After her win in the recent Trossachs classic time trial at Aberfoyle, we thought it was about time that we chatted to Pippa Handley, one of the Edinburgh Road Club’s top women riders, a voracious trainer and top 10 place-getter at the British level.
Congratulations, Pippa, on being Best Woman in the Tour de Trossachs. How was it?
“Thanks. I was quite happy with my time. I’m not really into hills so on a hilly course like that I was rather pleased with the result. I got 1:20:….44, I think it was and the closest female was around 1:26 so I was pleased with the margin.”
How many women took part?
“There were….Hang on I’ve got the start sheet here…There were 10.”
Can you describe how your race went?
“Well, basically I was a bit concerned about the hills — the Duke’s Pass — I was a bit worried about that because I don’t do hills very well so I just hit it slowly and kept a good tempo uphill because I knew once you get to the top it’s actually quite a false top and it does continue to rise for about another …half mile, I think so it’s important to keep it going, to keep a good rhythm going and not to panic when you’re getting tired and your legs are starting to hurt.
“Once I came down off the Duke’s Pass and was on the descent, I’m quite good at descending so I got down fairly quickly and started to catch a few folk which kept the momentum going quite well. It was very slippery so I took it easy on the bends. Then when I was back on the main road, I gave it all I had left. I was very pleased with the result. It was a good day for me.”
How did you get into the sport?
“I started cycling when I was quite young. I had problems with my knees and a physio told me that cycling would help. After that I kept it up for transport reasons mainly. Then when I came to Edinburgh to do my nurse’s training a member of the Edinburgh Road Club passed me, suggested I join and that was it really.”
You’ve been cycling since you were a wee lassie then?
“Yeah. Since I was about seven or eight, but I started serious cycling only about two and half — three years ago.”
Which discipline do you like best, road, track or time trial?
“I think at the moment I prefer time trial but that’s only because I’m doing quite well at it. Once I get my road sorted out I think I’ll like that better. The thought of getting over the line first rather than waiting for times to come up will be more of a thrill.”
What kind of equipment do you have?
“I just recently bought a Kyota which is time trial specific and is absolutely beautiful and last year’s time trial bike is now my road bike so I’ve got two absolutely beautiful bikes and another older one for track. They’re expensive, of course.
Do you get any help?
“My club, Edinburgh Road Club is very supportive and the BicycleWorks are helping me out with good deals, etc. They sponsor the club.”
How much training do you do?
“At the moment about 17 to 20 hours a week. Also it goes up during the winter.”
Which performances have given you the most satisfaction?
“I came seventh in the British time trials which I didn’t expect — it came as a bit of a shock more than anything else. Then there was the team win at the Scottish 25 Mile TT Champs and 9th in the British 10 Mile TT Champs, and then most recently ‘Best Woman in the Tour de Trossachs’.”
So you’re happy with 2006, then?
“Extremely! Absolutely! I can’t quite believe it actually.”
Do you think that women’s cycling gets a fair crack of the whip in Scotland?
“In time trialling, yes, because you’re going against the clock anyway but in road racing you have to go to Britain to experience road racing properly because there are only four of us who properly road race in Scotland so it’s disappeared virtually. I think road racing in Scotland for women at the moment is dire, to be honest.”
Do you get much help from the ERC?
“A huge amount. They are so supportive; from coaching — my coach is a guy at the ERC — to all kinds of help. Even those who don’t race are always there to shout for me and give me support and all sorts of things, accommodation…it’s amazing. Then there’s the social life and the spirit among the other members — it’s a good club, a very good club.”
Do you have any goals for the future — the Commonwealth Games, for example?
“I‘d love to but I don’t know whether that’s realistic or not. I’d love to get into that team. But my real goal is to keep on cycling. As long as I’m enjoying it I’ll keep on doing it. Next year I’ll probably be going down to England a lot more — full time trials, the women’s series road races, stuff like that.”
Thanks, Pippa and good luck. VeloVeritas will be right behind you.