We are at the final Spotlight for Season 2 and it is with the fantastic Mugs Gohl. She gives such amazing insight into balancing everything involved with family, work and cycling. A huge thank you to everyone who has read and contacted us about Season 2- Season 3 will happen later in the year- please let us know who you’d like to hear from!
Name: Mugs Gohl @Mugs_gohl
Teams you ride for or clubs you are part of:
I race for Unknown Rider Development Team (URDT) though also socialise with my local supportive club Lewes Wanderers.
How did you get started in cycling and when?
The textbook intro of being a runner that was fed up with constant injuries so tried a few rides on my husband’s bike and the addiction built from there through the odd sportive and then making some local alliances through Strava and Instagram.
Favourite places to ride? Any particular segments or roads/climbs/descents?
Despite being a roadrider as my main sport, get me on my Cx bike on the top of The Downs and suddenly road riding pales into insignificance. Its just so beautiful and good for the soul up there. But on the road, my favourite lane is Chilling Street near Horsted Keynes for sure. Please keep it a local secret.
You have been chosen for Spotlight because you balance a busy and exciting family life and riding at a high standard- as well as everything else in between. How do you approach finding that balance? Has it been something that has evolved over time?
So, to set the scene: I work full time, have a husband that travels abroad a lot as well as him suffering from Lyme Disease so having to adapt to his changing health at unexpected moments. So, rather than ‘evolve’ I’d say I’ve had to some learn through some harsh lessons that I can’t have it all. I didn’t manage the balance in 2019 and got over-training syndrome. Starting with a painful mouth ulcer that took 2mths to heal as well as the classic lack of power on the bike no matter how hard I pushed. After a lot of head scratching and numerous visits to the Doctors it took an informal chat with a family friend thats also a GP to diagnose it and then suddenly it all made sense. It was not really over-training but the lack of recovery that was the real issue with hindsight. I now accept that if I can’t fit a session in, its fine to just miss it altogether and not to be too focused on the numbers. Before I’d be shoehorning rides in where I could, taking my turbo to the tennis court whilst my kids had their lesson so I could watch and train simultaneously or only getting on the turbo at 9pm at night once the kids were in bed as examples. That sort of lifestyle isn’t tenable, as I learnt. I still struggle with recovery though and just have to be mindful of my warning signs. I know that stress in my job can have a real tangible impact on my ability to recover, and that isn’t always easy to balance when the bike is also the biggest stress relief tool I have. I don’t want my drive for sporting fulfilment to be at the detriment of my ability to be a good parent, I’m only an amateur, racing some local crits afterall but as the standard of women’s racing has made huge leaps in the past 18mths, that’s extra pressure to train hard!
Do you ride to any sort of schedule or plan?
I’m coached by Paul Pickup http://www.pickupsportscoaching.co.uk/ and we’ve worked together now for 18mths and sought to strike the right balance after my difficult 2019. I dropped to only having scheduled rides in 3x a week rather than the previous 4x and a better mix of intensity with lots of holistic check-ins rather than constant conversations about watts. Where I am so busy, being coached means I have one less thing to think about. I simply check my Training Peaks schedule and do as I’m told. Allowing someone else to do the analysis and work out whats best for me to help me achieve my season aims. I get that that is not everyone’s cup of tea but it’s one of my necessities for fitting it all in.
With both you and Mr Gohl riding and racing, how do you share the time to ride and race?
I guess when you know first hand the fulfilment you can take from riding around our beautiful county as well as the endorphin hit from a tough session, there is no resentment of seeing my husband heading off for a ride. So long as we also find time to be as family too, there’s never an issue. Its been tough through lockdown as we haven’t ridden together as a couple since February because of the lack of childcare. Though I can’t pretend he’s always fun to ride with, he’s quite hard on me but I think its good to be pushed sometimes. We’ve been known to tag team at races, fortunately for me the Men’s Races usually follow the Women’s so I’m the one that benefits from warming up without having to look after the kids at the same time. That’s not fun when you’re trying to get into the zone.
What are some of the best rides you did last season/year? Whether that be performance, enjoyment or anything else:
2019 was pretty much a write off for what I was trying to achieve, I couldn’t do any of the early season crits like Preston Park and Hove Park as none of them were open to Cat 2s, and then the OTS struck just as Goodwood was getting going. But Goodwood will always have my heart. There is something pretty special about the atmosphere and camaraderie there that I haven’t seen emulated anywhere else as successfully.
Did you achieve the goals you set out with?
My goal was always to retain my Cat 2 but because of all the issues explained above I didn’t race enough to gain enough points, only managing two Goodwoods all year. I wasn’t overly disappointed to be downgraded though. I’m never going to make a Cat 1 so may as well have fun trying to get back my Cat 2 and I just had a play at the Sussex League Cx races instead later in the season.
With lockdown coming so soon into the year, how has that changed your current season?
Well, its given me a lot more time to train my base as I’m sure it has for everyone. And now we’re starting back with the higher end efforts I feel like a jack in a box all tightly coiled and ready to spring having been held back for so long. Though I’m also aware that thats the same for everyone that races so it’s not exactly any advantage. I do think its been a lovely excuse to ride for nothing but the love and enjoyment of the sport. Its not been about the coffee stops, or the social or even the numbers. Just simply riding a bike and taking the time to explore and enjoy the view is a blessing for sure. Its too often boom or bust in cycling and fulfilment should never be measured solely by your BC points tally.
How have you adapted your riding, training and family life during lockdown?
Well, my biggest sucess story of this lockdown has been our children and their enjoyment of riding and I’ve heard this repeated by so many families and we have all seen the increase of riders on the road as well as youngsters and that makes for a healthy future for the cycling industry and our healthcare system. We’ve just bought our 8yr old a road bike that we can also shove some cx tyres on and my 9yr old daughter has a newly uncovered, courageous MTB edge that has been really amazing to enjoy with them. For Dan and I though – We’ve have never had the ability to train so consistently as theres been so much less to fit in. That’s been pretty cool.
Who are other riders who inspire you, whether pro, local or anyone else:
Thats easy – my favourite cycling buddy Lotte @filoua. She is the first to doubt her ability and strength but ride alongside her on the road and there’s hardly anyone that can match her speed on a climb or the flat. So riding with her is never easy but always inspires me to work harder and desperately hold her wheel. I just wish she believed in her own ability and she’d be unbeatable on the racecourse.
What are your plans for riding and training post lockdown?
I think this year will be all about the Cx season for me (if it happens). It so much fun and again, there is always such a great atmosphere for the whole family. Expect my son will give it a go too now he has his new wheels.
Tell us more about racing with URDT:
We’re in the first true year of building a local women’s race team with the men’s side having been established for a few years. We have some exciting new talent that’s just joined and as a group of women right now, its about the mix of strengths and weakness we have as a collective. Supporting each other to achieve our aims and really owning that ‘Development’ side of our name by helping each other to improve on the race track rather than just social Sunday rides. The team and the banter between us is truly what it’s all about and has been an important part of coping with the isolation of lockdown. I can’t deny there has been some Strava segment trading between us through the past few months to keep the competition alive. We get a lot of comments about our distinctive kit too #doitincamo. You can certainly spot us on the track.
How do you go about choosing new goals for the next season/year?
I always add in my own personal objectives as well as on the race course, I have my Ditchling Beacon time which will never be off my agenda. I’m a bit of a stickler for focusing on my strengths (<1min power) rather than training my weakness (FTP) and so my coach has tailored my training so I don’t end up hating the bike by working on sweet spot efforts and pushing/pulling efforts which I enjoy more.
If you know them, and want to share them, what are your goals for the next year or season?
I guess I really do need to get my Cat 2 back but that will be alongside the building of the women’s team and ensuring everyone can achieve their goals, not just me.
Any plans for rides/events or races?
Cross is coming…..
Trek Emonda SL6.
If my house was burning down, I’d save my Reynolds Wheels first.
Kit you can’t leave home without:
Constantly on the hunt for an aero disc – brake bike but it has to be the deal of the century for me to change as my current set up is just fine. Unless someone would like to treat me to a Scott Foil?
Nutrition and fuelling whilst riding:
SIS Gels and Nature Valley cereal bars.
Quick fire round
Favourite pro and why:
Mikel Landa. Feel like he always gives it a go and if he just had a good team behind him he’d be capable of so much more. Plus – great eyebrows.
Best bike shop and why:
Tough one between In-Gear (Forest Row) and Trainsharp (near Ringmer). Too many allegiances to decide, sorry.
Indoor training or outside?
Both! I love the convenience of the Turbo plus its great for when my husband is away in juggling training with kids at home.
Flat or hilly?
Haven’t really watched these.
Giro, Tour or Vuelta?
All three. Please – some grand tours for women though. The sport really needs more parity between male and females and has a really long way to go. And while we’re at it. podium girls? Seriously? In this day and age?
Note: This has raised a completely relevant point in that those are all just men’s races- the question will be changed from now to include women’s as well. And yes, agreed about podium girls!
Best event outside of ‘pro tour’:
Anything that Jos Lowden is racing in. Having a vested interest in following one of your friends and willing their sucess makes it way more interesting and exciting.
Any songs you sing in your head whilst riding?
Whatever my daughter has been playing on Tik Tok.
Describe your riding and cycling style in 4 words:
ALL ABOUT THE DESCENT. You’ll never see me pedal as hard as I do over the top of a climb.
Finally, please recommend 5 riders to follow on Instagram:
- Ottilie Quince (@ottiliequince) is my favourite instagrammer full stop. Having had a kidney transplant previously she spreads her palpable appreciation for life through bike guiding from Pollenca out in Mallorca. Seeing someone share their contentment through riding and all on familar and favourite roads is a genuine escapement to a happy place through a square picture.
- Joss Lowden (@josslowden) A real talent and intelligent rider that has come to the sport relativly late in life yet has not only some incredible achievements to her name already (Bronze at the 2019 World Champs TTT to name one) but exciting to see whats still to come. Wish she’d bugger off from Sussex though, taking my hard earned QOMs so easily though.
- Lizzie Deignan (@L_deignan) I see her trying to balance family life with achievement at the top end of the sport and no thats no mean feat. And just how lucky she is to have the unfaltering support of her husband behind her so she can have the best of both worlds.
- Michelle Arthurs (@ridewriterepeat) Writer for cycling weekly and an example of what a true influencer should look like. The photos are real and not posed and so is her narrative. She shares her actual experiences and her musings are real and not doctored for the perfect ‘gram’. Its this sort of inspiration the female cycling world really needs. Not women looking like bikini models on bikes, just for the likes. Plus I’ve raced against her a fair few times and shes a weapon.
- Yewanda Adesida (@Yewie_a) A real cycling ambassador as well as campaigner for more diversity in cycling. She is doing amazing things for the cycling industry in trying to change representation and I really admire her drive and spirit to achieve this when its easy just to sit at home and do nothing. I’ve only raced Yolanda once but it came down to a 1on1 sprint to the line and she has quite a kick (she beat me)!