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An Evening with Karien van Jaarsveld

Karien van Jaarsveld

“Everyone has learned somewhere along,” Karien van Jaarsveld assured the crowd of mainly women last night during her talk at Bicycling Presents Women In Cycling. After sharing the memory of her first Argus where she got dropped because she couldn’t put her water bottle back in the cage, van Jaarsveld shared advice on how to prepare for any race, physically and mentally, from a women’s specific point of view.

Van Jaarsveld started the evening recounting her journey from novice to professional, pointing out the important moments, decisions, and actions she took to compete in her first-ever Cape Epic in 2011. Although van Jaarsveld entered hoping to simply finish, she came out as the overall female winner with her partner Sally Bingham. A year later, with new partner Jane Nuessli, she took 3rd, which placed the duo 39th in the general classification (yes, including the elite men).

Between answering nutrition and training questions, van Jaarsveld dished out mental training advice, which was the real gem of the evening. She spoke honestly about emotional experiences throughout her cycling career and hearing advice from a women’s specific point of view was refreshing and inspiring.

Karien and Me

While she spoke about being intimidated by male cyclists, which was one of the reasons she first got a coach, she also noted that she has also been intimidated by her fellow female competitors. No matter what the source of intimidation or mental challenge, according to van Jaarsveld, preparation and resilience are key to a successful mental state. Knowing you have done the training and proper preparation, she explained, will give any rider the confidence to seize the moment. Where she thought men and women differed, however, was their resilience. In her experience, she noted, many men cannot “admit defeat,” but she found this ability helped keep her mentally strong and motivated from within.

After sharing her cross training methods, which included running and Bikram yoga, her secret weapon against tan lines, and her go-to pre-race meal, she was asked by a member of the audience if she waited for her husband when they cycled together, who initially got her into cycling. “Yes,” she giggled in response. No doubt her upbeat positive attitude is also a key part of her mental toughness and inward motivation.

For the full story on Karien’s evening click here.

If you missed Karien van Jaarsveld, watch out for future presentations of “Bicycling Presents Women In Cycling.” 

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