Interview with Marianne Britten – Elite Women top British Cycling points scorer

Marianne Britten

Interview with the Team Captain of VC St Raphael Women’s Team and lead British Cycling points scorer for Elite Women in 2010 and 2011.

 

How did you get into cycling?
As a youngster I grew up riding horses and used to compete in tetrathlon, that’s swimming, running, horse-riding and shooting at Pony Club. That ends when you reach 21 so I was looking for another sport similar so ended up trying triathlon. I quickly realised that cycling was the most fun out of all the disciplines and so started to focus on that with a local bike club. I quickly fell in love with the whole sport and so here I am. I never tire of striving to achieve more, cycling is a great leveller so you never quite feel like you’ve conquered everything, leaving you thirsty for more.

You work full time but still manage to be successful on the bike – how do you manage your time?
Managing my time is very difficult. Some years I have reduce my hours over the season to give myself a break but then it’s still not easy and I have raced the last 2 seasons having worked full time. I’m very lucky to work for such an understanding group of people as they are very flexible with me allowing me to work from home and flex my hours so that I can train and race. I love my job and it’s the reason why I have never tried to be a full-time bike rider, for me I have to have other things in my life other than riding the bike. My partner Jason also helps me out a great deal and is often ferrying me around to races…allowing me to sleep on the way!

You’ve won many races and have a number of National Champion jerseys – which would you say is your proudest achievement and why?
The Masters titles I have won mean a great deal to me but my proudest moments have come this year taking the sprinters jersey at the Bedford 2-day and getting on the podium at the Hillingdon GP, finally perhaps putting myself on the radar as a sprinter. I always take pleasure in doing the best I can and if a result comes from that then that’s a bonus.

What would you say to anybody who is thinking of starting racing, especially as it can be daunting getting on a start line for the first time? Any top tips?
First of all I can’t stress how important it is to develop your bunch riding skills before attempting to race, going out with a local bike club is a good way to learn some of these skills and gain confidence of riding with people around you and at speeds you wouldn’t by yourself. There are also a few Women’s training sessions that you can attend which are excellent. Then when you are confident, try to pick races that are within your reach to start with, perhaps local women’s races, don’t try to take on too much too soon as you can easily find yourself out of your depth both in terms of speed and technique. Always be realistic about your ability and recognise your strengths, some riders are better over hilly terrain and some are better at sprinting. Recognising these and targeting races to suit you will mean you will have positive experiences and enjoy the sport more. Don’t be swayed to do every race on the calendar just because everyone else is, be confident in your own training and race plan and stick with it. Most importantly it’s about your sport being fun.

Is there any advice in particular that you have been given over the years which has helped you to succeed that you could share with us?
I read a book once by Lance Armstrong, one of his quotes was that “pain is in the moment but failure is forever”. That’s something that has stayed with me and I try to remember when I am racing. Being the best that I can be is what I strive for so I train hard to save myself from disappointment.

Do you have any sporting heroes? Do you see anything in them that you could model yourself on?
I did a bike race a few years ago where a certain Lizzie Armistead rode and lapped the field twice. I witnessed first hand something special that day and hopefully she will pull on a rainbow jersey one day. I’d like to think like her I have some steely determination and a bit of a sprint at the end….just a little less of her talent!

Do you have a favourite event or circuit? What about the event/circuit do you like so much?
My favourite circuit has to be one local to me, at Thruxton Motor circuit. I love the circuit because it’s tough with the rise before the finish and can be very fast in places. When I heard that the National Master Road Race was being held there instead of the original road circuit I knew I was in with a chance at winning the title I’d been after for 4years, which I did and was delighted.

You have recently become the official Team Captain to the VC St Raphael Women’s Team, which in itself is one of the new kids on the block. How do you see the team evolving?
I’m excited and honoured at taking on that role, other teams have asked me to captain them over the last few years but I’ve not felt ready until now. I hope that I can lead the team to work together and get results. We now have a strong mix of riders covering track, road and time trials. It is a great mix of youth and experience and we have some exciting new talent joining the team as well as the hard core from last year. Having had 2 excellent training weekends over the winter I think we are ready to test our legs and get working together as a team, Cheshire Classic will be our first event.

Do you have any aspirations for the 2012 season?
Mainly I want the team to get some results and work together, a result for a teammate means just as much. I’d like to defend my National titles and perhaps the sprinters jersey at Bedford 2-day again.

Where would you like to be in two years’ time?
I’d like to be still riding my bike and enjoying it, perhaps with a World or European Masters title to my name.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Monument Valley RAAM Photo

The Race Across America (RAAM) is one of the most challenging and rewarding races in the world. It’s something that many cyclists aspire to achieve and I know it’s on the mind of at least a few of you right now.

This photo from last year’s Race Across America is one of my favorite cycling photos ever. Not only did I have to share it with all of you, I wanted to let you know more about the photographer, location, and rider pictured in it as well. It’s a beautiful cycling photo, but just might serve as motivation for you as well.

Dex Tooke in Monument Valley RAAM 2011 – Photo by Dan Joder

Photo Details:

Date: June 17, 2011

Camera: Nikon D90, f/11, 1/125, ISO200, 70-300 Nikkor zoom at 100mm

Description of photo by Dan Joder:

This is a classic image of RAAM–the solo rider climbing a long grade in the spectacular Monument Valley. Although there was almost no traffic in the area, there were two or three cars on the road in the far distance as Dex approached my lens–I had hoped to have a completely clear highway to emphasize the feeling of emptiness and space. The clone tool in Photoshop took care of the motor vehicle problem and turned the image into what I felt and saw when I was there. I also experimented with various versions of this image from B&W to different special effects as Dex was, at one time, considering the image for the cover of his book.

Dan Joder

Although Dan has spent the past 25 years of his life as a Cat 3 (and presently a Masters) bike racer, he doesn’t consider his photography to be focused on cycling. Generally his photos are of nature, landscapes, and streets. But when he crewed for his friend, Dex Tooke, in the 2011 Race Across America that all changed.

During last year’s RAAM, Dan’s official job was taking a shift as one of the “Navigators” in the follow van, but whenever his hands were free, he was shooting photos of Dex and the scenery around him.
Going coast to coast at 15mph is a great way to see the country! If you don’t know much about RAAM though, rest assured, it is most certainly the Mt. Everest of competitive ultra cycling. For these riders, the competition is much more an internal, psychological affair than a battle against one another. All, from the fastest to the slowest, deal with fatigue, saddle sores, hallucinations, sleep deprivation, wind, hail, heat, traffic, crew conflicts, navigation errors, mechanical issues and more in their 3000-mile crossing of America.
If you get a chance to crew for a RAAM rider–DO IT! 
– Dan Joder

Dex Tooke:

Last year, Dex Tooke was on his second attempt to tame the Beast that is RAAM. You could say he had some “unfinished business” (his slogan and the likely title of his upcoming book) because, in 2010, he was forced to withdraw just 180 miles short of the finish line in Annapolis. In 2011, he was successful, crossing the finish less than three hours before the time cut-off. By doing so, he became just the sixth rider over 60 years of age to complete the event. To put this in even greater perspective, ten times more people have climbed Mt. Everest than have successfully finished RAAM as a solo racer.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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