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Anabell Orenz's TransAtlanticWay Race

Name: Anabell Orenz
Age: 36
Challenge for 2017: TransAtlanticWay Race – a 2,500km self-supported race round the coast of Ireland.

What made you decide to take on this challenge? How did you prepare for it?
I was looking for a goal to train towards after having started cycling earlier on last year. When I saw the TransAtlanticWay entries had reopened in November I asked my boyfriend Alex if he would be up for entering in the pair section and he was mad enough to say yes.
We started our preparations with a 190-mile audax to see how we would get on and it took us ages but we made it back and were hooked. Convinced that just going on endless long rides wouldn't be enough, I was lucky to take part in the Adventure Syndicate’s training camp. Meeting other women who had long-distance experience and others who, like me, were braving a first attempt was encouraging. It helped me to realise that it would be possible to make it through the race and gave a kick-start to my training.
Another big boost was the North Cotswold Cycling Club. The Sunday club runs plus extra miles were invaluable to help me gain fitness and learn to ride efficiently.
Can you tell us about a moment when you realised you might be capable of more than you thought you were?
During a bike touring trip with my daughter I spent a night suffering with a nasty case of food poisoning. Despite feeling weak and empty we set off in the morning and by lunchtime, when I finally felt more alive, we were passed by a road cyclist who seemed to move effortlessly. That was the moment I decided I wanted to race.
Did anything not go to plan on your adventure? How did you deal with setbacks?
During the TransAtlanticWay the hardest bit was when my boyfriend retired from the race halfway round. I decided I had to keep going unless there was a good enough excuse to stop. The only thing that seemed harsher than the tendon strains, saddle sores, digestive upsets, and the headwind, was the thought of giving up. Luckily my friend Simon had left me with a 1,500-song playlist – it helped me focus and saw me through some grim moments.
Anabell riding - Black and White photo
Porlock Hill Climb/Kimroy Photography
Were you worried or frightened about anything before you set off? What happened to your fears once you were on the road?
Since I’m still pretty average with puncture repair, my greatest fear was getting a puncture – it had never happened before the race. Of course I managed to survive multiple punctures – the first one right at the start line.
The other major worry was losing Alex. Everything seemed more bearable in company. Unfortunately, I lost Alex halfway round, but luckily after I went solo there were no more punctures. I noticed praying sometimes helps.
Did you have any heart-warming encounters on the road?
A friendly woman in Kerry had closed her coffee shop for the day but still decided to make me a coffee. I noticed a sign by the entrance: 'What can't be cured has to be endured.' She assured me that it was true and that I would do better to ignore the sorry state I was in. 
Anabell on the road
How did it feel to finish? Was it as you expected? What happens next?
After my official race as a pair had finished half way through, the actual finish line meant little to me apart from that my stubborn head could finally stop torturing my body. It was good to complete the race though, and I am looking forward to the next challenge. It's all a big learning curve. For next year I am planning to race across Germany.

[Anabell has also started racing uphill this year, and recently came 16th in the National Hill Climb Championships.]
Anabell's first win at Oxfordshire University Cycling Club Hill Climb. Photo credit: Adam Hughes
Anabell's first win at Oxfordshire University Cycling Club Hill Climb. Photo credit: Adam Hughes

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