Q&A: Gemma Sargent (Saint Piran)

Quiz time! A rider I have seen at races for a few years now, Gemma Sargent (Saint Piran) from Lancashire takes the VeloUK quiz

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Q&A: Gemma Sargent (Saint Piran)

Quiz time! A rider I have seen at races for a few years now, Gemma Sargent (Saint Piran) from Lancashire takes the VeloUK quiz. Gemma has been racing for around five years. Gemma dabbled in mountain biking for a few years but started racing on the road properly back in 2016 with the Aprire HSS Hire team.

Q: How did you come to race bikes?
Gemma: I used to race triathlon to elite standard, but when I moved to the Lakes in 2010, there just wasn’t the facilities open for me to train properly around work, so I switched to the bike.

Q: How difficult was 2020 with little racing or did it give you time to reset, refresh and focus on 2021?
Gemma: I had to shield as I am clinically vulnerable, so I spent a large amount of lockdown on zwift 😂😂 and working from home. Once I’d got used to shielding, I actually enjoyed the time to train, focus and reset for the coming race season. When I was eventually allowed to train outside, it meant I could do my longer rides and actually take in the scenery. You tend to find yourself spending time looking at you numbers and not taking in the views around you. I am lucky to live where I do and I’m biased in saying it is beautiful.

Q: Do you think you came out of 2020 stronger, the same or less strong as you were before that season of no races?
Gemma: I think I came out a lot fitter and stronger. My race craft and riding in the bunch was just a little rusty, so I had a few local races to get used to it again.

Q: What was the highlight of your racing in 2021?
Gemma: I think coming 2nd at the National Masters road race and winning the North West Regional Champs.

Q: What race in your career is the one that still gives you the biggest buzz?
Gemma: That has to be Tour de Yorkshire back in 2018. The crowds, the atmosphere and just the experience was just amazing.

Q: Were there learning moments in 2021 races and if so, what were they?
Gemma: I think you can learn something at every race definitely. I’m constantly learning. I couldn’t just pinpoint one race.

Q: What’s the furthest you have travelled for a bike race in 2021?
Gemma: I’m lucky in where I live in that it’s pretty central to most races but the most I travelled this year is four hours for Hitchin Nomads women’s road race back in August.

Q: If a younger 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?
Gemma: The races depend on the courses. Usually the races split up on the hills and the terrain does the work somewhat. The common theme in all of them is making sure you hold a good position near the front. It’s safer there and you can react to any attacks there more easily.

Q: During a race, do you find there is a lot of talk between riders in the same team to deal with changes in the race like breaks going, key points in the course approaching and the finish coming fast?
Gemma: I’ve always raced for teams where communication is key. Making sure your team mates feel ok, know the team plan etc. You find communication in the ‘bigger’ teams more apparent, opposed to the smaller club teams.

Q: Do you go into a race nervous or intimated by other riders or do you have the confidence to hold you own and race the race confidently in your own style?
Gemma: I used to get ridiculously nervous to the point where I could barely eat! I dont get so nervous nowadays as I’m confident in my race craft, fitness and ability.

Q: Do you train more in a given week in winter than what you do in summer when there is a lot of racing and travelling?
Gemma: The training volume in winter is always a lot bigger. Base miles and building the engine ready for the season. It’s almost impossible to train lots in race season as you need to be fresh to race.

Q: Do you train on a training bike or the race bike …
Gemma: I train on my race bike in summer which is my beautiful Lapierre Aircode 6 & in winter I have a very heavy basic winter bike as I don’t want to ruin my race bike in the weather and salt on the roads.

Q: Do you cross train at all, running, swimming, gym or other disciplines like MTB
Gemma: I tend to do gym work, core work, yoga and stretching as well as my sessions on the bike.

Q: Where is your favourite training ride?
Gemma: It has to be the Lakes without a doubt. I just love it up there. The terrain is hard but beautiful and I’m lucky to live so close by.

Q: What type of race suits you best?
Gemma: I’m a bit of an all rounder but I do prefer a good hilly road race.

Q: What are your tips for staying warm on a long winter ride?
Gemma: Decent winter clothing. We are lucky to be supported by Castelli so the winter gear is amazing. Make sure you have a good base layer, socks and a warm winter jacket that’s thermal and wind proof. I suffer with Raynauds so I make sure my hands and feet are well insulated!

Q: What are goals for 2022
Gemma: To win the National masters road and crit races and to top 10 or even podium at a national series race. Also to gain more experience racing on the continent again.

Thanks Gemma, and good luck for this year … 


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