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Posted on 15 March 2016

Isabel Hastie - How I got into cycling

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. I hope to show you how I began competing in the Brompton World Championships, my training routine, how it has changed over the years, and above all motivate you to achieve your Brompton World Championship goals. 

It wasn’t until I moved to London in my late twenties that I started cycling regularly to and from work, not very far, about 2 ½ miles each way. In late 2009, and after a year or so riding my (now) husband’s old mountain bike, I decided that it was time to get myself my very own bike. The first bike I bought, I chained up outside my office, and then when I went back to get it at the end of the day, I found that it had been stolen! At the time, I worked in Covent Garden, which (I didn’t realise) was a cycle-theft hotspot. So, not to be defeated, I wanted to choose a bike that I could take into the office. A Brompton seemed ideal. I went to a local bike shop and tried out a Brompton and I was really impressed; they were comfortable, stylish and surprisingly speedy. I was sold! I chose a Turkish green two-speed Brompton. Mostly because the colour matched my cycling jacket! 

In December 2010, we moved a little further out of London to Roehampton, south-west London. From here I was cycling seven miles each way to and from work, and after a number of months commuting on my Brompton bicycle, I found that more and more cyclists were remarking on my pace. I even found roadies staring at my bike, bemused that I had either kept up with them, or had overtaken them. Sometimes they were even openly cross with themselves! After about a year or so I changed my route to work and increased my commute to nine miles each way. So, overall I was cycling 90 miles per week come rain or shine, and I was really enjoying it. The commute was fast becoming the best part of my day. 

I then found out about the Brompton World Championships and thought, what a fantastic event to enter! I looked at the winning lap times, and thought judging by a lap time of Richmond Park that I’d previously ridden, I stood a chance of getting a really good result and potentially getting on the podium. I entered the 2012 Brompton World Championships, at Blenheim, and there I came third. It was my proudest cycling moment! That gave me a huge morale boost, and so I decided to train even harder and enter the 2013 Brompton World Championships with the aim of improving on my third place. I increased my cycling from 90 miles per week up to 150 (give or take) miles per week. I lived near to Richmond Park and used that as a training ground, adding extra laps on to my commute. I also rode out to the Surrey Hills every now and again, but generally just added the miles onto my daily commute as we were renovating our house and weekends were taken up with DIY. 

The 2013 Brompton World Championships took place at Goodwood, a motor racing circuit and airfield. I knew it would be an open and windy course and it turned out to be exactly that. Blenheim had the hill, which was tough, but the descent at least gave me a chance to catch my breath. Goodwood was just relentlessly tough and windy. 

There were times throughout the four-lap race when I genuinely felt like giving up. Towards the end of the final lap I had worked my body so hard that I thought I would pass out from the all the effort I was putting in. However, I just dug deep in the closing stages of the race, got up out of the saddle, and just tried to gain as many seconds as I could. A few hours later I found out I had done enough and won the race!

I hope that this blog post has shown that even if you are just a commuter cyclist like me, adding those few extra miles onto your commute can really boost your fitness and endurance for the Brompton World Championships. Over my next posts I’ll be telling you how my Brompton fits into my life and share some memories and race tips from last year’s World Championships at St James’ Park – my favourite course so far!

Share your Brompton with the community on Instagram: #mybrompton