Blog: Alice Cobb (Junior Women’s Hill Climb Champ)


A blog from Uni student Alice Cobb (Junior Women’s Hill Climb Champion 2013) talks about the motivation to ride her bike

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Alice writes … It was an encounter with a hall mate this weekend that acted as the catalyst for today’s post. I was wheeling my bike down the corridor after a tough ride and evidently my body language conveyed the level of fatigue I felt.

My hall mate asked me why ‘I bothered training so much and why I was so motivated to ride a bike’. I tried to answer her in a way that upheld a reputation of sanity and after five minutes or so we went our separate ways. (She politely accepted my response although I think she was still as perplexed as before.)


The image of her wondering down to the kitchen still in her pyjamas at 1pm to grab some breakfast whilst I went back to my room to stretch and grab a recovery drink probably captures the situation nicely! The conversation did however get me thinking about motivation; why do we bother to go out in the wind, rain and cold, why we spend so many hours in the saddle and why many of us subject ourselves to a form a self-torture in a masochistic like manner on the turbo?

Besides the fact that we all love cycling, I feel its our desire to continually improve that motivates us: that desire to reach a certain goal and fulfil our potential. However, during the winter months, levels of motivation can wane somewhat so therefore I have decided to compile five snippets of inspiration to help us find that inner strength when it is next needed:

5) Johnny Hoogerland: The Dutch cyclist was the unfortunate victim of the dramatic crash involving a TV camera car and the breakaway riders in the 2011 TdF. Despite suffering terrible injuries (the cuts would later require 33 stitches) from landing on a barb wired fence the young rider got back on his bike and completed the stage. His courage and willpower to continue in the face of adversity demands much admiration. If you think your legs hurt, imagine how his felt!


4) Marianne Vos: The heroine of cycling displayed her outstanding abilities in the torrential rain at the London 2012 Olympics. After forcing the break with 45km to go, she drove a trio of riders home before powering to victory along The Mall. Vos is a true champion and on that day she showed the world her courageousness and fortitude.


3) Greg Lemond: The tale of Greg Lemond’s 1989 TdF victory has been recounted to me on many occasions. With only a 24km TT remaining and a deficit of 50 seconds to make up on the Yellow Jersey wearer – Laurent Fignon – Lemond looked set to finish second. Yet despite the odds being stacked against him, Lemond never gave up hope and stormed round the course (averaging 54.5kmph) beating Fignont’s time by just under a minute. Lemond had won the greatest cyclist race by just 8 seconds and forged a reputation for having unrelenting levels of determination. He later said ‘suffering is what professional cycling is all about and champions are the ones who can suffer the longest’ …

2) Eddy Merckx: Arguably the greatest cyclist of all time Merckx, had the ability to push himself to the extreme. One clip I have watched countless times is the 1970 Mount Ventoux stage in the TdF; Merckx exerts so much effort in order to win, that he rides himself into a state of unconsciousness. A true legend of the sport; he encapsulates the drive and valour required to be the very best.


1) Graeme Obree: The maverick Scotsman is one of my cycling heroes and no list of inspiration would be complete without him. In his book there is a paragraph that I shall never forget where he narrates his thought processes during races;”If you think you are at 100% then dig deeper and deeper because to able to think means you are not at 100%”. For me, Obree perfectly embodies both tenacity and willpower; he has the most amazing innate ability to defy all preconceived limits and is a prefect illustration of how to push yourself beyond all possible boundaries.


So, when your legs are screaming at you during that turbo session, or you’re suffering at the back of the group or watching that wheel in front begin to slip away on a nasty climb, recall these nuggets of inspiration – you may find that you can dig a lot deeper than you thought …

Until next time cycle safely, Alice

READ MORE about Alice and her cycling here on her blog


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