For those who follow this blog you’ll know that I really enjoy interviewing female Australian pro cyclists, and this time it’s my absolute pleasure to profile Aussie pro, Sarah Roy. Sarah’s busy schedule and the time difference between Europe and Australia where Sarah is based, meant that the interview took place via email rather than face-to-face or over the phone. Although I was lucky enough to speak with Sarah face-to-face at this year’s Tour Down Under.
Q: I’ve read that you were rejected many times from the AIS. What kept you going back until you succeeded?
A: I’ve always been quite strong-willed and independent. Anything that I’ve wanted in life I’ve worked for. As a kid, I had my first job when I was 10 years old delivering newspapers. I didn’t get the job at first because I didn’t know the local street names. When the newsagent told me why they didn’t give me the job I spent an entire afternoon walking the complete suburb and drew my own map of the streets to learn them all, and so with my new street knowledge they gave me the job. It took me about 2 years to save for my first very own ‘big’ bike. I think this kind of growth mindset is important. We need to know that we might not be awesome or exceptionally skilled at something initially, and we won’t always get what we want first go but with effort you can become very good, and with persistence you will overcome road blocks. I’ve never felt any one person other than myself has the responsibility of my success or lack thereof. No one person has the power to stop me, there is always another way and some of the best advice given to me was, “it’s up to you to find a way”…
Q: I believe you attended Concord High School in Sydney. My young friend Keira also attends Concord High and is an aspiring road and track cyclist, currently competing (and doing very well) as an Under 15. From what you’ve learned as a professional athlete, what advice do you have for a young woman like Keira?
A: My best advice to such a young female rider would firstly be to simply have fun and enjoy riding the bike. Put your focus into your personal enjoyment, making friends, personal progress, and the fun of learning new skills and tactics. Stay away from wanting the latest or top equipment, and to winning or getting results. Don’t compare yourself to anyone but yourself and if you don’t already then learn to love what your body allows you to do. If you have big goals, you will achieve them if you apply effort, persistence, and don’t ever lose the fun.
Q: Your team Mitchelton-Scott is having a great year, with two of your team mates in the 1st and 3rd place in the very recent Giro Rosa. You worked hard to get them there. Do you wish it was you on the podium instead of them?
A: It’s easy for people to forget that cycling is a team sport when there is just one rider standing on the podium, however, when you’re part of a true team your contribution to the success is valued greatly. Winning the Giro is a huge thing but it takes an entire team to achieve it, from staff to rider. I am proud to be a part of 2 grand tour wins. My coach and those close to me are proud of me, my team and my team mates are grateful for my efforts and that is what matters to me. It is a beautiful, satisfying feeling to help somebody else achieve their goals.
Q: From your social media posts, and those of your fellow riders, you look like you’re having fun while racing around Europe. Is it as much fun as it looks?
A: I am glad to hear what we do looks fun. Professional racing in Europe is as fun as you make it. It can definitely be very hard and lonely if you allow it but our fun that we portray on social media is what we’re experiencing and it’s good to share. I feel my posts are an accurate representation of the ups and downs we go through. I do aim to keep it real, although, I am aware that negativity and monotony aren’t awfully inspiring. The fun you see my team mates and me having is real. I love this life and I hope we influence people to live their dreams too.
Q: How important is your support team in achieving your goals?
A: A strong support network is incredibly important to any athlete or individual for that matter. We all need to surround ourselves with people who lift us up and help us get the best out of ourselves. It’s these people who are forever rooting for you and genuinely happy for you that gives you strength in the hard times and are the ones you want to run to for celebrations in the good times. I am extremely lucky to have a coach who has stood by me with no agenda or gains for herself over the last 7 years. She has always wanted the best for me and is the absolute core of my support network. She saw potential in me and has trusted me enough to challenge me to step outside my comfort zone empowering me to be all that I can be. I also definitely challenge her!! Both Cycling Australia and Mitchelton-Scott are also important to support in helping me to achieve my goals.
Q: I believe you’ve completed studies at University. What did you study and how do you plan to use your education in the future?
A: I have a degree in Sports Science and I am completing my Master in Clinical Physiology. Currently, I am mostly interested in the health of our future generation and societies understanding of what’s good for you. I would like to remind people what it’s like to feel good (strong, healthy and full of energy), but I don’t yet have a clear direction in mind that I want to take with this line of study. The options are endless. I am unable to graduate until I retire from cycling and stay in Australia for a long enough period to complete the final work experience subject so I am pretty relaxed about things. Doing those work experience hours will keep me occupied initially after I stop racing, giving me time to decide.
Q: What can we all do to get more women riding bikes of all types, for many purposes?
A: I believe change begins with the children. Schools would be a good place to introduce the beauty of cycling in a safe environment and establish a sense of confidence on the bike and on the roads, outside. I know of a number of school and school holiday programs which is fantastic. Beyond this, something we can all do is to ride ourselves; lead by example, promote the bike in a positive light and be welcoming to all newcomers.
Did you enjoy hearing from Sarah Roy? Who else would you like to hear from? Let WWC know via comments for the Women Who Cycle Facebook page.