Lucy Parsons, an amateur cyclist has recently become a member of a Brighton cycle team, Unknown Rider Development Team (URDT) who completed their FUEL CLUB Sponsorship campaign in record time. We wanted to find out her goals for 2018 and what motivates her to get into the saddle. Not only does she train 4 to 5 times a week, but she has a full-time job and is managing a disability.
Hey Lucy, so the first female member of URDT, tell us, how did you get into cycling and joining the team?
I first started riding in 2009, as part of a charity cycle from John O’Groats to Land’s End. It was in memory of two very close friends, and since then the charity has continued to organise tours across Europe and Korea to raise money for a school we have built in Uganda. I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2012, but it wasn’t until 2016 that I started training properly and better understood how exercise and good health would support my disease.
Early in 2017 I began training with several local cycling teams which helped enormously with my fitness but also gave me a baptism of fire into racing! It was here I met James from URDT who talked to me about the team and how they’re really keen to push forward women’s involvement in racing. A couple of months later I’m now a fully-fledged member of URDT and in the middle of winter training, with racing beginning in the New Year.
When did you start racing competitively?
In all honesty it was about six months ago! I never realised that amateur racing was such a thing. The cycling I did was all long-distance tours, two week adventures across Europe, a week in the Pyrenees or a week in Korea. And outside this, I was naïve about what other amateur races existed, particularly for women.
Is UK cycling geared up for female riders?
The growth and involvement of women’s cycling has grown exponentially, particularly since London 2012. At an elite level, there have been some fundamental changes with regards to more equal pay and competition prizes, which are going some way to level out the inequality between men and women’s racing. At an amateur level there is still some disparity between the genders, although the involvement is growing.
I think there is a misapprehension that the step up from club riding to taking part in your first race or time trial is insurmountable for your average women, but it’s really not. I had never ridden a time trial until May this year, and got hooked pushing myself to perform better each week. Most local clubs organise their own, or accept non-members. If this
misconception continues to break down, and amateur organisers make competing in races fulfilling, then the involvement of women’s cycling will continue to grow.
What is your training routine, and does it always involve a bike?
In an ideal world I’d like to say I train between four and five times a week, but sometimes life gets in the way, with a full-time job and dark evenings I have to be realistic and make the most out of the training time I have available to me. This means turbo sessions, night rides reaching a distance 35-45km and long weekend base sessions of 70-100km. I’m also a supported athlete at Dual Strength & Fitness in Horsham, so winter strength sessions include lots of squats and deadlifting, as well as explosive power work to build the little sprinting capacity I have.
Fuelling your body before a race, I can imagine, is paramount to your performance. What are the top foods that maintain your energy for training and racing?
Because of my MS, I try and follow quite a strict diet. That’s not to say I’m on it religiously; it’s tough to maintain essentially a vegan diet, which also shouldn’t have gluten and some other large food groups. It’s challenging, but again, I’m a realist. Fortunately, my diet is to support my good health rather than because I’m coeliac or allergic to certain foods – therefore if I slip up, it’s not going to make me unwell.
Obviously what I eat on the bike will depend on what I’m doing and how long I’m spending in the saddle. Usually a banana or some homemade oat/nut bars will do the trick. Now that gluten and dairy intolerances are becoming more recognised, as well as veganism, many of the cafes on our rides will cater for a variety of dietary needs – so there should always be something I can eat.
It’s 2018, what are your New Year goals?
I’m always aiming to be the best I can be, as cliché as that sounds! I never want my MS to be a factor to why I haven’t performed well in a race, so I have to look at my training to ensure I’m getting enough of the right sessions in, as well as plenty of rest. 2018 is a really exciting year and I can’t wait to get stuck into racing with URDT and see where it takes me.
(Photo Credit: Image by Tony Hart Photo)