The tornado of May flys into June – 14 races in 9 weeks..

I am starting to feel a little blown mentally. I haven’t raced this intensively for around 6 years and I am starting to fantasise about sleep a lot.

I only have 2 races to go and then I get a week off, so I know I can do this! But I am tired…racing like a professional but going back to the office in between takes it’s toll – thank goodness for Yoga, meditation, reiki and mindfulness to keep me under control (thanks Anne for the recent mindfulness session).

So I’ve been in Belgium, Canada, back to Belgium, Scotland, Isle of Man and it’s down to Newcastle this weekend. How I am doing this around my job? Well I have an incredibly supported boss and I have annual leave, so this is how my ‘holiday’s look – bike racing..

This year has been all about raising my game – trying to hit top 20’s in UCI 1.1 races and taking things to another level. We are getting there thanks to the help of my faithful coach Todd Scheske, the hot new Redchilli FR2 bike and a lot Meadowlark yoga,  but it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster. The results have gone – 44th, 34th, 29th, 35th….I feel like we are knocking on the door, but I need to bring this baby home! And then over the course of last week I raced the British National Road Championships and had nothing short of disappointing results. In the tt, I wasn’t able to use a tt bike due to various complications, so i rode it on a road bike (not such a great idea). In the road race i burnt several bridges getting over the 12km ‘Mountain’ in the top 20 only to puncture right on the summit. It’s just bike racing, but the timing was bad.

Anyway onwards and upwards. I’ve meet some amazing people, been inspired by several new faces and at the end of the day it’s all about GRATITUDE – the universe always manifests more for us when we are in this zone, so go out there and get appreciative people, it’s the way forward.

Here are some pics to keep you entertained :)Canada RedChilli 2017  Race face on?Canada team silly Canada teamRedchilli belgium 2017 Redchili in BelgiumRedchilli curlew Curlew Cup!Team Breakfast Canada 2017 Team breakieWheelers 2017

THANKS 4 the gd times Quebec :)

 

 

 

Let the racing begin + some yoga…

I’ve taken a slightly different approach to racing for 2017, choosing to start the main racing block a bit later, ie: May. My coach and I have done this to simply give me a bigger winter training block and get me better prepared for the big ones. So it’s all go for May:

Week 1 – Scottish Nat 10 mile tt champs and then drive like furry to Round 1 Scottish National Road Series, Round 1, Sharon Argue Memorial Race

Week 2- Fly to Belgium for UCI 1.1 Westhoek

Week 3 – Fly to Canada for UCI 1.1 Gatineau road race/tt

Week 4 – Fly back to Belgium, drop bike with team, fly back to Edinburgh, go to work and then fly back to Belgium for race 4, UCI Gooik 1.1

It’s a crazy month! But sometimes you just have to go BIG – I’ve never believed in doing things by halves..

And to keep the stress levels at bay I am doing a lot of yoga with my favourite studio, Meadowlark in the Meadows. I got to write on their blog recently, here is why cyclists should get involved with YOGA :)

http://www.meadowlarkyoga.com/2017/05/yoga-sport-really-go-hand-hand/

Stay warm on the bike people  – it’s pretty nippy in Scotland right now..

Back in Edinburgh and back on the rickshaw…

I arrived back in Edinburgh 1.5 weeks ago and it was straight back into the swing of things – so good to be back and to catch up with everyone.

This was me at the start of my rickshaw shift last night…I can assure you that smile didn’t last. At 4am I was well and truly OVER IT..

Rickshaw shift 2017

People often ask me what sort of training I am getting out of rickshawing and I like to think of it as one massive strength session, kind of like going to the gym, but trying to squat 300kgs…by the time you put 3 people in the rickshaw on top of the weight of the rickshaw which is around 100kgs, you have some serious weight to haul the cobbles and it’s hard! But also really really good for building power and stamina. I love doing it, but I am absolutely floored on a Sunday and often dazed at the office job on Monday. It has also funded all my racing endeavours, so I really do have a lot to thank the rickshaw community for.

And it does feel a bit chilly back in Scotland – only my face has felt the sea breeze directly while riding and any sign of a tan is surely soon to be gone…

Nth Berwick 2016 North berwick 2017. Gen

Happy cycling people – stay warm!

x

Training rolls on – happy 2017 cycling buddies..

Meadowlark 2016 NZ

As much as i’d love to say that everyday in NZ this summer has been like this pic – i can’t. The truth is, NZ is having a rubbish summer and weather like this, has been rare. This is a pic of me enjoying a coastal spin around Wellington, and yes it looks amazing, but i can assure you most of the time i am riding/training directly into a head wind.

So i’ve been in NZ for close to 3 months and i know some of my Uk friends are wondering what’s going on, and why i am not in Scotland.  My family has experienced an unexpected illness, and i’ve been doing all i can to support them, which has been a very rollercoaster ride for over 6 months now – but it has given me time with my parents, time that i have not had over the last 10 years and although i’d rather not be in NZ under such circumstances, there really is nothing quite like family.

So, my advice to all cycling buddies for 2017 is to connect with the one’s you love – be that near or far and to really live in the moment and make the most of what you have. It’s a funny old planet we live on and you just have to roll with the punches sometimes.

Training is going well – never have i been so rested and been able to average 15 hours a week. Gone are the days of working 40 hours and then rickshawing weekends and attempting to race around it – i feel like i am finally preparing properly for a season.

So the race calendar is getting finalised and I am getting ready for a European/North american racing season – here’s to a unique 2017.

Happy cycling.

Gen

Training & getting family time in New Zealand

Apiti route NZ 2. 2016

I’ve been in NZ since late October due to unforeseen family circumstances and have been getting in some good solid ‘winter’ miles – well summer miles in NZ.  Its been amazing having so much needed time with my family, but I sure am missing the UK and bonny wee Scotland. This is the first off season in which I have had the opportunity to put in such quality training, including proper gym sessions and finally learning how to squat and deadlift properly.

This pic was taken on a local loop around my father’s place about 20km’s south of a small rural town called Apiti. It included around 1400 metres of climbing over 130km’s, but thanks to the young talents in the Manawatu bike club we got around in a steady time of 4.5 hours.

So it will be a summer xmas this year, but wishing all my cycling buddies and friends in the UK and around the globe a merry xmas – cu all back there in 2017 :)

Edinburgh summer. T Campbell 2015

Looking forward to some local laps of ‘Arthur’ on my return…

A night with Steve Wright & Arthur Smith from BBC Radio 2

About a month ago I had the privilege of giving Steve Wright from BBC Radio 2 and comedian Arthur Smith a rickshaw ride through the streets of Edinburgh. They were uber fun to hang out with, my only disappointment was not having the leg strength to get them up Victoria street..I blame the tough racing schedule for this! You can hear it here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p045pxny

Arthur and Steve

Gen’s quick fire training tips -Get your position dialed for a better finish & learn how to climb..

About a month ago I asked cycling friends on twitter what they would like advice on and the big ones that came back were bunch positioning & climbing. So I thought, why the heck don’t I just write about both in one go. A short condensed version with all the juice , well that’s the plan.

I am forever learning as a cyclist. Even as I have got faster over the last few years, one has to be constantly diligent with bike handling, skills and observance in bike races to ensure you get the right result. I think the most fundamental rule I have learned in my 15 years of racing is to PAY ATTENTION at all times. Road racing is not for day dreamers. You have to race like you have eyes in the back of your head.

So first off positioning..

Aspitt Dijon 2012 Coupe de France

Why is it that the same folk seem to be finishing at the front of the race? Are they actually that much stronger? I have heard many a cyclist whinge and cry at the end of a bunch sprint about how they were shelved by someone before the finish line and how it’s just so unfair that they didn’t make the top 10…blah, blah…

I believe the truth is this. No matter how bad your sprint is, if you are in the front two rows of the peleton going into a sprint finish, you will no doubt do better than your buddy sitting 7-8 rows back. Simply put, you have less ground to make up. Even If Mr or Ms Sprint your butt off is 7-8 rows back from you, and you don’t have as good as sprint as them, you’ll still likely beat them simply because of your position.

I had a team manager who was convinced I had a terrible sprint, simply based on my many 50-100 placing results in top women’s races. Then, one day I got my position dialled, got into the front going into a sprint and won the race – no one could believe it, ‘gen can’t sprint’, and the honest truth is, I didn’t have to sprint that hard to win, I was at the front, and it was a lot easier than trying to get through the bunch.

So my point is this. If you want a shot at winning a race, you need to follow the golden rule – sit in the top 3 rows in the bunch, but never constantly on the front, second row back, sheilded from the wind and doing 30% less than the person in front. BUT you don’t want to get a reputation as a ‘wheel sucker’ so if you are pushed to the front, do a small turn (you can soft pedal) so you don’t hit max heart rate after 30 seconds and then pull off. You also don’t want the reputation as the ‘work horse’ – the rider that is constantly pulling the whole peleton along and then too trashed to contend the finish line. So if you do find yourself on the front a lot, just start riding really really slowly, it will annoy someone enough to attack or take a turn.

The trick to staying in the top 2-3 rows in a race is to constantly keep pedalling and looking for gaps to ensure no one behind you fills them. It’s okay to ride on the outside row of the bunch, but you need to try and remember that you could be exposed to the wind and therefore working a lot harder to be there, so if you can, tuck yourself in behind someone else. If you know someone in your races that is ‘ace’ at positioning, try and sit on their wheel, let them pull you up.

If you are not a strong climber and the hill is approaching, you need to get to the very front of the bunch, so that even if you do start slowing down up the hill, you are still in the bunch, even if dropping back a little – better to do that, than be at the back killing yourself to hang on.

Coming into the finish – this is the tricky part and I am still mastering, but with around 5km’s to go, you need to start making your way up the bunch. With 3km’s to go, you need to be no further back than the 2nd or 3rd row, if you want any chance at a good finish. If the bunch gets strung out at the 1km mark, you need to be around wheel number 5 at the worst if you want to try and contend the sprint. From races in the USA, UK, EUROPE, AUSTRALIA & NZ this rule has worked time and time again to get me a few wins, some podiums and many top 20 finishes in big bunches of up to 100 women.

Now for climbing..

Gen racing in France 2012

Not everyone is a natural mountain goat, but what doesn’t come naturally can most definitely be learnt and taught. There are three main factors that are needed for climbing:

Weight – the less you are, the less you have to ‘carry’ up the hill
Strength – to go up hill fast, you need strength in your muscles. Some people have more natural strength than others, but even if you don’t naturally have it, you can train it.
Speed – when the hammer goes down, you want to be able to go with it.

I am good example. People/coaches assumed I’d be a great natural climber when I started racing because I was pretty light at 55kgs. However unless coaches applied regular strength sessions, I was horrendous uphill in races. We worked out that while the potential was there with my weight, I am a person that doesn’t hold strength for long, so if you want me to climb well, you need to constantly have some strength sessions in there, like virtually every week in the winter and at least once a month in the summer.

So, if you are someone that is struggling with the dem hills, I would look at how much strength you get into training. Over the winter you can build strength in your quads by doing squats, deadlifts, kettlebell exercises as well as press ups, push ups and sit ups to make your stomach strong.

On the bike you can build strength by doing low cadence hill repeats once a week for a period of say 8 weeks. Pick a hill that is atleast 5 minutes long and ideally one you can ride in big ring, or at a low cadence in your hardest gears in small ring and do 4 x 5 min repeats with a cadence of around 50-6-rpm. It will feel like death and anyone who passes you will think you have lost the plot completely, but after a few weeks, including some recovery weeks in between, you will start to see your climbing improve. This is an old school training session that many of the tour de France riders do over the winter, so what is stopping you from giving it a go?

As for the speed part, I would recommend short hill repeats, say 4-6 x 3mins at maximum effort up hill to work on sustained high pace efforts, that replicate a race. Do not start off too hard, you are looking for a speed you can maintain for the whole effort, so if you know that is 15kmph, do not start at 17kmph hoping for a miracle! Last year I got overly excited with a power metre and tried to hold 350 watts (which is someone near the current women’s world recorld) up hill for 5 mins, I blew up after 3 mins and was in such a state I couldn’t complete anymore intervals that day..DON’T LET THAT BE YOU..

So that’s all for training tips right now. I would write more if I simply had more spare time, but I hope this is helpful and feel free to email me if you have any more questions.

Your pal in all cycling related matters and wishing everyone a nice Easter break with a few eggs in there too :)

IMG_20160328_100123

This bunny will not be safe for long..

Cheers,

Gen 

Meet more great female cyclists from bonny Scotland – Claire Thomas & Louise Borthwick

Next in the spotlight for talented Scottish cyclists, we have the tenacious  Claire Thomas, followed by criterium lover Louise Borthwick.

Claire Thomas really is quite extraordinary – in 2014 at the age of 41 she represented Scotland in the Glasgow Commonwealth games road race (almost twice the age of many of her competitors, which just goes to show, age is just a number). Claire has been in break aways/mixed it up with the best in the world in Europe, podiumed time and time again in the UK and has competed in 2 Commonwealth games for Scotland as well as several top ten finishes at the British National Champs. Claire has a never say die attitude and having ridden in the same team as her various times I can say she is truly a delight to have as a team member and a friend…

And then we have the young talent of Louise Borthwick. Louise is taking some time out this year to concentrate on her studies but has been a big player on the UK criterium circuit as well as showing promise as an endurance road cyclist. Louise tells us about the difficult choices she faces as a female athlete, having to choose between study and bike racing as well as her career highlights to date and what can be done to raise the support levels for female cyclists.

Meet Claire – Climber and all round class act rider

Claire ThomasClaire Thomas 2016

Tell us a little about yourself, how did you get into bike racing and what is your background? What team are you riding for this year? Tell us a little about your team and what races you are targeting this year?

I began to race in 2009 when I had a running injury and the surgeon told me I had to do a non-impact sport. I went to the local bike shop, bought a Giant bike and began to race almost straight away. When doing the Scottish Power road race series, I met Callum Gough, the organiser of the race in Wanlockhead and he suggested going to Belgium if I wanted to improve as a cyclist. So that is exactly what I did. I met my Belgian boyfriend on my first trip to Belgium and we have now been together almost 7 years. I gave up my job in the UK, moved to Belgium, learnt Dutch, found a job and I now have a life in Oudenaarde. Now I am racing with Isorex Cycling team. I am targeting a few local races because now with work, cycling has taken a back seat.

What is your speciality as a cyclist?

My speciality is climbing here in Belgium. Short, steep climbs and power climbs. Any wins I have had here are on hilly circuits. Longer climbs also suit me but there are not so many long climbs in races for women other than the Giro and the Tour of Ardeche. I like 1 day hilly races and stage races. In a stage race, I get stronger by the day due to my age. I have always been self-motivated but now that cycling is more of a hobby, I find that on wet, cold days, I would rather sit on my turbo than get cold and wet outside. I have become more flexible in my training because my goals have changed. I dig deep all the time when I race because I always want to achieve the best result I can with my ability. My greatest achievement was winning the British Road Race Series, after not so long racing and helping my team mate win the Tour of Limousin and at the same time gaining UCI points for myself. I would love to ride the Tour of Yorkshire but don’t this won’t happen unless I find a team to guest for.

Do you think the level of riding in Scotland and UK has increased?

To be honest, I don’t think the level in the UK has increased. There are more girls on their bikes but the racing speed in Europe remains higher and the gap remains. The level at the British national championship is certainly higher. And if so, what factors have assisted with this? This is a result of more girls getting the opportunity to race in Europe and racing a more attacking race and not just following until a sprint finish. It makes much more exciting racing now.

As a female cyclist, what do you feel is the biggest issue within women’s cycling right now?

I see many “pro” riders struggling to make ends meet. Many people assume riders in UCI teams are all paid. But this is only the case for some of the riders in big teams such a Boels Dolmans and Wiggle. Most other riders rely on their parents, working in the Winter, savings or part time jobs.

And how do you feel about the pay/sponsorship inequality between men’s and women’s cycling?

There is far too big a difference in prize money but now there is a lot being done to try and make this gap smaller but it will take time. Helen Wyman, 9 x British cyclocross champion is on the UCI cyclocross commission and is campaigning for equal prize money.

What can be done?

More television coverage is a way of bringing more sponsors on board which in turn means more prize money. There is now live coverage of many womens cyclocross races in Belgium showing people that womens racing can also be as exciting or more exciting than mens racing..

Do you think the men’s peloton could do anything right now to help the women?

I don’t think it is the job of the peleton to help women’s cycling. They should focus on their racing but if some of the big men’s teams could set up a women’s team running in parallel- i.e Team Sky. In Belgium, Lotto and Top Sport Vlaanderen have each invested in a women’s team. They have perhaps a less flashy team bus and less bikes but they give riders the chance to focus on just racing and not worrying about whether they can afford a bigger piece of meat or some new shampoo.

Final words of wisdom for females starting out?

Get yourself out to Holland or Belgium to learn bunch positioning skills. Don’t do junk miles if you don’t have much spare time. Focus on quality sessions…And finally, believe in yourself

Meet Louise – Criterium queen

Louise Borthwick

Tell us a little about yourself, how did you get into bike racing and what is your background?

I’m Louise and I’m currently studying geophysics at Edinburgh university. I got into bike racing through some local mountainbike races then started going to the local kids club and just slowly built up to bigger races. I’ve cycled for as long as I can remember, my parents were really into it, but only started racing around the age of 14.

What team are you riding for this year? Tell us a little about your team and what races you are targeting this year?

I’m riding for the Edinburgh Road Club this year, its my local club who I started out racing for. This year I’ll mostly be focusing on the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) races, I’ve been finding it difficult to train while at university so I’m taking my racing down a level this year and just doing races I enjoy.

What is your speciality as a cyclist? And what is your favourite type of race?

I really like criterium races, I love the intensity and how close and fast the racing is. I also like the kermesse style races over in Belgium, I think the extra technical ability required in the big bunches on small roads adds to the racing.

Who inspires you to get on your bike every day and train and race? What motivates you to dig deep?

I get inspired by anyone doing something amazing on a bike, when I watch a race with a really exciting finish it just makes me want to get out on my bike, Lizzie Armistead at the Worlds last year sticks in my head as a particular example though! In training the thought of being in a race, going for an attack or sprinting helps me dig deep. In a race its usually just trying to stay as close as I can to the wheel in front!

What is your greatest achievement to date? and what are your aspirations?

My greatest achievement would probably be finishing 2nd to Hannah Barnes at the Westminster GP in 2013, it was such a cool location to race in and great to do it in front of crowds right before the Tour of Britain! Right now my aspirations are pretty focussed around university and finishing my degree, I’ll see where I can go after that.

Do you think the level of riding in Scotland and UK has increased? And if so, what factors have assisted with this?

Definitely, the whole racing scene is improving, the National Series is a really high level now and the increase of people in 2/3/4 races means they’re really competitive as well. I think the creation of 2/3/4 races like in the North West has really helped, it gives people an entry to the sport without having to race the big races. I think it was hard a few years ago with the only races with big fields really being the national series for people to get into the sport. Also in Scotland the creation of the Dales Womens Series has been a great boost, previously there was next to no womens races being held in Scotland.

As a female cyclist, what do you feel is the biggest issue within Women’s cycling right now? And how do you feel about the pay/sponsorship inequality between men’s and women’s cycling? What can be done?

I think its tv coverage and promotion, its hard to get people interested in the sport beyond those actively seeking out information if races aren’t shown, or even race results talked about. The pay gap is obviously not right and something needs to be done about it, but I think its really difficult because of the lack of coverage, there isn’t as much incentive to invest as a sponsor in a team. However I think unequal prize money is just ridiculous, if an event is being promoted with a mens and womens event then, on a domestic level, they are both receiving the same coverage.

Do you think the men’s peloton could do anything right now to help the women? To make things better?

They could maybe help promote it by talking about women’s races in interviews, I don’t know, it’s hard because it’s not exactly their fault.

Final words of wisdom for females starting out? Aspiring to ride at the highest level?

Stick at it. In my first year of road racing I think I was dropped in just about every race but I kept going back until I kept up. It’s all about taking something out of every race you do, even if it’s just keeping up with the bunch for an extra half hour.

Meet more great Scottish cyclists – Anne Ewing & Juli Rourke

Last week, in recognition of International Women’s Week and highlighting local talent in Scotland, we spoke to Chloe Fraser. This week we are speaking with more gifted Scottish riders, including 2 x Scottish Commonwealth games representative, Anne Ewing & climbing machine, Juli Rourke. They will be telling us about their journey into cycling; career highs, the challenges of racing at an elite level alongside holding down full time day jobs as well as highlighting some of the issues women are facing in a sport which is still yet to recognise equal pay & prize money for women and men.

Meet Anne…

A. Ewing Pic

Tell us a little about yourself, how did you get into bike racing and what is your background?

I started cycling in 09, partially as a result of a GB talent ID programme, partially as I was doing triathlon at the time and cycling was evidently my strongest discipline. I was in my penultimate year of uni at the time, & have been balancing cycling & career since.

What team are you riding for this year? Tell us a little about your team and what races you are targeting this year?

I haven’t got racing plans yet this year. I race for WV Breda, a Dutch club team full of great girls with loads of talent. It’s a small team with super organised management & they do all the big UCI races. It’s a great team & I’ll hopefully get a few good races with them this year.

What is your speciality as a cyclist? And what is your favourite type of race?

I’m not sure I have a specialty, or if I have I’ve not really optimised it. I like to think I’m a jack of all trades (& master of none). I can climb a bit, have a bit of a jump when I do loads of jump training, & can do a bit of the tt type stuff. Though I do none of it well…
I’m not able to train as much as I like or I should just now, so mostly I’m motivated by trying not to get too fat & unfit. Cx was a great way of keeping motivated through the winter, good to keep a little of the top

What is your greatest achievement to date? and what are your aspirations?

Achievements… I’m not sure! Going to Delhi games a year after starting cycling & 2 months after starting full time work as a junior doc. Or maybe the Ras 2014 which I did with my Dutch team, we left the race with about 6 podium finishes between us & all had a great time.

Do you think the level of riding in Scotland and UK has increased? And if so, what factors have assisted with this?

The level of racing in both Scotland & the UK has increased massively in the last few years. There’s still a long way to go though! I think this is mostly due to the general popularity rise of the sport, with more realising how accessible it is. You haven’t asked but I think that in moving forwards we need to place more emphasis on crit racing, they’re short, safer as there’s no cars & spectator friendly. Just like cx races, it doesn’t matter if you get dropped, as the whole loop is only about 2k long and no-one notices if you’re off the back or the front. There’s tough racing at the pointy end but everyone gets a decent race, & you never have to ride by yourself for more than 2k! Just need to convince more folk to organise them…

As a female cyclist, what do you feel is the biggest issue within Women’s cycling right now? And how do you feel about the pay/sponsorship inequality between men’s and women’s cycling? What can be done?

I haven’t raced properly in the last 18months or so, so I am a little out of touch, but I think that sponsorship and pay always appear at the top of the list of issues in women’s cycling. Women & men are not the same, cycling in women & men is not the same. These differences should be publicised and used as selling tools to gain sponsorship for the sport in both genders.

Do you think the men’s peloton could do anything right now to help the women? To make things better?

Men’s and women’s cycling run in quite different circles so I’m not sure exactly what one can do to assist the other. I’m sure there’s something that someone cleverer than I can work out.

Final words of wisdom for females starting out? Aspiring to ride at the highest level?

I’m probably not the best person to be dishing out advice, but I would say that one of the most important things to do is to keep perspective. Too many lose sight of the bigger picture, it’s always good to take a step back every so often. Hard work usually outshines talent. & to quote Mr Graeme Herd: ‘every day’s a school day’. That’s about it…

Meet Juli –  Happiest in the hills…

Juli Rourke Pic

Tell us a little about yourself, how did you get into bike racing and what is your background?

I am Juli, I am 37, I have two children, Fraser and Isla and I live and work in Edinburgh. I have been road racing for 2 years now and I have probably got an unusual reason for getting into bike racing, while training for a 100 mile sportive I was knocked off my bike by a car. I was not only unable to do the event, but couldn’t manage cycling at all for just over a month and I was advised not to go outside on my bike for 3 months while I recovered. I thought at the time I was the fittest I had ever been and was determined to get back to the same. 6 months after my accident, I couldn’t find a sportive to enter, so decided to pick a race and do that instead.  Despite being one of the last to finish in the race, Crit on the Campus I decided to keep going as I had enjoyed the experience. My next race, another Crit I was lapped several time, my third race, this time a longer road race I thought I was making progress as I was managed not to be lapped (just). It wasn’t until my forth race, a week after I upgraded to a carbon road bike (plus more training) where I surprised myself and came 6th and helped ERC to win the team prize.

What team are you riding for this year? Tell us a little about your team and what races you are targeting this year?

I race for my local club, Edinburgh Road Club. ERC is a great club to be part of, I have had a huge amount of support and encouragement from ERC since I started road biking (3 and a half years ago) and I am really proud to be able to race for them. ERC will be organising a women’s only race for the first time this year, so I will certainly be targeting that race.

What is your speciality as a cyclist? And what is your favourite type of race?

My speciality as a cyclist would have to be climbing hills, at only 5 foot I am much better going up hills than going down. Therefore my favourite type of race has to be one with a nice long hill finish. Probably a shame we don’t get too many of those in Scotland, so hopefully I can try racing abroad to get that opportunity, although fitting that in when I work full time and have two children will be difficult (but not impossible ).

Who inspires you to get on your bike every day and train and race? What motivates you to dig deep?

I don’t need much inspiration to go out and train. I love being out on my bike, whatever the weather, and enjoy pushing myself. My daughter is extremely motivating, at 7 she is already very competitive (not sure where she gets it from) and is rather annoyed that I don’t come first in road races, I would love to win a road race just to see how pleased she would be.

What is your greatest achievement to date? and what are your aspirations?

My greatest achievement so far would be my third place at the Scottish Hill Climb Championship in 2015. Although I had also come third in 2014, the field in 2015 was bigger and stronger, I really trained hard and put as much as I could into the climb. That event I would really love to win, all training tips from the well deserved winner, Gen, would be appreciated. I don’t tend to look much into the future when it comes to racing, mostly as I think that as my kids get older and more into their sports, the less I will be able to do, so I aim to go out and do the best I can this year, then decide what I will do in 2017.

Do you think the level of riding in Scotland and UK has increased? And if so, what factors have assisted with this?

I think that the level of riding has certainly improved with the increase in popularity of cycling over the last few years. Scottish Cycling and local clubs have certainly assisted with this, there is a huge effort going into coaching, development and running events to increase bike skills in general and for racing. I was watching juniors racing at Ingilston today, including children as young as 7, the skills and determination they demonstrate, makes me confident that the level of riding will keep improving.

As a female cyclist, what do you feel is the biggest issue within Women’s cycling right now? And how do you feel about the pay/sponsorship inequality between men’s and women’s cycling? What can be done?

I think that for there is certainly a huge issue with the pay/sponsorship inequality and the sooner a minimum wage is brought in for the women’s peloton the better. I have spoken to male and female juniors and whereas the boys talk only about how great it would be to be a pro, the girls have said it would be great to be a pro, but are concerned they couldn’t make a living out of it so would be unable to do so. If the issue isn’t resolved now, we could potentially be losing future British female talent. We need to be looking to other sports, such as tennis, to see how the imbalance can be rectified.

Do you think the men’s peloton could do anything right now to help the women? To make things better?

I thinks that the men’s peloton could help by encouraging their fans to watch women’s cycling and making them aware it is just as exciting as the men’s races.

Final words of wisdom for females starting out? Aspiring to ride at the highest level?

My words of wisdom would be don’t let age, work or family commitments hold you back. There is a lot of good quality training that you can do even if you do not have a lot of time. I would also say that if you don’t have a coach then find yourself a mentor, I have had a huge amount of support from Claire Martin since I started racing and it is great to be able to talk over training or race preparation with someone who understands things, especially from a female perspective.

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