FFFC Women Who Ride Series – Jen Tillman

FFFC:  Please introduce yourself to our readers.

JT:  Hi there everyone.  My name is Jen Tillman.   Race name Tillmanator.

FFFC:  How and why did you get started riding?

JT:  I started mountain biking in ’97 as I was finishing undergrad.   It was an attempt to improve my lifestyle and get active while being in the woods.  I was a smoker, a bit of a partier, and I was certainly carrying a few extra pounds.  That first ride nearly killed me….but it was a start.
As a kid, I loved my banana seat bike and always had fond memories on two wheels…

FFFC:  Which type of bike(s) do you prefer to ride?

JT:  Hard question.  So many different bikes, so little time to enjoy them ALL.  From September to December, my Cyclocross bikes definitely win the contest… If you don’t know what Cyclocross is, check out team’s Charm City race footage here: (it is a BLAST both to race and “heckle” racers as spectator).  The rest of the year,  I’d say I’d pick one of my 29-er Mountain Bikes.   I have two.  One with gears and one with just one gear.   If I had to pick, I’d probably choose my singlespeed “Tillmanator” bike since she makes me work harder….
Project Tillmanator was a recent project:    -To get my arse stronger build up a single speed frame that a dear friend gave me.    – Get it custom painted and outfited with cool custom fun Tillmanator graphics and decals THEN    -Ride that one gear hard.    -Suffer, suffer more    -Notice how the body adapts and gets stronger (<6 weeks, big fitness gains)    -Take that fitness to the Races in September!    -It worked.   🙂  (And I love the simplicity of having a one-speed).



During the week, I’m always out on the roads on my road bike as well.  Riding the road is a foundation to my training program.
So as I weaved way off topic, I’ll end in saying:  NEVER too many bikes!

FFFC:  What do you like most about riding?

JT:  The mental zen that comes with pushing beyond my limits.   Pushing beyond a self-imposed limit is always a ‘win.’   Breaking those boundaries are addicting.
I love how nature rushes by me on my mountain bike as I’m zipping through the single track trails.
I love the Cycling community and how it unites so many people who otherwise would have no connection.

FFFC:  What is the furthest distance or longest time you have ridden?

JT:  Century – road.  (100 miles).  I’ve competed in a few Mountain Bike relay races over the last few years where I split rounds for 12-13 hours. (Never have I entered a 12 hour race solo,…yet)

FFFC:  Do you belong to a riding group?  Shout’em out right here.

JT:  I race for C3-Twenty20 Cycling Co.            round-logo                This is my 2nd year with the team.   Kris Auer, local bike shop owner and avid Cyclocrosser, is our team director.   He owns the Twenty20 shop in Hampden and recently opened a second shop in Savage MD.  {Check them out, they are a top notch shop.}

FFFC:  What do you do to stay in riding shape (exercise, nutrition, etc.)?

JT:  OMG.  I’ll summarize.  I’m generally on the bike 5-6 days a week 50 weeks out of the year.   Each season has different goals but I’m always riding.  I love to ride – that helps a lot.  I have been experimenting over the last year with other workouts to help improve and build upper body and core strength.  My partner is an avid “Cross-Fitter” so she has had some influence.   i’ve committed to Olympic lifting as well as regular doses of push-up’s, pull-up’s, rowing, and various plyometric jumping exercises.  I hate running but try to run at least once a week during the CX season to keep my legs used to turning over.
Nutrition: I keep a food diary.  I’ve been doing that for years.  It keeps me honest and aware of what is going in to my body.   I limit grains and processed foods.   (For example, we don’t keep whole grains or junky foods at home so that helps keep me honest).  I drink a Green Power Food smoothie every morning for breakfast.   (Kale, broccoli, carrot, celery, apple, orange, frozen banana — blended with Almond milk and some good protein powder) It’s like eating two salads for breakfast.  In general,  I watch what I eat but I don’t overly restrict what I eat… I do limit alcohol to just the occasional cocktail.

FFFC:  What was the biggest challenge when you started riding or still is even now?

JT:  Getting in shape.  No matter where you start from, completely out of shape or an athlete preparing for the season, fitness is something you can always grow. There is always room to get stronger, to refine technique, etc. That is part of what I love about the sport.   I am always evolving and my growth is tied directly to the investments I have made in myself.  (Which also include trying to keep my life balanced and stress low).

FFFC:  Do you have any upcoming races or rides planned?  Share the event details here.

JT:  Oh yes!   I am racing every weekend (Sometimes Saturday and Sunday) from now until mid-December.     Cyclocross Season is here! This year, I’m staying closer to home with maybe one or two “away” race weekends.  For more info on my CX Season Journey, follow my blog:

FFFC:  Who helped you as you learned the ropes of riding?

JT:  I have met some amazing people in the woods, @ Races,  etc.   We all help each other get stronger. There are a few amazing guy friends of mine that continue to help me refine my style and push me well beyond my limits on training rides.

FFFC:  Any advice for someone interested in starting to ride?

JT:  Find something you love to do. Keep at it.   Find a cycling group that matches your pace (Many shops have a variety of rides.  There are also a ton of Triathlon / Cycling recreational groups out there). Talk to your local shop. Ask for advice. Be open. Trust that you WILL get stronger / faster / etc. Just keep at it. Find something you love to do.

FFFC:  What has been your biggest accomplishment to date?

JT:  Last year, I won my first Elite Women’s cyclocross race right at the tail of my season (December).  It. Was. Awesome!

FFFC:  Who are some of your riding idols (Male or female we don’t discriminate)?

JT:  Marianne Vos Our C3 pro team member, Arley Kemmerer UK Cyclocross pro, Helen Wyman.
Pictures from the first weekend of Cyclocross Racing 9/7 and 9/8 in Trexlerstown, PA (Nittany Cyclocross Races):


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I'm a lot of things such as wife, mother of 2, and career woman but my passion is fitness. You can sum me up as a fitness lifestyle blogger and enthusiast. I started Femme Fitale Fit Club to motivate women to live fit and healthy lives as well as share information on fitness programs, good nutrition, fitness equipment and tools. I love fitness challenges, running, cooking healthy meals, lifting weights, and meeting new people! View all posts by Femme Fitale Fit Club

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