Interview with Bridget Broad - New Zealand track sprinter
Bridget Broad is an exciting up and coming Kiwi track sprinter. She was in Australia in December 2004 for the Commonwealth Youth Games and then the Oceania Track Championships. During the fortnight of competition, she took several medals (2 gold, 3 silver and 1 bronze) and displayed exceptional bike handling skills and tactical awareness. On top of that, she rarely without a smile on her face - even when knocked off her bike and dumped on the track unceremoniously by a competitor - not once but three times in a fortnight, she just shrugged her shoulders and got back on - no dramas......
At the Commonwealth Youth Games in Bendigo, Bridgette was the only non-Australian gold medal winner across all of the track events. She took the sprint over Jennifer Loutit with a nailbiting wait in the third heat of the gold / silver ride-offs which finally went her way. She also took medals in the scratch and 500m TT events. A crash in the keirin called a halt to any ambition of a medal in that event.
A couple of days later, Broad was back in the silver fern skinsuit of New Zealand representing her country in the Oceania Track Championship junior events. The change from outdoor to indoor track did not seem to bother her, nor did the fact that she was competing in her second major track meeting in a week - again she was amongst the medals, taking gold in the 500m TT and silver in the sprint.
WomensCycling.net caught up with Bridget just before Christmas to find out about her cycling career to date, her 2005 plans and her longer-term cycling future. This Auckland-based young rider has had considerable success in just 3 seasons of competition. She is busy off the bike too, she works part time in a coffee shop for funds, although her club helps out financially, cycling is an expensive sport and Broad would welcome individual sponsorship. In the other few hours of her day, Bridget has just started her final year of High School study in Auckland.
Bridget rides for the Akarana Club when racing domestically, the club is sponsored by Wallis Cycles.
Here's the Interview >>>>
WCN : How long have you been cycling?
BB : For 4 years, I have gone 2 track seasons.
WCN : What made you start cycling?
My family, my brother and dad were both New Zealand reps.
WCN : Do you do any other sports seriously?
BB: I used to play waterpolo, but my focus has now moved entirely onto cycling.
WCN : How important is being a member of your club to you?
BB: I think being a member of a club opens doors, clubs generally tend to help out financially, which is really helpful. My club is quite a small club, so we all know each other, and its really easy to have a chat with someone.
WCN: Do you have a coach? If so, who and for how long?
BB: My coach is Simon Finnel, he has only become my coach after a disastrous season as a final year U17, so 2 track seasons.
WCN : How much help do you get from the NZ federation?
BB: Cycling is a small sport in New Zealand, where there are limited resources for young riders.
WCN : What are your most significant results?
BB: My Australian Champ results as a first year u19 were really surprising for me, I didnít think that I would be amongst the top 3 in Australia, but I was! (The Australian Championships allow riders of other nations to compete, but not they are not awarded titles).
WCN : When / who realised that you have a talent for cycling?
BB : My dad pretty much threw me into it, and I have grown into the rider I am now.
WCN: When / why did you begin to concentrate on track?
BB : I have always liked short races, like sprints, kierins, and criteriums. I have never been considered as a ďroad riderĒ, although I did win our national road champs!
WCN : You have been concentrating on the sprint events this December - at the CYG and Oceania, do you see these events as your specialism?
BB : I really enjoy the thrill of racing one other person, sprinting in my mind isnít just about speed, but psychological factors too. I donít want to cut all of my options short yet, so Iíll keep doing 500mtt, and kierins.
WCN : What is it about these events that get you excited - why do you
BB: I love the speed involved with them, flying around the track and feeling the Ďgí force is a pretty cool feeling.
WCN: How difficult is it to train for track in NZ, when there are only limited
BB: Its only hard during the winter, for my build up for junior worlds this year, it rained half the time, so we were all out there with towels, and leaf blowers trying to get it dry! But we are getting a new track down in Invercargill, which will be indoor, and a huge help.
WCN : Where is your nearest track / how far away is it?
BB: The nearest track to me is in Manukau, which is about 30mins away on the motorway.
WCN: How often do you get to ride it?
BB: I usually ride 3 times a week on the track (rain permitting!), once training, twice racing.
WCN : Do you do a lot of road work? Work on the wind trainer (turbo trainer)?
BB : I am on the road six times a week, and I donít use a wind trainer, but I do use an ERG. (WCN - ERG - a computerised system for recording riding statistics such as cadence, heart rate, speed and so on).
WCN : What does a typical training week look like for you?
BB : Gym twice a week, track 3 times, a criterium once, and endurance ride, and an erg session at my coaches house.
WCN : What about winter work? Do you get out in the winter?
BB : Winter work, is still track for me, as junior worlds are in August, so track will continue, with less endurance.
WCN : Any other training / cross training / weight training that you do at any
BB : Just the gym.
WCN : New Zealand is a long way from other international competition. Does that
hold you back?
BB: No, my dad lives in Sydney, so I can go over and race whenever I want, which is what Iíll do in the coming months.
WCN : How do you get exposure to other competition?
BB: For my build up for worlds Iíll be in France, at the Bike New Zealand base in Limoux, which should be a great experience. Once I hit senior women I will move out of New Zealand to help pursue my goals.
WCN : What about the long trips - such as the 2 weeks away from home for CYG &
Oceania - how do you stay fresh and relaxed? Do you enjoy being away?
BB : I love the team environment that we have, I know all of the riders, so being away from home doesnít really phase me, I am used to travelling too.
WCN : How does the team get on during such trips - does the time away get to you
all? Do you help each other?
BB: With longer trips, we get a bit batty, and tend to need some real time out, but on shorter trips like CYGís, we are fine.
WCN : Is there someone you usually get on better with? If so, why?
BB: This year, as a first year, I went away on quite a few trips with Paddy Walker, we ended up rooming together a lot of the time, and I formed a good friendship with her, it was good having someone that was really similar to me, to relate with.
WCN : Do you find yourself racing against the same people all the time? If so,
does that get monotonous? How do you stay fresh?
BB : When we have club nights, I try and race with the senior men as often as possible, so I am always challenged, but generally speaking people always come up from all over the country to race.
WCN : What about tactics - who helps you with tactics and / or knowledge of your
BB : My coach, dad, and brother have a lot of input about tactics, they are all really knowledgeable people, and I respect their calls (although I may not seem to all the time), otherwise I refer to videos of Jens Fielder, and Arnaut Taunant, and Florian Garnier. (WCN - these are all very successful European sprinters)
WCN : Do you spend a lot of time studying your competition, to inform your racing
BB : No, not really, I know how a lot of the Australian girls race, but thatís because I have raced them a lot. Other than them, I talk to my coach Simon.
WCN : Do you have a favourite track? If so, why?
BB: I LOVE Dunc Grey, probably because it was the first indoor track I rode on as an u17. I really like the natural light that it gets, it makes the track feel better.
WCN : How difficult is it to switch between velodromes like Melbourne's Vodafone,
which is tight and fast and heavily banked (250m Siberian Pine) and the
outdoor tracks such as the venue for the CYG - Tom Flood Arena (440m painted
cement, gentle bankings)? How do you prepare yourself for that?
BB : Haha, umm I didnít really, as I hadnít ridden on either before, I just went with the flow. Most indoor tracks are the same so that wasnít hard to ride, but in Bendigo I didnít really know what to expect, so I just rode regardless!
WCN : I heard several competitors say that Tom Flood has a difficult final bend -
did you find it strange? If so why? If so, did that affect your racing?
BB : I really liked the final bend, it was good to come around people because it was so big. It was a bit strange, but that was only because the track was so flat!
WCN : You had some tight / photofinishes during your time in Victoria, but when I
caught up with you in Bendigo, you said it was the first time you'd had to
wait for the photofinish decision (sprint final). Was that difficult? What
goes through your head?
BB : In Bendigo, I really had no clue as to whether Jenny had won, or I had. So in terms of photo finishes I would have to say the Bendigo one would have to have been the closest I have ever had. I was just hoping for the best, I had heard the Australian National anthem too many times that week, and the NZ cycling team had told me I had to get our gold, so I didnít want to let them down!
WCN : Is it more exciting or more disappointing (you experienced both) when you
win / lose under such circumstances?
BB : In Melbourne I was really disappointed, but I had had a hard week, and a really hard session that night and I asked a lot of myself, overall it was tough, but its what happens! Winning by that close a margin is too tight for me, I want to blitz the field, and a photo finish is too stressful.
WCN : You also hit the deck 3 times that week - is that typical for you? Do you
crash a lot?
BB : Haha, no its not typical for me, I just found myself in three situations where I should have been more weary of inexperienced riders.
WCN : What caused the crashes?
BB : Inexperience, I was told to treat every race like a world champs, I did, and took close calls, and the riders around me didnít know how to deal with them.
WCN : You absolutely beamed when you won the sprint at the CYG - the smile lasted
all through the medal ceremony. Was that one of your best / favourite
BB : It was just such a special moment to hear the New Zealand national anthem, I seriously could have criedÖ Glad I didnít though. I would have to agree that it would be one of the most special victories, due to the flag raise, and the anthem etc etc.
WCN : Actually, you seemed quite happy most of the time I saw you - are you
BB : Haha, most people will tell you I tend to joke around heaps, I like making people smile, and I really enjoy racingÖ. More people should smile!
WCN : What about getting aggressive and focussed for racing - does that just
switch in, or do you have to work yourself up for it?
BB : I use music to get me amptd up, rap, and rock is the best for that. Someone yelling helps too!
WCN : In the Northern Hemisphere the Christmas / New Year period is a time for
base training and it is easy to take a week off for family / celebrations -
how is it for you, in the Southern Hemisphere in the middle of the season?
BB : I still think its really important to have a family time, I take 3 days off over Christmas to relax and have fun. Over New Year the fun stops and the work keeps on going.
WCN : What are your plans for the rest of 2004/2005?
BB : I want to place in the top 3 at junior worlds in the kieirin, and sprints, and break the New Zealand 500mtt record and sprint qualifying record.
WCN : And longer term, what are your plans and goals?
BB : The Commonwealth games 2006, World Cups, World Champs, and ultimately the Olympics.
WCN : You are at the top end of being a junior now - what plans do you have for
becoming a senior?
BB : Just jumping into it.
WCN : Any fears? Will the step-up be a large one for you?
BB : Yeah, it will be in some aspects, like internationally, but at national level it wont be an issue.
WCN : Do you also compete on the road / in time trials? If so, how successful have
BB: I do road races, and won the Nationals this year, I do well regardless of the course, and people. Last year I was 2nd as an u17 at our road nationals.
WCN : Careerwise, what do you want to do? Cycling professional? Part time pro and
something else? Something else and part time cyclist?
BB : I want to study part time, and ride, but depending on how my cycling goes the study may be on hold. I would like to get into medicine.
WCN : Are you studying at the moment?
BB : I am still at High School, and will go to uni after next year (2005).
WCN : What bike(s) do you ride?
BB : A Trek road bike which I love!! And a genius track bikeÖ. Saving for a BT!!
WCN : Any particular piece of equipment or kit that you 'just love'? (Why?)
BB : My Ghibli, because its so special, and ALWAYS clean.
WCN : Do you have any cycling heroes? If so, who and why?
BB : My brother keeps on telling me to write him, but Sarah Ulmer would be, she is so inspirational, and down to earth.
WCN : What about other sport heroes? Or from life in general?
BB : Michael Shumacher, he is pretty impressiveÖ the Lance of the formula one circuit!
WCN : What are you interested in when not cycling?
BB : Books, and just relaxing, I donít get to do much between work, school, and riding, so when I can relax I do it!
WCN : Is there anyone / people in particular you would like to thank for helping
you to get to where you are today?
BB : My family, they have all helped contribute to what I am, and what I am going to become, so thanks to all of them, Mum, Dad, Tim, and Ange.
WCN : Thanks to Bridget for her time and good luck for 2005.
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