CWRB chats to cyclist Rachael Anderson about her love of cycling and the motivation to keep going when your circumstances throw challenges.

Tell me a little about you – who is Rachael Anderson??

I grew up in Oklahoma and was a complete geek. I had myself convinced that sports were terrible and that there was no point to them. Then I joined the Army to help pay for college. Although I eventually realised that I did enjoy sports, my new found athleticism was hindered by a stress fracture in my hip. After I was medically discharged, I moved to Hawaii as a network engineer, where I started to get into running as well as rowing.

During my years there, I learned about Ironman and told myself that, one day, I would finish an Ironman race.

After several years in Hawaii, I made the decision to change gears and become a math teacher. I moved to South Korea in 2009 in order to teach and continued to run while I was there. I also started to dabble in cycling on a recreational basis.

After I met my husband (I was his scuba instructor), we moved to Thailand for a year and then to Pakistan to work at Karachi American School. We’ve been here since 2014 and have had the pleasure of starting the first two-year community college in Pakistan – Karachi American College.

 couldn’t believe when you said you couldn’t ride outside! Tell me more about the reasons behind that

So, I should preface this by saying that Karachi is nothing like what I imagined. There are a variety of sports groups here, including Critical Mass Karachi. This group hosts several rides a week, and includes both women and men. I have a few girlfriends who ride with them regularly and say that it is a fantastic community.

Unfortunately, I am unable to participate due to security restrictions that are specific to our school. 

You mentioned you’re new to cycling, what got you interested?

Since arriving in Karachi, I have been working towards my goal of completing the Last Annual Vol State 500k road race. This is a running race that is held in Tennessee in mid-July and is the brain-child of Barkley Marathons creator Lazarus Lake. I was able to complete it this past summer with a time of 7 days, 18 hours, but realised that I would need to train more in order to get a better time.

I ended up signing up with a fantastic coach whose specialities are ultra running and triathlons.

As part of my base training, she started me on twice weekly cycling and swimming workouts. Needless to say, I was hooked. I started to look into how I could cycle in Karachi given the security restrictions and learned about interactive trainers and Zwift.

Zwift must be a godsend. What else do you do to stay motivated?

It is! As someone who has trained for running by repeatedly doing a 1km loop around my campus, I find Zwift to be revolutionary. It’s the next best thing to riding outside with real people, and I enjoy the social interaction it allows. Right now, I’m using a Specialised Allez E5 Sport and an Elite Rampa trainer. The whole setup is connected through my MacBook Pro to a TV, so I feel like I’m immersed in the environment.

For some extra motivation, I listen to music in the background (I’m in a Rammstein phase at the moment) and sometimes run Zwift in windowed mode so that I can watch a movie while I ride through Watopia.

As much as I love cycling, I also look forward to my strength training, swimming, and running workouts each week. Mixing things up keeps me from getting too bored.