What were you doing at 17? It probably wasn't travelling the world as a progressive junior racer while studying for your exams, was it? Lauren Dolan is a young woman of many talents and she takes it all in her stride as she trains to become a future world champion and Olympian.
Much of the women's race news that is covered by the media - if it's even covered by the media! - largely focuses on the elite, the creme de la creme of cycling performance. But what does the journey to become an elite cyclist look like and to compete at the highest level? We've been chatting with British junior cyclist, Lauren Dolan, to find out just what it takes to make it to the next level as she shares her Junior Racing Diaries with TWC.
So, who is Lauren Dolan? We found out...
Devonshire lass, Lauren, is currently in her first year of A-Levels where she is studying Biology, Chemistry and Chinese on top of a plateful of training and cycling. At 17, Lauren rides for Liv CC - Epic Coaching, a UK based Junior women's road and track cycling team who was the first in the UK to establish a team speciﬁcally for junior women. Lauren is also a member of the Great Britain Junior Women's Team, frequently representing her country at international championships and races.
But how did Lauren get this far?
"I ﬁrst started cycling when I was 11. I remember doing one race and failed to continue through my interest in other sports at the time. I was a keen kickboxer, winning 2 world titles for the U12 category as well as playing football and hockey for my county as well as running cross country for South West England.
"I had an aluminium white and blue Trek with comically large handlebars in proportion to my size when I was 10" - Lauren Dolan
I continued to play football until I was 14 and yet, I was drawn back to cycling and fell in love with it. I started cycling competitively in March 2014 at the age of 14. My dad used to ride for Great Britain when he was a junior, so my interest in the sport stemmed from the stories he told me from when he rode at an international level."
No one forgets their first bike or their first race. For many of us, it's the very moment we discover our passion for cycling. Lauren's shares her first race memory with us: "My ﬁrst ever race was when I was 10 and I remember it vividly. It was the National Youth Circuit Championships in Bradford and of the 20 girls that started, I ﬁnished 10th - slap bang in the middle."
"I thrive on the adrenaline and excitement I get from racing and riding fast on both the track and road" - Lauren Dolan
Let's face it, cycling is addictive and we all have different ways in which cycling takes ahold of us. For Lauren, it's "the sense of pride and achievement you get when you stand on the top step of the podium. That is an unbeatable feeling and is the driving force that enables me to keep pushing my limits every day to be the best I can be."
We're half way through the race season and with A-Level studies on her plate, we ask how Lauren is getting on and what's left for her to conquer.
"This season has been a real rollercoaster, I've felt very strong and shown a lot of potential this season in the Nations Cup series (the junior equivalent of women's world tour series) which I have been pleased with, consistently in the top 10's."
"I still have a long way to go, but I am so excited to see what the rest of the season brings." - Lauren Dolan
"I have suﬀered from a few crashes recently, I have a distal radial fracture in my left wrist which saw me enjoying a lot of time on the turbo back at the end of April. I've come back ﬁghting and have ridden in the women's infamous Lincoln Grand Prix as well as the tour series. Finishing in the top 10 consistently is a pleasing prospect against some extremely classy pro women who are formidable even in the pro women's peloton."
Later in the season, I will be riding in some more national women's series races i.e. Otley GP, Ryedale GP etc. Also, I will hopefully be selected to ride in the European Track Championships in Portugal, world road and TT championships in Norway. I will also be riding Both the National 10 and 25 mile Time Trial Champs and going to Poland for an international track meeting before heading to Wales for the national track champs in August. Amid this, I will be training with the GB junior cycling team in various bases across the UK."
It's undeniable that Lauren has a lot on her plate with racing, let alone her studies. However, she's got one hell of a drive to succeed and further her career into the realms of elite international racing. So, what's Lauren working towards in the long run?
"Ultimately, I would love to go to the Olympics wearing the jersey of Great Britain and come home with a gold medal around my neck. However, in the near future, I'd love to make selections for and get a result in the European Track Championship as well as in the Road and Time Trial World Championships later on this year."
Lauren is an inspiring young woman who is working hard to achieve her goals. She's focused, driven and having fun as she journey's through the Junior ranks. Lauren will be updating TWC with Junior Racing Diary entries so we can follow her progression through the season and catch a glimpse of insight into the world of Junior Racing.
You can also follow Lauren on Twitter for more immediate updates as she heads into the next lot of race rounds.
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