ŠKODA Mentoring – We Have A Winner!

Remember I launched a competition in conjunction with ŠKODA to find someone who’d like helping achieving their cycling goals this summer? After a huge number of entries on YouTube and Instagram we chose a winner, London based Nelsy.

Nelsy, a former runner, got her first single speed bike last year for use on her commute to bike cafe Look Mum No Hands, where she works as a barista. Being surrounded by cyclists of all kinds in a cafe that shows bike racing live on the TV, Nelsy’s interest in the racing side of the sport was already piqued but it was a visit to Thundercrit last year that was the provide the impetus to have a go herself.



There’s a nice symmetry in our racing stories. In much the same way that watching the women at Red Hook Crit made me want to give fixed gear crits a go, Nelsy saw women including yours truly sprinting around Lee Valley Velopark and thought ‘I’d like to try that too,’ (which is exactly why I’m always saying that female racing needs greater visibility, but’s let’s save that for another post!). As it was Red Hook Crit that inspired me to race, I chose that for my debut. Nelsy has chosen Thundercrit for the same reason.

[Not sure what a fixed gear crit is? Click here for a handy explanation.]



Given that Nelsy’s aim was racing her first fixed gear crit, a kind of racing that’s close to my heart, I felt I’d be able to offer her some real insights that should give her confidence going into the race next month. As time is so short, it was critical we worked on skills, tactics and general race craft as though I’m providing Nelsy with a custom training plan, she’ll only have three week to follow it before race day.

Let’s get Cracking!


We began with a long chat about her cycling history, the kind of riding she is currently doing and how much time she has to train before moving onto what facilities she has access to, things such as hills, circuits and industrial estates as well as rollers, turbos, heart rate and bike computers. All this info enables me to write a training plan that’s relevant and appealing, but more critically, doable.

The next topic was gearing, components and even shoe/pedal choice – as you pedal through corners rather than coast it’s important to avoid wide, chunky pedals that will give you less clearance as the cranks turn. Nelsy had recently put a heavier gear on her bike as she’d entered the ASSOS London Women’s Track League and was still getting used to pushing it so we left that as it was for our session. I’ll be catching up with her soon to find out how she’s getting on with it and taking more sprockets up to London for her if we decide it needs a change.



After a decent warm up we spent the next couple of hours working on cornering, beginning with a relatively easy bend before moving on to a slightly more awkward hairpin. With Dave’s help we were able to asses how much Nelsy could lean into the turns before her pedal caught, demonstrate line choice and show where to brake.

Before long we were able to sprint out of corners and up the pace. It was really gratifying watching the progress Nelsy made in such a short period of time – we went from a really sedate pace, one at a time to riding at decent speed right next to each other whilst cornering, something Nelsy had initially found a little intimidating.



To finish things off I gave Nelsy some tips regarding what to work on over the next few weeks as well as some general advice on what to do when racing crits and what to expect.

It’s really fun sharing my love of fixed gear racing with Nelsy and helping her get to grips with what probably seems a mysterious new world. I know that I was pretty mystified when I first started racing; it’s  easy to feel out of your depth at your first one. I hope I’ve gone some way to reassuring her that it will be fun, manageable and not too scary. And once she’s back from her holiday we’ll get cracking with her new training plan.

Have you considered mentoring anyone?

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