The name Laura Cluxton isn’t that well known outside the cycling world, but we have every confidence it will be in the lead up to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow!
The 33 year old visually impaired cyclist, who is part of the Scottish Cycling Performance Team, is a newcomer to cycling, with less than a year’s elite cycling experience under her belt. We were lucky enough to catch up with Laura after one of her training sessions and talk about her whirlwind cycling journey so far.
“Back in 2009 I was looking for something to do with my time after leaving my job and noticed UK Sport were looking for people to try out different sports ahead of the Paralympics, so I thought ‘why not fill out an application’? I was pointed in the direction of cycling and have never looked back.”
“I had to go through several fitness tests, wattbike tests and even had to try out track cycling for the first time at Newport velodrome in Wales. My first moments on the track were daunting. I didn’t even know anything about a velodrome so I had no clue what to expect, it felt really, really fast and scary and it took some getting used to but was enjoyable at the same time.”
Laura unfortunately didn’t make it onto the UK Sport programme, due to not having enough cycling experience but never had any intention of giving up.
“They told me to keep cycling, so I did! I bought my first tandem bike and for three years I went cycling with my husband.”
Up until last year, Laura never thought about taking her cycling to the next level but as soon as the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome opened it was the perfect opportunity to get back on the track!
“With the help of Fiona Duncan, a Scottish and British Cycling tandem pilot, I managed to find a pilot to ride with and I really enjoyed it. After only a few months of training we ended up competing at the 2013 British Cycling National Track Championships in Manchester, which was my first experience of competing at British National Level, and managed to clock some decent times.”
After only a few months of track cycling and a couple of competitions behind her, Laura was selected for the Scottish Cycling Performance Team in November 2013 where she was paired with Paralympic athlete and World Cup gold medallist pilot Fiona Duncan.
“Initially when I joined the Scottish Cycling team I had loads of doubts in my head and wondered if I was good enough, especially to compete for Scotland at the Commonwealth Games, but over the past couple of months I have learnt so much in such a short space of time and my track times have been getting better and better. I feel so lucky and it seems everything is now clicking into place. Competing at a home Games is a reality. It’s a once in a life time chance to compete for Scotland on home soil, in front of a home crowd so I hope to make the team and win a medal.”
After taking up the sport by chance and with only four months on the Scottish Cycling Performance Programme, Laura piloted by Fiona has now managed to achieve her qualification times for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Last week Laura joined the Scottish Cycling Performance Team on a warm weather training camp in Majorca, where they took full advantage of the sun and getting out on the roads!
You can follow Laura on Twitter @pixielaurac
Photo credit: Dave Urquhart/ Scottish Cycling