Chloe Selman, National Para Road Race Champ

Chloe120-year-old Chloe Selman, a C4 paracyclist member of Barnsley Road Club, became National Paracyclist Road Race Champion when she won at London’s Hillingdon circuit on Sunday the 16th. Neutral Service caught up with her to ask a few questions.

If you follow Chloe on Facebook (if you don’t, start doing so now) you’ll know that while she takes her racing very seriously indeed, she’s not a slave to the wheel and lives the typical life of a 20-year-old woman when she’s not on the bike: she likes to go shopping, takes selfies showing off her latest clothes and shoes and regularly has nights out with her mates. In fact, she doesn’t actually post many mentions of her training at all, so we asked about how she’d been preparing for the Nationals.

“This year has been a huge learning curve in my racing and training. My preparation for the 2015 Para Road nationals has been heavy; it started with learning how to pedal properly. This was achieved by cadence work interval training, learning zones and working with a power tap my coach loaned me,” she told us.

 Chloe5“However, the biggy to my training was learning race smart skills which I got from attending women’s only sessions, having lots of fun and learning skills to take with me in my race. I also had to learn how to ride my race bike as this was a different bike from the sportive one I had previously used, the frame is more compact and the geometry is so different. The next stage in my training was train through races; I don’t taper for my events. My coach started entering me in non-disabled (able-bodied) races, along with weekly time trails. Racing tired was a skill in itself I had to deal with, making sure my recovery was adhered too as this was an important factor as I am no good to anyone injured.”

The women’s cycling scene in the UK is still much smaller than the men’s, but over the last couple of years with so many young women coming up through the ranks it’s developed enormously and the level of competition at races is equal to that at the men’s races. Is this also happening in women’s para cycling, we wondered?

“The race had a very good field of team GB women para cyclists, the competition was tough as my rivals were c5 class –  they are fast – and several c4 women in my class. There seems to be more women now, which I am so pleased about because it shows the development into women’s cycling. The standard of women’s para cycling has increased enormously over the past two years I have been riding – it’s tough going!”

Chloe2

How was race day?

“The race was an hour long and held at the Hillingdon circuit, I travelled up for the day which took 4hrs; I warmed up listening to my tunes with no distractions. The race was very heated for the first 27 minutes, lots of drafting, lots of boxing me in… then I thought I’m in trouble here, so I got myself out of jail through a small gap and initiated a sprint.

One of the rival c4 women who was on Team GB chased, but I set the pace high and she couldn’t match the breakaway speed; this lasted for a lap. For the rest of the race I was a lone rider keeping a good reasonable pace and extending the lead to victory.”

And how are you feeling today – has it all sunk in yet? National Champion… that’s a massive victory!

“I still can’t believe I woke up this morning as 2015 National Road Champ!  I am very happy with my achievement, I had worked so hard in every aspect of my training including my diet and I wasn’t even tapered for this event. I have no real time to celebrate as I was back out training with some nice VO2 hill work for 90 minutes, working hard for my next two national events which are coming up soon: one is the National Track Championships at the end of September followed by the National Para Time Trial the week after. Hard work does pay off, but it also takes a lot of team work and the support I have had from family & friends has been unreal, and I would like to thank everyone for this.”

It’s as amazing as it is inspiring to see how raw natural talent can be honed and developed into a National Championship triumph in just two years, provided the athlete is willing to put in the hard work – but as Chloe proves, it’s not necessary to give up your social life and stop having fun. Neutral Service suspects we’ll be seeing much more of her, quite possibly in more National Championship jerseys, in the years to come.

All photos supplied by Chloe

Matt Saunders interviews Chloe Selman