Interview: Harriet Owen (Matrix Fitness)


A winner of the Peterborough round of the Women’s Tour Series in 2012, Harriet Owen says 2013 was a tough season and is looking forward to winning ways in 2014 with Matrix Fitness

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Harriet Owen, who rides for Matrix Fitness Racing Academy, lives in Oxfordshire and has been racing since she was 12 so, eight years now. Having been around for that time in the sport, Harriet says of the changes she has seen “the racing has definitely stepped up a level, especially in this past season.”


Harriet (centre) on the front of a chase group in the Tour of Britain women’s race.

“The speed of races and ability of the peloton has improved a lot. There’s also a lot more women wanting to race their bikes at the highest level and races have a full field most time you race, it’s exciting to see.”

What has been the highlight of 2013 for you?
Harriet: 2013 was a tough season for me. After winning in Hillingdon, I was then ill through the whole of the Johnson Health Tech series, which was hard mentally, but I feel like I rode well at the Ride London GP up against some top names so I think that was probably my biggest highlight. Having a strong team around me was important, as I had to change personal goals into team support goals.

Which race has been the best one to do?
Harriet: London Nocturne is my favourite race, although I didn’t perform to my best. I always enjoy the race around Smithfield Market; the crowds, the atmosphere and the fast racing always makes for an enjoyable race. I’m looking forward to next year already!

Do you coach yourself or have a coach to help structure your training?
Harriet: I write a training program with the help of Stef (Team DS) and Mark Walker of ‘Pedal to Podium’. Mark carries out my scientific testing and together as a group, my training is formed. Power in training rides is important, understanding it is more important. So this coaching and advice team gets me to where I want to be.

How many hours a week would you train on and off the bike?
Harriet: Hours vary but this winter has will see a major shift for me in terms of training. I came out to the team training camp in March this year and had my mind blown by the training we did. It was structured, professional and a massive step up.

It excited me and I wanted more of it so I’ve been working really hard to reach my potential ever since. I didn’t hit that camp in the best shape, but I set about putting a 2-year plan into place. A structured pathway to get to the top and I know that a solid season in 2013 was part of that. I also finished the season at my fittest point following an altitude camp in the Alps. It was relaxed, but I also trained very hard. This has meant I‘ve started my winter base training in better physical shape than ever before and I can accelerate my progress over this winter.

If our team gets a place in The Womens Tour, I need to be flying in the early season. I want a place in that squad and we have some serious competition for places in our team for 2014.


Do you work full time/part time?
Harriet: I work part-time at the Trek Concept Store in Milton Keynes. It’s ok to fit training around work but life would be a lot easier if I could be a full time bike rider. I love my job but having a rest day whilst standing at work all day isn’t ideal. You have to make the compromise of no money and lots of training/recovery or a mixture of the both. At the moment, I think I have the best of both worlds.

What is the best thing about racing bikes?
Harriet: The massive boost you get after all the team tactics come together and either yourself or a teammate gets a really good result. Makes all the hard training miles pay off.

And what is the one thing you enjoy least!
Harriet:Losing or having a bad race. I get pretty annoyed with myself when I don’t do very well in a race. I love to perform well and put a lot of pressure on myself to do so and when it doesn’t go well, I beat myself up about it till the next race. I suppose it does make me more determined to push myself to do well at the next race though!

If you could change one of your weaknesses into strength, which one would it be?
Harriet: I’d like to have the mental ability to push myself harder in training. I will honestly say I’m a hard racer but when it has come to training in the past, I would always do what I had to do but never anything more. I’ve previously taken a bare minimum approach.

Knowing this, and being honest with myself, I’m ready to go that extra mile and get myself to the top of the sport. Using power in training now and having ramp tests to show me exactly where I’m at, gives me no place to hide.


What type of bike you do ride and what type of groupset wheels does it have?
Harriet: I ride a Velocite Geos with a Sram Red / Sram Force mix. We’re moving to Bontrager wheels and components for the 2014 season and keeping the Schwalbe tubulars and tyres.

Are you ‘geeky’ when it comes to the equipment on the bike?
Harriet: I hate to say it but I am. Working in a bike shop makes you pretty knowledgeable on all cycling equipment so I know exactly what is going on with my equipment on my bike. I like the fact I can fix it myself, it’s the way it should be!

What will you doing training wise during the winter – as little as possible or a structured programme based on getting success in 2014?
Harriet: I’ve got a structured programme for this winter. I’m looking to hit next year in the form of my life so I’ve got a busy winter ahead of me. It’s time to change my mentality and go that extra mile with training.

Do you see 2014 being a big year for Women’s racing with a UCI Stage race bringing pro teams here?
Harriet: Definitely, it’s going to be a massive year for Women’s racing with ‘The Women’s Tour’ coming with all the top riders. Hopefully a couple of British domestic teams will get a chance to ride which in turn will help to bring on the domestic peloton to the same as the rest of Europe.

What is the one thing outside of pedalling the bike that you feel you need to learn to be a better bike rider.
Harriet: Recovery. I’m not a massive fan of stretching and I’m always orgetting to have recovery shakes and other products. It’s something you start to learn when you do big stage races, I think this would help me during hard training as well.

Finally, is it live to race bikes or race bikes to enjoy living!
Harriet: Race bikes to enjoy living. Always.


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