Rachel Nolan becomes the first female to win Ireland’s epic TransAtlanticWay endurance cycling race. We caught up with her to see how she fared on her Spinergy Zlites.
Rachel Nolan is an avid adventurer who bikes hard and explores endlessly. She runs an adventure tour company called Rachel’s Irish Adventures taking people on rugged escapades to experience, discover and taste the best of Ireland. In September, Rachel completed an epic one stage self-support endurance cycling race called The TransAtlanticWay. This race started in Derry in the north of Ireland and followed the Wild Atlantic Way down to Kinsale in county Cork, a staggering 2,113 kilometers, over 25,000 meters of climbing. Rachel crossed the finish line in 5 days, 22 hours 30 minutes as the first competitor and the first woman to ever win the race.
Rachel has already written a personal race report blog where she shares her experience with special attention paid to her perspective as a female endurance rider and normalizing feminine-based needs. You can find that blog post here: “The TransAtlanticWay: Cycle Like a Girl”. We followed up with her with a few specific questions about her wheels. Equipped with Spinergy ZLites, Rachel pushed herself and her gear to the limit. How did they hold up? Read on…
How did you find out about Spinergy?
I have been using the same Van Nicholas titanium bike for the past 4 years, but I had it equipped with very basic wheels. My reliable bike mechanic Chris Troy told me to upgrade the wheels to a more reliable brand that would be light and also robust enough to handle the rugged Irish roads. He said the Spinergy ZLites were the best option for my needs and would be able for the challenge…
He was right!
Besides their aesthetic appeal, (you went with all blue spokes!), were you aware of how fiber spoke technology impacts cycling?
I’m going to be honest, I had no idea. I’m not too into the latest technology and just like to ride my bike. However, I have had previous issues with spokes breaking so it was a big confidence boost to know this would no longer be an issue. I love the blue spokes and everyone comments on them and say they can spot me out from the crowd.
What made you confident to choose Spinergy’s ZLite wheels with PBO spokes for such a long and grueling feat?
They are light, even to just touch the spokes and bounce the wheel on the ground, I could tell they were ‘hardcore’ and also light to not add any extra weight to the bike
How did the wheelset complement the rest of your bike gear or vice versa?
The Spinergy ZLites complemented my Van Nicholas Titanium bike perfectly. I’m now excited to test out another set of Spinergy MTB wheels for my new titanium mountain bike as I prepare a few new adventures for 2021.
Were you happy with your wheel/tire combo?
I used the Continental Grand Prix 5000 and they were the perfect partner for my Spinergy wheels and I really did put them to the ultimate test..
At one point, you went off-road at night through Glenveaugh National Park where the terrain was more suitable for a gravel bike and you weren’t sure if your 25” tires would survive the ride. At this point and with dim conditions, did you notice your Spinergy rims carrying you through?
It was definitely reassuring to know the wheels and tyres were able for it. As it was during the night and the weather was.. well Irish.. galeforce wind and lashing rain, I rain most of this section with the bike and avoid any potential unwanted adventures.
You started to develop Shermer’s Neck, a few days into your ride, but it fortunately didn’t put you out. The vibration dampening effect of Spinergy’s fiber PBO spokes support the endurance and comfort of cyclists, and that teamed with your titanium frame may have helped curb the progression of muscle fatigue. How else did you preserve your energy at this point?
Yes, I definitely think the bike and wheels helped reduce vibrations throughout the event and were overall more comfortable than perhaps a carbon set up. Once I started developing Shermer’s neck, I bought heat patches in a pharmacy and kept one on my shoulders with my hood up under my helmet, this was a bit of comfort. I changed my physical bike position, trying to keep more upright and stopped to stretch on a regular basis. I had head of this condition and read up a lot about it but having it is still a little scary and it can very quickly lead to game over even if the rest of the body and mind is 100%.
You had two minor crashes one night in the darkness. How did the wheels hold up, especially after hitting a road barrier?
The wheels held up good, a patch of the rubber came off the tyres but they kept moving and got me over the finish line which was just unreal..
Rachel finished the TransAtlanticWay in 5 days, 22 hours, and 30 minutes. She met her personal goal to finish in less than 6 days and as an added achievement, she not only was the first woman to finish the race, but the first woman to finish it in 1st position. Rachel’s final message to her readers:
“To all the people, especially women, who read this blog because they want to participate in this event: Train for it, plan it, do it! It’s amazing! If you have any questions, get in touch! I’m delighted to share my experience and get more people out and exploring on the bike!”
Looking for Spinergy distributors in the UK and Europe?
DHW in the UK
Juhl Nordic in Scandanavia
Spinergy Italia in Italy