My name is Aleksandra, I'm 27 and I live in Warsaw, Poland
How and when did you start cycling? It won’t be an exaggeration to say that cycling was always there, “running in the family” - as you can see well in the picture from 1994, presenting 2-year old me, my dad and my older brother - everyone was equipped with a bike! Since I learned to keep the balance on the bike we became inseparable. As I grew older, my passion evolved accordingly - from a typical commuter and MTB fan I gladly became a road bike owner. (Of course, l chose Lapierre, couldn’t be me more French, huh? ;)
Do you have a training routine, or do you do it according to your current wishes? God no! First of all - cycling has never been a matter of training for me, but a chance to explore the new routes and just spend time outside & socialize! So, yes - definitely all is dictated by my current wishes, mood, etc. It’s true, that in Warsaw we don’t really have much of a choice when it comes to routes or landscape (flatland, flatland everywhere!!) and you always have to add those extra +20 minutes to get out of the city and find yourself surrounded by nature (and other cyclists;)) So maybe this lack of options is what actually makes my cycling a bit routine-like, but I always try to vary each itinerary even a little bit! New corner, new coffee stop, new people to cycling with? Sure, I am always up to discover the unknown :)
Cycling is a sport that requires resilience, what resources do you use when you are at the end of your strength? I try to focus on music (I would usually listen to some motivating tunes when starting a major climb) BUT if it’s not an option - just keep on going, think about a rewarding meal afterward and OR about all the calories you are burning at the moment ;) It reminds me about one of hardest rides (both physically and mentally) - Ladies Mercantour Granfondo, that I did in May 2019. I was cycling alone almost the whole route - which wouldn’t be this bad if not for the fact that the weather was pretty awful. The incredibly cold and rainy morning of about 5 degrees (very rare and harsh conditions for that part of the season in the South) have made many cyclists abandon the course completely. But the excitement of being in the mountains again, many climbs, and a variety of landscapes as well as my favorite playlists have saved the day and kept me going! :)
How have you progressed in cycling? Did you join a club, get a coach, make friends? My road cycling adventure and true progress started two years ago when I moved for 8 months to the beautiful French Riviera, where I got a 6-months contract at a local event agency. This was like a dream come true - I couldn’t pick up a better spot to progress in cycling! Thanks to Cappuccino Rides - a no-drop type of rides organized weekly by Cafe du Cycliste (THE place when you wanna make new cycling friends, do some networking, sip good coffee and find classy cycling apparel for your rides) - I had a good start on new soil and mingled into local cycling community. After some time local hills were not a challenge anymore - it all felt so right as if I have always belonged here.
How do you define yourself today as a cyclist? Romantic cyclist - I have a certain level of experience in cycling and good overall fitness, but I am also aware of my weaknesses and I am perfectly fine with them :) I would never sacrifice everything to become pro or triathlete. I like to enjoy an occasional pizza or beer post-riding and I don’t see what’s wrong with that as long as we don’t abuse! ;) As Sagan says…”Why so serious?” La dolce vita!
Have you made any changes to your diet or lifestyle since you started cycling? Yeah...I quit smoking for good ! (although I was never a heavy smoker, still had this guilty pleasure of an occasional smoke). And I actually quit following a very strict diet - I knew that as long as I will stay active I could eat (of course not overeat) almost everything I wanted.
What advice would you give to a woman who wants to start cycling? Just do it! Don’t wait for an invitation, better weather, for better mood or different circumstances. All starts first in your mind - stop finding excuses and question everything. So if you really want to get into cycling, look for a group of female cyclists (try browsing local cycling groups on Facebook or ask in local bike shops if there are some easy cycling rides organized?) OR if you prefer to ride solo, but still you are not sure if you will manage, let me solve that one for you - you will do GREAT! :) Just put on your fitness outfit (you don’t have to spend a fortune on a brand new bike nor fancy clothes - important is to START), put on a helmet (safety first!), check if your tires are firm, grab a bottle of water and GO! You don’t have to force - just start with casual rides and don’t push too hard if you don’t feel like it. Find your own rhythm and everything will fall in the right place :)
What is the most beautiful spot where you have ridden? The place I once called home...definitely la Côte d’Azur wins the prize! Col de Braus being my favorite ride of all time, I think.
Can you share with us the cycling memory that you enjoyed the most? Yes, with pleasure! September 2019 I organized my very first cycling trip for a small group of my French friends from French Riviera. I invited them to visit me in Krakow (the second biggest city in Poland) and we went together to the Tatra Mountains. I keep truly vivid memories of this experience, especially that it was my organizational debut! We were very lucky with the weather too - till the last minute the forecasts were keeping up the pressure pretty high, announcing a full week of rain! This memory seems even more precious now when we are not allowed to travel due to COVID-19.
I remember visiting ‘Gora Kawiarnia’ for the first time last July with one of my clients - Omar from Dubai (yes, you can actually book a ride with me: Cappuccino Ride with She's a cyclist). We would already have around 40 km in the legs, the temperature was around 29-30 degrees and we went for 0% beer instead of coffee- which was an indeed better choice of isotonic :) We ate some of the incredibly delicious cakes and a to-die-for chocolate mousse and off we went! It was one of best tours I gave so far - it was clicking from the beginning with Omar, who was a very good rider and it was pretty challenging to keep up with his pace :) But he would give me a wheel from time to time too :)
And the last question for the community when you go cycling in your area, do you have any nice ravito addresses to recommend to us? Of course! There is only one cycling cafe to all cyclists from the neighborhood and an absolute must-see. It’s located 30 km away from Warsaw, which makes it the ultimate go-to spot. It’s maybe not this busy as in the picture below, but if you come there on the sunny Saturday on Sunday you will definitely have to queue for a while. Góra Kawiarnia has been set by an ex-pro cyclist Maciej Grubiak, who used to train hard, but finally decided to abandon his career in sports. Since then he only rides occasionally, for himself and not for the title. His minuscule cafeteria became legendary even months before an official opening. It really is THE place to visit and THE CAKES are there to indulge and then cycle them off!
You can follow Aleksandra on Instagram : @shesacyclist
If you live in Warsow, or if you want to visit it, you can book a cappuccino ride here