Thursday 23 May 2019

52 Cycling Voices - 23: Yewande Adesida

I first met Yewande at the London Nocturne about two years ago when she took part in the fixed gear race. She was riding for Velociposse at the time, and was enjoying her new adventure in cycle racing. Yewande has really made progress in her short time in cycle racing - taking a bronze medal at the sprint race at the British Universities and College Sports (BUCS)  track championships, competing in the National Track Cycling Championships. In between all that, she even found time to do some modelling for some big-name cycling brands after a recommendation from Ayesha McGowan, bike racer from across the pond.

Yewande Adesida, aged 25

From: London

Occupation: PhD Student at Imperial College, London

(Photo by SRAM)

I got into cycling properly when I stopped rowing about three years ago and then I thought about which sport to get into.  

I had been a rower for about six years and gone as far as I could, so wanted to find a sport that I was better suited to. 

I chose cycling. It wasn't completely new to me as it was part of my cross training when I was rowing, so I had done bits of it here and there.

I always knew I wanted to do track cycling so I worked on getting my accreditation at Herne Hill and the Lee Valley velodrome.  

There wasn't anyone in particular who inspired me to do more serious cycling. I always just knew that I wanted to compete and race so it was just about me getting to that point where I could do that. 

I took my time about which club to join. Then me and a friend heard about a women's racing team called Velociposse, which was looking for riders, so joined that one. They were very friendly and wanted to encourage more women into cycling. My team mate Eeva Sarlin was quite enthusiastic and encouraged me to have a go at fixed-gear racing. 

At the London Nocturne in 2017
The 2017 London Nocturne was my first crit race on a fixed-gear bike. I was a bit scared as there were a lot of sharp turns. 

I got dropped, but then I did what I could to try and get ahead of the group I was with. The race was interrupted due to crash and I also ended up hitting the barriers. I was okay, and am still really glad I did it, as the support from the other racers was great.

I raced for Velociposse until November last year, then joined a team called SES Racing, a mixed team that focuses on track sprinting and being competitive.

With them I went to the National Track Championships in Manchester at the start of this year, doing the sprint race and the keirin. Competing at the National Velodrome in Manchester for the first time was a really good experience and I really enjoyed it. It was also really tiring. I had never raced a keirin indoors before so it was nice to do well in that event and work on that for next year. All round I had a really good experience.

I finished 10th overall in the Keirin. I was not expecting that at all, as I had raced four times, when normally I would only race twice, so it was really good.

I had done the individual sprint, which I normally do. I’ve raced that in competitions before, and I equalled my personal best in the flying 200m and came 13th overall and was able to qualify for the match sprinting, even though I knew that that would be a tough.

I was probably a lot more nervous for the sprint because I had expectations for how I wanted to do, but I was less nervous for the Keirin because I was going into it to learn and have fun.

Yewande does some road racing too
I had been pretty nervous about racing at the Nationals with the top riders, but the people with me from my new club were really supportive, and really helpful. I don’t think I was as freaked out by the whole situation as I would have been this time last year. I have been working on my confidence, and my thoughts going into races in the past couple of months, and that has definitely helped.

I saw a sports psychologist that was available to me through university so I would go for a session every few weeks and it’s been really helpful so far.

My goals this year are to focus on sprinting and see what happens. The BUCS is my main target but I'm hoping to do well at the National Sprinters League too over the next few months. 

Before, I had been doing endurance races, but now I’m going to stick to sprint events. I will probably race on the road, but not as much as last year.

My season so far has been pretty quiet compared to last year because I've only been doing sprint events and I also had a hip injury. It was actually quite good to have a break from racing and focus on the rehabilitation stuff, but I'm back to full training now, which is good.

Things are quite busy these days because I juggle my cycle racing and training with coaching, as well as studying for a PhD in wearable technology in rowing. 

Living in West London means it takes a while to travel across London with my track bike to get to the Lee Valley Velopark in Stratford, but I am very motivated.

My most memorable day on a bike was probably last July when I won my first crit last year at a Full Gas summer series crit on the road circuit at Lee Valley. 

I had been racing for over a year and the closest I had come to winning was getting second place in a crit. The previous month I did a race at Cyclopark, Gravesend, and had been about to win it, but then I crashed and ended up in a ditch. So winning the Full Gas crit was a great feeling. 

When cycling, I never go out without Jelly Babies. I really like them. I think they’re not too sugary - or at least they don’t taste too sugary - so they are quite easy to like, and being quite soft they are easy to eat.

I think the British Cycling #OneInAMillion campaign is a good way of trying to increase the numbers of women doing cycling because it’s a great confidence booster and also a way to keep fit, and explore cycling. I definitely see the benefits of the campaign. If more people can experience cycling then it’s great.

Yewande (second row, right) with some women of colour who cycle
I think the Women of Colour cycling group set up by Jools Walker and Jenni Gwiadowski has been quite encouraging so far, too. At the first meet-up I’d never seen so many women of colour before, so it was nice to know that they existed. 

I think it sends out a really good message that there are other women of colour in the sport, and women of colour should not be afraid of getting into cycling because it shows that we exist. The group creates a positive environment for people to grow in the sport.

I have hardly seen other women like me doing cycle racing, and often I am the only woman of colour at a race. It was similar with rowing too. I used to feel uncomfortable about it, but I don't think about it so much now. Hopefully there will be more women of colour racing.

Getting to model for SRAM and Rapha was a real shock, but a pleasant one - especially with SRAM as I didn't expect to be featured. It was great to be involved with both campaigns and work with talented and enthusiastic people, and most importantly be a part of creating more representation in the bike industry - there have been lots of positive responses. 
Modelling for Rapha (Photo by Rapha)
It's hard to feel a part of a sport when you don't see people that look like you on a start line, in social media or in advertising, so to work with brands that are working to change this was such a great opportunity.

I would encourage more women to get into cycling because it’s great for boosting your confidence, learning a new skill, meeting different people, and getting to explore different places that you might not have gone to otherwise. And you get to eat lots of cake!


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