in my first time trial, which I did just as training
Pooley hits the line, 32:48. Best time by 43 seconds. Jeannie Longo will have to sit in the silver medal seat right now because Emma Pooley has finished and goes tops. So the woman who got silver in the Olympic Games is now sitting in gold. – [Announcer] Well Emma Pooley responsible really for assisting Nicole Cooke to win the gold medal in Beijing. She was a phenomenal climber on a very difficult course. (light dubstep music) – Hello. I’m Emma, and I’m new to GCN.
I’m going to tell you a bit about myself. Don’t worry, it won’t take long because I speak really fast. (heavy dubstep music) ♪ Face up ♪ ♪ Let me know what you’re made of ♪ ♪ Can’t get enough of you ♪ ♪ Ooh I’m a chaser ♪ ♪ Face up ♪ ♪ My flow no major ♪ ♪ Blink of an eye ♪ I didn’t get into cycling until I was in my twenties, I think I was about 21, and I got injured running, and I borrowed a bike to cross train, because I needed to do some exercise. And I hated it to start with. I was cold, it was winter, I didn’t have any decent kit, didn’t have any knee warmers or arm warmers, the saddle was really uncomfortable, it was just miserable. I definitely had no plan to get into bike races. I did want to do triathlon but, if you’d seen me on a bike, you would never ever have picked me as a bike racer.
And in fact, in my first time trial, which I did just as training, I got beaten by a guy in a gorilla suit. He was wearing his Lycra over his gorilla outfit, which was pretty embarrassing. I think I kept cycling because of the people. So I made friends who were cyclists, and there was a cycling club in Cambridge, and everyone was really supportive and friendly, and I enjoyed the cafe stops, and then I enjoyed the friendly competition on rides, and then a friend persuaded me to do a race, and so I did a crit, and then eventually I won a crit, and I was pretty excited about it, and I caught the bug I suppose. I did more and more great rides, and tried a few races, and I think I won my first proper road race with a 50 K solo break away. And I can tell you, I was just as surprised as everyone else. But that was really, that was my defining tactic in the end, and I did it a few more times before they got wise to it. (upbeat music)
So when I started out cycling, what I really wanted to win was a mountains jersey from a race. I thought it was just super cool, the polka dot jersey thing, and I was definitely more of a climber, so that that was my main ambition. And in all my years racing, I got a few climbers jerseys, but never a polka dot one, because none of our races had the climbers jersey with the polka dots. I’ve had green, I’ve had blue, I’ve had gray, all kinds of colors, but never polka dots. (chuckles) I think, looking back, so many races that I look back on with fondness and pride, especially ones where I was racing for a team mate and helping someone else to win, but the one that really stands out, probably is the first time I won a world cup, which was a total fluke, but I got away in a sort of surprise attack, and didn’t even mean to, and did 70 K’s solo to win.
And it was pretty surprising for everybody. And I actually got the world cup leaders jersey that race, so that was really awesome. (chuckles) Very surprising. (upbeat music) No, I was definitely a climber. And I loved going up, I didn’t much love going down. And sometimes I was okay at time trialing, but it really depended on the course. So, when I did well I needed some hills, I was not great when it was flat. I think you know what that one is. So descending was the bane of my cycling for many years, and it really got me down. I started late, and I had a few crashes early on, and I just, I got really scared. I, in fact, developed a bit of a phobia. I had nightmares about descending. And I think I actually became a better climber because I knew I needed a good two to three minutes on every climb, just to stay ahead of everyone for the descent.
And it ruined so many races for me. I was in the leaders jersey in the Giro Rosa one year and lost it on a descent, because everybody knew I was rubbish at descending so they would always attack me on descents, which was really upsetting, and I felt like an idiot. Luckily I had a coach who was brilliant, and very patient, and he slowly taught me, right from scratch, how to descend. So I went from rubbish to okay. I was never good, but I was okay, and that was normally just about good enough. (chuckles) That’s Bira, Emakumeen Bira. I lost that race on the descent, so I never actually won it. (upbeat music) So many bad days on the bike. I think anyone who’s raced a bike would know that it is a tough sport, and there’s a lot of blood, literally, and sweat, and tears, literally, that go into bike races. So many races that you don’t see, where the results been terrible, I was dropped so many times. But probably the worst one was a stage of Thûringen 2016, when I had a pretty nasty crash, and I barely could use one leg, I really badly hurt my back, and it was only three weeks before the Olympics.
And I knew it was not great for the Olympics. Two favorite things to eat on the bike are, well ones a Swiss thing called a Biberli, which is a bit like ginger bread with a nut filling. Sweet, but not too sweet. And they’re very compact, so you can pack a lot of calories into a small space. And the other thing is, that I bake, these porridge muffins I guess. I call them pocket porridge. Sounds really boring, but actually they’re quite tasty, especially if you put fruit or nuts in them. My favorite food is a difficult question because I really like lot’s of different kinds of food, but probably cheese. I love cheese. And one season I told I shouldn’t eat cheese because it wasn’t good for me. So I didn’t eat cheese for a whole season and it just made me like it even more.
So now, probably my favorite meal is cheese, with a nice crisp apple, and a cup of tea, or a glass of red wine. As someone who’s started cycling fairly late, I really feel strongly that everyone should be encouraged to take up cycling whatever age. And the best advice I think I can give is to ride with other people. Whether it’s friends, or a club, just go out with other people because you learn so much from more experienced cyclists. And the cycling community is really welcoming and friendly. I learned so much from other people, and from team mates as well obviously. And then the other bit of advice is specifically for women, which is something a team mate told me many years ago, when I was stressed about things at races, and she said, “Emma, “it’s not a beauty contest.”
And I think that’s great advice because, you know, everybody wants to look good, but that’s not the point of cycling. And I sometimes think that women’s sport is kind of glamorized, and people worry so much about how they look that they don’t want to go out running or cycling, or whatever. And so I think, you know, it’s nice to look good if you can, but it’s not the point, and don’t ever be put off going cycling because you’re worried about how your hair looks or something, that’s really not the point. I’ve got a reputation, certainly in the last few years of my career, for being outspoken, because I spoke up about things that I thought weren’t great in the sport, and I wanted it to improve. And I don’t regret that, although sometimes I think some people didn’t much like me at the top of the UCI. But the point is that cycling is a really rich sport, with a lot of history, and maybe a little backward in some ways, but it’s definitely improving. And the best thing is that there’s a real increase in women’s cycling at grass roots, and so many more women are taking up the sport, and women’s racing is so exciting.
And when people get to watch it, then they really love it. So if you’re not into women’s cycling already, go and watch some. Of course cycling isn’t just a sport, it’s also a hobby, it’s a way of staying fit, it’s a way of transporting yourself and your stuff, and it’s a hugely powerful tool for social and economic growth. For example, what the World Bicycle Relief does is a really good example of that, where they help girls get to school, for example, in countries where otherwise they’d have to walk a long way. So I retired from cycling for the first time in 2014 because, really because I wanted to do some of the really epic races in triathlon. You know, there are races in triathlon in the mountains that I never got to race up as a cyclist, because we don’t have so many stage races that go in the mountains, sadly. So I really wanted to do Alpe d’Huez and Ventoux, and Embrun, all those really big races, and I did. And it was really fun, and I don’t regret it. Sadly I’m still rubbish at swimming, so I was never very good at the big races, but the ones that involve mountains, I can make up for my lack of swimming. And when there was no swimming involved, in duathlon, which is running, biking, running, I would turn out to be okay in that. So I won the World Championships, the long distance World Championships. That was good. So my first job after Uni was as a research assistant at ETH Zurich, I had a research fellowship. And I was researching in geo technical engineering.
And that just happened to be my first job. It was about the same time that I was getting into cycling. And in the end it took me eight years to finish, which is a bit embarrassing given that it was supposed to take three. But I was racing a lot, and working part-time in the end. And my PhD supervisor was hugely supportive, so I really had to finish it because otherwise it would’ve let her down. And the last year was tough because I really struggled to write up my thesis. So I’m quite proud that I did, because it was one of the hardest parts of my life really. (upbeat music) I guess a new job is always a bit scary and worrying, and I’m a little worried about the presenter challenge because I don’t think I’m going to get as much time to train now, and it’s clearly quite serious, and I don’t want to lose. So I’m worried about that. And there’s also the nickname thing which, who knows what it will be, but I’ve heard rumors that it might be Brick two, or The Brickette, Which is fine by me, because I think Tom Last is awesome, and I would be proud to be associated with him. (brick thuds) – [Man] Think you’re funny. Ow. –
The first few weeks have been a bit crazy busy, but so much fun, it’s a really great team to work with, and one filming shoot I laughed so hard that I got stomach ache. It’s just brilliant. And it’s just also really exciting planning other things to do, so hearing back from viewers, what you want to see, and I’m hoping that you send in lot’s of feedback that you want to see epic mountains. (chuckles) So going to ride the Maratona Dles Dolomites this year, which I’ve wanted to do for years, so that’s really cool. And I think maybe some other epic rides hopefully, maybe involving gravel now that I’m learning to ride gravel. (intense electronic music)