Talkingshop: Nicole Oh (Les Filles Racing Team)


Continuing a series talking to women racers in Britain with Les Filles Racing Team’s Nicole Oh from London

RST Cycle Clothing & Trigon Bikes

Nicole explains that she did a few circuit races in 2010 & 2011 when triathlon was her main sport but she then quit triathlon and did my first full season of road racing in 2012.


Asked if she has noticed any changes to the sport of women’s racing in that time, Nicole replies, “Definitely. When I started, fields were pretty small and novices could do reasonably well. I think it is much harder now for novice racers, especially because a lot of women’s races are still E/1/2/3/4.”

“On the plus side, there appears to be a lot more coaching and skills sessions available for novices now. When I started, I learnt from just being in races, talking to my club mates (of which there were few), and watching cycling on TV!


Nicole in the thick of the racing during the Tour Series.

What has been the highlight of 2013 for you?
I love my team. They are a great bunch of women who give it their all but still have lots of fun and don’t take themselves too seriously. It’s been a blast racing with them this year.

Which race has been the best one to do?
I do love the big Crits. The Nocturne is my favourite race, but I also loved the two Tour series races I did and the Westminster GP since it was the last race of the year and had a nice atmosphere amongst the riders. Although I didn’t finish, I enjoyed the Nationals because it was so hard! And I was immensely proud of my team mate Alexie Shaw for riding the way she did to finish 11th.

Do you coach yourself or have a coach to help structure your training?
I make up my own training program using some very basic principles. After having a Triathlon coach for three years, I wanted the freedom! I have been thinking about getting a coach though.

How many hours a week would you train on and off the bike?
If I count commuting, about 15hrs/week on the bike. My off the bike training has declined significantly since giving up Tri! In winter, I would swim, run and do some gym weights totalling about 4hrs/week, but would do less riding.


Do you work full time/part time, at home looking after the family or a full time bike rider! If working, is it hard to fit in training around daily life?
I have my own Cycling Physio business so sometimes I work a lot, and sometimes I work very little! You have to take work as it comes and fit everything else around it. I’m not sure if it’s easier to fit in training now with a flexible schedule, or before with a very fixed schedule, which made life easier to organise. The one good thing is, I can now sometimes ride my bike in the middle of the day when the sun is shining, as admin and emails can always be done at night!

What is the best thing about racing bikes?
The adrenaline. I still get a buzz after most races, especially the Crits (Tue night Palace is my favourite circuit!). And as I said before, I have an awesome team.

And what is the one thing you enjoy least!
The risk of crashing. It is a dangerous sport, especially when you’re a self-employed Physio who’s livelihood are your arms and hands! I try not to think about it too much.


If you could change one of your weaknesses into a strength, which one would it be?
I eat an obscene amount of cake (and chocolate) and hence am pretty bad at trying to lose weight as I have no discipline in this area! My climbing, unsurprisingly, is not great. I’m sure these two things are related.

What type of bike you do ride and what type of groupset/wheels does it have?
I have a number of bikes, but my race bike is a Ridley Asteria. I like to ride a bit of a strange geometry and it was hard to find one that fitted well, but the Asteria is great for me. Not a single thing on my race bike came with the original bike! It now has an Ultegra groupset and wheels are Hed Ardennes on King hubs or Cosmic Carbones, depending on the course.

Are you ‘geeky’ when it comes to the equipment on the bike?
I am now! I blame the boys in the bike shop I work in, along with our mechanic who is quite anal about kit and equipment. I can probably tell you all the measurements on my bike to the millimetre (might also have something to do with being a Physio).

And I did drive my friend in the shop insane with my fussiness on handlebar size and shape – he had to keep ordering different ones for me and after changing them four times, I am finally satisfied. Our team does take our kit particularly seriously (our favourite motto is “If you can’t go fast look shiny”), probably more seriously than the actually racing! There is usually more discussion pre-race about what socks to wear than race tactics!

What will you do training wise during the winter – as little as possible or a structured programme based on getting success in 2014?
I have a vague training plan. I just like riding my bike, so will do regular steady long winter rides with my team mates (gossiping pace, with cake stop of course) and our normal Tuesday night chaingang as a harder session each week. I will probably (try to) run a little and go back to the gym to work on leg strength. I’m also planning to do some men’s circuit races to keep some race skills and sharpness. Last year, I think I added speed and top end work in too late, so will start cranking it up gradually from Feb/March.

Do you see 2014 being a big year for Women’s racing with a UCI Stage race bringing pro teams here?
Definitely. There is a lot of excitement around for 2014 with lots of strong UK teams forming. There are also a shed load of juniors coming through making it increasingly difficult for us oldies to keep up! (I’m 37 next year).

Finally, is it live to race bikes or race bikes to enjoy living!
Definitely the latter. Doing a UCI race in Belgium last year made me realise how unglamorous pro cycling can be! It’s a hobby… a rewarding one that can consume much of your life, but still a hobby.

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