Motivation – Age is just a number – MJ’s story

Motivation in practice

As a member of a number of cycling related Facebook groups, I have come across many other cycling women both virtually, and also on the road. It’s really interesting to see the success of some, but also the lack of confidence expressed by others. Why do so many of us lose our confidence as we get older?

This motivation series will include some inspirational stories, achievements and tips to build confidence.

To put it all in perspective I’d like to share MJ’s story. She is the perfect example of a cycling lover, who wanted to do more, but struggled in confidence over her ability at this time of life.


MaryJane’s story (Part 1)

MaryJane (MJ) is a rider that I’ve come across on a number of groups, but also on a few Audaxes that I have ridden. She’s been a ‘full value’ rider like myself and is in her 50’s. She has given me permission to share her story in the hope that it helps others who start to wonder whether they have got what it takes when it comes to cycling. Her thoughts and concerns though are just as relevant to any other sport as we start to get older.

Last year MJ had a bit of a wobble in confidence, and she expressed this wobble on one of our groups in June as follows……

‘Is it age, or what? I’m starting to have proper time issues ladies. Last year I was so much faster than this year. I cycled LEL (London-Edinburgh-London) and was in time when I had to bail at 867km due to lack of sleep. But, this year I wanted to get an SR. Even my 200 rides Im right on the cut off time, my 300 (the Moss Trooper) I was back just with 10 minutes in hand…. I can’t seem to get my speed up, I’m just at pootle effort the whole time. I’m 55 years old. Husband says its my age…. I have no friends who ride distance events, so no one to ask. I cant get out more than I do, but I’m currently cycling 6-8 Audax DIY’s per month all hilly. My home DIY 200’s are worth 3 AAA’s but I still am at least 2 hours slower doing them than I was last summer. I cant work out why! Ive had to bail my SR rides for the rest of this year cos I know I’ll never get round them in time.’

I also started having similar doubts last year, although my way forward has been slightly different.


Audax Lingo…..

LEL – London Edinburgh London – 1400 km up then down the country, in a max time of 116 hours (yes in one go)

SR – A series of increasingly longer rides until you have a full set, all completed in an Audax year. Distances are 200km, 300km, 400km, 600km.

DIY – a route that follows Audax principles that you design and ride yourself. It has to be submitted in advance of you riding

AAA – Altitude awards that give a rider points depending on the hilliness of the ride.


The group that MJ posted her frustrations out on was a women’s facebook group for hopeful Paris-Brest-Paris 2019 women riders. Of course, none were going to just let her give up, and many suggestions followed, challenging her assumptions.

A few months later she sent us an update…..

‘Huge love to you ladies, a while back, I was thinking of chucking in Audax, lots of ‘your too old love’ comments from nearest and dearest (non cyclists) and friends, plus my own DR – not a health problem, he just doesn’t believe what I do on a bike. (distance stuff).

Soooo feeling a bit deflated I mentioned it on here and so very pleased I did….. I bought that book ‘Fast over 50’ as recommended on here. I got my metabolic rate checked (17% below normal!), had all my bloods done – normal as a normal thing. Had my VO2 done professionally on a static bike wearing something on my face like in Star Wars! I was on the Superb side for my age I had a VO2 of 42, the same as a 20 something person, so the engine was firing.

Then I joined a gym. I’ve gone to Watt bike sessions twice a week since Oct, & got hold of a personal trainer for cycling. I work with him every weekend and in between. I found out about the Mifflin formula so I can sort out my daily calorie needs and found out that while off the bike I need a ratio of 40% CHO, 30% Fat and 30% Protein which goes up to 60% CHO, 20% fat and 20% protein (calorie counted when off bike, but I ignore then when training or on the bike).

Anyway the gist of this fanfare is that I’ve lost 20 pounds or 12 Kgs, gone from a large 14 to a large 10 in dress size, feel fantastic, and knocked off a full hour of my recent hilly 100km training route. I’M BACK ON MY AUDAX dream. Thank you all for telling me that age is just a number, and that us girls can achieve big dreams from two wheels, regardless of being 56 years plus old or not! I am so very grateful for everyones responses. I just thought you should all know. Wishing everyone luck for their PBP dream. I’m sticking to the UK this year, but I have entered the 1000km that Andy Corless is running from Blackpool to Fort William and back. Looking forward to reading about everyones successful season. Love and hugs Maryjane :)’


To any woman that has joined a running group, or Weight Watchers or even a niche social media group, you will know that whatever your struggles, your peers can and will encourage and support you. If you join with the right groups, they will always lift you up and can help to motivate you through and beyond your struggles.

Sometimes these groups might not be people you have ever met, but kindred spirits sharing the same passions.

MJ’s story here shows that age is no barrier to ambition, it really is all in our mind.

We can learn to accept what we are right now, or chose to improve our ability, performance and health with the tools that we have around us. The all adage of 20% perspiration 80% determination is very true – MJ is proof of this.

You will hear more from MJ in the next post, but while you are waiting, have a think about what you really want to achieve. Have you been letting others influence you in determining what you are capable of?

What do you really want to do? Start building that bucket list.

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