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Sportive Rider Profiles - Jackie Brennan

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Jackie is British Cycling Recreation Manager for the North West and is a recent convert to the sportive scene. However, she chose a true monument on the European calendar for her first event - no less than the Tour of Flanders sportive! Kudos to Jackie for that. After tackling the vertiginous cobbles of Flanders it's not surprising that Jackie's gearing of choice involves the word 'granny' and her favoured fuel is waffles! (I'm a frites and mayo man personally. Ed)


Name: Jackie Brennan

Gender: Female

Age: 46

Height: 5’3”

Weight: enough!!

Bottom Gear: no idea but I use a triple chain ring

Current bike: Trek 560 road bike – it’s racing green colour and pretty old – my gear changing levers are on the down tube!

What do you take with you on a ride? My camel back hydration system, I’m still a mountain biker at heart and I think it makes you drink more. Pump/inner tubes/puncture repair kit/multi-tool/appropriate spare layers for the weather including a waterproof/real food like bananas and malt loaf and a couple of emergency energy gels (yuk!)/money/mobile phone/small first aid kit.

Why do you ride sportives? I did my first 2 last year – I did the Tour of Flanders to ‘bond with my new colleagues’ and did the Manchester 100 as part of Team Glow an all women’s group with the aim of getting 100 women to take part and raise at least £100 each for the Christie in the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day.

What was your last sportive? The Manchester-Manchester 100 miles on 2nd September 2011

What’s your favourite event and why? The Tour of Flanders (100 miles) - the day we did it the weather was glorious, it’s a unique event with a great tradition, the cobbles are challenging but you feel a great sense of achievement as you tick them off, the crowds are brilliant and the feed stations give you free waffles. Then you get to watch the pro riders do the race the next day.

What’s the longest sportive you’ve done? 100 miles

What’s your most memorable sportive moment? Climbing the Muur-Kapelmuur - I could hear lots of support for me as a woman cycling up such a famous hill and being surrounded by men (it’s quite a male dominated event) – I literally felt like I was being lifted up the hill by an angel and it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. It was a definite ‘pump of the fist moment when I got to the top’. Before the event that was the climb that was concerning me the most.

What’s your worst sportive moment? Same event on the Bosberg – the last climb of the day, about 20 metres from the top a man got off his bike right in front of me, I had to swerve suddenly to avoid him which put me right on the barriers and I had to fight hard to stay on the bike and keep climbing – my language was pretty colourful!

When was the last time you walked up a hill? The Koppenberg in the Tour of Flanders – we were queuing for 10 minutes to climb it. It’s very narrow so it was very crowded, with overhanging trees also making the cobbles pretty slippery so most people were soon off their bikes and walking, including me. Some very strong climbers managed to stay on their bikes but it required a fair amount of shouting and elbowing.

What’s the funniest thing that’s happened to you (or you’ve seen) on a sportive? Large men in white lycra

How much training do you do before an event? I started training hard from December onwards mainly just gradually increasing the mileage and getting in 2 x 80 mile rides before the event. I also tried to find some steep hills to climb, including tracking down a cobbled climb.

What’s your top sportive riding tip? The harder you can train beforehand the more you will enjoy it on the day and keep drinking fluids and taking on carbohydrates little and often during the ride.

Favourite feed station fodder? Waffles


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