In addition to the interview, Orla Walsh from Ireland and Isabelle Beckers from Belgium (together with Maja Micherda) participated in the newest ŠKODA campaign for cyclists given the name Why We Ride. In addition to a motivational video, this campaign lets you benefit from their advice and tips. Do you have problems transporting your bike? These ladies will show you how best to attach it to various carriers, whether positioned on  the back or on the roof, and how to attach the bike both quickly and safely.

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You needn’t worry that you won’t manage to put your bike up on the roof. Using the right tools and tricks almost anything is possible. And with a large boot – like the one ŠKODA KODIAQ has, for example – you can even transport your child’s bicycle with the tow bar attached.

Being in this sport field for many years, they both have accumulated invaluable advice regarding performance and safety. So, if you’re looking to soak up some cycling wisdom, Orla and Isabelle are the perfect sources. Both ladies also drive cars, so the main talking points were about how the cycling experience influences their behaviour behind the wheel and vice versa, and how cars and bicycles can be the perfect complements for one another.

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Orla Walsh

The 28-year-old Ireland’s Orla Walsh is now a podium regular with National Championship medals to her name. Discover more about this woman’s real journey to self-improvement and falling in love with life on two wheels.

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Isabelle Beckers

The 35-year-old pro has been riding for 4 years with the “Lotto Soudal Ladies” team based in Belgium. Before that, she was with Bigla Pro Cycling Team, so as it is her 5th season in the pro-peloton, she’s able to give some fascinating insight into the world of pro cycling.

First of all, when did you start riding a bike? What was your initial impulse or motivation?

Isabelle: I must have bought my first bike in 2009. I was a competition track runner and was struggling with a chronic injury. Riding a bike was my alternative training and I started loving it. Participating in the Tour of Flanders cycling event totally convinced me to continue doing this. In the following two years, I started competing in triathlons (half distance and 111 races). After some time, it was obvious that I was much stronger at cycling. And so I decided to start bike racing in 2013.

Orla: I started riding a bike because I needed a convenient way to get to work and college. Driving in Dublin City is crazy with traffic, and the local public transportation system leaves a lot to be desired. Biking only took 20 minutes door to door.

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Being also a car driver, do you think it affects your perception of the car traffic and your behaviour while on the bicycle?

Isabelle: It’s not always the case that you notice a cyclist in traffic. So knowing this, it makes you, as a cyclist, extra careful when crossing roads, for example. I just never take any risks. And I always make sure the drivers see me before I do a manoeuvre. Being a cyclist made me better at cornering with a car and driving on wet roads.

Orla: I guess that driving a car makes me more aware of situations that could be hazardous for cyclists, such as not checking rear view mirrors or blind spots before making a turn in a vehicle. I’m very observant of cyclists when driving, but I understand that not everyone behind a wheel is. Also, funnily enough, I drive my parent’s car which is a ŠKODA!

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Is the car a regular companion in your cycling life? Do you sometimes use it to get closer to races or more interesting trails?

Isabelle: I live in a very flat area. For training uphill, I need to take the car to the Ardennes or Holland hills. It’s also great to explore different areas, to see different scenery. This gives cycling an extra dimension. Also, when I'm racing in kermesse races in Belgium, I need to take my training bike with me in the car to make it to the start. A car is an indispensable item if you are a (competition) cyclist and you want to improve. Also, blankets to wrap the dirty bike into, bicycle tools, and foot pump are always standardly stored in my car.

Orla:I would only drive by car with my bike for a specific event, like a sportive or race that’s far away from where I live.

And for the last question, do you have any safety or other handy tips regarding riding the bicycle, especially in traffic?

Isabelle: Just always make sure that the drivers have noticed you and can “read” what you're up to (for example, by using hand signals). It’s never worth taking a risk of being in an accident, so, if possible, wait those few extra seconds. A bike bell is pretty convenient. And it never hurts to give a “thank you sign” when a driver has been nice enough to give you the right of way. We’ve got to work together instead of against each other. Being polite never killed a person.

Orla: The best tip for cyclists is always to expect that drivers don’t see you on the road. Take precautions when cycling alongside parked cars or in traffic, as sometimes doors can swing open! For drivers, always check your rear view mirrors, side mirrors, and blind spots before making a turn at a junction. Also make sure to give cyclists at least 1–1/2 meters of space when overtaking!

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