Interview: Gracer Garner of RST/NFTO


A young lady going places in cycling is Grace Garner, part of the RST/NFTO racing team in 2014 and about to take her first pedal strokes in the Junior ranks

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Gracer Garner of RST/NFTO


Above: Grace with teammate Joey Walker at Revolution

Grace was about 8 when she started racing doing British schools events, mountain bike races at her local club and road races at Mallory Park. There will be many who know her elder sister is a former Junior World Champion, Lucy, and Grace says Lucy got the jump on her by getting into racing by a year.

Travelling to events to see Lucy race, Grace soon got involved herself and the two have progressed through the various age categories and Grace is now a Junior while Lucy will be a second year senior in 2014.

Grace admits that Lucy’s success certainly motivates her to do well. “I know that she has come from the same background as me, and while I won’t necessarily follow in her footsteps, her success motivates me to follow my own path, and do what I enjoy.”

Q: Grace has just got an award from a newspaper, the Leicester Mercury. How did it feel for your results to recognised by them?
Grace: It’s nice to be recognised locally as there are so many young girls from all different sports who were nominated. I’ve been a finalist for three years and this year when I won it, it came as a surprise!


Q: You do all sorts of racing, do you have a favourite yet – track, road, cross etc.
Grace: I’ve narrowed it down to just road and track now, no more muddy freezing cross! I would say road is my favourite, but I enjoy track a lot more than I used to now I think it has grown on me!

Q: Are you pleased to be out of the Youth ranks and now able to race with the juniors and senior riders?
Grace: It’s exciting thinking about the races this season. It’s going to be challenging but I’m pleased we’ll get to do some proper racing on the roads now

Q: What was the highlight for 2013?
Grace: The highlight from last year was winning the national championships in Blackpool. It was my aim for the year, and I think it came as a surprise as it was a hard race and I had a bad race there earlier in the season. Probably the most memorable highlight is European Youth Olympic Festival. I’ll never forget it and loved every second. To come back with a medal made it even more special!

What event was the most fun to do in 2013?
Grace: The European youth Olympics was the most fun event of the year! The open and closing ceremonies were amazing, although we lost a fair bit of sleep! It was good to soak in the experience. I met some really nice people from other sports and it’s nice to follow what they’re doing now


Grace with a very pleased sister Lucy and that Olympic medal (Youth). Photo:

Q: You lead the Future Stars at Revolution by a single point. What has been the highlight of the series so far for you?
Grace: I wasn’t really expecting to do that well at Revs because I never really have done overall, so the highlight was taking the lead! I had to miss going to Holland to watch the cyclo-cross worlds but it was worth it taking the lead!

Q: How does it feel to pull on a skinsuit and represent your country?
Grace: Since I started racing, I wanted to be a part of riding a race representing GB and when I got the opportunity to go to EYOF last year it was amazing! I was so excited and to be there with Abby (Mae-Parkinson) and Joe was even better. We had so much fun and enjoyed every second. I hope to be able to do something like that again in the future.

Q: What are your goals for 2014?
Grace: 2014 will just be an experience I think. I can’t really say exactly what I want to do as it will all be new to me moving up into the junior category. But I’d love to be able to get a chance to ride at the European track champs this summer in Portugal!


Grace wearing the ‘stripes’ of a champion. Photo:

Q: You are part of a women’s team at RST for 2014 – how exciting is that for you and do you have a specific role – sprinting say?
Grace: Being part of the RST racing women’s team is great! We’ve got so much experience behind us and it feels great to be supported by them. I’ve raced with most of the girls before and racing all last year closely with Abby and training with her on ODP camps is great, as we know each others riding styles really well!

We don’t have specific roles within the team just yet, but we have a team full of strong riders for all different situations, who all work well together. It’s exciting to think about the start of the season!

Q: Who looks after your bikes – you or dad?
Grace: It’s a bit of a mix. Dad helps me out when I’m struggling, especially gluing tubs on!

Q: Are you still at school? If so, when do you find its best to train?
Grace: I’m still at school doing 3 A-levels. They are really supportive there, and they have let me drop a subject which has freed an extra 5 hours a week! I’ve just built up a fixie so I go home in my free periods now, so it’s really easy to fit training in before or after college.

Q: How many hours a week do you train at the moment?
Grace: I train around 9-12 hours a week, it varies as we do a lot of hours on training camps and depends if I have a competition coming up.

Q: Do you train with a chain gang?
Grace: I don’t. I do most of my training on my own as there’s not many big groups to go out with around where I live. So I like it when I get to go up to Yorkshire so there’s more people to go out with and I enjoy the roads there much more than at home!

Q: What is your long term goal in the sport – to race on the road in Europe like Lucy?
Grace: I don’t want to narrow down my options just yet so my long term goal is to enjoy racing whether it’s on the track or the road! I’d love to be successful on the road but there seems to be more opportunities on the track.

Q: Does Lucy give you tips from what she is learning in Europe and if so, what is one that stands out for you?
Grace: I don’t really see Lucy much. We speak on FaceTime and by text, but not all that often because we’re both really busy. At Christmas we went for a ride and she said that if I want to be successful in long road races, I need to train at a slower pace to condition my legs! I guess it must work for her…

Q: Finally, what do you enjoy doing when not riding the bike
Grace: I have to squeeze in revision and studies when I’m not riding my bike. I miss quite a lot of school so there’s always catching up to do. I like spending time relaxing, which usually consists of internet shopping and FaceTime!

Good luck to Grace in 2014



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