Ten Minutes With… Alicia Speake

Alicia

Alicia, seen here at the Women’s Eastern Region Championships, rode with CC London in 2016 , but has joined the new team On Form for 2017 – keep up with team news via the Facebook page

When and how did you first get into cycling?
Sadly, I didn’t take up cycling at a young age; it was more a case of stumbling upon it by signing up for a charity challenge in my late 20s whilst working as a city solicitor. I was a spin devotee and thought “how hard and different can it be?”  – so I got a cycle-to-work voucher and bought myself a £600 aluminium not-so-speed machine! I was hooked and gradually cycled more and more, joining a club a couple of years later.

Which is your favourite cycling discipline, and what is it about it that appeals to you?
Road racing, preferably the horrible hilly ones that gradually shell everyone out the back.

And what do you love most about the sport?
Cycling is incredibly addictive. The more you put in, the more you get out. I have pushed myself harder than I could have imagined, and get a constant sense of achievement. For a ‘non-team’ sport it is also amazingly social, meeting up for Sunday club runs, having a beer in the sun after a race, conquering the Alps and enjoying a glass of wine afterwards. What’s not to love about a sport which allows you to see the world, hang out with mates, keeps you fit and allows you to eat cake without feeling guilty?

Which bit of your racing kit is most important to you?
Deep section carbon wheels – can’t wait to use the Borg50 wheel sets & IRC tubeless tyres with my new team On Form in 2017!

Image284What made On Form stand out? What was it that made you think “that’s the squad for me”?
It’s hard to say as we’ve only just started but if the talent in the squad is reflected in our results, it’s going to be a great year! Plus the kit looks awesome!

What should the UCI and British Cycling be doing for women’s cycling?
The key has to be televising races. Without the audience and exposure, women’s cycling will never be able to attract larger sponsorship. Without the sponsorship, women’s cycling will never be able to pay sustainable wages or pay equal prize money. It seems to me the easiest way to incentivise screening of women’s races would be to run them on the same courses as the men. That way the course is already prepared, marshals are in place, the spectators are already present, and the cameras are ready to roll. Just look at Tennis and the Olympics where the women’s events are already held in equal regard, competitions for both sexes are held at the same time and both are televised, in the eyes of the viewer then they have become of equal importance. Perception is everything.

Ten Minutes With… Alicia’s On Form team mate Gemma Sargent

Tell us a little about your off-season training regime. Do you have a winter bike or do you stick with your usual trainer?
I started back training mid October with shorter tempo rides, and long steady cafe rides. Sadly, I’ll be training through the UK winter as I have a full time job to fit in. That said, I’ll be using all my holiday to get out to sunnier climes! I have to fit my training around work, so shorter roller sessions during the week, as well as laps of Regent’s Park and then longer rides on weekends. I typically fit in 10-12 hours and in an ideal week I’ll also fit in 2-3 strength sessions and 2-3 yoga sessions. I ride a titanium bike over the winter, which is a little more robust as well as more comortable for those longer rides. I can also leave mudguards on all winter.

What’s the best way to keep motivated through the winter?
Invest in the best clothing you can afford – warm hands and feet make a massive difference to my happiness on a bike! Oh, and cake and tea!

Alicia3

Alicia at the Ras na mBan with the Cliff Pratt composite team – which she lists as one of the highlights of her year and both the best and hardest race she rode (photo: Keith McRae)

What were your highlights, favourite race and hardest race in 2016?
Getting Cat. 1 and ending my season competing in the Ras. Favourite race also has to be the Ras, five tough days in the saddle; six varied and challenging stages; but racing with a fantastic bunch of girls. Hardest: Ras, no contest!

What does the future hold for women’s cycling? Are you optimistic
or pessimistic?
I’m optimistic. Each year it feels like the talent and strength of the women’s UK peloton increases. With more women taking up the sport or moving from other sports like rowing or skiing, I’m seeing more and more incredibly talented women. Women’s cycling also feels to be getting more attention and buzz and that can only increase with events like the World Championships coming to the UK.

Describe your warm-up routine.
I usually warm up on rollers, without music – although I think I’ll be introducing music into my 2017 routine to get into the zone!

There are still some people out there who think women’s racing isn’t as interesting or competitive as men’s racing. What would you say to convince them otherwise?
Watch it and form an opinion. Many opinions are formed on women’s sport without giving it a proper chance. Take the Olympics for example, the audience are captivated equally by women’s and men’s events, with no lesser a level of skill, excitement or sporting achievement. Look at the excitement of watching the women’s hockey team triumph during the Rio 2016 Olympics or the elation at Laura Trott’s Ominum success. Women’s sport can be just as thrilling!

What are your main aims for the coming season?
Contribute to the team’s success in the Women’s Team Series and National Road Series.

Finally, here’s the keys for the Neutral Service time machine – you can use it to go for a ride with anyone in cycling history. Who’s it going to be?
Can I spin along the Cote d’Azur with Lizzie in the late summer and crew her ear off about racing and training?

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