The Olympic silver medalist, 23, tells us about the ups and downs of road cycling
I won the silver medal in theroad cycling event at the SummerOlympics. I’m a track and road cyclist,but road is my favourite. Changes tothe track Team Pursuit event meant thatif I took part in this event I’d only becompeting for three and a half minutesand I wanted a bigger piece of the action.
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I completed the 140km ride inthree hours 35 minutes. When Iwoke up that morning, I knew I wasin a good place – I was feeling positiveand focused. It’s a very tactical raceand there’s plenty to think aboutwhen you’re on the bike. It felt reallysurreal crossing the finish line.
Road training can be long andmonotonous. I can be on the road forfive hours at a time, so I like to trainwith a friend for conversation. I don’thave a trainer or a coach – I prefer totrain myself. I like the independenceit gives me and find it less stressfulplanning my own training schedule.
You don’t need an expensivebike to take road cycling seriously.The bike I won my silver medal with wasthird from the top of its range. Whileequipment isn’t everything, a helmet is anecessity to ensure your safety. Joininga club is the best way to improve whilealso benefiting from the social aspect.
If you’re training for a race,or want to get fitter on the bikequicker, a long cycle on a Saturdayand Sunday with a shorter cycle in theweek will see you improve.
I follow a normal, balanced diet.I take iron supplements becauseanaemia is hereditary in my family, butI don’t take any other vitamins. I’m avegetarian, but I don’t worry about notgetting enough protein. On training daysI’ll have a protein shake, but because. I’m doing a lot of endurance work, Ifocus on eating enough carbohydrates for energy.
Breakfast is cereal or fruit andyoghurt with a cup of coffee.I have three meals a day, plus energybars and high-sugar fruits such asbananas. Lunch is usually something likea haloumi sandwich with cheese andonion crisps. Dinner will be a vegetablecurry with beans and lentils followed bychocolate – I don’t like to deprive myself.
I intend to be involved withthe Olympic legacy initiativeto get more women intosport. There’s a lot of sexismin cycling, especially inrelation to sa laries andmedia coverage.
If you’re a keen cyclist, don’t miss The Cycle Show at Birmingham’s NEC from Friday 27 to Sunday 29September, 2013; see cycleshow. co.uk.
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