15 February 2021
In normal times, the cycle-obsessed teenager competes in track, road and occasionally cyclo-cross, whilst riding her mountain bike just for fun, but having been spotted by British Cycling pre-Covid, she has now been given the opportunity to join GB as one of only five ‘guests’. This means access to apprentice camps (when they are allowed to happen again), support with training from British Cycling coaches and the opportunity to move onto the full apprenticeship programme if she performs.
Lola’s love of cycling began when she was very young, back in Guernsey, where she lived as a young child. She became Channel Islands Champion at the age of 8. Since then, she has gone on to win numerous competitions including Northwest Circuit Champion in 2019 and most recently she became Manchester Track League Women’s Champion. Perhaps one of her proudest moments so far was taking third place on the podium at the Youth Tour of Scotland in 2019 – a major national event where she was one of the youngest competitors.
Sadly, aside from the Manchester Track League (winter event) no races happened in 2020 due to the pandemic.
Keeping motivated to train with no racing has been a huge challenge for the 15 year old, who thrives on the competition and camaraderie at races. She said, “I have really missed the big national races which usually involve travelling to Scotland, London, Wales and the Isle of Man and I also missed out on a trip to Assen for an annual international youth race.” She continued, “I think that I have missed seeing my friends at training most and, of course, beating the boys!”
Training during the pandemic, particularly in this lockdown, has been difficult for Lola as the restriction of only riding from home has meant less variety on routes, riding on roads which are less safe in order to get out to the countryside, and fewer training partners. With the recent wintry weather, this has also meant more time on a turbo or rollers, which can be tedious.
She said, “It has been so different from my usual training schedule which would include sessions with other cyclists from the Northwest either at the velodrome, an outdoor circuit or sessions in the gym.” For now, she must be content to train with her older sister and dad!
Pre-Covid, Lola was attending the Regional School of Racing (run by British Cycling) and it was at the last one of these sessions at the velodrome that she was asked to shift across to the GB Apprentice session to train with them. GB Apprentice is the earliest GB British Cycling programme and covers the last year of youth riding (15-16 years). From here, cyclists may be asked to join the GB Junior Programme and ultimately the Podium Programme, where athletes such as Laura Trott and Jason Kenny trained. In the last twelve months, funding has been cut dramatically for the sport and now only seven girls have been chosen for full GB Apprentices as opposed to twenty in previous years.
For now, ‘guesting’ with GB is enough for Lola, but she hopes to become a full apprentice and ultimately reach her Olympic goal. In the short term, her biggest wish is to train once again with her friends.