’re looking forward to holding the event there, I hope the women taking part really enjoy the course we’ve got planned for them.”

The type of smile you can only get from crossing the finish line.

Here are the Stilettos On Wheels teams top race training tips:

1. Build riding into daily life

Emma said: “The weather has definitely been a challenge for training this year but I think the trick is to try and incorporate riding into everyday life. I do this by riding my bike to and from work – I use a combination of train and bike to get to meetings around Yorkshire, this means that even in the coldest months when motivation might be lacking, I still get some exercise!”

2. Mix it up

Emma continued: “I also find it good to mix the training up with road or off-road rides and specific skills sessions, for example I go to my local BMX track to practice my pumping skills, which is really good fun and a great way to keep motivated.”

3. Waterproofs not excuses

Irene Lachner, organiser of the southern round of Stilettos On Wheels, said: “Getting some decent wet weather kit is important as it keeps you comfortable and also means you can’t use bad weather as an excuse to miss a ride!

4. Eat, drink and be merry (while cycling up hills)

Irene continued: “Having an event to aim for is great motivation, you will need to build up your endurance by gradually increasing the length of your bike rides every week and add in some hill climbs and some techy singletrack too to help hone your skills. Interval training is great for building strength and speed. Make sure you stay hydrated and well-nourished during your rides so you can perform your best (yes, cake stops count) and there’s nothing like a banana milkshake after a training ride to help you recover faster too.”

5. Have fun

Irene added: “My main advice to girls preparing for Stilettos On Wheels this year is just to get out with your friends and ride for fun, if you’re laughing with your friends and enjoying a sociable bike ride then it doesn’t feel like training.

“The Stilettos On Wheels races are designed to be fun for everyone, whatever your fitness level or ability. In this event, taking part definitely counts!”

There’s always a great turn out for the Stilettos on Wheels races, even the sun usually pops its head out!

The team also caught up with a couple of Stilettos On Wheels competitors to hear how they’ve been preparing for the event.

Karen Payne, who took part in both SOW races last year, said: “I really enjoyed last year’s events; having not raced before I did find them quite challenging but the atmosphere was so good that I definitely wanted to compete again this year. Winter has been so long this year and it has affected my training, but basically I’ve just plodded on through the mud and got used to being a bit cold! When I’ve been out for a training ride in -4 degrees, thinking ‘why am I doing this?’ I try and keep in mind that I want to be fit for Stilettos On Wheels. Just having a goal makes it a bit easier.”

Keen mountain-biker Jody Vallance said: “I felt amazing after I’d completed the four-hour challenge last year, so of course I wanted to come back for more this year. I’m really looking forward to it! I love riding my bike, I’m motivated to get out and ride by a mixture of friends, fun and fitness. Cycling is a way to enjoy the countryside, keep fit and get a fix of adrenaline on the amazing Peak District downhills!”

“I don’t really ‘train’ as such, I just enjoy generally being active, for example, I’ve just come back from a week of snowboarding and hiking up hills in the Alps. Stilettos On Wheels is a really friendly event and participating in it will give riders a massive sense of achievement, competing makes you feel part of something really fun.”

The SOW team couldn’t agree more! They’re all looking forward to the first race at Rother Valley Country Park on Saturday 18th May. The race starts at 11am, where there will a range of great sponsors at the event, including JE James Cycles, who will be offering discounted pre-race bike checks and repairs (parts are charged, labour is free) and a bike wash facility.

Online entries for the Rother Valley race will be open until Wednesday 15th May, but competitors can also register on the day. Visit the Stilettos on Wheels website for more information.

Here’s a video of the Stilettos on Wheels XC race in May last year at Birch Hall, enjoy!

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