Premax is lucky to have Louise Vardeman as one of our #PremaxAtheltes for many reasons. She is a road cyclist who has represented Great Britain twice at the Gran Fondo World Championships, and was a co-founder, and now manager, of the InternationElles cycling team. This team brings together amateur female cyclists from around the world to take on cycling challenges, most notably cycling the entire Tour de France route a day ahead of the male professionals, in an effort to raise awareness for gender equality in cycling. Most recently, four of our UK-based riders attempted a Guinness World Record, and achieved a record time of 46 hours and 3 minutes, cycling from Lands End to John O'Groats. Louise was one of those four, and so we wanted to ask her some questions about her experience being part of such an epic adventure, from preparation, the best and worst moments overall, to what makes a successful cyclist in her eyes, and much more.
You can read more about the InternationElles and Louise's fight for equality here.
How did you decide to do this challenge, and break this particular record?
Our plan was to go to France this year and once again ride the full route of the Tour de France. Unfortunately, the ongoing COVID situation scuppered our plans for the 2nd year in a row, so we looked for an alternative challenge that we could complete without leaving the UK. LEJOG has been on my bucket list for a while, so what better way to do it than with my teammates, and aim for a Guinness World Record in the process.
How did you plan and prepare for this challenge?
We were already fit and ready for big endurance events, but our training was kicked up a notch to make sure we were ready for the increased speed we would need to break a record. We all trained approximately five days a week, and spent a lot of hours in the saddle to ensure we were as fit as we could be, and ready to suffer.
What were the highlights of this challenge, and what were the hardest moments?
The highlights were knowing we were all working together for a common goal. The changeovers between riders were fun, as well as the time we spent off the bike looking at how we were doing, vs our expectations. It was incredible to see that we were faster than we could have imagined, practically flying. The weather was not kind to us though. I didn't have one dry stint over the 46 hours. Battling headwinds that were as strong as they were, I had to pedal hard even to go downhill, and that was the hardest part for me.
Is there anything you would have done differently?
No, I don't think so. We all trained so hard, and we were as ready as we could have been. The tour bus was incredible for enabling our recovery, I suppose I just wish I was a better sleeper. I only slept for 1hr 15 minutes over the whole couple of days.
What do you think makes a successful cyclist?
A successful cyclist is anyone who can ride a bike. A record breaking cyclist has to be able to suffer more than most, and give up a lot of their time for training. I think a big part of it is in the mind. Even if your legs are strong, if your head isn't in the right place the journey will be very hard. Also, a large dose of determination and grit helps for sure.
You often talk about riding to shine a light on the inequalities in cycling, and to show what women are capable of. What message do you think your most recent success gives to the cycling community?
I hope we have shown that women are capable of anything, and should be given the same opportunities as men. We hold the overall record for 4 cyclists riding Lands End to John O'Groats, not just the female record, and we are really proud of that. We look forward to the day when little girls will have the same opportunities in their lives as their brothers will.
Were there any products, accessories, equipment etc that you found made a difference, or helped with your performance?
We suffered no saddle sore issues or discomfort, which is unbelievable for the amount of riding we did, because we not only rode from Lands End to John O'Groats in our record breaking relay, but once we got to John O'Groats we turned round and all rode back down again. We covered over 1000 miles in just over a week, and Premax helped ensure we had no issues for sure. We all used the Women’s Chamois Cream and absolutely loved it. We also used the Warm Up Cream, and loved the new Recovery Cream Sour Cherry. So, thank you for helping us with these really important products.
What is your next challenge/ event?
We are absolutely delighted that there is a proper women's Tour de France next year, and can't wait to support it. We've worked hard to campaign for it, and are so happy it's actually going to happen. My next event is the Gran Fondo World Championships in October, where I'll be very proud to represent Great Britain again.