Q&A: Isabel Darvill

21 year old Isabel Darvill of Pro-Noctis – Redchilli Bikes – Heidi Kjeldsen is the next rider to take on VeloUK’s Question and Answer feature

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Q&A: Isabel Darvill
21 year old Isabel Darvill of Pro-Noctis – Redchilli Bikes – Heidi Kjeldsen is the next rider to take on VeloUK’s Question and Answer feature. Isabel, who lives in the East Midlands, has been racing for 11 years now having started when she was only 10 years old.

Q: How did you come to race bikes?
Isabel: When I was in primary school, British Cycling’s Go-Ride program came and I participated. Next, I found myself being advised by one of the coaches to try out cyclo-cross and it really just took off from there with no plans or expectations … or any knowledge of what I was getting myself into as I was horse riding at the time.

Q: How difficult was 2020 with little racing or did it give you time to reset, refresh and focus on 2021?
Isabel: It was the perfect opportunity to reset, refresh and refocus myself on training and the upcoming 2021 season. I got a lot out of 2020 even with very little races out on the road.

Q: Do you think you came out of 2020 stronger, the same or less strong as you were before that season of no races?
Isabel:Stronger both mentally and physically, no doubt about it!

Q: What was the highlight of your racing in 2021?
Isabel:I couldn’t highlight a singular part of this season, all of it has been a highlight for me as I have performed better than I have ever done and it was a result joining one of the leading women’s team in the UK.

Q: What race in your career is the one that still gives you the biggest buzz?
Isabel:Will always be Tour Series and Ilkley. The immense crowds and atmosphere that comes with them naturally creates a buzz. But the Ilkley race this year might just top it off, the crowds were bigger than ever and being at the front of the race made it even better.

Q: The team has been very successful in 2021, what event was the most fun to do with the team?
Isabel:I joined the team at the end of the season with three races left on the calendar for myself, but racing with the team in the National Criterium Championships in Lincoln was not only the most fun to do but the highlight race of the year for me! The team spirit and work secured Jo the National Jersey and it was definitely something that we celebrated together as a team and with our sponsors! The atmosphere was incredible from the start of the national’s weekend to the end, it was something very special!

Q: Is there a routine to traveling to an event with the team; ie, do you travel with them or get to an event yourself?
Isabel:I have always travelled to races with family members. This used to be my Grandad and Mum and now just my Mum. However, being a part of this team, I am lucky enough to live locally enough to Jo and Rick so if I did need a lift to a race, the option would be there which hasn’t been an option in previous teams.

Racing at Lincoln for her new team….

Q: Were there learning moments in 2021 races and if so, what were they?
Isabel:The key thing that has come out is learning and seeing the importance of bunch positioning towards the end of the race. It can be the difference between a lot of positions sometimes and is what the race all comes down to.

Q: What’s the furthest you have travelled for a bike race in 2021?
Isabel: Round 3 of the Tour series – Castle Douglas – 192 miles away – 5.5hour journey

Q: If a young rider asked you to describe how a national level women’s road race unfolds, is there a common way the races are raced or does that depend on the course?
Isabel: It depends from race to race and the entries. You generally know that with a criterium it’s flat out racing from start to finish with no rest points, but with open road races, there are normally attacks at key sectors. This hasn’t always been the case though.

Q: During a race, is there a lot of team talk between you and teammates on what to do in certain situations during an ever changing race?
Isabel:From past teams I’ve been in, this has never been something that was done, everyone just went into races individually. But from the races I have done so far with Pro-noctis, we know what we need to do from team talks before the race and what each rider’s role is so we haven’t needed to discuss during a race, we just know and do what we set out to.

Q: Do you go into a race nervous or intimated by other riders or do you have the confidence to hold you own (perhaps with the team support helping to give you that)?
Isabel:I’ve always been the same, really nervous first thing in the morning of a race and during the car journey there. But as soon as I’m in a racing atmosphere, the nerves go and I’m fully focused. I wouldn’t say I have ever been someone who is confident in myself but I have learnt through the years how much of an impact your mindset can stop you from performing, so I now always talk myself into being confident whilst I’m warming up.

Q: How much training (hours and/or days) do you do in a given week in winter and summer when you are racing?
Isabel:I train six times a week on the bike and sometimes do my gym session on my day off the bike, if the week hasn’t been too intense. I have to fit my hours on the bike around my shifts at work.

Q: Do you train on a training bike or the race bike …
Isabel: In the winter there is no question about it, training bike! If I have intervals during the summer, I will stick with the training bike, but I have found myself with more motivation and comfort for the longer endurance rides on one of my race bikes.

Q: Do you cross train at all, running, swimming, gym or other disciplines like MTB
Isabel: I work at a gym so there are no excuses for me not doing gym sessions, it’s something I aim to do a minimum of once a week throughout the year and twice in the winter if I can.

Q: Where is your favourite training ride?
Isabel: I have a route that loops down to Long Clawson near Nottingham and back up along the base of Belvoir Vale, it has constant rolling roads with a long fast flat section half way…if you read the wind forecast correctly!

Q: What type of race suits you best?
Isabel: Criterium races and road race’s where you can maintain a high speed from start to finish, I’m not a climber!

Q: What are your tips for staying warm on a long winter ride?
Isabel:Quality training kit goes a long way, there’s no such thing as spending too much money when it comes to winter clothing either as it’s what enables you to go out in the cold temperatures. Zwift is also a good saviour, staying nice and warm inside.

Q: What are your goals for 2022
Isabel: To continue improving my results and better 2021 which has been my best season to date, as well as learn new team tactics within races since this isn’t something I have had to focus on previously.


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