Jasmijn Muller: Why I Ride
Jasmijn Muller recently smashed the Zwift Distance Record and is gearing up to take on the LEJOG record. Here's how she motivates herself to take on the big stuff, plus a life lesson we can all learn from...
For a woman who only took up cycling in 2011, Jasmijn Muller is one serious over-achiever, boasting a brilliant solo win at Le Mans 24 Heures Vélo in 2013 and winning the National 12-hour time trial in 2015.
Nicknamed Duracell Bunny On A Bike, she is focused on smashing Lynne Biddulph’s incredible LEJOG (Land’s End to John O’Groats) record - 52 hours and 45 minutes - and has prepped her body and mind by taking on and then breaking the Zwift indoor cycling Distance Record. This previously stood at 1,010 miles in 72 hours and 36 minutes and 1,010 miles, with Jasmijn doing an incredible 1,135.9 miles with a total ride time of 62 hours, 4 minutes and 30 seconds.
Here, we uncover what drives her and how she's prepping to take on another epic challenge.
What do you think makes you different?
I don’t think there is anything particularly special about me. I am not a very skilled cyclist, but I can go fast in a straight line and keeping going.
The big difference is in the mind. Having a good engine helps, but having a strong mind is probably more important.
I guess I am naturally strong-minded, but working with sports psychologist, Josephine Perry, over the last year has really helped me to up my mental resilience.
What are you most excited about when it comes to your LEJOG attempt?
I am most excited about taking it on with a crew. By April this year I will have done the whole route twice solo, but being able to do it as a team and seeing everything come together in September is going to be awesome.
Of course, there is the risk that it all falls apart, but team training sessions and practice events like the Zwift record attempt should help to make us better prepared for what is ahead.
The other thing I am looking forward to is having people pop up at different points along the route to cheer me on.
What motivates you to keep going when the going gets tough?
I have a few mantras I use when the going gets tough. The mantras themselves are nothing but words, but it’s all about the memories they unlock.
One mantra is printed in big letters on my crew caps: 'Be the egg'. It refers to the fact that the same boiling water that softens a potato hardens the egg and it’s what you are made of, not the circumstances that matter. Seeing that mantra on their caps will remind me to 'be the egg'.
Fundraising for charity also helps me dig deeper. I may think I am suffering through bad spells, but it is nothing compared to the suffering experienced by those with cancer or their loved ones who support them. For my Zwift distance record attempt, I was raising money for Cancer Research UK.
The first time I raised money for Cancer Research was in September 2010 on a 100-mile cycle in the North West of England. Back then, it was by far the longest I had ever cycled and only the first time I had ever tried clipless pedals.
What moved me most about this ride was a man named Phil who was doing it too. He had just recovered from cancer of the oesophagus and had used time on his bike as a way to fight the cancer. That day he was incredible and easily the fastest out of all of us. Shockingly, he passed away only three months later, but his resilience is something I have tried to tap into whenever I have suffered on my bike since.
What advice would you give your younger self?
This is a bit of advice given to me by another female time triallist (a very good one!). She simply told me not to give a shit. That attitude of just being yourself, doing what you feel passionate about and not caring about what others say or think. That is something I could have done with, particularly during my teenage years.
What are you most nervous about when it comes to your LEJOG attempt?
I'm most nervous about the traffic. You can prepare for most things: changing to shallower wheels if there is a lot of cross wind, bringing powerful lights for really dark sections, fixing punctures. But the only way to avoid heavy traffic is to take the scenic LEJOG route, but that’s also the slowest. The shortest, quickest route is on big A-roads and I’m particularly nervous about the A9 between Perth and Inverness. It’s nicknamed 'Killer A9’, which says it all really.
Your first biking memory?
My first bike memory is of my dad teaching me how to ride a bike in the Netherlands. Most Dutch kids learn to ride a bike as soon as they can walk.
The smell of a bike shop is…
I am fairly clumsy when it comes to bike maintenance and my husband doesn't cycle, so for me a bike shop symbolises ‘rescue' and sorting out whatever equipment problem I have either created or couldn't solve.
Fair weather or every weather?
I don't mind rain or wind (and I quite like it at times), but I don't ride when it’s freezing. The risk of falling and breaking bones is too big. And, as you can see from this Zwift record, I don't mind sitting on the turbo for hours on end..
When were you happiest on a bike?
I am happiest when I feel at one with the world around me, particularly when riding through stunning scenery in Wales or the Lake District.
The other moments I really enjoy are when I set off really early when it’s still dark and get to experience the changing lights as the world wakes up. I still remember one really early to ride up to Ashbourne in Derbyshire. I was treated to deer on the road, an owl by the side of the road and birds waking up and flying out of hedges ahead of me. These moments are just so pretty. Life is hectic, so it’s nice to have some time away from all that.
What is your most treasured possession?
My Shiv TT bike is the most expensive thing I own and my old Alan from 1982 is probably the most treasured bike.
Who or what is the greatest love of your life?
Chris, my husband. We met in 2001 when I was working as a scuba diving instructor in Indonesia. We then spent a few years working in diving together in various places in South East Asia, before settling into more normal lives in the Netherlands and the UK. He doesn't cycle but shares enough of my other passions. I’m lucky in that he really enjoys cooking, so there is often a great meal to tuck into when I finish a ride.
What was the best ride of your life?
I absolutely loved the Brian Chapman Memorial, a 600k Audax in Wales.
Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
It has got to be Eileen Sheridan and Lynne Biddulph, my two big inspirations for my LEJOG record attempt. It would be awesome to be able to invite them for dinner, and (hopefully) celebrate our achievements together.
It’s your last day on earth. Where do you ride and who with?
On my last day on earth I would forego the bike and stay with my non-cycling husband. I spend enough time on the bike away from him as it is.
In 5 years you’ll be able to say…
'What's next?!' Cycling is addictive and there are so many adventures to be had. After LEJOG... will I try a LEJOGLE record? The fact no other woman has ever done so is tempting in itself. One thing’s for sure, it is a slippery slope, so the challenges I want to pursue are unlikely to get any shorter.