When Vogue Williams was asked to take part in her first cycling event - the Sligo leg of the Skoda Cycle Series last year - she was slightly apprehensive.
Fast forward a year and cycling is now one of this fitness fanatic's favourite pastimes. "I never thought I would get into cycling, but I absolutely love it now," Vogue says. "Last year I did the Sligo leg of Skoda Cycle Series and I just got really into it then and I have kept it up."
"Once I went back over to London though, my sister sort of stole my bike for a while," Vogue laughs. "So she has been cycling loads and now the two of us are going to do the next series together in Wexford on June 21."
Vogue has yet to tell her sister Amber, however, that this year's event is 75k rather than the 50k they started with last year. "I haven't told her that part yet," Vogue smiles, "but I think she'll be good. When you are cycling, you are just sort of sitting and chatting, so you don't realise it as much. It's a very social sport and that's what I really love about it, it's just a nice day out in the sun and you can have lot of great chats and see some lovely places you wouldn't if you were driving in a car."
For Vogue, cycling is a win-win activity. "You feel so good at the end because you have just cycled so far. You have achieved something.
"You are constantly trying to keep up with the rest, so you are pushing yourself that bit further all the time without even noticing. It's a really good exercise and there is a lot of support there, having others around you doing the same keeps you motivated," she says.
Vogue is delighted to see so many women taking up leisure cycling in recent years. "It's not just for the MAMILs (middle-aged-men-in-Lycra) anymore," she laughs. "I think girls have realised too that it's great because we can chat while we do it, but we are still doing something good by being on the bike so that's a big plus. You sort of forget that you are training and working out and you just carry on having a gossip. I really like the social aspect of it."
And cycling has brought an exciting new element into Vogue's fitness regime too. "I would be quite fit; I go to the gym maybe five times a week, sometimes six," she explains. "But it is nice to mix it up as well. I get a little bit bored in the gym; training inside all of the time and I love training outside so it's a great way to do that."
Cycling has also helped Vogue deal with what she says is the most difficult area of her body to tone: her legs. "I have to work on my legs a lot, so cycling really helps for your legs and your bum area," she explains. "My legs wouldn't be naturally that slim, so I really have to work quite hard to sort of tone them up and when they are toned then they are obviously slimmer, so that would be one of the reasons I like to cycle as well. It is very good for your legs and you don't even have to really think about it that much when you are doing it."
There are, however, downsides.
"Your bum does get sore, I am not going to lie; there is serious pain of the bum involved," Vogue laughs. "I have my padded shorts, but I think I could actually do with double padding because when you are cycling for that long - you might be on the bike for a couple of hours - it's inevitable that you'll end up getting a bit sore. But you do get used to it."
Food-wise, Vogue always makes sure to stock up on energy boosting foods ahead of more serious spins.
"I would always bring a banana or something that you know is going to boost your energy and I would always have a really good breakfast," she explains. "I'll usually have some porridge and maybe some bacon and eggs too. You are working out for a long time and even when you get off the bike, your body is still burning calories. The night before I would carb load, so I would have a big bowl of pasta or something to set me up," Vogue adds.
Now based in London, the model, TV and radio personality, has an action-packed schedule, but still prefers to train hard and eat what she wants. "It really depends on my work schedule, I don't get out cycling as often as I would like, but any time I can, I go out," Vogue says. "I always get in my five gym sessions a week, so sometimes I will swap one or two of those days for a cycle instead. It's such an enjoyable way to keep fit; it doesn't even feel like work. So I have really got into it and I'm looking forward to the next Skoda Series, now all we need is the weather!"
÷Vogue will take part in the Skoda Cycle Series in Wexford on Sunday, June 21. For more information, go to fitmagazine.ie
- You can start cycling on any bike that you have. You don't have to go out straight away and spend thousands on a bike, just get cycling first any way that you can.
- Don't worry about your fitness level, you could be very unfit and get on a bike and do 50k; it's important to give yourself the time to enjoy cycling first and then slowly work on building your fitness if needs be.
- Set yourself a goal and work towards it. The Skoda Cycle Series has eight sportive events around Ireland from April to August each year, and each event offers different distance options so you can ease yourself into it.
- Stay hydrated. Bring a bottle of water and try to eat little and often, particularly if you are doing a long journey.
- Do not attempt to cycle without padded shorts!
Health & Living