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Kajsa Tylen Record Attempt Update

Kajsa Tylen is nearly 3 months into her attempt to cycle more miles in one year than anybody else. Our deputy editor, Helen Harris, recently caught up with her on a ride.

On Sunday 21st February my local cycling group, the Yaxley Riders, held their annual Reliability Ride. This year we had the honour and privilege to have Kajsa Tylen join us on the medium route of 50 miles. She brought fellow cycling record chaser Steve Abraham along for the ride.

Kajsa was on the day, almost two months in to her challenge to ride a record breaking number of miles in a year to beat the record set by Billie Flemming in 1938, a whopping 29,603 miles! Over 4,400 miles in, I caught up with Kajsa after the reliability ride to find out how she’s finding the challenge so far.

image copyright of Kajsa Tylen

PEDALNORTH: So you’ve done a huge amount of cycling so far. Are you on target, or ahead of schedule? 

KAJSA: It depends which target you mean! Because there are a few I have set myself: there’s the mileage that Billie did by this point, which I’m ahead of; then there’s the average mileage to get the Guinness World Record, I think I’m just about on target for that; and then there’s my own target to ride 100 miles a day that I’m under. So I guess I’m either above, at or under depending on which one you want go on!

PEDALNORTH: I think we can focus on the ones where you’re succeeding. You’ve been cycling every day since 1st January, 52 days so far. How do you feel it’s going? Have you come across anything you weren’t expecting?

KAJSA: Well my legs hurt, not just from muscle soreness but more from overuse. I guess I was expecting my legs to have got used to the effort by now. It’s taking a lot longer to heal and recover than I was hoping it would. Hills and headwinds are quite tough.

PEDALNORTH: And the winds have been brutal this year haven’t they?

KAJSA: They have! And it’s difficult because obviously flatter routes are better, but flatter is also more exposed to the wind. So which evil do you choose? Hills or headwind? You have to choose one and it’s quite a difficult balance. Everyone is telling me it’s going to get easier as the weather gets warmer!

PEDALNORTH: In respect of the fatigue in your legs, with you cycling every day how are you managing your recovery? Are you doing some rides at a slower pace deliberately on days where your legs need that rest?

KAJSA: I’m trying to, but if I’m riding in to a headwind I have to push through it. If I go at a recovery pace in those conditions I’d come to a stop, it’s the same with up hill climbs. And sometimes you’re dealing with your own frustrations because you want to get up the hill faster, you want to feel like you’re cycling but uphill it’s just so slow, you don’t feel like you’re doing well and that gets frustrating. It’s kind of a battle between your mental health and your physical health; you know what you should be doing for your body but your mind needs you to be doing more miles or go slightly faster because otherwise it just drives you crazy. It’s really hard.

PEDALNORTH: Have you had company every day you’ve been riding?

KAJSA: No, not every day. I think I really need to find out the actual figure, but I’d say more often than not I’ve had someone cycling with me for at least some of the ride but not necessarily all of it, but its nice. I’ve had Steve [Abraham] out with me today, he cycled all the way from Milton Keynes, it’s really nice how many people have been supporting me. It’s a little bit strange though because I’m only just getting used to being recognised, you see people doing a double-take, especially if you’re with Steve Abraham as well! Yesterday, I had somebody who recognised me as they cycled by and then joined me. He didn’t introduce himself so I had to ask him who he was and what he was doing there (apart from cycling that is). So if anybody does come across me mid-ride, please introduce yourself!

PEDALNORTH: When we announced to Yaxley Riders that both you and Steve were coming there was a lot of excitement about that, they were very happy to see that you’d be joining us.

KAJSA: It’s good for me too because I needed a change of scenery. I cycled down here [to Warmington] and it was really hilly, I don’t know how fast I was going on average, it felt very slow but it was just nice to be riding somewhere different because I’ve been just in Nottingham where I live for quite a while.

PEDALNORTH: Has that been more because of the weather so you’ve been closer to home comforts?

KAJSA: No, mum's having some treatment at the hospital at the moment and she needs to be home Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays so that means we can go away at weekends but mum has to be back in Nottingham in the week. That’s only until the middle to end of March, after that we’ll be going further afield. I’m fine doing the local routes, because every day just is what it is but it’s nice to come away and see something else. And this has been really lovely; the route that we did today was really nice.

PEDALNORTH: Did you see any of the kites flying whilst you were out cycling?

KAJSA: I did! Steve was educating me! I think I need to go on a bird spotting course so I can recognise all the birds I see when I’m out. The people I’m with are always pointing buzzards and such like and I have no clue!

PEDALNORTH: How are you managing getting enough fuel in whilst you ride?

KAJSA: I’m not actually eating lots on the bike because I’m not riding at a high intensity pace. I’ll have a breakfast of homemade granola before I set off but the snacks I have with me are usually some sticky rice cakes that my mum makes, crisps, which I seem to really enjoy, maybe because of the salt, and some dried fruit. I’m not finding I need to take to much in the way of snacks because I stop for lunch break to eat the pack up my mum’s prepared for me and take in some more fluids. I do need to increase my protein intake after rides, but I’m struggling to do this as I’m also trying not to rely on meat too much. It’s another balance I need to find.

PEDALNORTH: We’ve already mentioned the weather conditions, but when it’s blowing a hoolie outside, how do you motivate yourself to get out there?

KAJSA: How does anyone motivate themselves to do their job each day? I have to approach this challenge like it’s a job, of course it helps that I enjoy it too so it doesn’t feel like a chore. I think there have only been two days so far where I haven’t felt like getting on the bike which isn’t bad going!

PEDALNORTH: How do you plan the routes you’re going to do each day? Do you plan the night before or a few days in advance?

KAJSA: I tend to plan my routes daily and my main consideration is wind direction. I’ll always try to plan a route so I’m in to the wind on the outward part of the ride so I hopefully have a tail wind on the return. For me, the flatter the terrain the better, which means I can’t stray too far to the north-east of Nottingham; the Peak District is that way!

PEDALNORTH: You’ve mentioned your legs are sore from all the riding. Do you have a physio routine you do after a ride to alleviate that?

KAJSA: I know I should do more than I do. I don’t have enough time for a full exercise regime, but I have been stretching more since having the leg pains. I do have massages, and they help for the next day’s riding but not much longer and whilst I try to do some self-massage it’s never as effective. I do have a physio who has given me some good stretches to do which are basically trying to reverse the position I ride in during the day. What would be lovely is to have a massage every day, but I don’t have access to that all the time, nor the people to do it!

PEDALNORTH: So how are you hoping the next few months will go?

KAJSA: I’m hoping that as the evenings get lighter I will be able to extend my riding time and increase my mileage. With longer days I’ll more than likely get three rides in, one after breakfast, one after lunch and a final ride after dinner. That should really help keep me on track for the record.

PEDALNORTH: Thank you so much for your time today Kajsa, it’s been a pleasure to talk with you, I hope continue your challenge with the same success you’ve had so far!

I left Kajsa mulling over route options and wind direction for the following day with Steve and one of the local boys, Matt and a distinct impression of the enormity of the challenge still to complete. A challenge that she is, thus far making look easy! I hope to catch up with Kajsa again later in the year, but next time on my bike!