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Lizzy Banks to find comfort in the big – GravelBikes.Online


“It was so magical: the landscapes, the rock formations, the vastness, the emptiness, the feeling of being completely alone in this wild landscape,” says Lizzy Banks of a memorable trip through the mountains of northeastern Greece. describes as one of the “most incredible” of his life. But as envious as the scenery sounds, the trip itself has a deeper meaning for Banks; it was on this trip that he was able to fall in love with cycling again.

“It was actually right after I recovered from my concussion… I wanted – and needed – to just lose myself in cycling, completely forget about the outside world and forget about everything else “explains the 31-year-old man. Rider EF Education–Tibco–SVB. “All, all the pain of the last year left my body and was absorbed into the mountains somewhere,” she says with a sigh.

It’s fair to say Banks is a little lucky. Having suffered concussion following a crash at last year’s Strade Bianche and missing the rest of the 2021 season while recovering, Banks tested positive for Covid-19 in February, a day before his first race this year. It was, as she says, “an incredible moment.” After spending six weeks getting back to what she thought was normal and running again, Banks was dealt another blow when she began experiencing chest pains. He was diagnosed with pericarditis (inflammation of the lining around the heart) and as we speak, he hasn’t been out on his bike for about five months. It’s something he understandably finds difficult to talk about.

“At the moment I am not able to explore [by bike]unfortunately … and that’s a challenge,” he says of his new home outside Geneva. He pauses, taking a moment to find the right words: “Being in such a beautiful place where it’s all about the outdoors, adventure and exploration, and not being able to do that is very, very difficult.”

Meet Lizzy Banks at GravelBikes.Online Live 2022

“But that said, I know when I get back on my bike I’m going to have a great time,” he adds, his face lighting up at the prospect. There’s a 7km drive right outside your front door and it delights with a long list of the many nearby sites waiting to be explored. “Being here, it’s like the world is my oyster. Honestly, there is so, so much: walking, mountain biking, horse riding, wild swimming,” he enthuses. “I can see Mont Blanc from my house… I can’t wait to get stuck in.”

Image: Getty/Sean Robinson

It is this willingness to explore and take on new challenges that led Banks, indirectly, to the world of professional cycling. “All of a sudden, I suggested to my husband, and we didn’t go at all, that we fly to Dubrovnik and cycle to Venice,” she shares. “We had a plan: we knew we had to get to one point from another and we knew we had two and a half weeks to do it… we had a map, our bags and a tent…[but] we had no idea how to put fuel; we were drinking beer and eating pizza and putting a lot of salt on it to try to rehydrate … we were completely underprepared.” Despite that, however, he was surprised by how much he saw on that first bike ride in 2014: “Every every day the landscape changed and every day we saw something completely different.”

After that first foray into cycling (albeit, more than 700 miles in two and a half weeks), Banks picked up a road bike and entered a climb. “I decided I wanted to start running and the rest is history,” he says with a smile. “This [trip] it was the first adventure that gave me a taste of what cycling really had to offer and where you could really go”.

Meet Lizzy Banks at GravelBikes.Online Live 2022

As well as nurturing a strong desire to explore near and far, Banks is also passionate about encouraging others to get outdoors, experience new roads and explore their local area. “You don’t have to go miles away… you don’t have to go on crazy bike trips. All you have to do is go see something different where you live. Just look for the places you haven’t been and then you’ll see all these amazing things you’ve never noticed before.” During the pandemic, he challenged himself to try different roads, lanes and paths, to the extent that he now claims to know almost every inch of tarmac in his hometown of Sheffield.

Image: Luc Claessen/Getty

Having compiled a number of cycling collections for Komoot during her role as ambassador for the navigation app, Banks is of course a great help in creating routes, but it’s also evident during the our chat who also loves to share recommendations. and hidden gems. Pictures from past trips, links to routes and a list of cycling destinations ring out to me as the interview progresses.

Another great example of this is the series of cycling routes he recently laid out for friend and professional cyclist Franzi Koch when he was in Sheffield for a few days. Dubbed the ‘Franzi Tour’, the three endurance routes, each starting in Sheffield city centre, feature some of Banks’ favorite attractions. “Good routes should always be shared,” Banks writes in the description.

In the same vein, another Komoot collection on which a lot of work has been done includes the lesser-known routes of Valencia – a place where Banks has spent a lot of time on his bike – and which he is very keen to give to meet other motorcyclists. “It’s an area where a lot of cyclists go, but I don’t think it’s that easy to find good resources on where to go,” he explains. “If you search online, you can find the real tourist spots, but you might not be able to find the hidden gems, the secret climbs, the incredibly beautiful places, but no one else is there… that’s what I wanted to be able to show the people”.

A personal favorite of Banks’ nine pitches is the “secret” climb to Col de Ratti. “The Ratti Pass is such a well-known climb, everyone goes there, but not many people know about the secret ascent,” he says. “You’re right above the busiest place for cycling in the area, but there’s nobody there. Get to the top and there’s the most stunning view down the coast.”

Meet Lizzy Banks at GravelBikes.Online Live 2022

He may like to plot a good route, but Banks has also learned the importance of balancing a well-planned route with the space and freedom that paves the way for new adventures. “I don’t really like going from A to B,” he explains. “I think that was the mistake I made when I was going for a bike ride. I thought [that] I have to go somewhere, and it has to come back in a circle or in a straight line. I realized that the less straight I made the line or circled, the better the route was.”

For now, the cycling routes of his new home in France are waiting patiently, but you can be sure that once Banks gets back on his bike, he’ll have plenty of recommendations to offer.

Cover image: Gruber Images

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19 COMMENTS

  1. Wow, Lizzy Banks finding comfort in big gravel bikes? Thats like discovering peanut butter on a hot dog. Mind-blowing!

    • Well, everyone has their own preferences, dont they? If Lizzy Banks finds comfort in big gravel bikes, who are we to judge? Peanut butter on a hot dog might sound strange to you, but hey, to each their own. Different strokes for different folks, my friend.

    • Gravel biking? Seriously? Lizzy Banks should stick to what she knows best. Leave the epic adventures to the pros who can actually handle it.

  2. Wow, Lizzy Banks is really taking the gravel bike scene by storm! Cant wait to see her conquer those off-road adventures!

  3. Wow, Lizzy Banks is really taking a unique path with gravel biking! Cant wait to see her conquer those rough terrains!

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