It’s quite likely that you’ve never heard of Rebecca Nixon – but there’s a good chance we’re all going to hear a very great deal about her in the near future.
At the Crit on the Campus, which took place at Stirling University on the 23rd of March, the peloton seemed unable to summon up the will to give chase when Kayleigh Brogan (Thompsons) and Jane Barr (MG-Maxifuel) joined forces with the reigning World and European Team Pursuit Champion Katie Archibald (Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International), and they ended up getting lapped by the trio as a result. Except for Rebecca, that is – Rebecca wasn’t going to sit back in the pack and accept her fate. Instead, she gave chase; and she kept chasing all the way to the end of race, taking fourth place and a very well-deserved combativity award. What’s really remarkable is that the Crit was her first race.
Rebecca, who was born in Saltburn-by-Sea in the North-East of England and studied Sport and Exercise science at university, says she’s always been interested in sport and has been cycling for a year and a half. After moving to Scotland to live with her partner, she decided to give racing a go. You can follow Rebecca on Twitter; Neutral Service caught up with her at her club, Dundee Thistle CC, and asked her a few questions about her own history as a cyclist and about women’s cycling.
When and how did you first get into cycling?
Initially, I began cycling as a means to raise as much money for a charity as possible; my Grandma suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, and seeing the impact it had on our family, I wanted to somehow raise awareness and money for the Alzheimer’s Society. Shortly after buying a road bike in late 2012 I stumbled across an advert for a challenge which would involve cycling from Newcastle to London in under 24 hours. Bingo! It seemed a crazy enough challenge to get people to dig into their pockets and sponsor me. I was pretty sceptical as to whether or not I could complete the challenge, but in the end I crossed the finish line after 23 hours and 16 mins. Friends, family and members of the community were incredibly generous and we raised a lot of money for the Alzheimer’s Society as a result. I’ve been hooked ever since, and since moving up to Scotland have decided to take it to the next step and give racing a bash. Over the winter I’ve been receiving coaching from Mark Young, which I’ve really enjoyed. He’s enabling me to push myself physically and is fantastic at teaching me all about the sport.
What do you love most about the sport?
Definitely not the tan lines! I do however love how cycling can allow you to really push those physical and mental boundaries. It can be brutal at times but so satisfying when you’ve conquered that little voice in your head screaming at you to stop pedalling! It’s also great for outdoorsy geeks like me – you can get yourself to some pretty stunning places on the bike.
Where would you like to be at this time next year?
To be honest, I’ve not even thought that far ahead. It would be great to be more involved in the road racing scene, but as a complete newcomer to the sport it’s a huge learning curve. Whatever may happen though, I’m a great believer in just digging in, having fun and grasping any opportunities that may come your way.
What does the future hold for women’s cycling? Are you optimistic or pessimistic?
Forever an optimist! Even in the short time that I’ve been involved in the sport, I’ve seen women’s cycling take some significant steps in the right direction. It’s never going to be an easy task getting women’s sport to be promoted at the level that men’s sport is in the UK, but there’s such a positive movement at the moment for women’s sport in general, it’s about time too!
In 2013, a lot of fans have been getting more involved in women’s cycling by helping to promote races and riders. Do you have any ideas what we can do to help even more?
Carry on doing what’s being done – Facebook and Twitter seem to be the best way to get word about these days.
Which is your favourite race? Why?
Er, good question, since I’ve only raced in two – but the Crit on the Campus will be a tough one to beat! It was such a well organised and welcoming event, especially for newcomers like me. Plus, it was a really cool setting at the Stirling University campus with some big names in the mix at the start line.
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?
Go and watch one!
What should the UCI and British Cycling be doing for women’s cycling?
Promoting more media coverage. I think we need more numbers – I’ve not come across a sport so man-heavy. Well, actually, maybe rugby! But we need to get rid of the perception that cycling is all about the MAMILs (sorry guys!) and get more lasses to realise that it’s a really enjoyable way of keeping fit and healthy. The more women we get on bikes, the more we’ll hopefully see at races.
Here’s a time machine which you can use to meet any rider from any point in history. Who will you be meeting?
I don’t need a time machine luckily – I’d love to meet Marianne Vos. She is, in my humble opinion, the epitome of what an athlete should be.
Last question, and it’s the one that top psychologists agree reveals more about a person than any other: which is better – cats or dogs?
No question about it – dogs! Especially Pugs!