Olympic gold medallist Victoria Pendleton has urged Britain's motorists to be more bike aware and less abusive to cyclists. In an interview with The Timesonline she reveal that she has been on the receiving end of plenty of abuse and dangerous driver herself – even while training in her Team GB kit.
“It does my head in that people have no regard for my safety. If someone cuts me up, I will sometimes catch up and have a go at them. It's not like their journeys are so important. They're usually off to the shops to waste some more money. Honestly, what's a few seconds in their pointless life for the sake of not killing me?”
Pendlton who is campaigning to get more Briton's on their bikes (she is one of the faces of next weekend's Sky Sports London Freewheel) is adamant that raising driver awareness is key to giving more people the confidence to get out on their bikes.
As she know even experienced cyclists are no match for a careless driver. In the run up to the Commonwealth games Pendleton's team mate, Emma Davies-Jones had her back broken by a hit and run driver on her way to the Manchester Velodrome, and although she made a remarkable recovery and went on to win a bronze medal in Melbourne, before the accident she had been aiming for gold.
Pendleton's solution for safer streets is more bikes, and she has a suggestion for increasing driver awareness: make sitting on a bike and having a car whizz past at 50mph part of the driving test.
In a refreshingly honest interview Pendleton says that one Olympic gold isn't enough. She also pays tribute to the part the British cycling team's sport's psychologist, Steve Peters has played in her success, particularly in lifting her performance at the Athens Olympics. It is not underplaying it to say that Pendleton regards what he has done for her as life-changing in quite a profound way.
“Steve could see I was deeply unhappy and unsatisfied with my performance, because I was not doing it for the right reasons. This was more about my life, so the work with Steve was more psychiatry than sports psychology. I had some real bizarre perspective on what I was and who I was in my sport. I felt my life depended on cycling and my results. He taught me to care less about other people and more about myself. People say it's surprising about how much happier and more confident I am…”
It's an approach Pendleton feels would benefit lots of young girls and women.
“The concepts Steve taught would help four out of five girls in everyday life. If I had known these things at 14, I would have been much more happy and less full of teen angst. I was always so self-conscious about being boyish as a teenager that I would never be seen in a swimming costume.”
To read the full interview with Victoria Pendleton go to the Timesonline
Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.