Rebecca Johnson joined the Fast Test Racing Team soon after graduating in veterinary science from Edinburgh University and started clocking up good results immediately, including three podium finishes in 2014, then five – including two wins – in 2015. Last year brought eight podiums and four wins, andshe also proved her ability to hold her own in some prestigious national events including the Essex Giro and CC Sudbury’s Eastern Road Race Championships, and internationally when she was third at the Tour of Cyprus. For 2017, she’s racing with the Aprire-HSS team.
Where you’re from: Suffolk born and bred
Where you’re based now: Still Suffolk!
Years riding: 3 and a half
Years racing: 3
When and how did you first get into cycling? Do you remember your first bike?
I first fell in love with cycling while nearly falling out of love with my vet degree – it was all getting a bit intense and cycling was the perfect release! The guys at uni persuaded me to have a go at racing after six months of hanging onto their wheels and I was hooked from then on!
Which is your favourite cycling discipline, and what is it about it that appeals to you?
I love stage races… everyone in our sport has a soft spot for some suffering and there’s nothing more painful than accumulating lactic day after day!
And what do you love most about the sport?
I love the purist nature of cycling. The more you put in (and the more you can make yourself suffer) the more you will get out of it. Simple.
Which bit of your racing kit is most important to you?
Don’t think I’d make it through winter without my overshoes! They were one of the first things I invested in and have had three years of fairly solid use!
You’ve signed up to ride for Aprire-HSS this year – what made the team stand out? What was it that made you think “that’s the squad for me”?
As soon as I spoke to Phil Dempsey I knew it was the team for me. Phil owns Aprire bikes and is very passionate about making the team as professional a set-up as possible. We will be doing a mixture of Team Series, National Series and some continental racing. He has big goals for next season and has consequently managed to bring together a highly motivated group of girls. Paul from Elite Cycle Coaching is giving us his full backing and is really getting the best out of everyone already.
What should the UCI and British Cycling be doing for women’s cycling?
Just treat us like the men. We want long hard races just as much as they do!
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 have a trusty Giant training bike and spend a lot of time on the turbo over the winter. Paul from Elite Cycle Coaching is looking after my off season training well this year and I do a mixture of long base rides and more specific intervals. I particularly enjoy a good long cafe ride with my Suffolk training buddies.
What’s the best way to keep motivated through the winter?
Friends and coffee stops!
You’re a vet, which is a job that involves long hours – how do you fit training around work?
My job actually works quite well for training. I get a weekday off each week to make up for working some weekends, so can get three long sessions in a week, plus turbo sessions in the evenings. I have to plan my racing well in advance in order to swap my weekends around but work are generally really supportive about this.
What were your highlights, favourite race and hardest race in 2016?
My highlights have to be coming third in the Tour of Cyprus and winning the Women’s Eastern Racing League last year. Favourite (and incidentally hardest) race has to be Tour of the Reservoir, really challenging course and will be nice to do it with no ice this year…
What does the future hold for women’s cycling? Are you optimistic or pessimistic?
Women’s cycling is growing year on year so I can only see it getting bigger and bigger! I would love it to be the norm for local crits and road races to be full each week, and this will natrally filter in to more challenging racing at all levels.
Describe your warm-up routine. Music or no music, turbo or rollers?
I don’t really have a set routine. If I can find some rollers to borrow I particularly like the ease of hopping straight off ready to go. Sometimes you want music, sometimes you want chat, sometimes it’s nice to just warm up on the road.
After a race, a ten-year-old approaches you, says she’s just started racing and wonders if you can give her any advice. What do you tell her?
Just enjoy it and see where it takes you! Ride with friends, ride hard and try not to forget the world outside of cycling (the last part is the hardest!)
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?
Just watch a women’s race! They’re generally shorter which very often makes for a much more exciting and tactical race!
What are your main aims for the coming season?
I’d love to start getting placings in national series races and get more experience racing abroad! I’m really excited to be riding as part of a super strong team this year and hopefully between us there will be some great results.
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, past or present. Who’s it going to be?
Froome to quiz him on all things numbers!
Previous Ten Minute interviews on Neutral Service
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