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
Tony has been editing cycling magazines and websites since 1997 starting out as production editor and then deputy editor of Total Bike, acting editor of Total Mountain Bike and then seven years as editor of Cycling Plus. He launched his first cycling website - the Cycling Plus Forum at the turn of the century. In 2006 he left C+ to head up the launch team for Bike Radar which he edited until 2008, when he co-launched the multi-award winning road.cc - which he continues to edit today. His favourite ride is his ‘commute’ - which he does most days inc weekends and he’s been cycle-commuting since 1994. His favourite bikes are titanium and have disc brakes.