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Moray's British Championship gold medal sprint cyclist Lauren Bell was inspired by a chat with Olympic legend Sir Chris Hoy during her Covid-19 isolation


By Craig Christie

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AN online chat with Olympic legend Sir Chris Hoy gave Forres cycling star Lauren Bell great inspiration during her Covid-19 isolation period back home in Moray.

Lauren Bell has maintained her gruelling training with cycle sessions during isolation in the garden of her family home in Forres.
Lauren Bell has maintained her gruelling training with cycle sessions during isolation in the garden of her family home in Forres.

The 20-year-old former Forres Academy pupil is now a member of the Great Britain cycling team, reward for her record-breaking performances on the British sprint cycling circuit.

A double gold winner at the British Championships and a Scottish record holder, Bell was destined to appear at this year’s European under-23 championships in Portugal until the coronavirus outbreak shut down sporting activities across the world.

Lauren with one of her British Championships gold medals.
Lauren with one of her British Championships gold medals.

She returned to her parents’ home in Forres from her studies at Napier University in Edinburgh when the lockdown began, and has been coming up with innovative training methods to keep her in shape.

But the news that she had made the British team led to a video call with fellow cyclists and one very special guest.

She explained: “I recently accepted a place onto the Great British cycling team due to my results from the British Championships earlier in the year.This was a massive boost in my motivation.

“Last week, I was on a FaceTime call with the other senior sprinters from GB and also Chris Hoy.

“We were all able to ask him questions and pick his brain and it was very interesting to hear what he had to say about when he was an athlete and ways in which he would approach difficult training sessions.

Sir Chris Hoy has won six Olympic and 11 world championship gold medals during an illustrious career in cycling.
Sir Chris Hoy has won six Olympic and 11 world championship gold medals during an illustrious career in cycling.

“We have these video calls each week with different specials guests, so I’m excited to find out who the next one will be.”

As a sprint cyclist, gym work is an integral part of Bell’s training and with her parents also being keep fit enthusiasts, they have equipment in the family home to help her maintain her strength.

"Initially I was doing my squats using our bins as the stands, so shout out to Moray Council for keeping me training! But the novelty of this definitely wore off when the bin fell over when I was trying to put the weight back down leaving me in need of rescue from my mum.

Moray Council's recycling wheelie bins were initially a help in Lauren Bell's weight training regime.
Moray Council's recycling wheelie bins were initially a help in Lauren Bell's weight training regime.

"I’ve now found a safer way to do my squats using this pull up/ dip station we’ve got so I can put the bar on the arms used for the dips which is a lot better than the bins."

Being at home with mum and dad has had its advantages for Lauren, not just for home cooking but with finding someone to share some of her training with.

"When I am training in Glasgow I’ve got a great group of athletes who I train with so it was getting a bit lonely not having the same banter in gym, however, I persuaded my mum to come into the gym with me so I've now got a training partner again."

Lauren is at home in a velodrome for her sprint cycling and she may not have access to one during lockdown, but is able to replicate much of her training methods she would do on the track.

Lauren Bell sprinted to glory in this year's British Championships
Lauren Bell sprinted to glory in this year's British Championships

"We were advised by doctors from the Scottish Institute of Sport and Great British cycling team around how our training should change due to coronavirus.

"It was decided that it is in our best interest to refrain from putting our immune system at maximum stress as it increases the bodies susceptibility to catching a viral infection and obviously due to how dangerous coronavirus is this needs to be avoided.

"We were told that it's not necessarily the respiratory problems which is the key problem for us but more the possibility of the virus affecting our heart causing myocarditis. Due to that reason our workload has dropped by about 15%.

"I’ve been doing a lot of sessions on a turbo which is a piece of equipment I can attach my back wheel to do some sprints on.

"The Scottish Institute of Sport and Scottish Cycling were kind enough to allow me to borrow this turbo which I do most of my session on and then I can send the data, which the turbo collects, to my coaches who can analyse all the numbers which includes items such as my watts produced and cadence.

"Along with the turbo I’ve been cycling on the road more but the sessions are more aimed around just going out for a nice spin and then doing sprints within the ride rather than going for hours and hours.

"It has been really enjoyable especially due to the great weather we’ve been having and the drivers are a lot nicer and more considerate up here which is always a bonus.

"It’s also nice riding up here as there’s so many different routes you can go on with great scenery which is so easy to come by compared to living in Glasgow.

"I used to always ride a route which took me towards Lossiemouth when I came home but recently I’ve found a really nice route which took me all around Rafford and past the Dallas Dhu Distillery.

Dedicating herself to her many training methods has helped the Black Line Team Racing cyclist pass her time in isolation more comfortably.

"I’m usually quite an active and busy person so initially found staying in the house so difficult.

"All of my university exams (she studied Sport and Exercise Science at Napier University) were also cancelled very early on so I had to find other ways to keep myself busy in my spare time.

"I've been learning how to do things like handstand walks and I began doing some paintings, which I'm shocked to see haven’t made it up onto the living room wall yet. As my Dad said, ‘don’t give up your day job'."

The Moray star is on the rise in competitive cycling and has strong ambitions to compete at the highest level, with the next Commonwealth Games in Birmingham a longer term aim.

"Keeping my eye on the bigger goal which is competitions such as the Commonwealth Games in 2022 helps too," she said.

"My year started off so positive with my results from the British Championships so I think that's put me on a high to keep going and see what else I can achieve.

"There’s no saying when they might start again as I guess it depends on how the virus continues. Hopefully we’ll manage to get a few competitions in near the end of the year but I'm not confident about that.

"I was hoping to target the U23 European Championships in Portugal this year but I guess now I’ve got even more time to prepare for next year."


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