What makes a road racer tick? Redchilli Bikes meet Poppy Thompson
We’re continuing our Q&A session with the riders of new, elite UK based women’s race team, Finish Line Racing, and today we talk with Poppy Thompson.
RB: How did you first get involved with cycling?
PT: Bit of an interesting one, but long story short; I used to play lots of different sports and never thought about cycling, until I fell down some stairs and broke my ankle. The physio that was recommended to me was a cyclist, and suggested it as a form of recovery – I haven’t looked back since!
RB: How would you describe your racing style?
PT: This one’s definitely a work in progress! I haven’t been racing for as long as some, and although I try to use my fitness as a strength in races, I haven’t raced enough to cement my personal style.
RB: 2020 has been a challenging year, to say the least. How have you managed to keep motivated and focused?
PT: During the season all my mental focus was on being fit and ready to race if they started back up at any time. I managed to stay positive with that mindset, even though it wasn’t logical or likely until about October. I took my off season then to keep morale up, and now I’m refreshed and preparing for next season.
RB: What excites you the most about racing for (and with) Finish Line Racing, and what do you hope you can bring to the team?
PT: Finish Line Racing feels like a really energetic and exciting new team with great leadership. Rick [Lister, Team Directeur Sportif] is here to support the whole team, and use each of our strengths to get the best results possible from us next season. I see myself as an all rounder, so hopefully I can bring lots to the team in all different aspects.
RB: How do you organise your training during the winter months, and are there any specific areas of your riding that you will concentrate on?
PT: For the main bulk of my winter training through the base and build phase, I’m focussing on improving aerobic contribution to power, extensively pushing the fitness needle out, and pushing my F.T.P [Functional Threshold Power] up from below to develop my aerobic engine. Then I’ll move from the build phase into the season, and the training will become specific to the demands of the events. And then I’ll start to manipulate the intensity the right way with my coach, so he can bring me into form for the target races.
RB: With regard bike racing, what is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
PT: Probably just ‘get involved’! I don’t know whether it’s the best piece of advice, as I’ve been given some really great tips by some amazing people, but it’s certainly the one that I remember most. Closely followed by my old boss’ – ‘In order to finish first, first you must finish’, after I had a couple crashes a few years ago – probably ironically, but it’s stayed with me ever since!
RB: What are your main goals for 2021 and do you have your eyes on any particular races?
PT: This year, I’m really planning on targeting the National Series road races, as last year I felt like I came up short with my results. I enjoy the road races most, and want to show my full capabilities in this discipline. I prefer flatter courses generally, but in the UK and especially up north you can’t get away from the hills, so I am going to try and embrace them this year.
RB: If you could ride with any Pro rider (past or present) who would it be and why?
PT: I have been really lucky to have ridden with some amazing people and get great advice, but I’d loved to have ridden with Beryl Burton [OBE, English racing cyclist]. She remains an inspiration to women in cycling, and had such a positive effect on the sport in her lifetime.
RB: Does it annoy you when a random cyclist tries to race you?
PT: Just a little bit! If I’m on a ride with a friend and it gets competitive I love it – the competition is the best part of cycling! But when I’m trying to execute a particular session or effort I’d rather concentrate on that, than, almost always, a man who can’t hack being overtaken by a woman! Though I’m a huge hypocrite and will try and overtake anyone even on a recovery ride.
RB: You’re marooned on a desert island. What 3 things could you absolutely not live without?
PT: 1 – Coffee: the easiest choice! A cyclists staple, but I am happily part of the majority.
2 – My first houseplant: I love every plant in my mini jungle, but my original spider plant that my brother gave me a few years ago, would have to join me.
3 – Sun cream: Because me and a desert island are not very compatible after a couple of hours. Who knows, with sun cream on, I might actually get a tan.
Redchilli Bikes would like to thank Poppy for taking the time out to talk with us. Look out for the next 5 minute Q&A on Friday 11th December, where we shall learn a little more about Millie Skinner.
Redchilli are delighted to be sponsoring Finish Line Racing for the 2021 season – and no doubt beyond. If you would like to follow Finish Line Racing during their preparations for the season ahead, then please follow both the team and Redchilli Bikes on social media.
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