I was lucky enough to catch up with the amazing Anna Meares via email for an interview. I find Anna very inspiring and have been lucky enough to see her race a couple of times at the velodrome in Sydney.
Q: My Sydney Cycling Club, Lidcombe Auburn Cycle Club (LACC) has a girls’ development squad called the Pixies. They ride and race both track and road and range in age from about six to 13. What words of wisdom could you offer them?
A: I have heard of the Pixies (very cute little group and cute name). My advice would be to have fun, enjoy the sport, enjoy the company of old friends and new friends because these will be memories that last you a lifetime.
Q: At what age did you switch from ‘having fun’ racing and riding your bike to ‘serious’ training? How old were you when you found your first coach?
A: I was 13 when I found my first coach in Ken Tucker in Rockhampton. I probably went from having fun to serious when I was 16 years old.
Q: What drove you to get back on your bike after your very serious crash on the velodrome pre-Beijing?
A: What drove me was my desire to not let go of my dream/my goal and maybe a bit of naivety and stubbornness as well.
Q: Do you feel like you can relax a little now that one of your main rivals in Victoria Pendleton has retired?
A: No, You can never relax when you are trying to be the world’s best. Even if you are the world’s best someone is always trying to beat you and that is the challenge of sport that I love, you always have to work hard to get somewhere and work hard to stay somewhere.
Q: Obviously you’re predominantly a track cyclist, do you also ride road as part of your training program? If yes, can you provide a few details like how far, what intensity, etc?
A: I do some road riding but not a lot. I do a lot of work in the gym and on the track. Pre-season I might ride up to 60 or 80km in one session in the road, but other times during track season I would only ride 30 to 40km to aid recovery from the intense session on the track and in the gym.
Q: What role does mental preparation play in your training program? Do you do anything particular to prepare mentally or is it something that ‘just happens’?
A: Like training your body to be fit and capable to race, I train my mind to handle pressure and expectation and failure and success and many, many other things. These are skills you need to learn because you need a strong mind to help a strong body function at its best.
Q: Who are the cyclists who have inspired you throughout your career?
Q: What do you think we can collectively do to encourage more women to take up cycling of all types?
A: We can take the stigma away of ‘riding in lycra’ and start more casually. We can focus on the social and wellbeing aspect of low impact activity.
Q: Are you actively planning ‘life after cycling’? and does it include a continued involvement in the sport of cycling?
I am looking to life after cycling and I would love to remain in the sport in some capacity. I will always ride in some way in some discipline.