Interview with ... GB downhill mountain biker

The latest in our 'Interviews with the Athletes series', meet a fearless female who is rocketing downhill on two wheels.

Name: Lucy Newman
Age: 36
Height: 158cm
Weight: 58kgs
Sport: Downhill Mountain Biking
Team/ Coach: Lovelo Cycle Works (sponsor), Ian Warby at B1ke (coach)

Recent Achievements:
1.  Walking without crutches and a knee brace!
2.  Bench pressing 40kgs
3. Hitting the big ‘Ender Sender’ kicker at Aston Hill Bike Park for the first time (slightly less recent – last blast on my bike before I went in for my knee surgery in the Summer 2015)

Goals for 2016/17:
Get my knee strong enough to get back out having fun on my mountain bike and build back up to racing after 3 years out with injury. Use the time off the bike and away from racing to work on my fitness and skills to come back stronger and with an excellent base to build from when I am given the go ahead to get back out riding downhill and racing again.

CPPG: Injuries? Major or minor.
LN: Rather a long list of these unfortunately as just had my 5th knee surgery – an LCL reconstruction after someone skied into me on my snowboarding holiday in Austria last March. Prior to that I broke my back at the Downhill Mountain Bike National Champs in July 2013, followed by a broken hand and concussion the week before the first national race of the season in March 2014, and then bust my ribs 5 weeks later in the practice session before my first race back after the hand injury. So I’ve not ben too lucky with injuries over the last couple of years!

CPPG: How has Crystal Palace Physio Group helped you?
LN: Annabelle at CPPG has been doing a fantastic job of helping with my rehab after my LCL reconstruction. I go up to a clinic in Manchester for a few days every month for some treatment and to look at my training programme. But, in between these trips to Manchester, Annabelle has been making sure we keep on top of things in terms of keeping my knee loosened up and dealing with any niggles I’m having. This has been invaluable and means I can get the most out of my rehab and training.

CPPG: Self-talk/ mantra.  When it gets really tough what are your strategies to keep going?
LN: The last few years have been pretty tough with all of the injuries, and very frustrating when you work so hard to get back to riding, only to see all that work disappear in an instant when you get injured again. There has been one person in particular though who has really helped me through all of injuries and hundreds of hours of mind numbingly dull rehab exercises. Whilst I was up in Manchester in November 2013 receiving treatment for my broken back, I met a Superbike Racer called Simon Andrews. He was also up there for rehab following a 200mph crash in the Le Man’s 24 hour race which resulted in a collapsed lung, liver failure, a week in a coma, and a long list of broken bones, including a broken back. Seeing how hard Si pushed himself every single day with his rehab, and watching him go from not being able to push himself up from the floor to being back riding his Superbike 4 months later showed me just what you can achieve and come back from if you put your mind to it. Si was a massive inspiration to me with my own rehab, sending me messages of encouragement when things got tough, and always such a positive person to train with when I was back up in Manchester for more treatment. Sadly, in May 2014, I got the devastating news that Simon had passed away following a crash in the North West 200 Superstock race. Although Simon is no longer with us, he still inspires me every single day in my training and my riding and is the person I think of to keep me going when things get tough. Seeing the horrific injuries he came back from time and time again proves that anything is possible if you put your mind to it!

CPPG: Have you heard of ‘mindfulness’?
LN: I recently purchased a recipe book called ‘Clean and Lean For Life’ by James Duigan which has a chapter on mindfulness.

CPPG: Lucky socks. Any OCD's or rituals?
LN: I have a lucky mascot which goes everywhere with me. He’s a PG Tips Monkey. Luckily I drive to most races as he is quite large. But when I do fly he always travels with me in my rucksack as hand luggage, and I’ll leave other things behind in order to make room for him. I’ve thought about sacking him after the recent string of injuries…but I’ve decided that, as I got away with unknowingly racing (and crashing again) with a broken back without doing any further damage to it, then he must be an exceptionally lucky mascot!!

CPPG: 'Your body is a temple'.  Super foods or fast foods?
LN: I would like to say super foods, and that’s always what I aim for on most days, particularly at the moment as I know how important nutrition is when recovering from injuries. However sometimes this slips and a few too many treats sneak in…..

CPPG: What is your typical competition/ race day nutrition?
LN: I always struggle to eat a lot when I’m competing and, with the downhill mountain bike racing, it is normally an early start to get on the uplift and get a couple of practice runs in to warm up and check out the conditions on race day morning. My race weekend accommodation is usually a tent in the field at the bottom of the race track, so food is limited by what I can cook on my camping stove. I normally try to have porridge in the morning before practice and then another snack such as an energy bar between practice and my first race run. You need to leave plenty of time to get the uplift to the top of the track before your race runs, and can be hanging around at the top for some time (particularly if there are delays due to crashes etc.), so I often take an energy gel up in my pocket as a top up before my run. Between my own race runs, I like to walk parts of the track to see how the top guys ride sections and what I can learn from watching them, so I ted to eat ‘lunch’ on the go. So it’s really just lots of snacking throughout the day to keep my energy topped up rather than any specific larger meals. Although I will always make sure I’ve had a nutritious dinner (cooked on my camping stove) the evening before the race at the end of the practice day to make sure I’m properly fuelled up again ready for race day.

CPPG: Post-competition/ race treat?
LN: Cake is definitely my weakness. So a large slice of carrot cake (preferably with a fondant icing carrot on top) would be perfect!!

First posted. 21/07/16

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