First things first, introduce yourself
My name is Gillian Clark. I am a Specialized Women’s Ambassador and ride for RCCK. My role with Specialized is to encourage more ladies into the sport that we all love. I lead rides every month across Glasgow aimed at all levels of riders.
Where were you born and where did you grow up?
I am a Glasgow girl, born and bred. Lived in the West Dunbartonshire area all my life!
Where is your current home?
How did you get into riding a bike?
I am 100% part of the 2012 Olympic Games legacy. I remember sitting watching the games the day that Lizzie Deignan won silver in the women’s road race in those horrendous conditions, and thought, “I want to do that”. She is the reason I decided to get into the sport and someone I still look up to today.
The next week I had ordered my first road bike and that was that. I was hooked.
What is your local climb? The climb you do the most out of any other.
The Cuilt Brae in Blanefield.
In all honesty, it’s not one I’ve done this year yet, but it’s one of the hardest in the area I’d say. Most local clubs do their confined hill climb competitons on it.
It’s a killer!
What is it like?
Its not even a kilometer long, but it feels like it’s so much longer. Short, sharp and leg sapping!!
Coming into it from Blanefield there’s a slight downhill which is very deceptive, then you just start going up! You can see the switchback ahead where it gets steeper again and a second hairpin with another rise towards the finish before cruising towards Queens View (another favourite)
What kind of efforts is the climb suited to?
All out effort hill repeats … if you are into that sort of thing!!!
Is the Strava QOM for the climb ever in your thoughts, or do you strictly focus on the goals of the current effort?
No, I try not to focus on QOMs, it’s a nice bonus if any efforts result in one. If I know I’m relatively close to the QOM and feeling good I’ll give it a go. Not on this climb though, I’ve never done an all out effort up it and my best is 4 minutes, the QOM is a whole minute and a bit quicker!
Any other climbs in the area you prefer, or is this climb your favourite?
It’s not my out and out favourite, There are so many good climbs on the routes that I tend to do, the Crow Road has to be up there and around the Renfrew lanes. There are some amazing climbs over that side of the river, and beautiful scenery from the top too!
What about favourite climb overall? Any reason?
This was a very hard decision to make, that and someone else had already done one of my other choices (Els Angels in Girona) ha!
Norton Summit in Adelaide. It’s not too long and not too steep overall, some lovely switchbacks that throw you into the next stretch of road, max gradient is probably 8%. The views on the way up over the vineyards and the city and the ocean are beautiful, And it’s sunny & warm!
I rode it with my husband when we were on honeymoon in Australia, Adelaide is such a great place to ride, I’d love to go back again soon!
What is the hardest climb you’ve summited by bike?
Rocacorba in Girona. It’s just unrelenting, every time you go round a bend you think, “surely it’ll ease off a bit”. It’s doesn’t, it’s just a wall of road. You can always see the mast that stands at the top, it doesn’t seem to get any closer!! There’s a slight downhill just before the last section which is a welcome relief then just power to the fence. You HAVE to go touch the fence at the top or the Strava segment doesn’t count!
However, the view from the top is so worth it and there’s normally some paragliders throwing themselves off into the valley. And the descent is just amazing!!
What kind of riding do you do in general? Is it more for training or pleasure?
Last year was pleasure, this year I’m going to try my hand at racing again, so I’ll have more structured training to do between shift work. Even if that’s means a turbo session over a road ride!!
Touchy subject, but something that has happened to every bike rider at some point, getting dropped. When did you last get dropped in a race or ride? What was going on when you got dropped?
Just the other month on the Gales lake run. I hadn’t done the distance that that route does in a good while so couldn’t hold the wheel coming in over the peacocks during the through and off.
Thankfully, I wasn’t the only one!
Did you get back to the group you were with?
It was all pretty broken up but I did manage to get back in, JUST!!
Gruelling turbo session or climbing the worst climb you can imagine in wind and rain?
I have to pick a gruelling turbo session. I don’t mind wind, or rain. But together, it’s my most despised weather combo. At least on the turbo you have some good tunes and something like Zwift to keep you focussed!!
What is your favourite moment on a bike?
I’d say standing on the top step on the podium with the other Specialized girls after winning the women’s classification at the Red Bull time laps in October.
It was a gruelling challenge mentally and physically racing for that length of time through the night, keeping rested and fueld between stints. I’ve never been happier to see the sunrise, but what an achievement as a team! It was close between the top 3 but we won it by 2 laps in the end.
And we got to spray champagne. It was a good day!
On to more current matters. Which team/club are you riding for this year, and what do you aim to achieve in 2019?
I’m riding for RCCK this year. I’d like to give racing a go again, I done a few races a good couple of years back, but the ladies scene is growing so much and there’s too many good ladies races not to get involved. It’s such a welcoming group of girls, I’d encourage anyone to give it a go!
It’s just for fun for me and just get back a level of fitness I’m happy with.
As well as with Specialized leading ladies rides every month. As a team last year we rode and won RedBull time laps, I’d love to have a another crack at that with a proper season of training and racing behind me.
What are your interests away from the bike?
I love cooking. I can be eating breakfast, wondering what I can rustle up for dinner that night.
Travelling and planning the next trip away, 99% of the time wondering how I can get a bike involved.
And I have to say sleeping, I love sleeping. I work some crazy shifts, so sleep and rest is a massive part of my life.
Quick fire questions
Tell me your…
Go to summer road bike?
My Specialized Tarmac disc Comp.
The Tarmac. Everyday.
One climb to ride said dream bike up?
Mont Ventoux. It’s just one of the most iconic climbs isn’t it? It’s on my bucket list of climbs.
Favourite cycling book?
David Millar – The Racer.
Favourite cycling movie?
A Sunday in Hell.
Favourite pro rider(if any)?
I have so many cycling inspirations, it’s hard to choose just one!! Anna Van Der Breggen.
Because she’s Queen of the Ardennes!!! Just a pleasure to watch, puts her head down and gives it everything.
Favourite piece of cycle clothing you’ve owned?