Charlotte's cycling story

Cycling Stories Dec 16, 2021

Here at Pillar, we're building the perfect training companion for your riding.

In the process, we're talking to many, many real cyclists, learning what motivates them, what they love, what they try to avoid, and the ways cycling changed their lives.

We thought we'd share some of our learnings along the way in the form of real cycling stories from real cyclists. All schools, styles and levels of the two-wheeled adventure.

Most recently, we spoke to Charlotte about her history on the bike.

Charlotte is 25. She's a PhD student from North London, researching the immune system at King's College; and in her spare time, doing lots and lots of riding.

She grew up in picturesque Muswell Hill, going to a sporty school where she was a lover of PE; trampolining, hockey, badminton, you name it. Charlotte even played football with the junior talent program at Tottenham Hotspur ladies from age 9 to 14.

Whether she knew it or not, Charlotte had the gift and the grit from a young age.

Lee Valley Velopark road circuit

Covid Commuting

As many of us do, as a teenager she lost interest in her hobbies and sports fell slowly by the wayside.

When we emerged from the first lockdown in June 2020, Charlotte found herself needing to get to work without sitting on a crowded tube.

She, along with many, brushed off their bikes for the first time in a long time. The family hybrid had been sat in the shed, waiting for its moment to shine.

After realising the commute was so much fun, having control over how fast she went and feeling the wind in her hair, Charlotte quickly upgraded to a brand new Ribble SLR.

I enjoyed it. Even though it wasn't like a good bike or anything, I just, I enjoyed cycling and it was good exercise. And so I decided to try buying an entry level road bike.
Views from atop Box Hill

New (and old) connections

She took the newly assembled bike to the local shop, Muswell Hill Bikes, to check it was secure. It was there that the owner, Ian, convinced her to join his local club in a moment of fate.

From that point, it was a healthy menu of twice-weekly laps of Regent's Park. A bit of a newbie, she often found herself at the back of the pack, and occasionally getting dropped. But Charlotte didn't let that faze her.

Charlotte loved the competitiveness, as well as the independence of riding, which tapped right in to the zeal she'd developed whilst playing football. Sometimes there just aren't the words to describe the thrill you're chasing when pushing yourself in sport.

I think it keeps me mentally sane. I think my fitness has improved since I started cycling, and it's quite rewarding seeing how you've improved over the past few months and then knowing that I could go even further.

She'd seen an old friend from school doing rides on Strava, and after an exchange of messages, they were quickly on rides together. Even in the bleak and icy winter.

The first ride was a cold one

In the year since, Charlotte has been riding almost every day of the week. She commutes to Kings College, and gets up extra early on Wednesdays and Thursdays for coach Watto's training sessions. Both days of the weekend are reserved for big group rides up to Hertfordshire with Muswell Hill Peloton.

Charlotte has seen massive gains since that day she started commuting on her hybrid. A master of endurance, she's able to complete 100km+ rides at an average speed of 30kph.

With the men of Muswell Hill Peloton. Credit: Henry Wyn-Jones

The gains have been so strong, in fact, that Charlotte has never even thought about a structured training plan. She owns a Wahoo Kickr, but has only used it once or twice with Zwift.

She much prefers to be on the open road than cooped up inside on the turbo.

I would quite like to have some structure. Yeah, it's just deciding how to. I don't know how to find the right structure because I don't know anything about what a good training plan is.

When the time comes that Charlotte decides to pepper her training with a little structure, Pillar will be here to support her.

We're creating training packs for every kind of rider, and every kind of goal. Charlotte would just need to tell us what she wants to do and when she wants to do it by. Pillar will come back to her with an optimal plan, based on her personal stats, to take her riding to the next level.

Friendships reignited!

Audax plans for the future

The next mountain Charlotte wants to conquer is a selection of multi-day events. Namely, Paris-Brest-Paris and London-Edinburgh-London. She also has some loose plans to compete, perhaps in a few local crits. But that, she says, won't be for a while.

We have no doubt that she'll excel, with her appetite for long and gruelling efforts.

Charlotte truly threw herself into the world of cycling with passion and an untainted attitude. We love her grit and determination, and her constant strive to simply get faster.

In the harsh December cold, we could all use a little bit of that kind of pluck to keep us spinning.

We wish her the best of luck (and the companionship of an old friend) in her future rides.

Pillar is a smart and dynamic training companion, which creates you a personalised training plan based on your fitness, your goals & your availability.

With real sports science at its core, Pillar takes a holistic approach to your endurance training, rest, and rehabilitation.

Find us on the play and app store today:

Pillar - Apps on Google Play
Welcome to Pillar! We’re a small UK-based team (full of real athletes) who are developing an app dedicated to all areas of cycling training. Whatever pains you can think of related to your training, we want to solve them. Pillar is still at an early stage. The first feature we’ve built is an adap…
Welcome to Pillar! We’re a small UK-based team (full of real athletes) who are developing an app dedicated to all areas of cycling training. Whatever pains you can think of related to your training, we want to solve them. Pillar is still at an early stage. The first feature we’ve built is an adap…


Matilda Donnachie

Passionate rower, cyclist and all-round sports nerd.