Q&A: Victoria Smith (Alba DRT)

In this the first of the Q&As from the Alba Development Road Team, we find out more about a rider I have seen a lot in the results, especially in TT’s – Victoria Smith, last seen in Lincoln in the British Road Championships and before the Time Trial champs.

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Q&A: Victoria Smith (Alba DRT)

In this the first of the Q&As from the Alba Development Road Team, we find out more about a rider I have seen a lot in the results, especially in TT’s – Victoria Smith, last seen in Lincoln in the British Road Championships and before the Time Trial champs.

Bob Lyons from the Alba Development Road Team says of his team for 2022, “I have been considering starting the team for some time, but it was just a question of having sufficient time to get things kicked off. The team is focussed on rider development with the intention of providing the necessary platform for riders to move to the next level (Conti or WT). In doing so, the team has been structured to be very rider centric and also aims to remove the financial burden of racing at this level.”

“The objective from this financial standpoint is to ensure it does not cost the rider anything to race, so equipment, kit, entries and expenses are all covered by the team. All riders have the common goal of progressing to the upper levels of the sport and the team has been carefully put together to ensure that there is a spread of experience throughout, despite everyone still having development goals.”

“The Race programme will focus primarily on the British National Series (road and circuit) and the Tour Series, but will also incorporate some select UCI races in Europe. We will also go to the Ras (Ireland) in September”.

Now that we know about the Scottish team, time to learn about the riders, starting with Victoria Smith who is a renowned time trialist as well as road racer. Victoria lives in the countryside between Glasgow & Edinburgh and has been racing about five years. Victoria came into racing bikes after a recurrent injury as a runner led to a brief stint in triathlon where, in her words LoL, ‘my dodgy swimming led me to veer towards cycling’.

Here is Victoria’s Q&A
Q: Starting a new season in a new team with a very distinctive look – what are the goals for 2022 wearing the new colours and what’s the most exciting thing for you joining the new team?
Vicky: There are so many exciting things! Working with and for team mates is a key one for me, as most of my experience has been in Time Trials so far, which is a quite solitary discipline. I love team events so my goal is absolutely to perform to the highest level I can in track, road & TT for this team.

Q: How difficult was 2020 with little racing and socialising with cycling friends or did it give you time to reset, refresh and focus on 2021?
Victoria: I hadn’t long moved to Scotland from London to start a new job & was living by myself when the pandemic hit. The prolonged isolation in a location I was new to, uncertainty of the pandemic & a succession of stressful life events, exacerbated a tendency to become stressed & anxious. It’s good for us to be open about mental health. I remain overwhelmed by the kindness, friendliness & support shown by people in the cycling community in Scotland, despite them not knowing me very well at the time. The experience caused me to get to know my strengths & weaknesses so much better, which is helping me to become a better athlete.

Q: Do you think you came out of 2020 stronger, the same or less strong as you were before that season of no road races?
Victoria: Stronger. Though there have been interruptions, I’ve still been on a journey of learning and development as a rider in all aspects since I moved up here and I have my coach and Scottish Cycling to thank for that. The pandemic & life challenges have slowed that journey down, but not halted it!

Q: What was the highlight of your racing in 2021?
Victoria: My season was extra short, but I was really happy with my performance in the CTT National 10 TT. It reassured me what could be done in a short time frame and gave me more confidence in my bike handling skills!

Q: What race in your career is the one that still gives you the biggest buzz and motivation when out training in the cold and damp?
Victoria: It hasn’t long happened, but the British Champs road race (Lincoln) this year. I really enjoyed the atmosphere with the moody weather & the supportive spectators up Michaelgate! And that race was a reassuring & motivating step forward for me after a tricky 18 months.

Q: What’s the furthest you have traveled for a bike race in 2021 and is travel a chore or a joy (seeing pastures new) to do when going to a bike race?
Victoria: 431 miles (I’ve just had Google Maps open to check the distance driven to National 10 TT close to Bournemouth from Scotland!). A joy. Travelling can be a bit of a boring prospect, but I absolutely love racing in different destinations and I wouldn’t be without it in my life.

Q: How much training (hours and/or days) do you do in a given week in the winter and how does that differ from the summer when you are racing?
Victoria: On average, 8-14 hours over 5-6 days of the week. So far my training hours have been pretty similar summer to winter, but this may change with the focus on road racing and as I hopefully build training volume.

Q: Do you train on a training bike or a race bike …
Victoria: Both. I used to do all of my training on gym Wattbikes to fit around my job & circumstances at the time. Since moving to Scotland, doing much more training outdoors or on the track (on both race & training bikes, but particularly on a race bike for a discipline like TT), has made a big and clear difference.

Q: Do you cross train at all (running, swimming, gym or other disciplines like MTB)
Victoria: I still run, including some racing, alongside cycling until mid 2019, but a running injury flared up again, so I stopped. I would ideally do regular weight training, but it’s mostly not been sensible training load-wise, so it’s something that will be added back into my programme when the time is right.

Q: Where is your favourite training ride?
Victoria: I particularly like rides alongside water (despite my clear aversion to swimming…!) Routes along canals, rivers or with a coastal view are calming and make me happy! Also anywhere I can spot wildlife ;-)

Q: What type of race suits you best?
Victoria: That’s still to become clear. I’ve mostly explored time trialling so far, but I suspect either road racing or individual pursuit on the track, will be my best disciplines. As for types of road race, I’m not sure yet as it’s not clear cut, but I really look forward to exploring that.

Q: Of the races you have done so far, what is the most enjoyable event on the British calendar?
Victoria: I love everything about the British Road Champs – both TT & road events. Even at times my race hasn’t gone well, I still loved it.

Q: What will be the one big race you really want to be part of in 2022?
Victoria: The British Road Champs

Q: Finally, who do you want to thank for helping you get to this point in your cycling career
Victoria: There have been so many kind people who have contributed to my journey as a cyclist; ranging from getting me started on a bike in the first place, right through every aspect of my development so far. I remember & appreciate every single individual, but I’ll keep this one short and thank my current coach Bob Lyons, who has had the biggest and an incredibly positive influence on my development as a rider.

Thank you to Victoria for her Q&A and good luck for 2022!


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