I BECAME A CYCLIST BECAUSE…
My dad was cross-country skier who competed in the biathlon at the Winter Olympics (Sarajevo 1984; Calgary 1988) and my whole family is sporty so as a child I was always very active. I swam, played hockey, did trampolining, dancing… I loved sports but I never thought I’d become a professional athlete. Then, one day I was in a maths lesson at school and the British Cycling Talent Team came in. They asked if anybody wanted to try out for the cycling team. At the time, I’d only ever casually ridden bikes with my family - to me, the thin wheels on racing bikes looked weird and unstable - but I thought ‘It looks fun. Let’s give it a go’ and it turned out I was pretty good at it. As a cyclist, you’re developing all the time. Originally, I was on the sprint team but we soon realized that one of my biggest strengths is endurance to I transferred to that. I then raced on the track for several years before recently moving onto the road. That’s what I love about cycling: it’s such a versatile sport so, whether you enjoy training indoors or outdoors, with in a team or alone, on the track or exploring beautiful places recreationally, there’s something for everyone.
I LOVE RACING ON A TEAM
It’s always nice to go for a leisurely cycle alone to relax but my favourite thing to do is cycle with friends and teammates. We work really hard but we have a lot of fun too. On tour, I share a room with Laura Trott. She’s one of my best friends and really funny so we’re constantly laughing and getting up to mischief. It’s nice to have that support and, although you’re competing against other athletes, when you win, it’s never just you winning so it’s fun to celebrate together. I’ve won 3 World Championship gold medals and quite a few European and British titles and medals but one of my favourite memories was winning my Olympic gold in the team pursuit at London 2012. I was racing with Laura Trott and Joanna Rowsell so that was really special. Not only were we competing at home with the home crowd and all our friends and family there to watch but we also won the race in World Record breaking time. A very proud moment.
‘Most people don’t know this but leading up to the London 2012 Olympic final Joanna, Laura and I raced together 6 times (inc. the pre-Olympic races and the Olympic final) and every time we broke a new World Record.’
TRAINING + TRYING = NO REGRETS
Ever since I was a child, I’ve always wanted to be the best I could be. Whether it was schoolwork, training or anything else, I’ve always tried to the best of my ability. That way, good results or bad, I’d have no regrets. That’s one of the things I love most about sport, especially cycling and rowing. It can be done anywhere, by anyone and natural talent doesn’t really come into it. There’s a very linear relationship between how much effort you put in, how well you train and what you achieve. Nothing’s left to chance so, if you’re not trying your hardest or not achieving what you want to, you know that by making some adaptations (to your training regime, fitness, attitude or even mentality) it’s possible to improve.
FAVOURITE ATHLETES TO COMPETE WITH
I’d love to compete with Dame Kelly Holmes, Sir Chris Hoy and Paula Radcliffe. Not only are they great athletes but they’re nice people and great business people too. Kelly especially. She experienced so many ups and downs during her career but she never gave up. It’s a great example to set.
‘Not everybody enjoys traditional sports and they don’t always want to train in the gym but that doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy being outdoors, active and achieving goals. Cycling training is perfect for this.’
ROWE & KING: CYCLING-SPECIFIC PERSONAL TRAINING
My fiancé, Matt Rowe, is a also cyclist as is his dad Courtney. Together, we realized that most sports, personal trainers and exercises are either quite regimented or focused on aesthetics. However, in reality, there are many people who enjoy being active and want to stay fit and healthy but in a social and interesting way. Cycling is exactly that. You can do it competitively, alone, with friends, family, different age groups and fitness abilities and in any locations. Whether you want to explore to different destinations across the world, cycle through the countryside, up a hill or even in the gym, there’s something for everyone. We couldn’t understand why nobody had thought of it before so, with all of our experience, we thought ‘Why not us?’ That’s when we set up Rowe & King - a cycling-specific personal training company where clients can train with us in-person or online. Everything is tailored to their personal bodies, goals and the environments they enjoy training in. As athletes, we always try to be the best we can be so it’s nice to be able to give back and use all of our experiences to help others to achieve their goals too. It’s not just about the sport, as they get fitter, you begin to see their confidence improving too and suddenly they’re more driven, positive and flourishing in all areas of their lives - everything from work to relationships. It’s a nice feeling.
ME & EMBARRASING SITUATIONS: A PERFECT MATCH! *ROLLS EYES*
I’m always getting into embarrassing situations. I don’t know how or why. It just happens. During our races, we communicate with our teammates and managers using special race radios. Just before my first professional race, I desperately needed the toilet but, in the rush, I forgot the radio was in my back pocket and it fell into the toilet. It was so embarrassing but luckily they had a backup. Another time, when I was racing solo, I really thought I’d won. I was so excited that I threw my hands up in the air but, when I turned around, I realized that there was another rider - literally 1 minute ahead of me - who had won. How I didn’t see them I’ll never know but there way me, hands aloft… well I came 2nd so it wasn’t too bad… I just had to style it out haha.
A GREAT CYCLIST HAS…
1. SPEED & ENDURANCE. Depending on your goals, not everybody wants to be a ‘fast’ cyclist. Sprinters, yes, but for the rest of us, it’s far more important to have endurance. You want to build up to a steady, consistently fast speed that you can maintain throughout the race before giving it a final burst of energy at the end. If you cycle too quickly, you’ll tire more quickly and that’s going to be detrimental. You can’t win like that so, for long distances, strong and steady definitely wins the race over speed. It’s about getting the balance right.
2. POWER. A must for every cyclist. Whether you’re racing or cycling recreationally, you’ll need power to summit the short sharp climbs, make an attack (i.e. around a competitor or even a tractor on a country lane!) and keep your pace for those last few miles when you’re feeling tired.
3. STRENGTH. This is very important - even more than people realise. Without strength, you can’t generate power. You need the ability to generate force through the pedals. You can’t be powerful unless you’re strong and you can’t be fast without power so it’s catch 22. You really need a combination of all four skills but that certainly begins with strength.
FAVOURITE PRE-WORKOUT SNACK
If I’m preparing for an intense race, I’ll usually eat something substantial 3 hours before. I like porridge with yoghurt and berries. It gives me protein, complex carbohydrates for a steady energy supply and tastes delicious. I’ll also eat protein at regular intervals throughout the day (3-4hrs) to ensure that my body achieves the maximum recovery during heavy training periods.
FAVOURITE POST-WORKOUT SNACK
Protein recovery shakes are so important. After training, I need to quickly refuel my glycogen stores so these are perfect. They’re so quick and simple to make too - just put the ingredients into the Nutri-Bullet and away you go. My favourite flavour is vanilla protein powder with mixed red berries and milk but there are so many great recipes available. It depends on how I feel and which nutrients I need.
AS AMBITIOUS & DETERMINED AS EVER
I’ve recently moved from track to road. It’s a new skill but having achieved my goals of becoming a World- and Olympic-Champion before, I know I have what it takes to get there. The only difference between my training now and my training then is how I think about it. I’ve relaxed a lot more and, I don’t train any easier or want it any less, but I’ve learned put less pressure on myself and to take every day and every race as it comes. Since relaxing, I’m enjoying my training a lot more too. It’s an exciting time. If I did it once, I can do it again so I’m as ambitious and determined as ever.