How did you get into cycling – and when did you decide you wanted to go pro?
I got my first bike after fracturing my pelvis in an accident 4 and a half years ago. Previous to my accident I did endurance running- off-road marathons, fell races, cross-country and also road marathons. I joined my local road club- Edinburgh Road Club, started road racing 10 months after and then 2 years ago decided I wanted to take it more seriously.
How do you fund life as a full-time cyclist? Is it hard?
I work for my mum part-time online which helps me tremendously and I rent out my house in Edinburgh whilst living in Belgium. I live in Belgium, with my boyfriend, Ronny which also means we share the costs. I am also supported with physio, medical support, gym membership through the Scottish Institute of Sport. I have had to change my life dramatically to be able to afford to be a part-time athlete but it has been worth it.
You’ve been based out in Belgium for a few years – how was it, adapting, and what are the best things about Belgian life?
I moved out here 14 months ago and at first I found it frustrating because I didn’t speak the language. I decided to go to evening school to learn Dutch, which has vastly improved my enjoyment of life here as I can understand what is going on.
Life in Belgium doesn’t differ too much from the UK although it is a lot more expensive to eat out/shop generally. I enjoy the bike culture here and the respect you get as a bike rider. People are also a bit more direct which I like because you know where you stand.
I hear you have a great coffee club over there in Oudenaarde – is that just a winter thing, or will you be carrying it on year round?
Yes- it is time out for the girls- Gabby [Day], Helen [Wyman] and I all spend a lot of time with men due to our sport, so it is nice to go out for a gossip after training to talk to other women about all sorts of things. Once Gabby goes back to the UK, I am sure Helen and I and all of the other cyclists from our team coming to race over here will continue the tradition.
You guest rode with Horizon last year – what made you decide to join them for the 2011 season?
I liked the team atmosphere and liked how they rode as a team. I also wanted to ride for a team which raced not only in Belgium but in the UK and over continental Europe too. I also knew and liked Stefan, the Sport Director, and liked his race programme as well so it was a done deal.
What do you think you’ll be bringing to the team? Both on and off the bike
I will bring my bike strength – climbing – which will hopefully bring results in the hilly stage races, and hopefully be able to use my strength and power to bring one of our sprinters to the end of a race for a win. I also hope to help younger riders off the bike by talking about what I have needed to do to get to the next step of racing and help them achieve this too.
What have you learnt from the other riders in the team – or who would you like to learn from this year?
I would like to learn to be patient in a race and rely on my team mates to help me get a result and not try and do it all on my own in a hilly race. Dani King can also help me with reading a race as she has a skill for this. Helen Wyman and Stefan have helped me over the winter with my off-road skills which will help my bike-handling skills – one thing I needed to learn after coming into cycling at such a late age.
What are your hopes for 2011?
To try and secure as many wins as possible for the team with my help. I also would love a top 10 at the National Road Race
You’ve been winning Masters races since you started, haven’t you? It would be awesome to have a Masters winner in the Nationals top 10
Yes – I won the National Masters in 2009 and in the same year I think I was 11th in the National Road Race
What’s been your best result in your career? Which are you proudest of?
Winning the Scottish Road Race Championship in 2009, after having worked on my cadence for sprinting. I went from a gear pusher to a rider who has a high cadence in a matter of months through my own hard work.
How was riding for Scotland in the Commonwealths last year?
It was a great feeling. Unfortunately our sprinter, Kate Cullen, had been ill, and we were unable to deliver her to the finish, which was a disappointment. It was great, however, for all of us to be wearing Scottish kit. It made me so proud to be Scottish
If you weren’t a cyclist, what would you be doing?
I would be working for my mum’s company full time
What’s been your worst job?
I worked in the catering department of a big company whilst at University, which was hard when the directors openly looked down on the little girl in the catering department
Do you support any charities – and if so, which, and why?
Breast Cancer- my aunt died of it
How would your best friends/family describe you?
The Duracel bunny
If you could be on tv or in a film, what would you be in?
A difficult one, I’ve not seen British TV for so long. Only Eastenders- but don’t want to be in that
The holiday programme – as the presenter. I love travelling – I’ve travelled all over the world, so that would be perfect for me
Where’s the place you most want to go back to?
Argentina, or Japan – Japan for the hot springs and my Japanese friends, Argentina for the scenery and the massive steaks!
If people reading this are thinking that they love cycling, and want to start competing, what advice would you give them about where to start?
Buy a bike, join a local club and ride on the club ride to master riding in a group. And then, send off your first entry form!