Spotlight Season 2: Yewande Adesida

Massive thanks to everyone who has read the previous Spotlights so far- it’s so nice to see! Don’t worry- we’ve got more to come too.

This week is with an amazing person who I have already learnt a lot from, since I discovered her Instagram. She immmediately was someone who I thought would be perfect for a Spotlight as she is doing so many things to move cycling forward in the right directions. She can also put down serious power on rollers on a track bike- just check out the Specialized Instagram!

Since doing this, Yewande has also starred in 100 Women of Cycling 2020: https://www.cyclinguk.org/womensfestival/100women/2020 which is well good.

A massive thanks to Yewande for her time. Enjoy!

Name: Yewande Adesida 

Age: 26 

Teams you ride for or clubs you are part of: SES Racing 

How did you get started in cycling and when? 

I switched over from rowing in 2016 after several people thought I would be good at track cycling and suggested I try it. When I was rowing, if you were injured then you’d end up on a Wattbike – I absolutely hated them then.  

Favourite places to ride? Any particular roads or segments? 

A velodrome? I’ve really been enjoying the lanes just north of London as you head past High Barnet and towards Potters Bar. They’re stunning and easy for me to get to. 

What disciplines do you ride? Do you have preferences? 

Track and road. I mainly do track sprinting now but I definitely won’t say no to a little endurance now and then. 

General 

You have done so much in the past few years both in sport, education and work- how do you balance it and know what to focus on and when? 

That’s a good question! I’m going to start off by saying that I don’t get it right all the time. Doing my PhD part-time has been a great help as I can be a little more flexible with my time. But I have to be careful that I don’t take advantage of that. So I try and plan things in advance and usually stick to a routine. I’m conditioned to wake up early from my rowing days and so I try and fit my training in then and start the rest of my day with everyone else!  

How do you go about helping new riders into the sport? It is clear this is something you are passionate about- please tell us more about the approach! 

To be honest, it’s not something that I’ve got a clear-cut approach for! I’ve been given a lot of opportunities and support which have helped me get where I am right now and so I want to give back. Also working as a rowing coach, I’ve seen the joy and build in confidence when people enter the sport and achieve something they never thought they were capable of.  

I’ve done a mix of stuff. Lending out bikes or equipment – it’s a big investment to make if you’re new to the sport and not sure about it yet. Providing advice and encouragement to people who are riding in a group for the first time or new to racing. I would love to do more outreach and start running skills sessions again but I need to find the time.  

You have also appeared on panels about diversity in cycling and spoken about it eloquently and from the heart on your social media. This is inspiring and leading others in many ways. To help others educate themselves further, are there some people or articles you recommend? The Molly Sugar article in Bicycling magazine is brilliant at articulating the next steps that are needed, to back up the words of support and solidarity- which you posted about on your Instagram. 

People like Ayesha McGowan (in the US) and Jools Walker (in the UK) have been talking about this subject for many years, what I’m saying is nothing new. There are two articles that have been published recently (The Telegraph) that I would strongly recommend reading for a UK and US perspective. Looking at the lack of representation at the higher end of the sport, present and past, helps you understand the situation now.  

Where are the black Britons in elite cycling? 

‘Is cycling the whitest sport on Earth?’ — Ayesha McGowan, the first African-American women’s rider 

Molly Sugar’s article gave next steps for people in the industry, but anyone can diversify their social media feeds and I would encourage you to do that. Celebrate the achievements of cyclists from different backgrounds.  

Tell us more about the Virtual Velofete panel you were part of and are there going to be more? 

The panel I was on was called ‘The Past, Present and Future of Women’s Cycling’ and I was grateful to be a part of it alongside some big names. We shared our experiences of getting into the sport, its history, the backlash and what could be done better at a pro and grassroots level. We certainly could have talked for a lot longer so I would love to be a part of another panel. Hopefully we don’t have to wait until next year’s Velofete! 

Photo by Miriam Jessett

The past season/year 

What were some of the highlights from last year for you?  

I finally rode my first century! Being featured in SRAM’s Red eTap AXS campaign was incredible and then becoming a SRAMbassador. I went to my first Track Nationals at the beginning of 2019 and and then placed 6th overall in National Sprinters League. I also became a Specialized Brand Ambassador – technically that happened this year but is definitely a highlight!

What did you learn from the season that you are taking forward? 

To “control the controllables”. I spent a lot of last season thinking about people I was going to face in competition, their results and not being mentally prepared or backing myself. So I’ve been doing a lot of work with a sports psychologist to try and change that. I think I’ve finally grasped this concept during lockdown. 

Which riders impressed you the most when racing? 

Rosi from CC London (we rode together while in Velociposse) who was a dominant force in the B-category at Herne Hill Women’s league. Tom Sharples, a junior academy rider who is an incredible sprinter. 

Are there any great adventures or stories from last year that stand out? 

I headed to Barcelona with my bike to visit some fellow SRAMbassadors (who I have to thank for being patient when I was grumpy) and it was great to explore somewhere different by bike and I’ve been a fan of Gaudi for ages, so I loved seeing his work in the flesh.  

Photo by Charles Nicholson

This year 

What were your goals at the start of the season/year?  

I set myself big goals to do well at Track Nationals but I didn’t look after myself enough last year and ended up being ill just a few weeks before. I wasn’t in the right place physically or mentally.  

How has lockdown affected your plans for riding and working and what have you done to adjust? 

I was on a break from sprinting anyway so training wasn’t a big adjustment. I’m now best friends with my rollers and have been practicing skills. An adjustment I’ve had to make is getting used to riding on my own as it’s not something I particularly enjoyed before. There’s a lot of practical work on my PhD which I can no longer do, but I have plenty of data processing and writing to keep me busy. I’m sad about not being able to do coach rowing so I’ve been using that time to do some personal development/reflection. 

Do you think racing and riding will change once things are back to ‘normal’? 

Certainly, more people have taken up cycling (and I hope they continue to ride) which means more people pushing for better infrastructure. I think race organisers will need to think more about how they encourage and retain new racers.  

Photo by Honor Elliot

The future 

What are your plans for post-lockdown? 

I really want to get back in the gym! I’m missing throwing big weights around! I also want to do more outreach in cycling.  

How do you go about choosing new goals for the next season/year? 

Usually I’ll look at my race results and numbers in the gym/on the bike and base it off that. I’m trying to have process goals as well as outcome goals to keep me on track.   

Do you have any plans or aspirations away from just racing? Adventure rides etc 

I’m hoping to be able to try out some gravel riding this year and I want to explore more places by bike, whether that’s in the UK or abroad.  

Gear: 

Current bikes: 

Specialized S-Works Tarmac, Specialized Allez Sprint Track, plus another road bike and track frameset. 

Anything custom/special? 

The Tarmac is special as it was the bike I rode for the SRAM Red eTap AXS campaign. 

Kit you can’t leave home without: 

Over the winter it was my Rapha windproof jersey – mainly for the zip pockets on the front. I just got a bar bag though so it might be that very soon. 

Future purchases: 

Bigger chainrings and probably new tyres for my track bike.  

Nutrition and fuelling whilst riding: 

Jelly babies and Rice Krispies Squares (plus the boring stuff like gels/electrolytes). 

Quick fire round 

Favourite pro and why: 

Kirsten Wild – I love to watch her on the track and think she’s an incredible rider. 

Best bike shop and why:  

London Bike Kitchen! It’s a great DIY space and I’ve learned so many skills from their workshops. 

Indoor training or outside?  

Indoors. 

Flat or hilly? 

Definitely flat.  

Best Classic? 

I don’t watch a ton of pro-cycling but Paris-Roubaix because it finishes in a velodrome (and there’s going to be a women’s edition) 

Best stage race? 

The Women’s Tour  

Any songs you sing in your head whilst riding? 

Numb/Encore – Jay Z and Linkin Park 

Describe your riding and cycling style in 4 words: 

Smashy not crashy. Sometimes. 

Finally, please recommend 5 riders to follow on Instagram: 

@ladyvelo 

@biolasarah 

@anneleenbosma 

@peddling.to.and.fro 

@daniel_inniss 

Panel link  

Article Links 

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/cycling/2020/06/28/black-britons-elite-cycling/

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/cycling/2020/06/26/cycling-whitest-sport-earth-ayesha-mcgowan-first-african-american/?utm_content=women%20sport&utm_medium=Social&utm_campaign=Echobox&utm_source=Twitter#Echobox=1593177177

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