Recently I had the honour to chat with Lizzie Armistead about her book Steadfast. Lizzie is a multiple Road Race World Champion, Commonwealth Champion and is also remembered for her amazing race at the London Olympics. Since our last chat Lizzie Armistead has now become Lizzie Deignan, released her Autobiography “Steadfast” and successfully won the Women’s race at Tour De Yorkshire in 2017.
Many of our readers will still remember you as the first home medallist of the 2012 London Olympic Games. The image of you dashing across the line in torrential rain must be one of the most memorable from the 2012 Games.Can you talk us through those final moments before you crossed the line?
I was thinking I was sure of a medal, I just needed to give myself the best chance at Gold. It's difficult to remember exactly how I was feeling because I was completely in the zone. I felt incredibly happy and proud of myself and the team that had helped it happen once I'd crossed the line.
The last time we chatted a couple of years ago after you became the Road Race World Champion. Other than the release of your eagerly anticipated book “Steadfast ” what other exciting news would you like to share with us?
I got married in September 2017 and have since used my new surname Deignan. I still released the book as Lizzie Armitstead as I felt most of the book was about me before I became a Deignan.
Can you tell us how your long awaited autobiography titled Steadfast came about?
I was a little unsure whether I had enough to say to write a full book particularly as I have not finished my career yet, however as soon as I started the process I realised I had so much to say. There are not enough female sports autobiographies on the shelves so I am proud to have one.
How did it feel writing the book and finally releasing it?
It was a really nice experience reliving so many memories and analysing my career so far. Often as an athlete you are so focused on your goals and the future that you forget to look back and see how far you have come. From a personal perspective it was nice to write about my family and home as they are also such an important part of my life.
In Lizzie Deignan’s unique Autobiography “Steadfast” Lizzie takes readers to the heart of one of the most demanding endurance sports, not to mention the trials and tribulations of being the most famous female British cyclist in history, how she battled for equality in the sport and trained herself to become the best.
You also give us an insight into the sacrifices that you made to become the best at your chosen sport.Can you tell us a little about this?
Life as a professional cyclist is all about sacrifices and hard work. The challenge comes with trying to maintain some kind of balance with your personal life as it can be very consuming. Every action I take on and off the bike has consequences for my performance, I race up to 60 days a year so it can be a challenge trying to keep everyone happy.
You mention in your book the shocking inequalities that you faced in UK cycling and how you struggled for equality in the sport.Can you tell us about this and how it affected you and the other riders?
Women's cycling is a younger sport than mens cycling so we are a long way off the professional men’s peloton in terms of opportunities to; race, earn and develop. Our sport is moving in the right direction and there has already been so much change throughout my career, it's never been a better time to be a professional female cyclist.
What will come as a surprise is how you coached yourself to win world titles.Can you tell us some more about this?
I have coached myself since i focused solely on road racing. I know my body better than anybody and I am very good at pushing myself in training, I don't need somebody over my shoulder to motivate me.
The book gives an incredible insight into your early childhood and how you started on your path to becoming a world champion cyclist and Olympian.Can you tell us how it felt reflecting on the early memories?
I realised that perhaps I didn't have a traditional introduction to my sport, my path to the top has been very unique, i hope that my story can inspire people to believe in themselves even if their upbringing hasn't necessarily directed them onto the path they want to go on.
What motivates and drives you?
Being the best version of myself that I can be, whether that's as a cyclist, a wife or a friend.
Do you have any tips for men and women just getting into cycling and road racing? The best advice I can give is to join a local cycling club -it just makes it more fun and means you can ask advice of the people around you and not feel like you are doing it on your own.
What advice would you give to the parents of a child who wants to take up cycling and road racing?
I would advise children who want to get in to the sport to try every discipline. Ask people for help, get involved with a local club and don't get too serious before you are 16. To parents I would say cycling is an expensive sport but there are ways of getting a helping hand, your kids don't need the best equipment to succeed. The desire has to come from the child not the parent.
When riding, what are your top tips on bike kit to never be without?
It is important to feel comfortable with your bike – I love my bike and trust it completely. I love my Specialized Ruby saddle, I struggled for years finding something comfortable and finally found this one.
Do you have any future plans after road racing?
I would like to have a big family and find another job that I love as much as I love cycling.
Article by Chris Willingham
Christopher is a healthcare professional who has clinics throughout Hull and the East Riding. To book an appointment contact christopher on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07779121743