Hot on the heels of my interview with Michael 'Dr Hutch' Hutchinson I interview Rachael Elliot - Brompton World Champion for 2010 and 2011.
Rachael almost certainly needs no introduction and many of us who have attended the Brompton World Championships might have seen her go past us in a blur. In fact at the 2011 BWC my youngest daughter was meant to be watching out for me but one of Rachael's supporters told her to watch out for this lady who was faster than most of the men. My daughter did and I was a sideshow for the rest of that day!
This has been the interview I have wanted more than most and is my favourite so far. Below are my questions with Rachael's responses.
1 What sort of Brompton bikes do you own? (Colour, gearing, handlebar type…)I have three Bromptons:
The original: An M3L steel Brompton in baby pink (purchased in 2005).
The racing Brompton: An M6L-X titanium Brompton in claret (won in BWC 2010)
The museum item: An M6L limited edition steel Brompton with bespoke artwork by Vic Lee. I can’t bear to use this one (won in BWC 2011).
2 As a double Brompton World Champion you quite rightly won two of your Brompton bikes but what made you originally buy a Brompton?As a commuter, I used to use two bikes at both ends of my commute. When the bicycle I used for the London-end of my commute was stolen from Paddington (it had three locks on it and was worth less than £100, for goodness sake). I made the decision to buy a folding bike. Being in the tube behind the one that was bombed at Edgware Road and hearing the explosion expediated the decision to get off the tube completely.
3 How does the Brompton World Championships compare with other cycling events you have participated in?As a time trialler, I am used to sidling up into a layby with a secretly named course code, being pushed off at a pre-assigned start time, hurtling down a road as fast as you can, retiring to the tiniest village hall to see your result pinned to a wall and spending the next two hours discussing how if the wind had been around 2 degrees more to the north, you’d have definitely have ridden three seconds faster. And, of course, the person who you normally beat but was victorious on this occasion must have had a lighter headwind on the way out.
The Brompton World Championship puts an end to this analicity, and is pure fun. It’s definitely the highlight of my year, but also probably the most competitive event I take part in.
4 I have taken part in two Brompton World Championships with the belief that I might win. What advice would you give to the many Bromptonians out there who are going to enter the Brompton World Championships or other events like the IG Nocturne Folding Bike Race?Always believe you might win. Someone has to. The best advice is not to prep your bike too much. I always ride it as I would on my commute (OK, maybe I don’t usually wear shorts quite that short). Standard trainers, mudguards. It’s what I’m used to.
5 Before a Brompton World Championships how do you prep your bike?I make sure the gears change ok and the tyres are pumped to the max PSI + 20. The secret is in the safety pins in the suit.
6 Unfortunately, you weren’t able to defend your double Brompton World Championships titles in 2012. Why was this?I had a serious accident whilst marshalling at a club time trial. I blacked out on the bike and crashed, shattering my wrist completely. This was Jubilee weekend and I have barely cycled outside since. The turbo trainer has been my best friend.
7 Who is your all time favourite cyclist and why?Got to love Tommy Voeckler. He climbs the French cols with a true Brompton World Championship Race Face.
8 If you were the Prime Minister / Mayor of London for the day what would you do to make cycling safer?I’d convince my electorate to elect me for the next 10 years. This is how long it will take to change cycling. More people need to cycle in order to make a change come about; we need a critical mass of cyclists.
9 When cycling / commuting on your bicycle what makes you angry?Red light jumpers and cyclists who flout the law. Until cyclists change, how can we expect road users to take us, as a body, seriously?
10 Chopper, Grifter, BMX or other? Explain why.Something with stabilisers. I’m only good in a straight line.
11 What is your personal proudest moment in cycling terms?Has to be my 2011 BWC victory. Finishing “top 5 in the national 50” holds no credibility amongst colleagues; winning a folding bike race clearly means you’re heading for the next Olympics.
Most recently though, it was riding my bike outside for the first time after breaking my wrist.
12 On rare occasions (usually ascending a hill just after traffic lights) I sometimes overtake a road bike on my Brompton. Do you ever try to do the same?I view any other bike on the road as competition. The more lycra and carbon on display, the more burning my desire to kill.
13 What is your favourite cycling route? Why do you like it?I love the challenge of Alpe d’Huez, and have climbed it on both my road bike and my Brompton. That was a sight to behold.
More locally, there are some beautiful routes around my home town of Newbury – I have a favourite local route which lasts about two hours and is perfect in every way.
14 Will you be defending your Brompton World Championship title and going for a third win in 2013?That goes without saying.
A very big thank you to Rachael for answering my questions and I am sure that you would all agree with me when I say that I hope that she is able to attend the Brompton World Championships this year and win for a third time.