The BikingWomen of Corsica: Nora Ismagilova
The last edition of BikingMan Corsica, a 700km/13,000m self supported ultra cycling race took place in April 2019, starting one year ago today. Due to the current global pandemic, the 2020 edition, which was supposed to be underway at the time of publishing, has been postponed. To relive the magic of the 2019 edition, we’re taking a look back at the 8 women who competed in, and successfully completed, this painfully beautiful race.
This is Nora's story:
Name: Nora Ismagilova
Nationality: Russian residing in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates
Solo entry in BikingMan Corsica
Nora on Instagram: @nora.tartaka
Nora was one of two BikingWomen returning to the mountain in the sea to take on the second edition of BikingMan Corsica after a successful but unclassified – due to a routing error - finish in 2018. Having taken up just 4 years prior, the race was Nora’s third ultra cycling race. She finished in 67h/57m. Here is Nora’s story in her own words:
Why BikingMan Corsica?
I signed up about 1 month before the race, around the end of March 2019. At the time I had signed up, I really needed a break and was thinking about going on a cycling trip. But I didn’t have enough time to develop plan for the trip, so I decided to sign-up for BikingMan Corsica. There is always a nice atmosphere around the race, so a positive experience is guaranteed.
Tell us about your training for the race.
Since I decided to participate in the race quite late, I had only 4-5 weeks to get ready for the challenge. In the UAE, we can train throughout the winter which I did, so I wasn’t starting from scratch. I decided to keep my usual 3 times per week cycling routine. Mid-week rides were about 1-2-hour rides and were often indoor cycling classes. During weekend I trained in mountains and targeted about 3,000m in elevation per ride, regardless to distance it will need to achieve it. This training plan was an experiment for me, and I was wondering how it will feel during the race. Surprisingly, I felt ok during Corsica race and didn’t end up with injuries like last year.
Thoughts on the start line?
I was looking forward riding in the nice weather in Corsica and enjoying the experience, which was important for me. So, I kept reminding myself exactly that, to enjoy it. While we have a target distance to achieve every day, I wanted to make sure I also have good time. Given my history of getting injuries during races, there was some anxiety. Its hard to deal with this feeling but I tried to stay positive.
There is always an element of not knowing what will happen when you’re at the start line, but I welcomed the unknown and there is nothing one can do at the race start except to just embrace the feeling.
What was your race strategy, and did you follow it?
I always have some sort of plan for these types of races. Based on my experience in BikingMan Corsica in 2018, I expected to be on the road for 4 days and had no intentions to cycle at night. I made some tentative arrangements but kept my mind open for any possible setbacks due to weather or other conditions, as well as opportunities to advance if I felt like things were going well. I like to be flexible during the race and this paid off. I finished within 3 days.
What was the most challenging aspect of the race for you?
Handling mechanical issues and repair bike is always the biggest challenge for me. Despite many attempts to study, learn this, I still have poor skills. Riding at night is another big issue. For some reason I feel unsafe and try to avoid this as much as possible. However, you end up riding in dark hours from time to time. So, you still need to be prepared for it.
There is also a challenge of managing my family while I am racing, as they don’t really like me doing these kind of adventures.
What was the most enjoyable aspect of the race?
The most enjoyable aspect for me is discovering new places by bike and learning about people in a new country; admiring nature and appreciating everything that our planet has to offer us. It gives me a great feeling of gratitude.
I also enjoy discovering myself as well and how I respond to situations, challenges and figuring what coping mechanisms work best for me.
And of course, meeting amazing athletes and adventure riders really gets me inspired by their stories and expeditions.
What advice would you give someone thinking about doing an ultra-cycling race?
For everyone who thinks about doing an ultra cycling race for the first time, the challenge seems too big and too scary, especially for female riders. It takes a lot of courage and I can only advise to embrace the challenge. If you would like to expand your horizon, discover your strength, curious about new places – give it a try.
Don’t set limitations in your own mind and I am sure you will surprise yourself about your own abilities.
It’s also easy to over-plan and try to have solution for all possible issues that can happen during a race. It’s hard to be prepared for everything, so don’t stress too much about them. Have the faith that everything can be sorted out. Most of the times, solutions come from sources you would never imagine.