Preparation and pushing your limits.

Preparing for an Endurance Event and Pushing Your Limits - as written by Cassie Dodd. 

Cassie is one of our amazing women's ambassadors, who has years of experience on the bike, racing competitively and riding socially. Here is her insight into preparation for a long distance charity ride. 

The most challenging factor of personally preparing for an endurance event is committing to doing one. I find that the hardest part and once done the rest is easy. I’ll admit some persistent nagging from a girlfriend and fellow ambassador Letty tipped me over the edge of commitment and this charity event allowed me to push my limits. 225km with 2250m of vertical climbing is a long tough day in the saddle for any cyclist – yes even the Pro’s. Here are my thoughts on charity rides, choosing one, pushing your limits and preparation.

Charity rides are a great way to push your limits. Often you are riding for a great cause, and you have recruited a good group of mates to do it with. I choose my charity rides on difficulty and route – I will usually choose one which is riding a course I would not normally train on, or ride myself. For me this adds more motivation to commit and complete, it’s a new challenge and a new adventure on new roads. Riding from Toowoomba to Mooloolaba is something I certainly would never have done unsupported with my riding buddies or alone. Add to this, the gorgeous scenery, fun descents and a couple of good climbs and you have a ride that has been on my bucket list for years.

Preparation is key and comes in many forms. Firstly, recruit a good group of friends to join you, a long day in the saddle is much more fun when you are joined with friends. Banter makes the tough kilometers so much more enjoyable and a good dad joke makes you forget the pain.

Fitness is the one thing most people worry about. Choose and event that is three or more months away, this gives you time to prepare and gives room for life to interrupt your training plans, which is at timesinevitable. For events between 100-150km ensure you have at least one 100-120km ride under your belt before the event and for rides 150km or longer ensure you have multiple 100km rides and at least one 150km ride. I’ll admit that my preparation for this year’s TooMoo was less than satisfactory and I relied upon last minute miles and years of kilometers in the legs and banter to get me through.

Nutrition on the day and during training is key! This is a point I cannot stress enough. Experiment with different nutritional products during your training rides, and pack the ones you know work for you on the day. This may be bananas or certain brands of gels or bars. You do not want to be trying something new on the day only to find out it makes you ill. This is particularly pertinent to those with sensitive stomachs. No-one likes a spewer – trust I know from experience. The Australian Institute of Sport recommends 50g of carbohydrate per hour for every hour after the first hour for endurance events greater than 3 hours in duration.”Carbo-loading” is a great way to prepare and ensure you have enough fuel on board. Preferably start two days before and stick to good quality carbs.

Finally, look at the forecast and pack accordingly. Invest in layers. A good quality undershirt will keep you warm when it’s cold at the start but will breathe so you won’t overheat for the rest of the day. Pack a bag of wet weather gear in the support car (if available) so you can put a rain jacket on if the weather turns, and if you start in long fingered gloves, pack your short fingered gloves in your pocket to change into when it warms up. Nothing hinders a good day in the saddle like inappropriate clothing choices can.

Lastly, remember that you are doing this for fun, to challenge yourself and support a charity. Enjoy yourself and encourage you fellow riders. No-one is winning a grand-tour today.

Follow Cassie on Instagram and learn more about Cassie here.

A week in the life of Ella Bloor

Monday 6th Feb - Sunday 12th Feb 2017

Southern Highlands, NSW

 Who is Ella?

Growing up in the Southern Highlands, Ella was encouraged by her Dad to take up Mountain Biking. By 2010 she was finally convinced to swap horses for bikes & this saw the beginning of her cycling endeavours. Eventually the tyres got skinnier and the disciplines of road and track began to take over as she was accepted into the Illawarra Academy of Sport in 2012.

Ella finished school in 2013 and was accepted into the University of Sydney to study a Bachelor of Design & Architecture and struggled with the adjustment from school to university. A new coach at the end of 2015 saw the beginnings of improved results where she was able to obtain podiums and numerous top 10 finishes throughout the 2016 NRS season. Ella’s most recent podium was 3rd in the U23 Time Trial Nationals.

When not studying full time at University, Ella works part time at the Rapha Cycle Club in Surry Hills. She divides her time between Sydney during the University semesters, home in the Southern Highlands and her boyfriend Ayden’s home in Canberra.


The alarm went off at 4:45am, I need to be in Sydney by 7am for work! The choice to move back home during the University break was easy (as I would be saving money as I didn’t have to pay rent), but commuting back to Sydney, in Sydney traffic, for a morning shift is not my idea of fun. No bike riding for me today because Monday is my rest day. I usually have the same thing everyday for breakfast… muesli, yoghurt and berries/mango/banana. Nothing too fancy, but very delicious and nutritious. Before I knew it my workday was over. My day was made 100x better because my boyfriend Ayden returned home from racing the Herald Sun Tour today. We treated ourselves to pizza and a movie out, so bedtime was a little later than usual, well after 11PM!


Today there was no alarm! I was only woken up by the heavy rainfall, which is always a lovely sound. It was pretty cruisy morning today, Ayden and I went out for a nice breakfast at a local cafe in Bowral. Unusual for me, I had a brown rice pudding with seasonal fruits, nuts and coconut. I procrastinated riding all day, and in the end decided to do the local club race. It was a 40km ride out to the start, all in the rain! There were only 15-20 people across the 4 grades, but I still had the best afternoon! It was this exact course where my cycling began all those years ago and it was the perfect refresher I needed after a busy summer of cycling.


No alarm again for me today. It was another wet day outside, so an indoors session on my Shiv time trial bike was on the cards. I had to do 3 x 15 minute Time Trial efforts which was cadence focused, I had to build my power and cadence every 5 minutes. This session was quite a shock to the system, as I hadn’t done TT efforts since my build up before Nationals in January. After that session I secretly enjoyed studying my power from the day, having had quite a few relaxing days of low to no training after such a hectic summer of cycling.


I had 2.5 hours of endurance riding scheduled today, which I can fit in at any time. Ayden has had a few days off the bike so it was nice to have him join me for some company for a bit of the ride. I did a loop around Qlenquarry, which goes along Range Road through Bowral in the Southern Highlands. It’s truly a spectacular part of the world. I then met Ayden and continued out to Berrima, Moss Vale and coming back through town along the bike path (the very bike path that I had a good face plant on a few years back). The rest of the day I spent nutting out some logistics for the University semester ahead - applying for apartments and sorting out my timetable.


Fridays are for recovery to be fresh for the weekends training. I woke up around 7am and enjoyed a nice few hours spinning the legs where we finished at the coffee shop and treated ourselves out to breakfast; of course to keep with tradition I had muesli, berries, yoghurt. It’s always a good day for chores; car cleaning, lawn mowing, a bit of a core workout & my ‘reco’ day was over. I’ve been enjoying cooking over the summer, and trying new things. Dinner tonight was sweet potato and zucchini fritters accompanied with a fresh green salad.


A day for the alarm! Woken with a shock at 5:30am, I had to get my morning ride in before work. The most time efficient way for me to this session is on the indoor trainer, training consisted of 2 x 20 minute TT efforts with surges every 4 minutes. An hour and a half later, a lot of sweat and the session was done. I have to be at work in Sydney at 10:30am, so it was a quick turn around to get on the road by 8:30am to make the commute to Sydney (questioning why I made this move). It was a very hot day at work on my feet because Sydney was experiencing a heat wave, not the best recovering method. I got home at about 7:45pm, before heading out for dinner with my Dad and younger sister. A perfect way to end a busy day.


Today I had a few solo hours to do on the bike, so I set an alarm for 6am! A nice big breakfast of the usual muesli, berries and yoghurt then I was on my way. After a busy day yesterday I set out for four enjoyable solo hours on the bike. The highlight was descending down into Kangaroo Valley where I saw an Orica kit coming up the other way. Thinking it was Caleb Ewan, who is also a local to these parts, I got way too excited, only to be disappointed to find it was a middle aged man in lycra (MAML) who had purchased the entire Orica Scott kit! The rest of the day was spent relaxing on the couch and preparing for the week ahead. In the evening I went to my mums house for dinner, not a late night though because the alarm was set for 4:30am Monday morning.

Interesting stats for the week:

Hours of training: 12 hours 20 minutes

Kilometers ridden: 330 kms

Bananas consumed: 2

Hours worked: 16


What kind of rider are you? Sprinter, Climber, all rounder? I think my strengths are climbing and time trialling.

Where is your favorite place to ride? Definitely at home in the Southern Highlands. I’m lucky enough to have grown up here, where I’m absolutely spoilt for choice in riding terrain.

What are you training for this year? My main targets this year would be the Time Trial’s, including Nationals and Oceania’s. I’m also focusing on having a strong domestic season, where I hope to see some top 10’s in the National Road Series.

How do you keep a work life balance? Chocolate!

Where is your favourite cafe for a #healthycatchup? 100% Station House in Mittagong, NSW! I’ve known the staff there for years, AND they do the best muffins on earth.

What is your coffee order? Hmmm, I like to mix it up between cappuccinos, piccolos and the odd hot chocolate! I like to be a bit spur of the moment.

You can follow Ella @ella.bloor

A week in the life of Lucy Bechtel

Date: Monday 21 November 2016 – Sunday 27 November 2016.

Location: Canberra, ACT, Australia

Training for: Tour of Bright, three day tour including a Time Trial and two hilly road races.

Who is Lucy:

Lucy lives in Canberra, ACT, Australia with her partner Mark and has been riding with Specialized Women’s Racing since 2016. She bought her first bike when she moved to Canberra from QLD to start a job as an economist with the Australian Government. It was a commuter bike, so that she could take up the challenge of riding through the sub-zero Canberra winter. Her competitive streak quickly came out when her commutes in hiking gear turned serious, she invested in lycra, joined Strava and so the commuter cup began.

She transitioned into racing after joining Canberra’s cycling community, then a NRS development squad and raced her first NRS seasons at the end of 2014. After spending three months racing for a USA criterium team, Lucy joined Specialized Women’s Racing in 2016. She’s an aggressive and opportunistic racer, who loves to ride on the rivet, get off the front and roll the dice when racing.

In her words, she loves that in cycling the goal posts just keep moving. There are so many milestones, and things to learn about the sport and yourself. Not coming from any background in sport, unless you count Sunday night social netball, she has found the journey to be exciting and is so grateful to those who kept prodding her to take each next step.


Monday is the treasured rest day for me. I take it slow in the morning before driving to the closest free parking to work and walking the kilometre into the office. I usually spend the day sitting at a desk, so I use my treasured lunch time to head outdoors, eat lunch and do some stretching on a grassy patch. Once I finish work, it’s home to relax, prepare some dinner and get ready for a hectic week ahead.


At 5am I wake up! I make a coffee and Peanut Butter toast in record time, before facing up to the local bunch ride in Canberra 6am HoP (aka the Hour of Power).  After the bunch I creep home for a smoothie and scrambled eggs, before its back on the bike for the quick commute to work. I’m lucky to have a bike path to ride along by the lake. At lunchtime I sneak out to finish off the session for the day, 4 x 2 minute efforts up the base of the local climb, Red Hill. After work, I ride home, make a big Spaghetti Bolognese and collapse on the couch with Mark.


The 5am alarm sounds and the rest of the morning goes like this - coffee, commute, gym, commute, work, coffee. I eat my packed breakfast of muesli and yoghurt at my desk and then I get a quick chance to go outside for a short wander to stretch the legs. At the end of the working day, it’s back on the bike to ride out to the local club criterium race, at Stromlo Park. Fast and furious racing then I hang about at the track to catch up with friends and watch some of the other races, then it’s home for some leftover spag bol and some shut eye.


After having a late night amped from the race, I struggle to move when my alarm goes off this morning. I press snooze a couple of times and opt to do my session in the afternoon. I need to keep in the small chainring as I spin along the bike path to work! Work is filled with coffee and meetings. After work I ride home and switch bikes to my Time Trial bike and head out for 2 x 14min efforts. As I’m home late, a quick dinner follows, tonight it’s salmon steak on the BBQ and mango salad, YUM.


I have the day off work. This year I’ve negotiated to work 4 days a week, so by the time it gets to Friday I’m exhausted from the early starts, ritual of packing my food, clothing and commuting about Canberra like a pack horse. I make a big scrambled eggs, a smoothie and a coffee and relax at home. Only for a short time though, then it’s out on the bike, Friday is my fun mix up day and long endurance day. I usually choose to take the mountain bike. I head out for 3 hours of single track and fire trails. I love mixing it up on the mountain bike. Friday afternoon is spent relaxing, I do some house (and bike) cleaning and life admin that got away from me during the busy week.


I enjoy a sleep in, a coffee in bed and a very slow start to the day. With Tour of Bright next week, Mark and I head out for 2 x 25min hill efforts. It’s a shorter targeted session that is about 2 hours ride time all up. We come across some friends just as we are finishing up our ride and head to a coffee shop together. We spend the afternoon relaxing and grazing before driving to my brother’s house in a country town 45 minutes away, where we head out to a good old country pub for a counter meal and catch up.


This morning it’s the Annual Canberra Cycling Club Race called the Honey Suckle, a lumpy couple of out and back laps before diverting to head up the steep 8km Honey Suckle climb. I felt good and it was the perfect leg opener for Tour of Bright next weekend. After the race we all head to the coffee shop to hang out, refuel with brunch and a milkshake. In the afternoon it’s time to stock up at the shops for the week and give the van a wash.

Interesting stats for the week:

Hours of training: 15

Kilometers ridden: 375

Bananas consumed:12

Hours worked: 30


What kind of rider are you? Sprinter, Climber, all rounder. All rounder

Where is your favorite place to ride? In Australia? Canberra. In the world? The Italian alps.

What are you training for this year? Another American summer season, which is conveniently book marked by a bunch of NRS races to carry form into.

How do you keep a work life balance? My cycling time is also my socialising time so that helps to kill 2 birds with 1 stone. It also helps that I have no dependents! (eg. Animals or children) and we are happy to eat leftovers all week!

Where is your favourite cafe for a #healthycatchups? My local is Red Brick, but 80/20 is popular after bunches and does an awesome smoothie if you have to get back out for extras!

What is your coffee order? Strong flat white (none of this skim/soy/almond/coconut business!).

What have you learnt? Things I’ve learnt over the past couple of years – 1. Think about your weakness and work on them. With enough practice, they won’t be your weaknesses for long. 2. Race when you can, it’s the best way to learn race craft and test yourself. 3. If you need a break from training on the road, get on the dirt, it’s the best way to refresh, hone skills and build strength.

All the best to Lucy for the 2017 NRS season and for trying to survive winter in Canberra

Follow Lucy on Instagram

Introducing the Specialized Women's Racing Team

Check out the stunning gallery below taken of our Specialized Women's Racing Team by Paul Spurling

Stay tuned for an in-depth view on each of the team members coming in over the next few weeks, as we go behind the scenes of what a typical week looks like for a professional female cyclist.  Until then, grab a coffee and enjoy a taste of what is to come. 

Team Roster: Verita Stewart, Kate Perry, Lucy Betchel, Ella Door, Tayrn Heather, Sophie Mackay, Kate McIlroy, Madeline Writght. Supported by Liz Phillipou, Rebecca Domange and Zeke Ashworth


Behind the Scenes at the Santos Women's Tour Down Under

Specialized Women’s Racing is a domestic National Road Series Cycling Team. In January 2017 we were invited as a wild card entry to the UCI Santos Women’s Tour in Adelaide, South Australia. We were to be racing amongst 5 other domestic teams and 12 professional UCI cycling teams. What an invitation; we would be racing alongside the best cyclists in the world, including many of our idols!  

Our journey started months ago, when the majority of our team started training for the Australian Summer of Cycling, which was kicked off by the Bay Criterium Series and the National Road Championships. A lot of sacrifices, blood, sweat and tears have been jammed into our hectic work, family and social lives over the Christmas and New Year period. While most people use this time at the end of the year to relax and unwind, we were spending long days on the saddle and keeping disciplined at our end of year functions. Knowing that in the new year you are going to be on the start line against the world’s best cyclists is a pretty good motivation for us to keep focused on our training.   

The journey to Adelaide is quite the trek. We have 6 riders, their bikes and equipment to coordinate from interstate and overseas. In addition to our riders, we travel with three staff members including our Directeur Sportif (DS) Bec, Chris (soigneur, sponsor, logistics and general team legend), our mechanic Zeke and for this Tour we also had Liz, our Team Manager.  

As you can imagine, the logistics of getting a team and staff to this kind of race is nothing short of impressive and even more impressive - the majority of the logistical planning and execution is done by Bec.

So let me introduce our DS, Bec. Whilst we, the riders, are all very self sufficient on tour, Bec is the one that makes sure that we are ready to do our job, which is to race our bikes. Her job involves pretty much everything and anything.

A team Director Sportif (DS) has the role of managing a cycling team during a race: They work out and communicate the race day tactics, drive the team car during the race in the convoy, they plan the team strategies and make all the decisions throughout the race in order to execute the team plan. This is stressful enough, but in our case, Bec does more than just direct the team, she does pretty much does everything for us. Bec is one of the most important members of our team, as without her we are just a bunch of lost individual cyclists.  

The life of a DS is truly hectic. There is a lot of planning and coordination that goes into getting riders, staff and equipment to a race, she streamlines it all. When we are on tour, I don’t think she ever stops. She is always doing something.  

Bec is the team, in many ways she makes us. She plans our tour schedule to the minute. She goes to the managers meetings and relays us all the details. She picks us up off the ground after a hard race, sometimes literally. She high fives us after success. She waits at the laundromat until late at night, so that we can have clean kit in the morning. She always has a pen when we need one. She lugs kilograms of ice around to race starts so that we can have cold drinks. She packs the car, then unpacks it, then packs it again. She tells us what to do and what not to do. She picks us up and drops us off and then rides her bike back to the start in 45 degree heat. She makes sure that we are on time. While we are relaxing, she is studying race routes, organising logistics, planning the next stage. She waits at the hospital with us when we crash. She gives us words of wisdom, a shoulder to cry on and gives us confidence. She goes to the supermarket when we forget things that were on the list.

She does all this so all we have to do is ride our bikes, I think her job is much harder! The DS is definitely a unsung hero of bike racing.

I want to say that racing Santos Women’s Tour was easy, but it wasn’t. The racing was fast, tough and the temperatures were hot. The peloton was not only physically, but mentally tough and we got through. The spectators cheered the loudest we’ve heard, and we were exposed to some of the most challenging races. With the support of our team staff, and our DS we stepped up to the challenge and embraced the opportunity to race with the world's best.

For spectators watching us race, it is easy to think that we have the toughest job, but it’s our wonderful support staff who get us to the start line and give us the best opportunity to achieve our best.

Thank-you for giving us the opportunity to race our bikes and achieve our dreams.

Interesting stats for you:

101 riders in total

17 teams

10 UCI international teams

7 domestic NRS teams

6 team riders

3 team staff

2 team vehicles

2 hire cars

1 tub chamois cream

9 gels

24 bidons to wash every night

50kg of ice

12 loads of washing

16 cans of coke

$400 worth of food

72 at least coffees

2 jars of peanut butter

54 bananas

270km of racing kilometers

40.5 km/hr average speed of racing

Author: Verita Stewart; Specialized Women's Racing team member, Strava Influencer and instagram follower @lowercasev. You can also follow the Specialized Women's Racing team on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.

Rider Essentials

Nothing is more exciting than #newbikeday but if it’s the first one in the collection – it’ll be an inauguration of a few other essential accessories as well.

Once the new bike is all ready to go and you’re set for all your adventures in tow there’s going to be a few items you’ll need to support your ride.

Let’s keep it to the bare necessities to keep the wheels spinning if there’s a slight mishap. There will be plenty of other bits and bobs you'll want to buy later on, once you become addicted to cycling!


Getting dressed to the nine in my: Helmet, shoes, bib-shorts, jersey, gloves, socks, sunglasses (and don’t forget sunscreen).

Then stocking up the jersey pockets with: Bank cards, my ID, some cash and (depending on the ride) maybe some ride food and last but not least; my phone that has a life proof case - because it can get sweaty in there (and its waterproof). The budget edition of the life-proof phone case is a glad-wrap baggie.  


On my bike: Lights (super important for safety in the dark – being seen is just as important as seeing – so make sure they’re bright). I have Cycliq Fly6 & Fly12 rear and front lights as they integrate cameras into the lights, capturing my good times (and my not so-good times just in case). I also always have my survival kit – which is either a Keg Storage Vessel or a Saddle Bag (for tools and spares) and a drink bottle to keep hydrated.

In the keg / saddle bag: Spare tube, patches, tire levers, 2x CO2 Canister, multi-tool, CO2 inflator. I will also usually put my keys in here too!

Then there’s the winter essentials: Toe warmers or shoe covers, gilet (for the windier days), cycling jacket (my jacket’s sleeves zip off and become a gilet-super handy 2-in-1), long-fingered gloves, long bib-shorts (thermal ones if it’s really cold!) and arm warmers.

These are the key items that support my ride and to make sure when the worst happens, I’m still having the best time I can on two wheels. All of these items are available at your local Specialized Retailer, find your closest store here.

By Sheyleigh Walsh

Sheyleigh is a Specialized Women's Ambassador based in Sydney. She has an amazing story of how riding changed her life, you should check it out here. Shey runs awesome women's rides in Sydney and also writes for Ella Cycling Tips. Follow Shey on Instagram @Sheyleigh

The Best Thing You Can Do... for your bike!

You’ve purchased all the gear, set yourself a goal, you’ve texted your friends to confirm the meeting spot, only to start riding your bike to find it ‘squeaking’!

How many times have you ridden through rain, sleet, wind, dirt, and road works or along the beaches, where salt grips to your bike like you hold your first coffee for the day. You finish your ride, congratulating oneself in the shower and you go about your day, all while your bike sits there disgusting, dripping from the weather, with a sweat crust building up, wreaking havoc on your bike.

There’s only one solution: Clean your damn bike! Having a clean bike, especially a lubed chain is additional free speed and your ride buddies will be grateful there is no squeaking to ruin the serenity.

Below is a super-simplified checklist, it literally take’s five minutes. Go, on. Your bike will thank you later.


•   Wheels and Tires: Give them a spin. Make sure they’re on securely, and are “true,” meaning they rotate without any side-to-side wobble. Confirm that the quick-release skewers are tightened and that your tyres are still in good condition (look for little bits of glass that may be working their way through the tyre and towards the tube - get them out!).

•   Brakes: Check that they’re not rubbing against the wheels. Squeeze the front and rear levers separately to ensure the brake pads apply enough pressure to the rims to stop each wheel.

•   Headset: This is the cylindrical set of parts between the handlebars and the fork that ensures smooth steering. Try to jiggle it. Your headset shouldn’t be too loose or too tight.

•   Shifting: Run through your gears. Your rear derailleur should move your chain smoothly through your cassette. The same applies to your front derailleur and chain rings. If not, or it is making a noise it could time to book your bike in for a service with your local bike shop.


It’s a good idea to wipe your bike down—including the chain—and go through the same pre-check that you did before your ride.

•   Checkpoints: Refer to Pre-Ride list above.

•   Frame: Clean it with a wet rag or baby wipes. This is a great way to become more familiar with your bike and how it works.

•   Chain: Using a clean rag, wipe away all grit and grime and then re-lubricate it (you can buy a small bottle of chain lube from you local bike store), trying to hit each link on the chain at least once. Let it sit for a couple of minutes and then wipe off the excess. Then shift through all your gears.


Clean and re-lube your chain. It’s the one thing that will make the biggest difference to your ride, not only to the longevity of the components but also to your rides.


If all of this sounds like I'm speaking Spanish, head into your local Specialized Retailer who will be able to help you out and show you some tips and tricks!

By Matilda Raynolds

Matilda is the Communications Specialist at Specialized Australia and consistently smashes the boys on the lunch ride! Follow Matilda @matildaraynolds


The Basic Do's and Don'ts of Cycling

The Basic Do's and Don'ts of Cycling

How many times have you sat down for a post ride coffee where conversation turns to dos and don’ts of cycling? There are so many unofficial “rules” that cyclists live by that it is hard to keep up. Whether you are a seasoned cyclist or just starting out, it’s always good to brush up, choose to follow the rules… or break them… it’s up to you!