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On Episode #58: Episode 58: This week on Fueltalk we get to meet Viola Brand, a professional artistic cyclist from Stuttgart, Germany. Viola is the vice-world champion in artistic cycling a sport governed by the UCI. Together we chat about muscle memory, balance, focus, mindfulness and body scanning.

Listen to the show: 

Fueltalk Notes:

We asked Viola a few extra questions. Here is what Viola had to say…

What is the state of the UCI ecosystem in Germany?
The president of the UCI was in Stuttgart at the World championships 2016 and was really enthusiastic about the discipline but in general I have to admit that there is not that much support from the UCI. The president of the UCI said, that he wants to change it that artistic cycling getˋs a bigger lobby and I really hope that it was not just words. Also, we hope to get into the world games because artistic cycling is not in the Olympic games.

How would you like to impact the artistic cycling community around the world?
I would like to make the artistic cycling family bigger and more common around the world so that everybody knows about artistic cycling. And that there might be a chance to get into the Olympic games if there would be more people on every continent doing artistic cycling!

What ignited you to start your artistic cycling journey? 
Itˋs such a great and also special sport that I wanted to start. Itˋs calm, aesthetic, elegant but also stunning and fascinating. And you need a lot of different skills to be successful.

What helps you expand your understanding of balance?
I train the figures many thousand times and I am mindful what my body says.
Due to the fact that I started at the age of 6 my mind muscle connection has established very well and thatˋs why the balance acts might look easily.

What or who were your sources of learning about artistic cycling?
My older brother was already practicing this sport in a club in our hometown. So I went there many times to watch how he was training and I wanted to start too, but my legs were too short, but at the age of 6 my legs were long enough to reach the pedals of the smallest bike and that was when I started to do artistic cycling.

What would you be doing if you weren’t an artistic cyclist?
I really donˋt know, I think I would be a completely different person. Artistic cycling taught me so much from a young age on that I do not know who I would be without it. Through this sport, I got a lot of discipline, willingness to reach my goals and also improved me in all things I do.

Do you have daily rituals?
I am a pretty scheduled person. I get up to go to University, have my classes and study in the afternoon. After that, I have my daily 4 hours of training. Aside from that, there is not much time for other things but I like it the way it is.

What is your experience with meditation?
It depends on what you understand of meditation, but at the competitions, I am really mindful and aware of my body and emotions I have. Also, I am working with my mental coach to improve my mental strength.

What is your relationship with breath and how do you use breath to reach peak performance?
I use breath before I start my performance, to calm down, to reduce my excitement and to be aware of what I can do.

What is the most powerful emotion you want to share with the world? 
For me itˋs the joy to reach a goal which you worked really hard for. Like when your dream comes true.

How many disciplines do you compete in? 
I compete in artistic cycling single women. If you commit 100% in one discipline in artistic cycling there is no room for another.

What do you focus on during your performance?
I only focus on the figure I am doing in this moment. Itˋs really important to stay in the present and donˋt move ahead or backward in your mind, not even a couple of seconds. There is just me and the figure I do.

What does your training regiment consist of?
I start with regular warming up and stretching. After that, I do a light version of my performance routine just to get used to the bike. Then I focus on specific figures that I want to learn, improve or perfect.  This takes the majority of my training. After that, I do my whole competition routine. First I visualize the whole routine in my mind. I sit with my eyes closed going mentally through every figure I do. Then I do my routine. At the end of the training, I usually do strength training, especially for the handstand.

How do you design your performance? 
In artistic cycling competitions, you have 5 minutes to show 30 figures and each figure has itˋs own score. So when you are able to do a figure, for competition you have to do it really fast and itˋs important not to waste time in between the figures. So I design my performance on which figures have a high score and which is the best order that you donˋt waste much time. For example, all the figures you ride forward are in a series and all the figures you ride backward are in a series.

What inspires the design of your performance? 
For the competition it is pretty straight forward. But for shows, I only do figures which I personally prefer. In shows, there is more room for creativity

How do you get into the zone? 
Before my performance I get aware of what I feel at the moment, then I think about what could disturb me and then I focus only on me, my bike, and the surface I perform on so that I am one with my bike

How do you know when you get into the zone?
When I am no more aware of what is happening around me, just myself and the bike

Do you ever balance with your eyes closed?
On the bike, I have never tried and I think this is too dangerous. But on the floor, I have like standing on one foot and close the eyes but I donˋt do that very often

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