Katia della Faille, 50, is a bicyclist. Not just any bike rider, but a smiling, determined, unstoppable bike-riding devotee. Her smile and her bright pink bike just jumped off the screen when we discovered her on Instagram. Whatever she was doing seemed to really be working, so we had to find out more about who this woman was, and all about her very-not-casual bike riding.
Discovering Cycling at 40
When did you start biking?
I started exactly 10 years ago, just after I turned 40. Before, I was a politician. I was an MP (Member of our Federal Parliament) when it all started. After an interview, a journalist asked me which sports I was into. I said I was playing tennis, doing aerobics and swimming 7 hours a week…He said: “Drop all and start cycling! You got the right body for this discipline.” I bought my first pink bike a few days later.
Connecting to Self and Life
Why do you bike?
I cycle because it makes me feel more ALIVE than ever. Cycling has invaded my life for 10 years. The endorphins, the landscape, the wind, the rain on my skin…There is something healing and cleansing about it. Besides that, being a member of a peloton is powerful: you are part of a body that is larger than yourself; the aspiration, the same goal, the synchronized movements…It is like the energy of the group is redistributed equally amongst us. Solidarity transpires during effort.
How does riding affect you?
It is not only a passion for me, it is a lifestyle, a philosophy of life. Everything becomes essential while I cycle: every breath, every reflex. I absorb landscapes slowly and empty my stress. My energy gets rebalanced and I feel totally ME. I accept my finitude, and find peace in every cell. I am stronger and more solid at 50 than ever before. On my bike, I need nothing. As I have everything.
Have you ever been injured?
Yes, on more than one occasion. Once, a bad fall and another time I got hit by a car. The driver was on her phone. But nothing serious.
“The pink attitude is powerful”
Nice pink bike! Tell us about that. We have never seen one that color.
Hahhah, with a pink bike, it is inevitable that we are in a good mood, and we put everyone who crosses our path in a good mood! The pink attitude is powerful. I bought my first bike 10 years ago in pink as I was only cycling with men, and I wanted to make a statement: Here I am, and…I AM A WOMAN and PROUD to be one. My second and brand new bike could not have any other color as pink has become part of my DNA.
Climbing Over 10 Mount Everests annually
How far do you ride over the course of a year?
I pedal between 10 and 11 thousand km (6000 miles) per year. And climb (if I make the total of my positive gradients) about the equivalent of 10 Mount Everests and a half! I do not go out for less than 50 km. In the summer I sometimes go for 150 or 180 km (111 miles!) per day, knowing that 10 years ago I never could have imagined becoming a cyclist!
What do you do in the winter to stay in shape, assuming the weather is bad.
I continue cycling. If the weather is too bad, I work out on my indoor bicycle with the Zwift app. I have my own avatar on it and can compete against people across the entire planet online! Great fun in my own house…
9000 kg Workout
What sort of exercise do you do in addition to biking?
I have a sports coach that I see twice a week for one hour. He helps me lifting, pushing, pulling: it’s a 9000 kg workout! This gives me the extra power that makes the difference while I climb mountains like The Galibier, Mont Ventoux or other mythical climbs of the Tour de France.
“My children are quite proud”
Who do you bike with?
98% are men (unfortunately there are very few women of my age who cycle), and they all live in my neighborhood and are obsessed by cycling!
Does your family bike, too?
No, they do not…But all of them support me…My children are quite proud, and my husband gave me my brand new pink bike for my 50th birthday.