Specialized’s newest racing reporter isn’t hard to pick out of the crowd of journalists and riders at the Amgen Tour of California—Phenom just look for the Tips pigtails.
Nine-year-old Ruby Isaac, from Kettering, UK, is reporting daily for the brand via Facebook Live. Isaac has been hanging out with the Boels-Dolman women’s pro team in South Lake Tahoe while they prep for today’s start of the women’s Tour of California.
Isaac was just seven years old when she first got on a bike, but she jumped into her first cyclocross race a mere month later. Since then, she has started racing road and track and is winning the cycling internet’s heart via her YouTube videos (username: Pocket Rocket Cycling), which show her crushing the rollers, teaching other kids how to shift gears, and performing bike maintenance. (Become your best cycling self with Maximum Overload, our game-changing interval- and weight-training plan that gets you fitter and faster in no time.)
Cyclist Ruby Isaac at Amgen Tour of California
Cyclist Ruby Isaac at the Amgen Tour of California. PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF SPECIALIZED
This pint-sized rider’s love for bikes is so huge, Isaac caught the eye of not only Specialized’s marketing team (“She rides rollers better than most adults I’ve seen,” says Specialized PR Manager Katie Sue Gruener), but also World Champion Peter Sagan: Isaac is one of only 67 people he follows on Twitter.
Check out some of Isaac’s skills:
Want to be this good at bikes? We got insider tips from Isaac and her father, Nick, via Skype.
1. Try really hard.
Isaac started racing at age 7 in the U10 category, and only just turned 9, so she’s still one of the youngest (and smallest) kids out there. When asked how she deals with the nerves that come with racing bigger kids, she says, “Just focus on doing your best and trying your hardest.” Then, in the race, “I just go really fast and right when I get near them [her competitors] I shout and take over.”
2. … And then try again.
In her first cyclocross race, Isaac came in last place and got lapped. She said, “I felt happy that I did it but sad that I wasn’t near the front.” She had a positive attitude, though: “It was still fun that I did have a go.”
Nick says, “We were really proud of her finishing, and just made a big deal of that fact. From then on she caught the bug and wanted to race more.”
The next year, she went back, raced the same course—and won! Now, she consistently finishes within the top-five in her U10 races. “If it were up to her,” says Nick, “she’d race every day.”
RELATED: 6 Pro Training Hacks Any Cyclist Can Use
3. Invest in gear that won’t hold you back.
Isaac’s road bike is set up with Di2 electronic shifting, because it’s easier for her to hit the shifters with her tiny hands.
After watching Isaac struggle to throw the levers on her bike in a race, Nick went home to Google solutions. He bought Di2 parts secondhand to keep costs down, and hooked them up to a 1x drivetrain on her 24-inch kids’ bike (the front shifter is just disconnected) so that she only has to think about shifting on one side.
“She just has so much more confidence changing gears now, which is a big issue with a lot of kids when they start,” he says. Her bike has other child-friendly parts too, like 135mm cranks (relative to adult crankarms, which tend to run between 165- and 180mm).
Isaac hits the trainer and offers gear analysis:
4. When it comes to skills, it’s all about progression.
Isaac learned to ride rollers with help from her dad and her brother. “First, she would just ride the rollers and I would just hold the back of her seat,” says Nick. “When she was pedaling quite smooth, I’d just let go of the seat for a little bit, then grab it again. And then it was kind of about letting go of the seat for longer each time.” It took about 45 minutes the first time for Isaac to get the hang of it.
Her number-one advice for riding rollers? “Go really fast and don’t stop pedaling. That’s when you fall off.”
Learn to ride rollers the easy way with this video:
5. Do the work…
Isaac totally trains! Nick isn’t a cyclist—Isaac’s grandmother taught her to ride—so he and Isaac relied upon advice from more experienced riders when she first started attending local club rides for kids.
“One of the pieces of advice that we got is that the best thing for kids to do is not worry about how far you go on your bike, but just try to go really, really fast,” says Nick. “Like even just spending 10 minutes on your bike going really fast. Just enjoy the speed rather than go on lots of very long and slow rides.”
Here’s Isaac’s kid-sized roller workout:
•2-minute “cool down”
•Repeat for 15-20 minutes.
Isaac does this workout twice a week, in addition to riding at the velodrome a few times a week and “doing laps really, really fast” on the track, says Nick.
Work your way toward this crowd-pleasing move:
6. … And celebrate your successes.
A couple of months ago, Isaac did her longest ride yet: 20 miles. It took her an hour and a half on a closed, one-kilometer track at a local park. (Nick says she’s still too young to ride on the open road.)
“I was tired,” says Isaac, “but I finished by going, ‘Yes! I’ve done it!’ I celebrated that I’ve done it and that I’ve tried really hard.”
Her biggest tip for anyone doing their longest ride ever? “Keep going. Just fight through the pain. I would.”
To see pro cycling coverage reach historic levels of cuteness, tune into Specialized’s Facebook page as Isaac interviews racers at the Amgen Tour at California from May 11 through 17. Or check out the YouTube channel Specialized set up for #RaceReporterRuby. Her first interview, with Christine Majerus of Boels-Dolman, is already
Assertive Communication – 6 Tips For Effective Use
What IS assertive communication?
Assertive communication is the ability to express positive and negative ideas and feelings in an open, honest and direct way. It recognises our rights whilst still respecting the rights of others. It allows us to take responsibility for ourselves and our actions without judging or blaming other people. And it allows us to constructively confront and find a mutually satisfying solution where conflict exists.
So why use assertive communication?
All of us use assertive behaviour at times… quite often when we feel vulnerable or unsure of ourselves we may resort to submissive, manipulative or aggressive behaviour.
Yet being trained in assertive communication actually increases the appropriate use of this sort of behaviour. It enables us to swap old behaviour patterns for a more positive approach to life. I’ve found that changing my response to others (be they work colleagues, clients or even my own family) can be exciting and stimulating.
The advantages of assertive communication
There are many advantages of assertive communication, most notably these:
- It helps us feel good about ourselves and others
- It leads to the development of mutual respect with others
- It increases our self-esteem
- It helps us achieve our goals
- It minimises hurting and alienating other people
- It reduces anxiety
- It protects us from being taken advantage of by others
- It enables us to make decisions and free choices in life
- It enables us to express, both verbally and non-verbally, a wide range of feelings and thoughts, both positive and negative
There are, of course, disadvantages…
Disadvantages of assertive communication
Others may not approve of this style of communication, or may not approve of the views you express. Also, having a healthy regard for another person’s rights means that you won’t always get what YOU want. You may also find out that you were wrong about a viewpoint that you held. But most importantly, as mentioned earlier, it involves the risk that others may not understand and therefore not accept this style of communication.
What assertive communication is not…
Assertive communication is definitely NOT a lifestyle! It’s NOT a guarantee that you will get what you want. It’s definitely NOT an acceptable style of communication with everyone, but at least it’s NOT being aggressive.
But it IS about choice
Four behavioural choices
There are, as I see it, four choices you can make about which style of communication you can employ