Interview: Jo Tindley (Matrix Fitness)


Talking to Jo Tindley from Stroud in Gloucestershire who rides for Matrix Fitness Racing Academy

RST Cycle Clothing & Trigon Bikes

Jo has been racing for ten years although within that was a five year break after having been racing for seven years. 2013 was her second season back and her first with Matrix Fitness. Since returning, Jo could be seen constantly at the sharp end of races, especially the circuit races, not afraid to get involved in the sprints which is one of her strengths or even going solo off the front.

[pullquote]We had no televised events. We had nothing like the Johnson Health Tech series. The difference is incredible. Women’s cycling has so much support out there these days. Racing is harder and more credible. The support from sponsors and race organisers is increasing.[/pullquote]


Have you noticed any changes to the sport of women’s racing in that time?
Jo: Most definitely. Racing as a youth and junior back in 2001-2005, there was nothing like what we have today in women’s racing. Today’s sport is unrecognisable to be perfectly honest. I remember my first national criterium championship as an Under 16 rider; there were no more than six of us. To be honest, it was hardly a race!

We had no televised events. We had nothing like the Johnson Health Tech series. The difference is incredible. Women’s cycling has so much support out there these days. Racing is harder and more credible. The support from sponsors and race organisers is increasing. The juniors coming through are the generation who I think are going to benefit most from the major changes in the sport.

What has been the highlight of 2013 for you?
Jo: One highlight that springs to mind was one of the last crit races of the year, the Westminster GP. It was great to have this race as I remember as a junior I raced in Westminster. That was a good few years ago. The team had a strong ride and we seemed to start to feel a natural link in what we did.

Which race has been the best one to do?
Jo: Best race has always got to be the Johnson Health Tech series events. For me personally, the series was a little disappointing in terms of my performance. However, I know this year was a transitional year. I didn’t expect the return to a top team to be so soon but when the offer from Matrix came along, I couldn’t turn it down.

So everything got accelerated and I had to trust in a long-term plan. I have good people around me and I know that I’m 100% ready for the challenges ahead of me in 2014. I had to learn to be in a structured team, share responsibilities as well as taking them, increase my training load and also deal with more off the bike responsibilities. All of this was a big learning curve and again, thanks to the people around me, I understand the season was success.

Do you coach yourself or have a coach to help structure your training?
Jo: I am currently working with Stuart Blunt, so my training is very structured, I have to train smart so I get the right working and training balance. Becoming a full time rider is high on my agenda and I think I’m in the right place to achieve that with Matrix.


Jo wearing the sprints jersey at the Johnson Health Tec Tour Series

How many hours a week would you train on and off the bike?
Jo: Now, as it’s winter, I am training 12+ hours a week and I am also in the gym three hours a week. If I was full time, I’d be doing more in the winter months, but that’s not possible but I have faith that if I train smart, I can achieve just as much. The major loss to my overall planner compared to a full time rider is recovery. I train, then work various jobs. All on my feet for long periods of time. So I do my best to get recovery when I can.

Do you work full time/part time?
Jo: I currently have three separate jobs and work five days a week. One job is very flexible. I don’t have a car so I have to commute everywhere by bike, whatever the weather. That can work well with training, killing two birds with one stone. It can also be tough however. Last winter I found it very tough as I was working 42 hours a week plus training. I found it too much to be honest and my cycling suffered. This year I feel I have the balance right.


What is the best thing about racing bikes?
Jo: The speed, I love going fast. I absolutely love descending, the feeling of just going flat out and being totally in control, which leads to over taking people too. It means I don’t have to think when I’m on the bike, the world is forgotten and it’s all about the bike right there and then.

And what is the one thing you enjoy least!
Jo: I just love being on my bike these days but the one thing I dislike the most is having to wash things. I’ll be on my bike two times a day most days…. I go through a lot of kit especially when it’s wet out. I’m forever washing kit and the bike. I need a personal swanny to permanently live in!


If you could change one of your weaknesses into a strength, which one would it be?
Jo: Probably my head. Although I’m not great at climbing, I can work on that and get better, that’s the easy bit. For me, I think my head can be my weakness. I stress too much before a bike race, which I find counterproductive. It’s something I am working on.

What type of bike you do ride and what type of groupset/wheels does it have?
Jo: I ride a Velocite Geos with SRAM finishing kit. The team have just announced a Bontrager partnership for 2014 and that has included me getting fitting on my bike so hopefully some key changes will be made. They use the Trek Precision Fit system and I’ve already changed components on my bike to ensure I’m getting the most out of the winter.

Are you ‘geeky’ when it comes to the equipment on the bike?
Jo: No, as long as it works flawlessly and does what it says on the tin, I’m happy! I’m not good with squeaks and knocking noises but I do think the Bontrager partnership will open up a lot of options to us as a team and will make us focus on what is best for us and getting the most out of our bikes. The right saddle, the right bars, the right rise on the stem. We could all end up as bike geeks!

What will you be doing training wise during the winter – as little as possible or a structured programme based on getting success in 2014?
Jo: I will definitely be following a very structured training programme on the bike and off. I ride my bike to win, and I will be training and making sure I win next season.


Jo tucked in behind the TV motorbike at the Johnson Health Tec Women’s race at Redditch.

Do you see 2014 being a big year for Women’s racing with a UCI Stage race bringing pro teams here?
Jo: Yes, no question about that. The sponsor of our team in tandem with our team management set about putting women’s racing on TV a few years ago. They lit a fire under the sport and gave it the potential to go forward and become something big. We are only just starting to see the real effects. It’s only going to get bigger and The Women’s Tour is a great focal point for that change.

What is the one thing outside of pedalling the bike that you feel you need to learn to be a better bike rider.
Jo: Patience. I want things now, and sometimes things take time, they have a natural course. I am slowly learning this, slowly….

Finally, is it live to race bikes or race bikes to enjoy living!
Jo: Live to race bikes.


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