When she saw she was getting close to 100,000 kilometers on Zwift, Sharron Yaxley didn’t want to make a big deal out of it.
“I was going to call my ride ‘ho hum’ and say nothing more,” Yaxley says.
But friends who saw her activities and looked at her profile began to notice. One of them, Belinda Giles, set up a Facebook page to celebrate Yaxley’s big milestone.
Yaxley says Giles convinced her to try to create an event, saying, “You’re the first woman to do this. There won’t be another first woman.”
Just six people have reached this point before her, according to ZwiftPower.com.
Now, Yaxley welcomes the company for this milestone. Her “Mink Does 100,000” ride is set for Friday, April 10 at 3:30 p.m. AEST. It’s 35 kilometers that people can take at their own pace. Join in to celebrate Yaxley and her support of new and struggling riders throughout the years!
Riding With Others
Yaxley, an accountant from Tasmania, Australia, first joined Zwift four years ago. She had trouble keeping up with group rides, dropping off the back partway through.
One day, the leader of a ride called ZWOZ wrote to her with some advice on where to sit in the pack to maximize the draft effect. Each week, she came back and practiced, and she hung on longer and longer.
Soon Yaxley was the one helping others learn how to ride in a group and achieve their goals. She began leading a 101-kilometer ride called “Mink Centurion,” which now includes other leaders and is known as “TBR 101 – Endurance.” Experienced riders support newer ones who join for the first time.
“I saw that when people got their first century… the confidence that they drew out of that actually enabled them to go out and achieve other goals,” she says. “My aim was to get as many people to their first century as possible.”
Some of her group riding tips include:
- Drafting is the most important thing to learn! Practice in groups or by just trying to latch onto a small group of riders passing by on a free ride.
- Stay about 1/3 of the way back from the front of a typical group. It’s too easy to get dropped if you’re too close to the back.
- If you get dropped, some rides will have sweepers to help bring you back, but don’t stress if you can’t keep up. Just join the event again next week and try to hang on for a little bit longer.
- If you’re going for a longer distance than you’re used to, work up to it slowly.
Yaxley’s own regular 30-kilometer rides before work have now turned into 100-kilometer rides. She doesn’t know what drew her to longer and longer distances. Maybe it’s because as soon as she achieves a goal, she starts looking for another one.
Connecting With Community
In August of last year, she decided to do a 24-hour ride. She wasn’t on her own for long.
“I didn’t tell anybody... I just started doing it,” Yaxley says. “I finished at 7:00 on a Sunday morning and bawled my eyes out, overwhelmed by the number of people who had just come on to ride along.”
How did they pick up on her quest?
- Over her time joining and leading rides and helping the community, a lot of people had followed her in the Zwift Companion app. This way, they could see her in a list of followed Zwifters when they looked up who was currently riding. They could also see how long and how far she had been riding, and keep track of her rides in the activity feed.
- If they added her as a favorite, they got a notification when she started riding and could give her a “Ride On.”
- To join her, they used the “Ride With” feature. This drops Zwifters into the virtual world wherever their friend is riding.
- Following someone also allows them to invite you to a Meetup, though Yaxley didn’t create one this time.
Yaxley has been part of a few different teams on Zwift. First it was SAS, where she got the nickname “The Mink” after rejecting “The Armadillo.” Then it was AHDR, and then no team at all. Now, she has found a home with The Big Ring (TBR), who she says gives her support in longer rides.
Yaxley loves to go bicycle touring with her husband, Tony, and other riding companions. She has gone on multiple-day long-distance journeys in Australia, New Zealand, and Europe, relishing the chance to see the world and explore different cultures.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 outbreak has canceled some of her early cycle touring plans in 2020, and the rest are uncertain.
“I was doing more climbing to get ready for (touring) Europe, but now I’m going to have to think about a new goal,” she says.
On Zwift, the next big milestone would be 100,000 miles.
When asked how she feels about being the first woman to hit 100,000 kilometers on Zwift, Yaxley’s normally strong voice wavers with emotion. “Somewhat embarrassed. I guess humbled,” she says. “It’s easier for me to help others and give others accolades than to receive.”
She says the people she’s met on Zwift mean a lot to her. She has even traveled the world to visit some of them in person.
“These are real people,” she says. “They might look like avatars on screen while you’re riding around, but there are real people behind them. My life is richer for having met them.”
Follow Yaxley’s touring adventures at www.psyclepaths.com!