The women’s record for Furthest Distance Cycled in a Year was set on January 1, 1938. A British lady named Billie Dovey (later married to take the name Fleming) set out to ride as far as she could in a year, in order to promote and inspire a healthy lifestyle for women. She rode every day, on a 3-speed road bike, and achieved an astounding 29,603 miles, often finishing the day giving a talk on the health benefits of cycling.
On January 1, 2016, Kajsa Tylen began her attempt to beat the women’s record, for the same reasons as Billie, except she wouldn’t forget the boys!
@Bimble also suggested an “interview” with Kajsa and put forward a few questions, for which Kajsa kindly took time out of her busy schedule to answer (in early March, 2016):
Q: Where did you first hear about Billie Dovey and her distance record?
Kajsa: Not sure… Probably through googling it after reading about Tommy Godwin on Strava or somewhere.
Q. What inspired you to take up the challenge of trying to beat it?
Kajsa: Billie herself, I think, she was an inspiration!
Q. How difficult was it to arrange to take a year out to complete the challenge, and what were the easiest and most difficult things to sort out?
Kajsa: My boss was extremely understanding, so getting him to agree was easy! The hardest part was not spending any money for over a year, and trying to get sponsorship – so many people would promise the earth and then I’d hear nothing back. That can be very soul-destroying. Luckily I’ve got some amazing supporters now, who have made my life much easier – Andy at Leisure Lakes, for example, who’s an absolute superstar. And having use of the Camping & Caravanning Club sites is amazing as well. Which reminds me… sorting the car and caravan was a bit of a time consumer! And learning all about how to set up a caravan – who knew there was so much to know?!?! The easiest part was the clothing – Chapeau! have been with me from the start, absolutely amazing shorts! 🙂
Q. How did you prepare beforehand? Did you do any training or anything before your first day’s ride or just get stuck in?
Kajsa: I trained for an Ironman up until the event in Aug 15, then after that I worked with Bryan Steel on cycling technique and building fitness and endurance – many days I’d be up at 5am to get a few hours’ ride in before work.
Q. You have some good sponsors and your mum is obviously a great support. As awareness of your mission grows are you getting more on-ride support from other cyclists and is this helping to keep you going?
Kajsa: I’m certainly getting recognised a lot more! Which feels a bit weird, as nobody ever noticed me before! Having people join me definitely helps, but sometimes it’s just as nice to be on my own, lets me think about stuff, e.g. what to do in my vlog, and what routes to take over the next few days. The support has been phenomenal though, I hope to meet more and more people as I go! Oh, and selfishly I’m glad that Steve Abraham is no longer busy with his record attempt, he has been wonderfully supportive, coming out to ride with me and helping me plan routes.
Q. You probably expected it to be tough but what have you found to be the hardest part of the challenge so far?
Kajsa: My legs. They need to get with the program, was expecting my body to have gotten used to it by now, but it seems not. And also the cold – can’t wait to get some temperatures into the double figures!
Q. How is Bumble coping with your schedule?
Kajsa: Please see attached picture…
Q. And, finally, can we all come to your house for pancake faces next year?
Kajsa: I’ll talk to mum, she’s the one who has to flip them! 🙂
For more information, check out Kajsa’s website – A Year in the Saddle – and the CycleChat thread – Kajsa Tylen: The Billie Dovey 81 miles a day progress thread