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Laura is the "Best Newcomer"

Following Laura Vann-Hopewell's recent award Lucy Sturgess writes:

Laura is one of our newer members having joined over the past year. She recently won ‘best newcomer’ at the Leicester Cycling Awards (see photo) which recognised her achievements as a new cyclist. Laura has completed endurance rides, ridden club runs, taken part in cyclocross and is up for taking on many new challenges in 2023. Read our Q&A below!

Q: How long have you been cycling and how did you get into it? A: I joined the Ratae in March 2022 so I have been cycling "properly" since then. Prior to that I was doing regular spin classes at the gym for around 2 years and before that I would have the odd potter out on bike rides with the family around Rutland Water or Fineshade Woods. I loved cycling from the start but never considered that I would be "good enough" to join a cycling club. Q: What's your proudest cycling achievement to date? A: This is a tricky question because there have been so many highlights this year. Certainly completing my first century, riding to Skegness and competing in the time trials and other competitions has been amazing. But I think I am proudest of overcoming some more personal challenges. I have battled against Peripheral Neuropathy (nerve damage in my legs and feet following chemotherapy) from the point where I struggled to walk up stairs to the position I am in now where I can confidently (sort of!) tackle a CX trial or go and cycle up a hill like Sludge Hill. Q: What's it been like joining a cycling club? A: I was incredibly nervous when I first thought about joining the club. Initially Natalie, Peter and a few of the other members let me join them for a gentle Saturday ride to see how I would fare. From the very beginning I felt amazingly welcome. I just knew that these were my kind of people. They clearly loved cycling as much as I did, were really down to earth and had a great sense of humour - all things that really appealed to me. Right from the start everyone was so encouraging and would gently nudge me to try cycling a bit faster, or a bit further and I very quickly entered into a time trial where, again, the support and encouragement was wonderful. From then I never really looked back. Q: What advice do you have for new cyclists wanting to join a club? A: I would say just go for it! I think we all get nervous about trying new things but I always say to myself, "feel the fear and do it anyway!" There are so many opportunities to develop your cycling within a club and the social aspect is brilliant. Q: Favourite cafe stop? A: Another tricky question because I really love a good cafe stop! I think maybe The Yard at Cotesbach. It's such a pretty cycle out there and they do amazing sausage rolls! Q: How have you found racing cyclocross this year? A: Soooo hard! But in a good way. It's so completely different to road cycling and the fitness required is a whole other level. But it's been so refreshing to try something different and again, the support from other members has been incredible. Q: Have you any cycling plans for 2023? A: Nothing fixed yet but definitely lots of ideas. I would love to do another ride to the coast but maybe a different place than Skegness. I want to see if I can beat my pb in the time trials this year. I'd like to invest in a CX bike of my own and get my fitness to a better level ready to start the next season. And I want to keep improving my cycling generally in terms of speed and endurance. Q: What's the best thing about being in the Ratae Road C

lub? A: 100% the other members and the social aspect. You really couldn't find a better bunch of people anywhere.

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