It’s always fun catching up with old friends, especially when you still have shared interests. Vanessa Zoras is a registered dietitian working at a hospital in neurotrauma and providing nutritional support. She focuses on transitioning patients back into their homes or rehab by educating them on their nutritional needs. It’s unfortunate, but she’s seen a lot of patients because of cycling accidents – which is why she’s so excited about the Valour to hit the road and see it’s effects on minimizing the risk of accidents with all its safety features. Being given an extra few seconds with technology like blind spot detection, or not having to take out your phone, or stare at a screen to navigate through the city could be just enough time to swerve out of the way of a vehicle you may not have seen, or another cyclist overtaking you.
Vanessa wasn’t always a cyclist. She’s actually only two years into the sport and started stationary, spinning. Her transition though, was inevitable.
Tell us how you came into the wonderful world of cycling!
My dad is a cycling enthusiast and has been riding with the same group before I was probably born! His friends actually offered to let me borrow a road bike and I just dove right into it! My first ride was a group one with my dad and all his pals, just a casual 90KM, haha. It was better than it sounded and I was totally fine! The group made a coffee stop halfway, and were super supportive! They ride both Saturdays and Sundays, and always joke that Sundays are their ‘recovery rides’ – which was probably why I was able to finish the ride with them.
I was lucky because the group ride was like riding with multiple dads and they really took care of me, haha. They’re all seasoned riders and were always giving me tips while riding next to me – keep your right heel down, your knees this far apart, keep your elbows bent, and so much more. There’s nothing to be shy about if you’re not as experienced! You should always be excited to learn, everyone has different tips and lifehacks to take away from. Though most of my long rides are with the group, I enjoy cycling to work when I can too.
I know my first struggle was riding next to vehicles. What was your first challenge?
Riding in a group for the first time was tough because I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to ride in a straight line! You don’t want to overcorrect or make sharp movements without any indication, that’s what causes a crash. I practiced a lot on roads with painted road lines, following them like I was balancing on a road curb.
You’ve been in 2 sprint distance triathlons! Tell us a little bit about your training.
There’s this loop by the Bridle Path just next to Sunnybrook Park in Toronto where I used to practice circuits over and over again by myself. I actually met a fun group, kids that couldn’t have been older than 12, and their dad, practicing together. The kids were so fast, and I eventually learned that their dad was a pro and regularly races across Canada. We would race each other a few times, they would always beat me!
I learned one good tip that day – racing is a mind game. Find out what you’re best at – whether it’s hill climbing, sprints, flats, whatever it is, and attack that area. So, if you’re a strong climber, you want to beat everyone up that hill and push past them. Even if the cyclists behind you are stronger at other areas, they’re more likely stop gunning it for first because you seem so far ahead!
What’s next for you?
Because I’m still using a borrowed bike, the condition of its use is that I join my dad’s cycling group on their next long ride called Rideau Lakes, between Ottawa and Kingston. It’s 170KM, one way.
I’d like to do a few more triathlons, and in a few years, I’d really like to be able to do a half ironman, but we’ll see.