Jasmijn Muller: preparing for a 1,000-mile world record attempt

WE TALK to Jasmijn Muller about her path to cycling glory and her forthcoming 1,000-mile Land’s End to John o’Groats solo record attempt.


Jasmijn Muller is currently preparing for a 1,000-mile cycle world record attempt from Land’s End to John O’Groats.


GROWING up in Holland meant that Jasmijn Muller was often on her bike. However, it wasn’t until her 30s and when she was living in the UK that she realised she had a real talent for cycling and began to take what was once a hobby as a serious sport. She found she was best suited to time trialling and has gone on to have phenomenal success in the races and events she has competed in.


Jasmijn has recently set herself the challenge to cycle from Land’s End to John O’Groats and beat the current women’s world record of 52 hours and 45 minutes. She plans to take on the ride in September 2017 and is currently training for the challenge.


In this exclusive interview Jasmijn talks about her passion for the bike and cycling as an art form as well as her determination to continue to compete in and win races. Read on to find out about her views on the differences in the sport in the UK and Netherlands and much more.


To find out more about Jasmijn’s Land’s End to John O’Groats challenge and the story behind it go to www.lejogrecord.co.uk.


What was it like growing up in Holland and how much time did you spend on your bike?


Growing up in Holland, cycling was initially simply a way to get from A to B. I recall many trips to and from school on my heavy Dutch bike with three gears, battling the wind and getting my jeans soaked by the rain (because rain trousers were not cool) and then spending the rest of the day with wet itchy legs… I recall cycling to music and ballet lessons with my younger sister, who I so meanly encouraged to cycle faster, despite her shorter legs and smaller bike…but to her credit, she never gave up. But most of all I recall the sense of freedom and adventure the bicycle instantly gives you and all you need to do in return is push the pedals.


For my 15th birthday I received my first real race bike, a beautiful aluminium ALAN from 1982 with a Shimano 600 group set. On hindsight I wish I had taken up cycling more seriously then, but at the time I just used the bike as a bit of fun to go for a long bike ride with my dad or friends on the odd sunny summers day.


It is only now that I live in the UK that I appreciate how much we take it for granted in the Netherlands to have so much access to safe cycling on segregated bicycle paths… Last year I spent some time visiting friends and family in the Netherlands by bicycle and really enjoyed crisscrossing the length and width of the country with hardly ever having to share my path with cars.


Jasmijn Muller

Jasmijn only started taking cycling seriously as a sport in her 30s.


When did you first start out competing as a cyclist and who were your biggest inspirations and supporters at the beginning?


Fast forward by about 15 years (of studying, travel and living a barefoot scuba diving instructor life), I rediscovered my love for cycling in my 30s when I purchased an entry-level Eddy Merckx through the cycle-to-work-scheme. Eddy Merckx certainly was an inspiration as were other famous professional cyclists I had seen climbing up the cols in the Alps and Pyrenees during family holidays in France.


My cycling addiction grew from doing ever-longer sportives, to joining a local cycling club and trying to hold on to the ‘fast boys’ rides, to starting my first races and time trials and getting on the slippery slope of upgrading my bike, buying faster wheels and eventually even a power meter. Among my early supporters were many of the more experienced Kingston Wheelers club members, who showed me how to ride in a group and encouraged me to start competing.


I was never that good at crit racing (poor cornering, lack of tactics, too lazy to work on my sprint), but found my niche in time trialling. I found the South East Womens Time Trial Series which was organised by Rebecca Slack in 2014 and 2015 another great support and encouragement as it provided easy entry for women into the sport and a nice social scene.


My biggest inspiration however is Eileen Sheridan. In 2013, I had the pleasure to hear Eileen speak very eloquently and passionately (and with a great deal of humour) at a local event in Isleworth about her many point-to-point records in the 1940s and 1950s. Ever since that event, a signed picture of Eileen has been firmly positioned on the wall in my ‘turbo room’, to inspire me to train hard and help me achieve my own long distance cycling goals. Eileen is now well into her 90s, but I dream of breaking the current record (which is held by my Born to Bike team mate Lynne Biddulph) whilst Eileen Sheridan is still alive.



Jasmijn pictured on her bike in Wales.


What is it about the sport that makes you tick and on a day-to-day basis how much are you currently on your bike?


What I love about cycling is the sense of speed, achievement, freedom and adventure it can give.


I like to mix things up. I love structured training and sessions which a clear purpose. I spend many hours inside on the turbo exactly for that reason. It is a controlled environment. No cars, traffic lights, road profiles or anything else that can distract me or stop me from achieving the intervals and power targets my coach has set me.


At the same time, I am very aware that in order to remain passionate about my cycling I also need time to just ride my bike, without even looking at the power numbers or average speed. Just riding my bike for the sake of riding my bike, to enjoy the countryside, be at one with nature, feed my thirst for adventure and completely clear my mind. I get that balance by mixing up my time trialling and indoor training with riding long Audaxes, touring and visiting friends and family by bike.


The thing that drives me and what appeals to me in endurance events which really test your physical and mental limits is overcoming challenges. To be able to finish and feel a great sense of achievement and pride in not giving up when things got difficult. Whereas a ten-mile time trial can give me a short buzz, finishing a hard long-distance event gives me a deeper sense of happiness that lasts way beyond the event. It enables me to discover strengths within myself I didn’t know I had. And it allows me to draw lessons that are applicable to other areas of my life beyond cycling. It is a slippery slope too… as I now find myself looking for increasingly longer challenges…


I try to get around 12 hours of training in each week, but my work can be quite demanding and stop my cycling plans from time to time. Whenever I get the opportunity, I always try to correct the work/life/cycle balance. Occasionally I even get the opportunity to combine my work and cycling travel with some clients no longer surprised when I arrive by bike and announce I will be cycling back to London from Wales, Lancaster or Kent.


Jasmijn Muller

Jasmijn pictured during the National 12hr TT Championship, a race which she won in 2015.


What have been your biggest successes in the sport to date?


I set out in 2013 to test my limits by entering Le Mans 24Hr Velo as a solo competitor. Having never done even a 50-mile or 100-mile time trial, I decided to enter my first ever 12-hour time trial in preparation for Le Mans 24Hr, and surprisingly managed to achieve 252 miles on my road bike with just the support from the organising club. What is more, I achieved my goal for the year and won Le Mans 24Hr Velo.


My reward to myself after LeMans 24Hr was a proper TT bike. With the help of a coach I then focused on time trials for 2014 and went from being too afraid to actually ride the TT bike at the beginning of the year to winning the Best British All-Rounder competition, with the fastest average speed over 25, 50 and 100 miles. I am still quite chuffed with that achievement, particularly given my Dutch nationality.


In 2015, albeit by a margin of just 193 meters (!), I won the National 12hr TT Championship in a tough but incredibly fun neck-on-neck race with Jill Wilkinson, a former 12-hour champion herself.


My big goal for 2016 has been to try and defend my National 12hr title and add the National 24-hour title. However, I got deep vein thrombosis in June this year and unfortunately was limited to training indoor only for three months over summer.


My biggest success this year was setting a big Personal Best in a 12-hour time trial (265 miles) just two days after completing my DVT medication.


I hope to complete this year on a high, competing at the World 24-Hour Time Trial Championships in California in November. Even if the race does not go to plan, it will be nice to get some sunshine and explore some new cycling terrain.


Tell us about your blog and what our readers can expect from it?


I appear to have an inbuilt diesel engine and thus chose ‘Duracell bunny on a bike’ as a title for my blog. I have kept the blog since 2014. I try to blog once a month and focus on lessons learnt along the way (be that from races, training or cycling adventures), rather than just blowing my own trumpet or sulking about setbacks. There are race results, but also reports about Audax adventures, cycle touring, my ongoing struggles with muscle cramp and most recently how to train with DVT (and set new goals). The red line running through all my blog posts is ‘powered by positive thinking’. The mind-body connection is strong and especially for the longer events, the mental aspects really make the difference.


Jasmijn Muller

Jasmijn shows her delight after winning Le Mans 24Hr Velo in 2013.


Tell us about your LeJoG solo record attempt, what it will involve and how you’ll make sure you complete it?


Having done 12 and 24 hour races, Land’s End John o’Groats (LeJoG) feels like a natural continuation. It is more or less a 48-hour challenge to break the solo women’s record, with the current record standing at 52 hours and 45 minutes for the 843-mile challenge along the length of the country. Breaking the record will require an average speed (including any stops for toilet breaks, food, change of clothes, traffic lights etc) of 16 mph. The fact that no other woman has attempted to break this record since 2002 says a lot.


Some of the A-roads I will be riding on are not for the faint-hearted and there are some interesting lumps and bumps on the course. Riding through one night is relatively easy, but riding through two nights is a whole different thing. Oh and without a nice tailwind on at last part of the route it isn’t even worth starting the attempt.


I am aware of the challenges and in the build up to the record attempt am doing everything I can to prepare myself as best as possible (physically, mentally and logistically). I have done a reconnaissance ride of the full route once already and intend to do so at least two more times next year. One of these rides may in fact be another LEJOG record attempt (not solo), but I cannot reveal to much about that just yet…


Crucially, it is also about building up a good support crew. Whilst I will be the only one cycling (no drafting allowed), successfully breaking the record will very much rely on teamwork and support from people with relevant skills and experience in the follow cars. I am really blessed with the crew I have managed to build up so far and look forward to working with them not only during but also in the build-up to the record attempt next September.


Ultimately you got to have some faith in yourself and the determination that you can do it. And call me crazy, but IF I can manage to break the LEJOG record, I would be mad not to keep riding for ‘just’ another 160 odd miles to also break the 1,000 miles record.


It will be an exciting but also intensive build-up to this record attempt (of 18-months in total). Approaching 40, I am not sure how many more shots I will get at it, so there is no way I will not complete it. Record regulations are such that officials can abort your attempt if you have fallen too much behind record-breaking schedule. But even if they abort the official attempt, I will keep going until I reach John o’Groats. The only real failure will be giving up as I will not just fail myself but also all those other people who have so generously offered their skills, support and time.


With the LEJOG record there is a little bit more at stake than with any other ride or race I have done to date. In other races you can be satisfied with setting a PB, or winning the race even if that wasn’t the fastest time any other woman has ever covered that distance in. It is still a win on the day. With the LEJOG record attempt there are only two outcomes. I either break the record or I don’t. Success and failure is very clear cut in this case.


There is more weight on this challenge than anything else I have ever done. There is an element of luck, especially with the weather conditions. But much is down to good planning and preparation. If I know I have done that to the best of my abilities, then there is no point in worrying too much about things. All I have left to do in September 2017 is just keep pushing those pedals and make sure I enjoy the experience.



Jasmijn pictured at a champions’ night in 2015.


What’s next after that? Are there any other exciting challenges or projects in the pipeline?


I constantly set myself new and bigger targets. It must be an addiction. I achieve one goal and instantly look for the next. What can I do that is bigger, longer, more challenging, more crazy?


I already have my next goal lined up for when I achieve my LEJOG goal. The ultimately goal is to compete solo in Race Across America (a 3,000-mile, 9-day challenge which many consider the ultimate ultra-endurance race). But unless I manage to secure some serious sponsor money, I may need to save up for a couple of years first and try my hand at Race across Ireland, the Transcontinental Race or perhaps a team RAAM effort in the meantime.


Anyone looking for a long/ultra-distance loving cyclist up for a mad adventure… please don’t hesitate to get in touch!




Jasmijn’s Land’s End to John O’G solo record attempt is planned for September 2017.

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