The cycling community is growing rapidly; many of us are dusting off our bikes to feel the wind in our hair, or challenge ourselves in a world of the unknown. So it comes as no surprise that our future stars are already hooked and ready to fight their way through the competitive ranks of cycling. Today, we speak with Sophie Taylor, a GB Olympic Development Apprentice, to find out where her inspiration comes from and her top tips for recovery!

sophie taylor olympic development cyclist

What inspired you to start riding, did someone particular inspire you to ride?

Dad took us to a drop in session at Newport Velodrome one Saturday morning, where Beth (older sister) was able to ride the track. Unfortunately, I was too young, but I couldn’t wait to have the chance to get on the track myself. But, as soon as I was old enough to ride on the track, I was hooked and loved every minute of it! I was 10 years old at the time and even the smallest bike available at the track was too big for me!


How did you begin riding competitively? Could you use three words to describe the feeling you had during your first race?

I first began riding competitively with my first race, The Ice Breaker, at Newport Velodrome in February in 2010. Three words to describe my first race would have to be, excited, nervous and thrilled.


Could you tell us three main things you do before a race? (may be you find it important to take the time to focus mentally or would you prefer to just get on with it?)

Before a race it is really important to prepare yourself and get in the zone, so that you are fully focused on the day ahead and the race itself. Firstly, you need to be fuelled and hydrated, so drink plenty and eat the correct food by having a good breakfast, snacks and a meal, 2 hours before your race to keep your energy levels up. I will usually eat things such as, egg fried rice, Spanish omelette, energy bars and bananas etc. You then have to get set up by signing on to the race and getting all of your equipment together and prepped, to ensure everything is in order. I can then begin my warm up; usually for me this will consist of a 20 minute BC warm up. Finally, I will put my music on, sit down and have a drink so that I’m switching off from everybody and I can begin mentally preparing for the race.


For a young cyclist like yourself, what are three things you would recommend to someone wanting to ride competitively? (i.e. joining a club, how to get the miles in and balancing education…)

First things first, I would recommend joining your local club, so tat they are easily accessible to ride and train with. But remember, even though it’s hard work and a lot of dedication, it’s important that you are enjoying it! Getting the right training is also important, so learning the knowledge of training and racing is a really good idea. I recommend building the base miles and fitness throughout the winter. Having a good cadence during your rides, followed by harder sessions like interval sessions, is essential preparation for the season ahead. Finally, the most important thing would be ensuring that you put your education first. You never know what could happen in the future, if you were to have an accident stopping you from riding, you will always have your education to fall back on.


In terms of role models in cycling could you name two people that inspire you to ride and could you tell us why? Would you say that they are still an inspiration? Have there been times where this role model has given you the extra push to go further with cycling?

The two people who are my roles models and true inspiration are Emma Pooley and Peter Sagan. Emma Pooley is a role model to me because she is small and tiny, like myself, and she achieved amazing things on and off the bike. She graduated from Cambridge in Geotechnical Engineering and Polygot, she speaks six languages and has amazing achievements on the bike, as well as, winning medals at the Olympics and World Championships. It just goes to show that you can continue with your education, whilst being a high performance athlete! Pete Sagan is my favourite rider and has always been my biggest inspiration because I have always wanted to be a rider like him! Peter Sagan is great at endurance, sprinting and climbs and has amazing results. I was so happy to watch him win the World Championships this year (2015). His skills on the bike are remarkable, with wheelies over the lines being just one example! He keeps people entertained, on and off the bike, and a character such as this, makes racing less stressful. He will always remain my biggest inspiration, giving me that push to follow in his footsteps and to one day compete at the highest level!


What do you think is lacking in women’s cycling?

If you could change only one thing about it, what would it be? In Women’s cycling, there is a clear financial difference, in comparison to that of the men. The men have the support to be able to ride as a full time career, even in some junior levels. Whereas the women are often forced to balance a separate full time job, in between training and racing, which is really difficult. So if I could change anything, it would be to bring equality. Women should receive the same support and financial backing as the male riders, as we both work equally as hard to achieve our dreams.


If you could turn back time, to the day you began racing, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

If I could turn back time and give myself one piece of advice, I believe it would be to train harder, sooner. If I would have understood what was needed to get to the right level from the beginning, I could have done it a lot sooner.


You are now on the road to recovery, what are three main pieces of advice you would give to people in a similar situation to yourself?

I am recovering from a dislocated knee and broken leg at the moment, it has been a long process, but you have to be patient and not push yourself too hard, too quick. But when you are ready, physiotherapy treatments and core exercises (if you have the go ahead from the Doctor) are key, it is the best thing to do in order to build the muscles back, in the right way. You can then start concentrating on rebuilding a good level of fitness, so remember to eat the right foods too! So, rest, recover and take things slow, to ensure that you are back to the level you once were, as fast as possible!

Thank you Sophie for sharing with us an insight into your beginnings and future aspirations! We can’t wait to see what you achieve in the future and we wish you the best of luck on the road to recovery!

Twitter - @cyclesoph | Instagram - sopheerrss