Q&A: Vicky Smith (Alba Development Road Team)

As the road season begins soon in 2023, VeloUK starts its Q&As with Scottish team Alba Development Road Team and rider Vicky Smith with some very personal insights which is the very reason we do these – to get to know the riders!

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Q&A: Vicky Smith (Alba Development Road Team)

Its that time of year again. The cyclocross season is coming to a close over the coming weeks and the road season will soon be upon us. During a road season, we get to hear the stories from winners and those on a podium whilst the rest of the riders jump into their cars and head off back home. So this time of year is always a joy to get to know the riders we’ll be seeing in races in 2023. The insights I read are awesome and VeloUK has a load of Q&As with the Alba Development Road Team to publish and another team as well which has just received their Q&As.

Those teams/riders wanting to make some noise for their team through VeloUK, by all means get in touch at larryhickmott@hotmail.com and I’ll send the Q&As onto you. In this first Q&A, Vicky Smith from the Alba team provides an insight into the challenges she faces as a rider in a team that races the major events through the year.

Q: How has been your winter’s training with the freezing weather in December – ie, has it been productive and have you focused on riding outdoors or sticking to the turbo inside where its dry?
VICKY: Over the winter, my training has mostly been indoors. I’ve gradually been returning to training after taking some time off to properly address my mental health, which had been affecting all aspects of my life for some time. I’d like to be open about what I experienced in case it helps someone who finds themself in a similar position and to help continue to normalise talking openly about mental health, so that issues can be identified and dealt with as promptly as possible; just as we do with injuries or other physical issues.

I was struggling with severe anxiety and panic disorder, which stemmed from experiences as a child, but had been ignited by a number of personal life events in short succession. Things got worse and worse and towards the end of the 2022 season, unfortunately it eventually became impossible to train and race.

It took time to fully identify what was going on, why it was happening and what I needed to do to address it properly, and that involved some trial and error and some stop and start. It’s been a journey, but I’m happy to say that things are now better than they have been in years. I just need to get back to my previous level of fitness. I’m incredibly grateful to my coach who has supported me so much throughout this time.

Q: What is the biggest challenge training in the winter for you? IE, is it finding time to train in daylight hours?
Vicky: The shorter daylight time and the winter weather. I’m always excited for the arrival of spring & summer!

Q: Do you get to train with others in the winter or is mainly solo?
Vicky: I’ve trained solo this winter because it was best for my circumstances while I returned to training, but I very much enjoyed training on the track with and around other riders in previous years.

Q: What performances of yours in 2022 during the season help motivate you during the winter?
Vicky: I’d say every performance in 2022, because it took a lot to make the start line and race while I was struggling.

Q: Also, the team had some great results in 2022, so which ones do you look back on fondly to provide that motivation to be at your best in 2023?
Vicky: I wasn’t at the event, but Kate’s epic overall victory, supported by the team at the Rás na mBan was hugely inspiring and really well deserved; she’s an incredible talent.

Q: What was the best result/performance of yours in 2022?
Vicky: My 2022 season was very interrupted and having now addressed the issues that were holding me back, I’m looking forward to the future. If I had to pick a performance from 2022, it would be the Individual Pursuit at the British Track Champs last March. Whilst in the future I hope I can improve lots on the performance, under the circumstances I was experiencing, it was a result that I’m proud of.

Q: What were the things you learned in 2022 at races that you feel will help you in 2023?
Vicky: It was my first experience of riding as part of a road team, so I learned lots about team tactics and dynamics during races

Q: Being a Scottish team, how have you found the travel to events in 2022 – ie, are they restful or hard work?
Vicky: Travel can be tiring, but it’s also fun and interesting to visit different places. We really are also very fortunate to be so incredibly well supported and catered for by the team when we travel.

Q: What event was the most fun to do?
Vicky: The spectators, live commentary, surrounding activities, music & evening start time makes for a fun atmosphere at the Tour Series events. I also do enjoy the atmosphere at the Michaelgate cobbled hill climb during the Lincoln GP too

Q: What are the silliest things you remember from races in 2022?
Vicky: A robin did land on a set of rollers of one of our team and proceeded to poo on them soon before the warm up for the tour series race in Galashiels in Scotland. Home support for the team lacking from the local wildlife…

Q: There was racing in Scotland in the Tour Series and British champs, for those racing them, was there extra motivation being in Scotland?
Vicky: Definitely!

Q: What are the key positives about being part of a team racing national events and being in the mix at the sharp end?
Vicky: Being able to observe and learn from experienced and talented riders

Q: What was the toughest bike race you did in 2022?
Vicky: The Owen Blower Memorial race – I was finding things generally tough at the time

Q: When are you aiming to begin racing in 2023?
Vicky: Potentially late March

Q: Do you find the off season without racing a good thing or a boring part of the year?
Vicky: I would now aim to ride on the track during a normal winter, which I really enjoy! When I first tried proper track training in winter of 2019/2020, I found it really plugged a gap that I had been missing during the winters and it passed the time very enjoyably.

Q: Finally, what are your key goals for 2023?
Vicky: …
-To enjoy the season without the difficulties that I experienced previously
-To continue to learn and develop as a rider
-To perform as well as I can for ALBA

Good luck in your races in 2023 Vicky and look forward to seeing you at many of them – thank you Vicky!


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