Episode 72 – Izabela Murtagh

From Commuting Enthusiast to Audax Extraordinaire – PBP and Beyond!

Want to know what it’s like to ride long distance Audax events like London-Edinburgh-London and Paris-Brest-Paris? Well this episode features guest Izabela Murtagh who has done just that. Izabela has kind of fallen into the world of long distance Audax riding, in fact, she first got into cycling as a way of commuting from home to work. But this isn’t just a short 20min cycle each way, twice a day. Izabela’s commute amount to over 50kms daily – five days a week, all year round. Oh and did I mention she lives in Scotland? So she has ALL the weather to ride in as well.

Izabela Murtagh - cycle commuting during a blizzard in Scotland

Speaking with Izabela what struck me was her ‘matter of fact’ approach. She doesn’t see what she does as anything special, rather we could all do the same if we wanted. I love that she first took on cycle commuting as a way of saving money – and for being a more reliable way of getting to work each day. When she changed jobs and her daily commute became quite a bit longer, she decided to stick with it and see if it was sustainable. She’s now been commuting for more than 8 years and by no means looks like giving up.

Her first long distance event was the Ride to the Sun, riding first to Carlisle then turning round and finishing at Crammond Beach. A distance of over 320kms. Up to that point, Izabela had never ridden more than 100kms. But she wasn’t put off by that or the fact she would have to ride the event on her own, a day early, due to having to work. To get through the distance, Izabela used a mental trick of breaking the total distance down into a number of ‘commutes’. It would just be a matter of cycling her commuting distance – ten times in a row.

Of course Izabela finished that ride and got through the distance. Soon, she was intrigued enough to try out Audax rides and theres been no looking back. She has completed all Audax ride distances, and ridden the big events, being London-Edinburgh-London, Paris-Brest-Paris, as well as a 1600km permanent in Scotland.

In 2023, she entered the TransAlba Race – a self-supported ultra distance cycling event, which goes all around Scotland. Of course Izabela did this ‘Audax style’. She didn’t see herself racing as such, just riding a long distance day after day. She ended up doing quite well, finishing first female and third overall in the General Classification.

To follow Izabela’s future adventures check her out on  Instagram – @iza.murtagh

You can also check out the Towpath Talks which she hosts at the Towpath Cafe, at Biketrax Edinburgh here.

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