Q&A: Sarah King (LDN Academy)

The manager of the LDN Academy women’s racing team is Sarah King who takes the VeloUK quiz to introduce the team with a new name in 2023 (was Team Watto)

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Q&A: Sarah King (LDN Academy)
Feature presented by Santini Cycling Wear – https://www.santinicycling.com/custom/en/

The manager of the LDN Academy women’s racing team is Sarah King who takes the VeloUK quiz to introduce the team with a new name in 2023 (was Team Watto)

Photo:  Andy Donohoe

Q. How does the LDN Academy team compare to Ian’s Hutchinson/Brother UK team in terms of its goals/race programme?
Sarah: Both teams have been put together to support women to race bikes and to enjoy the racing they’re doing, but our race programme and team offering will be a little different. Our riders are generally newer to the sport, so we will be focusing on UK based racing but as riders gain more experience, there’s an opportunity to progress to Hutchinson-Brother in the future. We focus on giving riders the skills and knowledge they might need to become a well-rounded bike racer and we pair them up with a mentor, someone who has been there and done it before.

We know that road racing can be an intimidating environment to jump into especially coming into the sport later on, and there really isn’t much info out there on how to get going and progress in a way that keeps you coming back for more. We’d like to change that.

Q. What would you say is the most important aspect of the team for the riders? To enjoy racing?
Sarah: Absolutely! We should all be enjoying racing bikes, regardless of the team you’re in. Happy head, happy legs is our mission and we believe that if you enjoy racing you’re going to continue racing, and in turn we’ll retain more women in the sport, racing their bikes.

Alongside our mission, we have eight values that we’re going to stick by. These came about because I asked each rider what they wanted from the team. They wrote what they wanted on a bunch of post it notes, collected them up and I captured the things that were mentioned the most, plus a couple from my experience of racing in women’s teams over the years.

Making sure we’re the friendly faces in the car park, knowing that things don’t always work out first time, never being afraid to try and encouraging riders to push themselves… you’ll find them on our instagram @ldn_academy – they’re worth a read.

Photo:  Andy Donohoe

Q. What are the aims of the team to learn?
Sarah: Technically, physically and mentally. You need more than a fast pair of legs to be a well-rounded bike racer. We run monthly skills/race drills sessions, have matched our riders with mentors and there’s a few workshops throughout the year to level up everyone’s knowledge.

I think the mentoring programme is really valuable. Each rider has someone to chat to when they need a bit of support, advice, or just some words of encouragement. It’s something I’ve benefitted from since I was 15 (and still do) and I want other racers to have that support too. We have 12 mentors supporting the team, made up of current or past racers from different teams across the UK. Not only is there an opportunity for them to share their knowledge, but also to learn a bit about themselves and how far they’ve come.

Q. What do you think the race programme will be for the riders – ie, London based or a mix of London and events further afield?
Sarah: A bit of everything. Although we will mainly focus on events nearby and across London, we will have riders competing in the National Road and Circuit Series and a few riders competing in track, cyclo-cross and gravel events. There’s 20 of us, so you’ll probably spot someone representing the academy at most races across the season.

Photo:  Andy Donohoe

Q. What are the advantages of being part of a women’s team?
Sarah: I’m going to caveat this first, you don’t have to be part of a women’s team to be able to race and you definitely don’t need to be part of one to start your racing journey. Once you’re sure it’s something you want to give some more commitment to, that’s the time to give a women’s team a shout.

One of the advantages of being part of the LDN Academy is that we all live in London and have the luxury of being able to train and hang out with each other quite easily. It’s obviously great to have a friend or a team mate at a race too, so if you’re heading to a race on your own, please send us a message.

Q. Finally, when will the team be kicking off its 2023 season and what are your goals for the riders?
Sarah: We’re already racing! I’d just love to see each rider working towards what they want to get out of the season and having some fun whilst doing it. One thing I won’t be doing this year is measuring what we do by just by our results as there’s always a story behind the results that’s way more interesting to tell.

Thanks Sarah and good luck to the team and all its riders in 2023!

Photo:  Andy Donohoe



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