23-year-old Laura Owler is from St Albans in Hertfordshire, but now lives in Nottingham where she’s studying medicine. She’s a member of Beeston CC and rides for the club’s women’s team, popularly know as the Queen Bees. She says the best rider ever is Mark Beaumont, the adventure cyclist who holds the current record for circumnavigation of the globe by bike after completing his attempt in 78 days, 14 hours and 40 minutes.
When and how did you first get into cycling?
I started university wanting to try out a new sport, and having done short distance swimming and running I decided to join the triathlon club. Two years and one Half-Ironman later I gave up the running and swimming and got into the university track team – which is where the addiction started.
Which is your favourite cycling discipline, and what is it about it that appeals to you?
I love the team pursuit on the track and a good punchy crit, but my favourite has got to be a nice hilly road race. I love the tactics of road racing and how you don’t always have to be the strongest rider to win!
And what do you love most about the sport?
I love that cycling can be anyone’s sport from a steady cafe run with friends to huge national races. Every cyclist I’ve ever met has been super friendly – and there’s always good cakes.
Which bit of your racing kit is most important to you?
I really like my blue Giro Air Attack helmet, it matches my Beeston kit and always stands out in race photos!
What do you love most about your club or team? What was it that made you think “that’s the squad for me”?
I joined the team through a recommendation from my coach. I love the club: it’s super friendly and supportive and the girls on the team are always looking out for each other and we have a lot of fun racing together!
What should the UCI and British Cycling be doing for women’s cycling?
I would love to see some sort of schools initiative in which both girls and boys had opportunities to try out road, cyclocross, track etc. Equal prize money would also be great!
Tell us a little about your off-season training regime. Do you have a winter bike or do you stick with your usual trainer?
Last winter I ended up doing a lot of cold, dark road rides which I actually quite enjoyed, especially when I managed to drag someone else along. This year I have now got a power meter and a speed and cadence sensor so am quite enjoying doing some turbo sessions in front of Bake Off. I also had a BUCS track meeting in November so was doing a lot of hours on the track, which I love. I have plans to try some cyclocross racing as well. (Note: shortly after Laura completed this interview, she did her first ever ‘cross race – Lovelo Cinelli RT’s Cyclocrossmas in Hertfordshire)
What’s the best way to keep motivated through the winter?
I think training with friends always really helps me. Also on the rare days when you just don’t want to remember that you’re not a professional athlete and you won’t go well if you’re hating it so just chilling at home or doing a different form of exercise is fine.
After a race, a ten-year-old girl approaches you and says she’s just started racing. What advice would you give her?
I would say joining a club with a junior squad would be helpful to meet people. And to just go for it and enjoy it
What were your highlights, favourite race and hardest race in 2017?
Favourite race is difficult but probably the Verulam ReallyMoving road race at Cranfield. I gained my cat 3 in that race but it was also the first time I felt fit and was able to attack and try out some tactics. Hardest race was my last race of the season actually. It was the women’s team series event at Coalville. I had a chest infection but fought to stay on for almost 2 laps until I lost the wheels on a straight exposed section with a headwind, I carried on for another lap before calling it a day.
What does the future hold for women’s cycling? Are you optimistic or pessimistic?
I’m optimistic (I always am). Even this year people had told me not to expect full fields at local races but I only did one with less than 10 and was always impressed by the number of women turning up, including lots of beginners trying it out for the first time
Describe your warm-up routine. Do you use rollers or a turbo? If you use music, what do you listen to?
My warm up routine varies based on how late I am (how much I drank the day before). For example sometimes it’s a 4 minute spin around the car park (still won that race) or half an hour on the turbo/rollers. I only mastered rollers towards the end of the season but intend to get a pair and hopefully not crack them (yes that did happen) as it’ll be better for my new zipps!
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?
These people are so annoying! Women’s races are certainly different to men’s as we don’t tend to take as many risks but it’s very competitive and smaller fields often mean it’s more tactical. We’ve lapped the Cat. 4 men many times at MK Bowl so it’s certainly not slow either!
What are your main aims for the coming season?
I’m keeping it simple and realistic, haha!: retain Cat. 2, win some more races (us Beeston girls have a TTT title to retain!), compete in more team series races, qualify for national hill climb and hopefully get some BUCS medals, theres also some talk starting of doing the Tour of Malta which would be awesome
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?
I wouldn’t need to go back in time it would be Elinor Barker (she’s my woman crush!)
Previous Ten Minute interviews on Neutral Service
Lucy Sturgess – Hannah Larbalestier – Felicity Gledhill – Liz Burrows – Seonaid Thompson – Sophie Holmes – Emma Jane Hornsby – Nikki Juniper – Rebecca Johnson – Joanne Newstead – Connie Hayes – Alice and Tom Staniford – Catherine Coley – Sian Botteley – Maddie Gammons – Gemma Sargent – Gaby Homer and Savannah Morgan – Valentina Scandolara – Alicia Speake – Meredith Miller – Anneke Prins – Giorgia Bronzini – Marijn De Vries – Heather Bamforth – Georgina Pymer – Nicola Soden – Detta Guerrini – Isla Rush – Jen Edwards – Anika Todd – Alice Cobb – Deborah John – Tanya Griffiths – Laura Morgan – Rebecca Nixon – Suzanne Deveny – Karla Boddy – Sjekkie Vos