We caught up with elite cyclist and Oatopia ambassador Jennifer George, after her recent trip to the U.S.
You have just returned from a month long training camp out in Arizona, U.S.A. Take us through a typical day of training out there…
Jen: A normal day in Arizona would begin at around 7.30am – as the sunrises so did I! After a cuppa in bed and porridge for breakfast I would hit the road. Out in the desert temps in the morning are 0 deg so we usually waited until 9am to roll out.
Most rides I’d warm up with a couple of housemates and then depending on our training plans we would continue to train together, practicing some essential team racing skills like lead-out trains or sprints, or split off to do our own thing. I always aimed to be home from training at 1pm so I could chat with my husband in the UK, but sometimes I had a monster session to complete and it didn’t always happen!
My ride fuel is very important and I always take into consideration: my last 2 days of training intensity; the duration of the next ride; my mental well being; the temperature. I work using the philosophy that you fuel today for riding tomorrow, and apply it to my training and racing. I choose to fuel on food that I enjoy and the Oatopia Protein Flapjack and Breakfast Bar, plus Energy Bombs are my first choice! My training partners would eye me with envy every time I pulled out a bar to get me home.
Hydration on rides was also very important to get right as it’s very arid in the desert.
After training was done for the day we would sometimes do a little sightseeing, or if it was a Thursday I would head into Tuscon to help at El Grupo, a community funded charity that supports local youths getting into cycling. The kids inspired me with their positivity, tenacity and hard work.Some evenings I would cook, often with my roommate Frankie (a Professional long distance triathlete) and on others we had ‘family’ dinner times with the whole training group. Then it was time for some relaxing in-front of the TV, which more often than not turned into a stretching and foam rolling session!
The thing that made Arizona a special place to train was the people. My housemates were full of positivity, support, belief and shared a genuine passion for cycling.
You also tested the legs in a couple of races whilst out on camp. How did they go?
Jen: Yes! The Catalina Omnium was a 2 day race starting with a road race on day 1 and then a Criterium on day 2. The last race I did ended in a bad crash where I fractured my tibia and tore cartilage in my knee, so as you can imagine my first race back was a nerve racking experience!
The first race was tough. I attacked a lot and with 50% of the field dropped in the first half I attacked into the final climb and got a break away with one other rider. We worked hard together in the final 20k to the finish. I was hurting badly but when it came to the final sprint I committed and took the win!
On Day 2 in the Criterium I teamed up with my housemate Amelia Kirby, helping to get her into a winning break and take first. I nabbed 4th and the overall GC win for the weekend!
What races are to be your main focus in the 2018 season? Will you be competing abroad as well as in the UK?
Jen: The season has gotten off to a great start with the win in Arizona. The next and real test will be the Valencia 4 day race starting 22nd February followed by the classics in Belgium. My goal this year is to achieve some top 10 finishes in UCI races and to better my 5th in the British National Road Race in June. I am riding in a team alongside some strong and talented riders so am hopeful for a good season!
What is your favourite race and why?
Jen: My favourite race of all time is the Tour of Flanders. I love cobbled climbs and I enjoy a hard race. This year I won’t race Flanders but I will be riding some Belgium classics and these always have the ‘cobbled gems’ to make the race interesting.
What advice would you give to a casual sportive rider who want’s to have a go at racing (apart from fuel up with Oatopia flapjacks of course)?
Jen: Get yourself a racing licence from British Cycling and do a race training session with your local club. Then find yourself a local race! Something like a Category 4 or 3/4 Criterium.