Lockdown Q&As – Christina Wiejak

Christina rides for Jadan-Cyclespace Vive le Velo and is currently a postgraduate student based in Leeds but at home in Cumbria.

Lockdown Q&As – Christina Wiejak

Q: Your last race was?
Christina: My last event was the Circuit of Ingleborough TT early March. I love the hilly Spocos and this was a brilliant loop; I was fastest lady. My last road race was the Women’s Tour of Scotland in August.

Photo: Carlos Reina

Unfortunately my race (and season) finished with a night in hospital and surgery after being involved in a crash on stage 3. I managed some of the 2019 CX season but I struggled with a few races. Fortunately, the National Champs (Shrewsbury) in January was more of a running race (which I’m not too bad at!), so I placed a respectable 8th.

Q: With racing cancelled, what’s a typical week training wise for you?
Christina: At the moment, I’m being fairly relaxed with training; I don’t want to run out of steam maintaining really structured sessions. I average around 12 hours a week, fitting it around completing an MSc from home, which isn’t easy.

I just love riding my bike, and the weather has been glorious. I’ll do some rides of 2-3 hours (nothing longer just for the time being!), as well as a couple of shorter rides and maybe a CX ride. Riding in Cumbria is like an interval session everytime you leave the house, with climbs everywhere.
I’ll throw in all sorts of mixed efforts and a few sprints; it’s enjoyable and productive, without feeling crippled with structure.

Q:. Enjoying the turbo?
Christina: I haven’t been on my turbo since the beginning of lockdown, and I’m one of a dying breed, because I’ve never used Zwift! I use the turbo over winter, but I’ll have a specific session planned. Frankly, I despise the turbo as it just isn’t what riding is about to me, but I recognise in winter they’re a necessary evil, so I’ll usually listen to a ‘sciencey’ podcast to keep me occupied.

Q: Where would you do the majority of your training, turbo or road?
Christina: Currently the road, and sometimes I head out on my cyclocross bike to the fells or woods. When the sun shines, I’m outside!

Q: What’s the hardest thing for you about the Lockdown
Christina: Riding-wise, that would probably be the unknown-it’s hard to train specifically when you don’t know when or what you’ll be racing in. Also, I’m the self-proclaimed café queen of Cumbria, so a lack of café stops has hit me hard (although it’s helping my student budget, and probably stopping me indulging in excessive scones).

I’ve always done plenty of solo riding, but I’m looking forward to riding with friends again. Away from riding, my university closing down part way through an MSc is not ideal, but I’m getting used to it now. Needless to say, the worse things are immense losses to lives and livelihoods. It’s truly awful and I hope that we see it slow soon.

Q: Besides cycling, what’s your biggest distraction as lock down continues?
Christina: That would have to academic work; I spend a lot of time at my desk, although I do struggle to concentrate after I’ve been training. We also have Max, our rescue dog, as well as riding two ponies (who would probably prefer to just sleep their way through lockdown!). I’m making sure I do some core/strengthening exercises everyday, and I love to bake ‘ride food’ too.

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Q: What’s the bike that gets the most use by you and what is the best thing about it?
Christina: I’m extremely lucky that the team have provided me with a Cinelli Superstar Disc frame, which has now been built up so I’ve been riding that mainly. So far, so good! It’s a fast bike, yet it climbs pretty well too.

I’m excited to do some big days on it, and race when the time comes! I also love to ride my Scott Addict CX bike for something different. I was a runner and ‘off-roadie’ long before I was into road bikes and racing, so it’s nice to get back to the roots to refresh the head.

Q: What’s the weirdest thing you have seen since this crisis began?
Christina: There is a house which I ride past quite regularly; they have a skeleton family in their front garden, acting out a different scene every few days. They’ve been ironing and at the dinner table lately. Bizarre, but entertaining!

Q: Where do you enjoy riding the most in this country?
Christina: That would have to be the Lake District. It’s where I have grown up, but I’ll never tire of it. The weather can be testing sometimes (a lot of the time!), but I never take for granted the fantastic variety and quality of riding I have straight from my door. Of course, Yorkshire isn’t bad, but it’ll never be Cumbria!

Q: How do you deal with riding solo – taking in the scenery, concentrating on efforts, etc …
Christina: As somebody who has done a lot of solo riding long before lockdown, I’ve been asked this a lot. I do take in the scenery, and I do a lot of thinking.
Sometimes, I’ll essentially write an entire blog in my head, but rarely do anything with it. I think being happy in your own thoughts is a skill which you develop over time. Sometimes I do drift off a little and find myself riding inappropriately hard, or coasting when I shouldn’t be.

A bit of structure on a ride obviously helps to focus the mind too. I’ve never ridden with headphones as riding on the roads is dangerous enough – I like to be able to hear when a car getting too close, but everybody is different.

It’s obviously a tough time, but I’m incredibly grateful to still be able to ride outside. When a lot of teams and businesses are struggling, our team is very lucky to have generous and committed sponsors, so thank you so much to Jadan Press, Vive le Velo, Pulseroll, OTE, Cycling Shorts and Cinelli.

Thank you Christina for that excellent Q&A! Stay safe and take care on the roads…

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