Hi girls, my name is Aenea, I'm 26 years old and I live in the south of the Netherlands.
Can you tell us how and when did you start cycling?
Looking back, I have always enjoyed cycling. When I went to secondary school, my sister and I would hop on our bikes and ride to school. I remember that I always enjoyed those bike rides, but back then I never would have thought that I would take on cycling as a hobby. Many, many years later, in 2016, I wanted to lose some weight and started to attend spinning classes. For months and months in a row, I took five spinning classes a week. I saw my body getting slimmer, I felt my legs getting stronger, but more importantly: it's where I found out how much I liked cycling.
When spring was upon us and the sun started to shine again, I bought my first bicycle. It was a Gazelle Primavera from 1997, a road bike made from steel: a solid bike to use for my cycling adventures outside. I really liked riding my bike outside, but I felt really vulnerable as a road user. I got so scared that I quit. Two years later I started to work at a company with many (fellow) bike enthusiasts. It took them quite some convincing, but ultimately they got me to hop back on my bike again, and from then on my bike and I were inseparable.
Do you have a training routine, or do you do it according to your current wishes? Currently, I'm not following any routine. As I'm still fairly new to the whole cycling hobby, I feel that every mile that I make is a step in the right direction. The only goal I have is to enjoy cycling and get better while doing so. I try to alternate short, intensive rides with longer endurance rides. I also try to mix training on the flat and in the hills, so I get better on all the various disciplines.
How have you progressed in cycling? Did you join a club, get a coach, make friends? I have made a lot of cycling friends this past year and I'm very thankful for that! I now have quite some people to go on rides with. Whether it's for a short training ride, an endurance ride, or a summery ice cream ride: most of the time someone is happy to accompany me for another new adventure.
Cycling is a sport that requires resilience, what resources do you use when you are at the end of your strength?
I believe that your mindset is a determining factor for how your ride will turn out. If you're planning on doing a long ride, you know that the last few miles might be very difficult because you're exhausted. If you're doing a short training ride with uphill sprints, you know that your heart is going beat like crazy at the top and that your legs start screaming. And that is okay! It's okay to have a hard time. The only way to get better is to accept and embrace the moments that your body and mind are saying no. And of course it helps to take enough fuel for the ride. I always make sure I have plenty of water and something to eat with me, no matter how short the ride is going to be. You never know how your next adventure is going to turn out. You might get a flat or get lost. Those are the times that you'll be thankful for having brought some extra food.
How do you define yourself today as a cyclist? I don't take myself too seriously. The most important part of cycling is having fun. A close second is improving yourself, so I try to mix these two.
Have you made any changes to your diet or lifestyle since you started cycling? Yes! I used to do a lot of powerlifting/strength training, with a protein-based, fairly low carb diet. When I started to cycle again, I found out the hard way that low-carb diets aren't very convenient hahaha. I now try to eat more carbs, especially before a ride. This has helped me a lot, as I don't feel exhausted as fast anymore.
What does the woman, the cyclist Wilma, mean to you? I'm a huuuuuge fan of color; many friends call me the riding rainbow because I refuse to wear dull clothing. I'm not the type of girl that wants to wear what everyone else is wearing. In fact: if a lot of people are wearing it, I will definitely not, purely out of principle. When I came across Wilma, I felt like I have found a brand that suits me, even though I haven't seen any designs yet. I really like the story, the fact that Wilma is eco-friendly and that the main focus is that female cyclists feel good in the clothing. And what's not to like about perfect, Italian design!?
What advice would you give to a woman who wants to start cycling? YES GIRRRRL, GREAT IDEA! Everyone can start cycling. It's simple: just hop on the bike and make some miles. You don't have to ride fast to have fun and go on adventures. Make sure you have some friends with whom you can go on these adventures if you don't feel like riding solo. Oh. and start doing ice cream rides. It's a fun way to get active AND have some good food.
What is the most beautiful spot where you have ridden?
Ohhh, this question is practically impossible to answer! I really love the Eifel region, a low mountain range in western Germany and eastern Belgium. It has some beautiful climbs and descents, hairpin turns, a beautiful lake and a lot of green.
However, the region where I live is absolutely mesmerizing as well. In the south of the Netherlands, in the middle of the Dutch hills, I can find so much beauty so close to my home. It only takes a few minutes to make my way to one of the most beautiful spots of the Netherlands. And only thirty minutes to climb one of my favorite hills: the Fromberg. That's where my cycling adventures all began.
And the last question for the community when you go cycling in your area, do you have any nice refuel addresses to recommend to us?
Can you share with us the cycling memory that you enjoyed the most?
That actually took place this weekend! For the longest day, I rode my longest ride with a friend and her daughter. Her daughter did her first 75km+ ride and we rode our first 150km ride. The weather was great and it was a lot of fun to go on such a girl power ride. We had a lot of fun on the road! I'm really happy with the accomplishment, especially with the average pace. I'm not a fast cyclist, but I used to be a lot slower. It's fun to see the improvements.
Good question indeed! My favorite place to stop for coffee is Fixed Gear Coffee. They have two locations: one at the bottom of the Cauberg in Valkenburg and one near the Vrijthof in Maastricht. Both prime locations for cyclists, if you ask me. Their cappuccino is out of this world and so is their cheesecake.
Can you tell us more about you, things you would like to share? I'm a proud owner of three bikes and all of them have a name. Hulk: Liv Avail SL 1. My current road bike. Nothing too fancy, but I've happily made my miles on this one. Vintage: Gazelle Primavera from 1997, made of steel. My very first road bike. I still use this one for short ice cream rides and commutes. Nowadays it's the centerpiece of my living room, as I hung it up from the wall. Chief: Scott Aspect 920. My first mountain bike! I'm exploring new cycling hobbies as well.
You can follow Aeenea on Instagram: Aeenea Bisschops