We’re getting in shape for a bumper summer of British sport, and are thrilled to announce we’ve teamed up with the next big thing in cycling, the wonderful Jess Varnish.
Jess, who claimed gold and broke a world record at the World Cup in February, has been exercising her creative flair in between training sessions. She’s designed three new liveries for our celebratory vans, based around a best of British theme.We’re over the moon with the results, so keep your eyes peeled for them.
I nabbed Jess for a quick chat down at the photoshoot, to find out about her preparations for this summer.
How did you get into cycling?
My dad’s a cyclist – he used to enter a lot of competitions in mountain biking, track and road events. I followed the races from the age of five or six, then started to have a go myself.
We’ve always been an active family – we’re definitely not couch potatoes!
How important to you is eating the right food?
Being an athlete I always have to be in peak condition, and obviously food is an incredibly important part of that. You can’t compete or train to the best of your ability without having good fuel. It isn’t a big deal to everyone, but it is to me.
Having said that, I do love a good burger, but it’s always a gourmet one. I’d never have junk or fast food – I’d rather make the food myself.
I cook a lot – every day in fact. I love it. Jamie Oliver’s a favourite and I always cook his recipes. I make cakes too; my best recipe is probably a chocolate brownie but I have to dish them out or I’d eat them all myself.
Is it easy to become obsessive about what you’re eating?
It can be, especially being a woman. I’ve been told to gain weight, that if I didn’t I wouldn’t get anywhere, which for any woman is not very nice. I had to put on 10kg of muscle, but thankfully I’ve been brought up well regarding food and was always taught that it’s about moderation.
I’ve never said to myself “you’re not going to eat this”, except for this summer. I’m not going to eat chocolate bars – I’ll have cake and brownies from time to time, but not a whole bar.
I’ve also got a plan of what I can eat and when. I couldn’t just have dinner and go to sleep; I’ll have a big meal and then a protein shake before bed.
Breakfast tends to be eggs, or porridge and fruit, then at 11am a protein shake. If I’ve got two training sessions that day I’ll have three shakes, three meals and three snacks – my friends are shocked at how much I eat! Some girls in the team do feel the need to diet, but it’s not for me.
How long have you lived in Manchester?
I moved just after my A-levels – I was 18 – so it’s coming up to three years ago now. I really like it, although I used to go home a lot. Not so much any more.
I don’t really go out in Manchester though. I sound really sad, but I can’t! I go to the cinema or for coffee, or stay in and cook. Normally I’m in bed by 10.
But trust me, after this summer’s competitions are done, I’m going to go for it! I really want to go to Ibiza – although it might be hard to recover there. My sisters and mum are going and have tickets to see Kasabian, I’m so jealous.
Does your body ever feel like a machine you’re constantly looking after?
Definitely, but it’s for a very short time and I’m not going to be able to do this for my whole life. There are 10 years I can dedicate to being the fastest in the world, so I want to do it.
We’re in Stratford today where you’ll soon be competing. How do you feel?
When you’re training, all you’re looking at is the bike, but this brings it home and makes it real. I won gold here at the World Cup, so it feels really good.
Will you get to see any action outside of your own competitions?
I hope so! I’ll be coming down two or three days before my events, and as long as I get to see the BMX bikes I don’t mind.
Finally, have you ever been on a Boris Bike?
No, but I’d love to. I’d just hop on and do a tour of London – how great would that be!
Well, sounds like a great idea to me, I might have to join her. Best of luck to Jess; my fingers are crossed for her, but something tells me she won’t need it.