A Year in the Saddle – Interview with Nottingham’s World Record Breaker
With Christmas now a distant memory, we’ve reached the time of year when New Year Resolutions are tested, and the best of intentions fall by the wayside. If you ever needed a little inspiration to get outdoors and be a bit more active, it’d be hard to find a better role model than Kajsa Tylén.
For the last year, this Nottingham resident has been quietly making history, taking to her saddle every day in a bid to break a 77-year-old Guinness World Record, by cycling 50,000 km in a single year.
Setting out with Billie Fleming’s extraordinary record – set back in 1938 – in her sights, Kajsa cycled through wind, rain and snow to cover an astonishing 32,326 miles.
Having completed her extraordinary challenge, and written her name deep into the history books, Kajsa is keen to ensure that others follow her example, by getting more active and spending time outdoors.
She said: “I guess the main inspiration was Billie herself, and reading her story sparked something in me. The challenge itself was an opportunity for me not only to get into the record books, but also to encourage others to set and achieve their own goals, just as it sounds as though Billie did.”
“First of all people thought I was a bit crazy. I guess some people also doubted that I could do it, not having a history of long distance cycling or even a long history of cycling for that matter! Once I started clocking up the miles though, it was amazing how encouraging people were, especially other cyclists.”
As she racked the miles up, she says she really began to appreciate the beauty of the countryside she was cycling through, and started to reconnect with the great outdoors.
“Spending time outdoors makes you appreciate nature and the countryside. The more time you spend out there, the more you see. The thrill of seeing a Kingfisher in real life, for example, is so much more amazing than seeing it in a picture, even if it’s just a fleeting glance.
“Real life experiences are simply second to none. And being active during those experiences just fills you with feel-good chemicals. I honestly believe that exercise, whatever type you choose to do, especially if it’s an outdoor activity, can only be a positive thing.”
“I particularly like riding in the area between Bingham and Newark as the roads there are relatively quiet compared to others and it’s lovely and scenic.”
It’s hard to hear Kajsa’s story and not feel inspired to get outdoors and active. Fortunately, here in Nottinghamshire, we’re blessed with some stunning countryside, and great cycling facilities – such as the new cycling highway along Castle Boulevard, and the picturesque trails at Sherwood Pines.
If you’re feeling inspired, Kajsa has some great advice: “Pick a friend who’s active and ask for their help. Not enough people ask for help when they don’t know what to do or where to start. Don’t be intimidated by people who may be fitter than you, everyone was a beginner once.
“Try as many activities as you need to find what you love. If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, then you won’t keep doing it.
“Start small. If you’re completely inactive, then just walk around the block. When I finished my attempt, that’s what I had to do as I had done practically no walking for an entire year.”
Since stepping out of the saddle, she’s had to take her transition back to a normal life slowly, with even walking around the block has proving to be a challenge after a year in the saddle.
“After only 10 days I’m able to walk for about an hour before my back hurts too much, which is 45 mins longer than when I started on 2 Jan. Increase steadily what you’re achieving. If you do too much too soon you’ll become daunted and potentially give up.”
After completing her mammoth challenge, what does the future hold for Kajsa?
“I’ve set myself a goal but I need to make sure recovery is going well enough before I can start training for it. I’m also launching a website called www.sweatpledge.com and that in itself is a challenge, just not the physical kind.”
The new website will encourage others to make commitments to get active and challenge themselves – and we’d definitely recommend experimenting with some of the great activities we have to offer here in Notts.