Beta Tester Julynn Washington first caught our attention on Twitter when she completed her first Century ride - ever - on Zwift! After reaching out to her, we thought all of you should know her, too. A US army veteran and cancer survivor, she has since completed multiple centuries, created the Zwift "Weekend Social Ride" group ride, and hosted the International Women’s Day Ride!
Why did you choose cycling?
I chose cycling for fitness and exercise, which will hopefully lead to major weight loss. I have knee problems, and cycling is easy on my knees. It's something I can actually do, and it’s so freeing and therapeutic for me.
What were you looking for in a workout when you started cycling?
I really just wanted to get my heart rate up for 30-45 minutes to get some good cardio in without all the knee pain. Then I wanted to get fit enough to participate in a few charity rides here and there.
Simply put, I was termed a “Tom Boy!”
Did you do any other sports growing up?
Oh my goodness, yes! Growing up, I was always athletic. Simply put, I was termed a “Tom Boy!” As I grew older, I participated in organized school sports - basketball, softball, volleyball - mainly from middle school through high school. I even played softball on a couple of all-star teams. After joining the US Army, I also played on basketball and softball teams.
How did you hear about Zwift?
I was looking for motivation, something to get me on the trainer because my schedule is so hectic with little time to ride outside. I tried cycling videos, but I really couldn't get into them. While searching the internet, I came across an article talking about Zwift. It sounded interesting, so I requested an invite. It was a great day when I received that.
What has Zwift provided you that other workouts may not be able to?
Zwift is amazing: it has actually changed my attitude and desire to ride on the trainer. With Zwift, I want to work out and can’t wait to do it. Finding a workout that keeps you interested time after time, that’s an accomplishment. After each ride, I find myself preparing my “Pain Cave” for the next ride so I don’t lose any time getting on the island.
With Zwift, I actually want to work out and can’t wait to do it.
How have your workouts changed since using Zwift?
I’m still working on weight loss. That will be a goal for a long time, but it’s no longer about just trying to get the heart rate up; it’s about getting better, seeing real cycling results. I’m currently working on cadence. I attack the hills on Zwift because I no longer want to be afraid of the hills - I want the hills to be afraid of me. I've only been riding for a year and I now want to do more than just ride, I want to set PR's and break them! I want to ride better!
We've watched you grow as cyclist through social media, and it's been inspiring to say the least. What keeps you motivated?
I have really become an endurance rider. I like the way I feel when I’m done. The achievement for me is getting it done! Zwift has allowed me this opportunity. I don’t have routes that are available to me as a solo rider. Honestly, I’m afraid to ride such long distance outside, but have no worries with Zwift. I started a 16-week beginners century training program which will end on April 2015. Because of Zwift, I have ridden 4 Imperial Centuries and 2 Metric Centuries. Way ahead of schedule. Yeah, you could say I’m motivated!
What would you tell other women who want to try cycling?
Cycling can be scary, but so is any new thing. I remember being intimated because I’m barely a 5-foot woman weighing in over 200 pounds on a bike. The stares and comments you get can be horrific, but how can you accomplish a goal if you don’t attempt it? Everyone has to start somewhere. You don’t need an expensive bike. The goal is to get started. Don’t give up, and enjoy it, because you will get better with each ride!
I love the Imperial Century!
What is one of your cycling goals (besides crushing centuries on a regular basis)?
I love the Imperial Century! It's something I thought was out of my reach in the real world and certainly not possible on a trainer. My goal now is to complete my first Imperial Century in the real world. I will celebrate my 50th birthday next year, and I hope to complete it by then.
What has the cycling community brought to your life?
I have a few local people I ride with when our schedules connect. I've also met great people on the few charity rides I've done. But since I've found Zwift, it’s become more than just a community: it’s a family. It’s so motivating when the guys mention me in a message, or give me kudos on my rides on Strava. I feel like part of the group regardless that I’m a new cyclist and a female. These things make you challenge yourself because you want to do better.
I feel like part of the group regardless that I’m a new cyclist and a female.
Who are some of your cycling heroes?
The typical answer would probably be some professional rider. However, my cycling heroes are the people that I have met on Zwift, like my unofficial cycling coach Jim Shatford and all the members of the WSR (Weekend Social Ride)!
Any last words of wisdom?
I hope to be a positive example to women and give them the encouragement to challenge themselves and become more active. It’s important to remember that the measurement of success is not by doing better than others, but by how you improve yourself and putting forth your best effort.
Zwift has allowed me an opportunity to meet, communicate, and ride with people from all over world from the comforts of my own home. I have ridden more miles in the two months on Zwift than I have since I've had my bike. I can’t wait to measure my improvements on the road, and I’m anxious to see what next on Zwift! I’m proud to be a US army veteran, a cancer survivor, and a Zwift Beta Tester. Ride On!
Julynn inspires us here at Zwift, and we thank her for sharing her story and inspiring more people to get in or out and ride!
This interview has been edited and condensed.