Ten Minutes With… Seonaid Thompson

ST132-year-old Seonaid Thompson is from Macclesfield but now lives in Leeds and rides for the Sunsport Velo team. Her first victory came as a 4th Cat. in July 2013 when she rode for Albarosa CC at the York Sport Crits #4, beating 1st Cat. Iona Sewell, and she squeezed in five more podum finishes before the end of that season too; she then won three more events in 2014, thirteen in 2015 and, after having a baby, two more in 2016.

You can follow Seonaid and her team’s progress through 2017 via the Sunsport Velo Facebook page.

When and how did you first get into cycling? Do you remember your first bike?
I started competing in triathlons in 2010. My first road bike was a second hand Specialized Allez Elite. The only surviving part is the frame which is hanging on the wall in the garage.

When did you start racing, and who or what inspired you to do so?
In 2013. I was injured and couldn’t run so needed a way to compete until I could return to triathlons. My cycling club Alba Rosa CC was very supportive and encouraged a group of us Alba Girls to give racing a go.

Which is your favourite cycling discipline, and what is it about it that appeals to you?
I like crit racing best so far. It’s fast, exciting and tactical.

And what do you love most about the sport?
Getting outside, cycling along the country lanes, feeling the wind on your face, the sun on your arms and feeling like your legs are getting stronger with each pedal stroke.

Which bit of your racing kit is most important to you?
My bike! Can’t do much racing without it. Also love a nice new pair of socks.

What do you love most about Sunsport Velo? What was it that made you think “that’s the squad for me”?
My teammates. They’re a lovely group of girls who are also super cyclists. I chose Sunsport Velo because after my daughter was born in March 2016, I was looking for an opportunity to get into some higher standard races, race as part of a team but also needed the flexibility to combine cycling with family life.

ST2What should the UCI and British Cycling be doing for women’s cycling?
Ensure they are aiming for equality for male and female cyclists at the fastest possible pace and encourage race organisers and the media to do the same.

Tell us a little about your training regime. Do you have a coach and how do you prepare for an important race?
I have 8 hours a week to train. I generally do 2 hard sessions per week. Yes I am coached, by Jack Maitland who also coached me for triathlon from 2011 to 2014. For an important race, my training and racing programme will be designed around it at the start of the training year to prepare for the specific demands of the race and address any weaknesses I have.

Every cyclist has a bad day once in a while – maybe a race doesn’t go how you hoped, or perhaps your legs just won’t do what you ask them to do. How do you keep motivated and keep coming back for more?
For me, those are the easiest races to come back from. I’ll look at what went wrong and do everything I can to correct it for the next time.

What were your highlights, favourite race and hardest race in 2016?
Winning my first race back after having a baby was my highlight. My favourite race was a crit race on the Hetton le Hole circuit, which has a hill in it. My hardest race was the RR stage of the Manchester 2day race – it was also my longest ride of the year so far.

What does the future hold for women’s cycling? Are you optimistic or pessimistic?
Equality with ‘men’s cycling’ so that they’re not talked about as if they’re separate sports. We don’t talk about women’s athletics and men’s athletics do we? It’s just athletics. So hopefully, in the not too distant future it’ll just be cycling too. I’m optimistic.

Describe your warm-up routine. Turbo or rollers? Music or no music (and if it’s a yes to music, what kind)?
If possible, I prefer to warm up on the road. If not, turbo. No music.

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?
Come and watch it! On Saturday the 29th April, the women’s Tour de Yorkshire will start in Tadcaster and finish in Harrogate. Come with your best cheering voice, an umbrella (just in case) and an open mind.

What are your main aims for the coming season?
To perform to the best of my ability in the Scottish National RR Champs in August.

Finally, here’s the keys for the Neutral Service time machine/teleporter – you can use it to go for a ride with anyone in cycling history, past or present. Who’s it going to be?
Beryl Burton. Though I’d have to join her on the way back from one of her races to have any chance of keeping up.

(Photos © Chris Meads/Sunsport Velo)

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