Hi, my name is Joanna Rowsell, I am 21 years old and since I left school I have been a full time cyclist with the Great Britain Team, currently specialising in the Team Pursuit on the track. Home is now in Manchester but I grew up in Surrey and went to an all girls grammar school. Whilst always enjoying sport I was very academic and had my heart set on a future at Cambridge University. However after taking one unique opportunity I have found myself pursuing a very different career path!
How I started cycling: British Cycling’s Talent Team visited my school in the summer of 2003 to carry out cycling tests on the playing field to identify future potential Olympic talent. Curious to find out more I signed up, but when the day came I found myself becoming nervous. What was I doing?! I could never be a cyclist! Still, it was a lovely summer’s day and it beat staying inside for a double maths lesson, so I went along. 2 more stages of testing followed this and having a competitive nature I didn’t want to give up and I gave my all each time, but I never imagined I would get any further! To my surprise I was given a place on the Talent Team in 2004 where I was able to try out all different cycling disciplines, but it wasn’t until 2005 as a first year junior that I began racing. This year I won my first National Title at my first attempt in the Junior 2km Individual Pursuit and I’ve never looked back since then!
A picture from the 2005 track Nationals in my first National jersey
Goals and Ambitions: Fast forward a few years and I am now on the Podium Programme and training for the London 2012 Olympics. With the announcement last December that the women’s Team Pursuit will be included in the Olympic Games I was over the moon! Having twice been World Champion in this event and with the games being in my home city, this is very exciting for me!
World Championships Team Pursuit 2010, riding with Lizzie Armitstead and Wendy Houvenaghel
A little more about me and my life as a bike rider…
Career Highlight: Two times World Champion in the Women’s Team Pursuit (2008 & 2009)
Toughest point in my career: Illness and injury set backs are always tough. This year I had a bad crash in July whilst out training where I knocked my front teeth out. Not long after I got back on the bike I was diagnosed with glandular fever. Having time off is hard knowing everyone is out there training and racing, however getting back on the bike after an enforced rest always gives me extra motivation to go out and train hard!
The best thing about cycling: Travelling the world, making some great friends and not having to work in an office! Knowing my job is to go out and ride my bike is the best thing ever, especially during the summer – spending the days riding in the sunshine and the freedom of being on a bike while exploring the countryside
My favourite races: are the Post Tour criteriums in Belgium and Holland. There is always such a great atmosphere at these races with massive crowds there to see the Tour de France stars. Riding the women’s support races are a great experience as I love the fast aggressive racing and there are usually some good prizes! My favourite of these is Herentals. Always attracting big crowds plus a testing technical course, it’s always a great race
Herentals Post Tour Criterium July 2008
Would love to: spend more time racing on the road after the London Olympics. A road career is not something I have been able to pursue so far but I do love racing on the road and would love to give it a good go one year.
Favourite place to ride my bike: I love training in Majorca and I have been lucky enough to spend some time there during the winter for the last couple of years. But my favourite place to ride has got to be my home roads in Surrey! The infamous climb of Box Hill is one I know well, always finishing my training rides by riding up here, as well as being the location for numerous training efforts / intervals / over geared efforts etc over the years! Conveniently there is a cafe at the top for a well deserved (occasional) cake!
Favourite cake: My favourite cake has got to be chocolate cake! In fact anything involving chocolate… But I’m not too fussy and love to try anything! At the top of Box Hill one of their giant flap jacks is usually my choice.
Favourite coffee: I don’t drink coffee but I do (unsurprisingly) love hot chocolate! My favourite is from a cafe in Majorca. On the menu it is called “little cup of chocolate” and is served with a spoon. It has a very thick consistency and I’m never quite sure whether it’s supposed to be drunk or “eaten” with the spoon! Being particularly rich as well, one little cup is all I can manage, which is probably for the best!
Check out the websites below for more blogs and news as I work towards the London Olympics
Photos thanks to British Cycling and Cycling Weekly.