26th January 2016
Written by Vicki Bunn
I met Alimpiada (Alla) Cassidy at Brands Hatch in September 2015 when she appeared at the registration desk for our 24 hour relay – she was running late and reminded me of a jittery little bird! Off she went to find her garage and get ready for the challenge that lay ahead. Well this ‘little bird’ was on a mission with a dogged determination which saw her win the female soloist category with an amazing 110 laps which clocked up an incredible 268 miles!
A few weeks ago I was delighted to receive Alla’s registration for our event this September, and will be looking forward to catching up with her again and seeing if she can push herself even further around the circuit – each lap clocking up 2.4 miles and 64 metres of elevation.
Keen to encourage more women to enter our challenge I thought I would do a bit of research into Alla’s cycling career ….. I was staggered and inspired to find out much much more of the determination and drive within this little bird.
Alla tells me that “Love is my drive in life... and I love sport, adventure and, at this stage, cycling is my favourite. I like to play hard. Sport makes me very happy - achieving your dream goals in life is the most incredible feeling a person can experience but when you can help other people to achieve their goals that is an even more valuable feeling.”
Alimpiada Vladimirovna Cassidy is from Novosibirsk in Russia and came to the UK in April 2004 and since then she has been busy!
In 2005 Alla took part in a 6 girl relay team swimming the English Channel raising over £8,000 for Breast Cancer, and the following year she took part in another relay and this time raised £3,500 for the MacMillan Trust. To date she has taken part in 5 relays across the Channel, the last one being in August 2015.
In 2007 she took the plunge and attempted to swim the Channel solo – it was one of the hardest things she feels she has done so far in her life – and thanks the friends, family and strangers without whose support she feels the dream would never have come true. It took a couple of attempts – at the end of the July she hit the tides wrong and swam a total of 14 hours and 37 minutes before admitting defeat. Undeterred she then completed a successful attempt, the following month, in 13 hours and 7 minutes – she says that it was freezing …… even for a Siberian girl!!
In order to take on the Channel Alla had to put on lots of weight and went from a UK size 4-6 up to a size 10-12! Once the mission was completed she needed to lose the weight and the route to this was to start running and cycling …
To date Alla has completed 11 marathons – mainly abroad as she likes to see the world and meet new people. In 2012 she ran an Ultra Marathon around the Isle of Wight – 75 miles in two days – she describes it as “really hard, but very pretty”! In March 2013 Alla did the Ice Marathon which saw her running across Lake Baikal in Siberia (the deepest lake in the world and the largest lake in Europe) – “the most stunning marathon I have ever run”.
Whilst living in London between 2005 and 2010 she discovered a completely new sport – canoeing! So, obviously, she had to take on the longest canoe race around – Devizes to Westminster! This is a race done in pairs and she and her partner spend 9 months of hard winter training, took part in serious canoe races and achieved 3rd place in a run-up event – but unfortunately two weeks before the big day her partner had to pull out and there was no-one to replace her at such short notice ….. so this remains as unfinished business which Alla is still hoping to complete one day ….
In 2014 Alla went on to do her first Ironman, in Austria, and TWO weeks later her second ironman distance Triathlon in the UK: the Bastion at Heaver Castle – “I can honestly say I have no idea how I managed to finish that.. But I did!!” Alla’s last Ironman was in Kalmar, Sweden, in August 2015. She has also had great fun in some half Ironmen in Dubai and Majorca last year.
It was in 2014 that Alla started to focus seriously on her cycling....
She appears on the Tour of England Hall of Fame for completing both the SE and Yorkshire Tours in the same year – 2015. She tells me that she met some absolutely amazing people who gave her total inspiration for her cycling.
She has completed the Tour of Wessex three times to date. This is a very tough Sportive covering 335 miles and a 7500m climb in three days and she will be having another crack at it again in 2016. Alla explains that day three is a killer and that she always "has a cry" 25 miles before the finishing line as it "just hurts everywhere.." Someone once asked her if she will ever stop entering this gruelling race and her reply was “only when I can manage to cycle all three days without crying - and smiling all the way …..”
Another crazy ride Alla has her sights set on will be in March 2016... Climbing the height of Mount Everest at Kidds Hill or Yorks Hill (Surrey). Alla met two guys during a regular Sunday ride.. and they explained that they had cycled up and down Kidds Hill over 100 times over 22 hours. Fascinated by their story Alla has now been invited to join them this year – she is excited by the good fun of a tough challenge and hopes it improves her hill riding, which she feels is one of her current weaknesses.
On 22 May 2016 Alla is also looking forward to taking part in a 140km ride in Wales from Cardiff.
Alla rides for Southborough and District Wheelers Club and she says that their support over the last seven months has made her a much stronger and more confident rider. Unfortunately there are only few women in the club, which makes it harder to keep up on the hills!
In 2016-2017 Alla is hoping to find more time to start raising more for charities. She has a full time job and studies. Her mum was recently diagnosed with a cancer.. So she feels that her life is slightly hectic at the moment and her priorities are shifting. But, with typical cheerfulness Alla says “life is too short for sadness and we have to live it full on.”
So I can’t wait for this September when this little bird, oozing with inspiration and enthusiasm, will be joining us again for Revolve24 at Brands Hatch of which she says:
“the mad and crazy 24 hour ride around Brands Hatch: 270 miles and 7300m climb – it was absolutely crazy ... I didn’t think it was at all possible... But now I know it is possible and in 2016 I am hoping to cover 300 miles. I think I will have a good competition this year! I loved it - every minute of this crazy, crazy event..”
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